Acupressure for Headache

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hen a Migraine attack hits all you want is to feel better ASAP. Natural approaches, like pressure points for headaches, can help relieve symptoms while you wait for your meds to kick in.

You can practice acupressure for Migraine at home to relieve some of the pain, tightness, and abdominal issues that come with an attack. Pressure points for headaches are a safe, natural way to get rid of migraines, and free tool worth adding to your toolkit.

With no side effects or big price tags, trying acupressure for Migraine relief is low-risk. Even better, with the following images and directions courtesy of,  you can learn acupressure without leaving your home.

9 Pressure Points Headaches and Migraine Relief

Acupressure and acupuncture for Migraine in Asia for thousands of years. By learning how to stimulate pressure points — including Daith piercing, you can relieve minor or moderate symptoms, and reduce the need for nonprescription drugs. Unlike most drugs, acupressure for Migraine usually provides relief immediately.

How to Use Acupressure

Learning acupressure at home is simple:

  1. First, find a quiet place where you can relax, either sitting or lying down.
  2. Locate the pressure point you are targeting.
  3. Use your knuckle, fingertip, or soft-pointed object like a pencil eraser to apply deep probing pressure to each pressure point.
  4. Apply pressure for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. When applying acupressure, try to relax and breathe deeply as you massage the area.
  6. Repeat using the same point on the other side of your body.

You should feel immediate relief. Sometimes a pressure point will feel different on opposites sides of the body.

The following pressure points for headaches are especially useful:

1) Acupoint 7: LU-7

Clasp your hands together (A), touching your upper wrist with your forefinger. The point is found on a line with the thumb, in a small depression (B). Remembering the position of the point, unclasp your hands, and apply pressure. Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Lung 

2) Acupoint 1: LI-4

Squeeze thumb and forefinger together, forming a ridge above the thumb. The point is in the middle of that ridge, just above the end of the crease formed by thumb and forefinger. Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Large Intestine 4

3) Acupoint 26: (nostril)

Pinch the nostril, on the side opposite the septum.

4) Acupoint 12: LU-9

The point is on the largest crease of the inner wrist, on a line with the thumb Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Lung 9

Pressure Points for Shoulder and Neck Pain

5) Acupoint GB-21

In the scientific literature, Jian Jing (GB21) is used as one of the point combinations to successfully alleviate chronic daily headaches in a pilot, double-blind controlled trial (1). Jian Jing (GB 21) is located in the muscle found by first pinching your shoulder muscle with your thumb and middle finger.

To use acupressure for Migraine on this point, first, pinch your shoulder muscle with thumb and middle finger and find the point in the center of the muscle. Then using your index finger, apply downward pressure to massage and stimulate the area for 4-5 seconds while releasing your pinch. Caution: do not use while pregnant as it may induce labor.

6) Acupoint 29: SJ-17

On the back of the jawbone, just below the ear. Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Triple Warmer 17

7) Acupoint GB-20

Feng Chi (GB20), in combination with other acupoints, was used to help manage migraines and yielded positive results in a review article (2).

It is located by feeling the mastoid (ear) bone and following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull. Clasp your hands together in front of you then open your palms with fingers interlocked to form a cup shape.

Cradle the back of your head in this cup shape and use your thumbs to massage the point for 4-5 seconds. Remember to breathe deeply.

Acupressure for Migraine Symptoms: Nausea, Constipation, and Stomach Pain

Try the following acupressure points for pain, discomfort, or other symptoms of the gastrointestinal system.

8) Acupoint 5: SP-6

One palm width above the tip of the inner anklebone, on the back of the shinbone. This foot pressure point for Migraine is often used in combination with acupoint #6 (below)

 Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Spleen 6Advertisement

9) Acupoint 6: St-36

One palm width below the bottom edge of the kneecap, on the outside, in a depression between the shinbone and the leg muscle. Effective for most problems from the waist down, especially when used with acupoint #5 Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Stomach 36(8)Acupoint St-36(2)

 + Acupoint 1: LI-4 (same as #2 above)

Squeeze thumb and forefinger together, forming a ridge above the thumb. The point is in the middle of that ridge, just above the end of the crease formed by thumb and forefinger. Good for most problems from the waist up. Correlates in Traditional Chinese Medicine with Large Intestine 4

Few Cautions

Acupressure is not appropriate as the only treatment for acute or chronic conditions, but it can be a useful tool alongside medical care.

Acupressure should not be used:

  1. As the only treatment for illness; if you are sick, see a doctor
  2. If you have a heart condition
  3. Just before or within 20 minutes after heavy exercise, a large meal, or bathing
  4. If the point in question is under a mole, wart, varicose vein, abrasion, bruise, cut, or any other break in the skin
  5. If you are pregnant, especially if more than 3 months

Sometimes, all the triptans, cold compresses, and coffee in the world don’t seem to be enough to relieve your migraine pain. If that sounds familiar, you might want to learn a bit about acupressure. It’s a natural, relatively safe method of pain relief for you to try.

Acupressure 101

You may’ve heard people raving about the benefits of acupuncture treatment for all kinds of health issues, from back pain to chronic migraine headaches, but did you know that acupressure works the same way— without all those scary needles?

Like acupuncture, acupressure is an alternative medicine technique based on the traditional Chinese concept of Qi, the life energy that flows through the body in pathways called meridians. This tradition attributes various ailments and illnesses to blockages in the flow of Qi. The purpose of acupuncture and acupressure is to clear those blockages and return your body to its natural state.

But what is acupressure specifically? Well, a lot like a massage. It involves applying pressure to specific parts of the body called acupressure points (or acupoints for short). Which points you focus on depends on what kind of pain you’re trying to treat, which brings us to our next section.

How can it help relieve migraine pain?

Acupressure is said to be helpful for people dealing with depression, anxiety, nausea, chemotherapy side effects, and many other conditions. The idea is that any physical or emotional pain can be partly relieved by acupressure, so it almost goes without saying that it can be useful for migraineurs — especially when you consider that it’s free, usually safe for most people, and simple enough that you might even be able to perform it on yourself during a migraine.

What’s the science behind it?

We should mention that the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of acupressure is pretty much inconclusive. A 2011 review published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management noted that 35 out of 43 studies found that acupressure did alleviate symptoms of various illnesses, but that many of those studies may have been biased. More research will likely be needed before scientists can decide if the benefits of acupressure are the real deal or just another example of the placebo effect.

Scientific studies aside, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence in favor of acupressure. Since it doesn’t come with any negative side effects, giving it a try is relatively risk-free.

When is acupressure most effective for migraines?

Acupressure is intended to provide immediate relief, so you can try it during a migraine attack. Can’t imagine being able to remember pressure points while in the throes of a migraine? Yeah, we get it. Luckily, someone else can do it for you without reducing its effects if you show them how.

How exactly do you use pressure points to relieve migraines?

Good news if you want to try this out, it’s very easy. All it involves is getting comfortable, closing your eyes, and massaging the pressure point in a circular motion for 15 to 20 seconds. You should use firm pressure, but don’t press so hard that it’s painful. (That makes it a great option for those never-ending minutes before your acute medication kicks in.)

How do you know which pressure points to target?

For migraine relief, the most important pressure point to know to relieve headache pain is the space between the base of your thumb and your index finger. For those who want to be acupressure experts, it’s called LI-4 (a.k.a. Hegu).

Other potentially useful points include your inner wrist, on the same side as your thumb (LU-9), and the back of your jawbone, just below your ear (SJ-17).

If your migraine attacks come with nausea, you could also try the depression between your leg muscles and shin bones, right below your kneecaps (ST-36).

Take a look at our handy reference guide below if you’re having trouble finding them.

Who shouldn’t use acupressure?

Wondering if this is risky to try? Rest assured that acupressure is a relatively safe way to alleviate pain, and it can typically be used many times a day without causing any harm.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be careful. Don’t put pressure on any areas where you have burns, infections, contagious skin diseases, or active cancer.

Pregnant women should consult with a doctor before using acupressure because some points are believed to induce contractions. People with joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis should also talk to their healthcare provider before trying acupressure.

To wrap all this up, acupressure is a natural, easy, and relatively safe method for pain relief, but it shouldn’t be your primary treatment for any serious conditions or illnesses, including migraine. Many sufferers treat migraines by combining alternative techniques and prescription medication.

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