Like no other body part, your digestive system lets you know when something is wrong. The digestive system expresses emotional and dietary excesses more fully than other parts of the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine. Acupressure helps resolve abdominal pain by releasing stagnant qi and allowing energy to move freely once more. Acupressure is not a replacement for conventional medical therapies.
Traditional Chinese medicine theorizes that invisible pathways called “meridians” or “channels” run throughout the body, connecting it to the environment and providing conduits for the smooth flow of qi or energy, according to the website Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. Each meridian corresponds to a different internal organ or body system. Stress, illness or injury can block qi, causing an area of stagnation to develop, which in turn creates the conditions for disease. Acupressure works to clear stagnant qi, allowing the flow to resume.
Several causes can lead to abdominal pain, but TCM identifies deficient spleen qi as one of the most common in today’s fast-paced world. Spleen qi deficiency expresses itself as abdominal pain with distention, fatigue, and a pale complexion, according to Misha Cohen, director of Chicken Soup Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. If you spend long hours at a job that requires intense concentration, spend a lot of time studying or worry, you are a candidate for spleen qi deficiency.
In addition to acupressure, a complete program of TCM includes combing through your dietary habits for possible causes of your abdominal pain, according to Michael Reed Gach, founder of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, and co-author of “Acupressure for Emotional Healing.” Excess sugar consumption can lead to bloating and worry, Gach notes. He advises avoiding heavy “comfort foods” in favor of light, simple, locally grown fare. Lightening your diet and eating foods that are in season in your area can harmonize your qi and help eliminate abdominal pain.
Acupressure can powerfully stimulate digestive system activity, according to a 2005 study published in the “Scandanavian Journal of Gastroenterology.” Osamu Tokumaru and J.D. Chen of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas in Galveston found that stimulation of the P6 point on the wrist—often recommended to treat nausea—increased electrical activity in the gastric muscles by 86 percent to 90 percent. Find P6 by turning your palm up. Place the middle and index fingers of your other hand on your wrist, with the middle finger resting below the crease closest to your palm. Find P6 just below the index finger, between the two large wrist tendons. You’ll know you’ve found P6 when you locate a spot that is more tender than the surrounding area. To use P6 for nausea, press and hold it until your symptoms subside.
For immediate relief from stomach ache, use CV 12, the point midway between the bottom of the breastbone and the belly button, according to Acupressure Online. When you find a tender spot in this location, apply firm pressure to it. Massage the point using small circular motions, then press and hold it until you feel a numb sensation spread out from under your finger.