Acupressure for Constipation

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Have you or your child ever been constipated?  You may have noticed that the typical advice about increasing fiber, hydration, and exercise does not work for everyone. Try the acupressure for the constipation sequence below to relieve your discomfort and help your body release it’s waste efficiently.

Why is Constipation a Serious Problem?

Constipation is one of the most uncomfortable human experiences.  Sometimes stools become so hard & dry it even hurts to poop. Since defecation is one of the body’s best ways of eliminating waste and toxins from the body, it’s important that you’re going daily. For this reason, comprehensive, individualized approaches like those provided by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are becoming more valued.

You’re less likely to experience hemorrhoids, painful fissures, leaky gut, vitamin deficiencies, poor immunity, and other risks of constipation like colorectal cancer if you’re moving your bowels daily.

TCM includes acupuncture/acupressure, massage, herbs, dietetics, and qigong, all of which can help relieve constipation and treat the root of the condition. Of course, it’s best that you work with an experienced practitioner who can assess your condition objectively, determine if any lifestyle activity, prescription drug, or food intolerance is a culprit, and find the best treatment approach for you.

In the meantime, using the general acupressure protocol below can provide you some quick relief at home.

What is Constipation?

Some resources define constipation as dry, hard-to-pass stools. Other sources say that it’s the absence of a bowel movement for 3 to 4 days. Both definitions point to the colon absorbing too much water from stools.  Or it could be that there’s an absence of beneficial gut bacteria that normally protect the colon (dysbiosis).

Common Constipation Treatments and Their Limits

Again, most medical doctors will tell you to drink more water, eat more fiber, and get more exercise in order to stay regular. Getting enough Vitamin C, magnesium, and supplementing with a probiotic can also help prevent constipation. Certainly, everyone should be taking this advice. It may be just enough to get you over a brief episode of irregular bowel movements.

However, for people with chronic constipation, further investigation is necessary. You don’t want to depend on laxatives, enemas, or even purgative natural herbs, though they may be necessary to unblock the bowels initially.

Quite often stress & tension can throw off the balance of beneficial gut flora and can negatively impact gut motility. Or someone may have a hard time “letting go” emotionally, which translates as tension in the body when one tries to maintain control. That’s precisely what happens in the large intestine! It becomes tense and still and if we simply to push and strain when peristalsis has slowed, we can only make matters worse (hemorrhoids).

This is where TCM, particularly acupuncture/acupressure and qigong, can be a savior since they relieve stress and treat emotional/energetic issues reliably.

Acupressure for Constipation

If you’re feeling backed-up, you may benefit greatly from trying the general acupressure sequence below. All of the points have a direct impact on gut motility and move your vital energy downward.

Press each point for ~ 1 minute. Slow down your breathing to help you relax and keep your mind occupied by this direct experience of connecting with your body. As you inhale, feel the pressure of your finger against the point, as much as you can tolerate. As you exhale, feel any tension release.

The process can be relaxing and highly enjoyable, especially if you incorporate the use of essential oils. For adults, you can use a regulating essential oil diluted mildly in a carrier oil at your fingertips to help augment the effect of the treatment. My favorite is a blend of lemon, peppermint, and rosemary.

For children, using a 5% dilution of mandarin/tangerine essential oil is safer and more appropriate. Mandarin is well-known in Chinese Medicine for improving digestive health.

The Acupressure Points:

Conception Vessel (CV) 12

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Locate on the vertical midline of the abdomen midway between the xiphoid process of the sternum and the belly button.

Stomach (St) 25

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Locate these points bilateral to the belly button on the abdomen, midway between the belly button and outer border of the abdominal muscles.

Stomach (St) 36

For adults, this point is approximately 4 finger-widths below the kneecap on the highest portion of the muscle lateral to the shinbone. Or for both adults and kids, move your finger up along the muscle lateral to the crest of the shin bone toward the kneecap until you feel a depression in between the tibia and fibula bones.

Triple Warmer/San Jiao (SJ) 6

This point is approximately 4 finger-widths up from the outside of the wrist, which is about 1/3 of the distance between the wrist and crease of the elbow.

Large Intestine (LI) 4

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Locate this point at the peak of the mound above the end-crease of the thumb & first finger.

Gua sha/scraping on the sacrum

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Using a clean flat surface (TCM practitioners often recommend patients use a spoon at home), scrape the sacrum gently in a downward movement to release tension and move energy down.

Clockwise massage on belly to stimulate large intestine

With one of the diluted essential oils mentioned above this list, massage the abdomen in a clockwise circle, tracing the outline of the large intestine with firm but tolerable pressure. Repeat several times.

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