Acupressure has been shown to provide easy relief from nausea caused by a variety of factors. We have all had nausea at least once: it’s that feeling which makes us feel uneasy in the stomach and makes us feel like we are going to be sick.
Nausea has a wide range of causes, and it is usually followed by voluntary or involuntary vomiting. Rather than a disease, nausea is a symptom of many conditions which can range from motion sickness to psychological conditions.
Luckily, the most common reasons we may feel nauseated are not usually serious, and the symptoms go away rather quickly. This is where acupressure can work wonders in promoting quicker relief and, consequently, prevent vomiting.
In this article, we will look at the most common acupressure points for nausea relief and how you can use them on yourself. However, before exploring these, we will first discuss what causes nausea and when you should seek medical attention.
What Causes Nausea?
As we already mentioned, nausea is not a disease, but rather a symptom of a variety of conditions. It can occur as a result of various external or internal factors and may lead to vomiting.
Because of the wide spectrum of causes of nausea, the rule of thumb is to observe for how long it lasts and whether there are other symptoms that accompany it. These are the most common reasons you may feel nauseated:
Intoxication by Toxic Substances or Alcohol
Nausea can be an immediate result of intoxication by ingesting toxic substances and can quickly result in vomiting. Alcohol intoxication is another example that many have experienced either immediately after drinking too much or the following morning accompanied by the rest of the symptoms of a hangover.
Emotional stress, such as fear and anxiety, is known to lead to nausea. In terms of psychological illnesses, bulimia is by far the most prevalent reasons for it nausea. In the case of bulimia, nausea happens quickly after eating.
Motion Sickness and Seasickness
Motion sickness and seasickness can happen during bumpy rides. They happen because the senses do not sync up with the messages transmitted to the brain, which leads to dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
Sensitivity to Certain Foods
Nausea can also be the result of a high sensitivity to certain foods. Food intolerance or reaction to certain substances in the food you have eaten can make you feel nauseated and sick, and you may even experience cramps and diarrhea. One such example is lactose intolerance, which results in digestive symptoms because the body does not have the necessary enzymes to digest and absorb it properly.
Food choices and eating habits can also result in nausea. Feeling nauseated can be the result of overeating or eating spicy or foods high in fats. This is also true of food allergies.
Medication-related nausea happens after taking medications that can upset the stomach. A notorious example of this is chemotherapy used for cancer treatment. If you happen to experience nausea when undergoing a new treatment, be sure to read the medication information and talk to your doctor about ways to minimize this symptom.
Viral or Bacterial Infections
Another common cause of nausea is infection caused by foodborne bacteria (food poisoning) and viral infections like influenza and stomach flu. In such cases, this symptom is often combined with diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain and cramps.
Ulcers are sores in the stomach or the lining of the small intestine which cause a burning sensation and sudden nausea when you eat. Common symptoms of ulcers include:
- Dull stomach pain;
- Weight loss;
- Acid reflux or burping;
- Blood or dark coloration in the stool and vomit;
- Feeling easily full, or not wanting to eat because of the pain.
Nausea is a common symptom in early stages of pregnancy, occurring in 50% to 90% of all pregnancies. Vomiting is less common but can happen as a result of feeling nauseated.
Intense pain can also contribute to feeling nauseated. This pain can be the result of an injury, but it can also be due to painful conditions such as kidney stones, gallbladder stones, and pancreatitis.
Some Other Issues Known to Cause Nausea
Aside from the factors and causes mentioned above, nausea can also be caused by a number of other conditions which may require immediate medical attention. In life-threatening situations, nausea is usually a part of a combination of symptoms.
Medical conditions that cause nausea include:
- Ear infection
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Intestinal blockage
- Concussion or brain injury
- Gallbladder disease
- Gastroparesis or slow stomach emptying
- Heart attack
- Liver failure or liver cancer
While most instances of nausea are short-term and benign, the most serious ones are usually accompanied by symptoms you cannot avoid noticing. Always seek medical attention if you’re concerned that you may be experiencing a medical emergency.
The Science Behind Acupressure and How It Can Help with Nausea
Acupressure is an alternative medical approach which originates from traditional Chinese medicine. It works by unlocking energy blocks in the meridians, which are the main channels of energy flow throughout the body.
By massaging and pressing acupoints (also known as pressure points) on the body, you can work on relieving many different symptoms, including nausea. It is a non-invasive method which is safe to use on oneself, and it promises quick results in many cases. As discussed in more detail below, there are various pressure points on the body, including pressure points for relieving nausea, addressing stomach pain and ache, aiding an upset stomach, and improving digestion.
In the case of nausea, scientific research has shown that acupressure can help with nausea caused by different factors. A prominent example of its effectiveness is the relief of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Acupressure also helps with post-operative nausea and vomiting caused by general anesthesia. One recent study examined its effectiveness on 108 patients who had undergone surgery under anesthesia and concluded that it had a positive effect in the relief of nausea and vomiting, making it a good alternative to conventional medications.
Acupressure has also been found to have a positive effect on nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. You should note, though, that practicing acupressure during pregnancy can lead to premature contractions. This study, however, examined the effects of the PC-6 acupoint, which does not have that effect.
The Acupoints Related to Nausea Relief
There are several acupoints which can help with nausea and vomiting. Applying pressure to these acupressure points when feeling nauseated can quickly reduce or completely eliminate that feeling in a short time.
Inner Gate (PC-6)
Image credit: Explore IM
The PC-6 acupoint is the most famous and most studied acupressure point for nausea relief, and is sometimes known as the “wrist pressure point” or the “anti nausea” pressure point. You can find it by pacing three fingers above the wrist crease on the inner side of the arm. Massaging it helps with morning sickness, nausea, indigestion, stomach ache, vomiting, and even anxiety.
Union Valley (LI-04)
Image credit: Modern Reflexology
This acupoint is found on the web between the index finger and the thumb. Applying pressure to it can help with nausea caused by digestive issues, headaches, and pain. It also works well in improving intestinal function and reducing abdominal pain. You should avoid this acupoint if you are pregnant, however.
Leg Three Miles (ST-36)
Image credit: Smarter Healing
This acupoint is located four fingers below the bottom kneecap, along the outer boundary of your shin bone. You will know you have found the point when you feel a muscle pop if you move your foot up and down. Massaging this point helps with nausea caused by pain, digestive issues, stomach disorders, as well as other health issues.
Bigger Rushing (LV-3)
Image credit: Modern Reflexology
To find this acupoint, place your finger at the webbing between the big toe and the second toe and slide back about two finger widths, or until you are able to feel between the two bones. Apply pressure to this point to relieve nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and improve liver and gall-bladder health.
Image credit: Modern Reflexology
Locate this point by measuring three finger widths behind the base of the big toe on the inside of the foot. Massaging it helps with nausea, flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, and other abdominal issues.
Spleen Shu (BL-20)
Image credit: TMCWindow
For this acupoint, it may be best to see an acupressure practitioner, as it is difficult to reach. It is located on the 11th thoracic spine on the middle of the back. Stimulating it helps with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, bloating, and other conditions.
Hidden Gate (KID-21)
Image credit: Healthline
This is another acupoint that you should leave to an acupressure practitioner. It is located in the upper stomach area, just below the breastbone on either side of the stomach. Applying acupressure massage to this point helps with relieving nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
How to Use Acupressure to Relieve Nausea
Once you have familiarized yourself with the locations of the acupoints, it is time to start applying pressure properly.
- Place your finger on the acupoint and apply gentle pressure, just enough to move the skin;
- Move the finger in slow and gentle circles;
- With every few circles, gradually add more pressure and allow the muscle fibers to relax. If there are no muscles under the acupoint, keep applying a slow, steady, downward pressure in circles;
- Stay within your comfort zone and do not allow yourself to feel pain. Some dull aching sensation is normal. Keep applying pressure to the acupoint for at least a minute; and
- If you do not feel the effect immediately, repeat the procedure after several minutes.
A Word of Caution
Acupressure can be useful when used cautiously and on healthy tissue. Nevertheless, you should not use it as a replacement for medical treatment. Some conditions may point to a much more serious underlying condition, so consulting a health care professional and an acupressure practitioner should always come first.
Avoid using acupressure if:
- The acupoint is under scar tissue;
- There are varicose veins;
- There is a wound, swelling, or other damage;
- You have rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, or spinal injury;
- You are pregnant (as certain acupoints may provoke contractions).
We also suggest that you consult an acupressure specialist before starting any self-treatment.
How an Acupressure Mat Can Help with Nausea Relief
Acupressure mats can be especially useful for acupoints which are hard to reach, including some of the pressure points described above.
The effects of using an acupressure mat are similar to those of applying manual pressure to acupoints. Acupressure mats work by applying pressure to acupoints when you stand or lie on the mat. They also have the benefit of being able to stimulate multiple points at the same time.
Stimulating multiple points at the same time can be a bit taxing on the body, so practice this method with caution and avoid it altogether if you have thin skin or poor circulation (common among the elderly and diabetic).
Use the acupressure mat for at least 5-10 minutes at a time. If you are looking for an acupressure mat to use to address nausea, take a look at the acupressure mat by Dosha Mat. These acupressure mats are high-quality, long lasting mats made of eco-friendly natural material.