If you’ve worn an anti-nausea bracelet to fight seasickness or pressed on the underside of your wrist to relieve morning sickness, you’ve used the ancient Chinese medical practice called acupressure. Also called the Nuiguan or Inner Gate in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), or—less romantically—P6, or Pericardium 6, by Western acupuncturists, this pressure point can help you relieve nausea discreetly and effectively.
Your body is composed of a network of energy channels, also called “meridians,” which draw the vital life force, or “qi,” from food, air and your environment in general, according to Iona Teeguarden, a Jin Shin Do acupuncturist and co-author of “A Complete Guide to Acupressure.” When qi flows smoothly, you can easily maintain a state of health. When qi becomes blocked—often due to stress, change or injury—symptoms such as nausea can arise.
How It Works
When you press an acupressure point, you release physical tension in the muscles and allow blood to flow, notes Susan Lark, women’s health and preventive medicine expert and author of “Dr. Susan Lark’s The Estrogen Decision Self Help Book.” On a more subtle level, Lark notes, qi begins to flow freely, allowing the body and mind to return to a state of balance. One way to think of an acupressure point is as a valve that sits on an energy line. Massaging the point opens the valve, releasing any stagnation in the line and allowing qi flow to resume.
Massaging the Inner Gate pressure point has proven very effective in fighting nausea in clinical trials. In a 2009 review, published in “Breast Cancer Research and Treatment,” Li-Fen Chao and colleagues at the School of Nursing at Chang Gung University in Taiwan examined the effects of acupoint stimulation on the adverse effects of breast cancer treatment. They found that the manipulation of the Inner Gate relieved nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, and especially helped those patients who were acutely nauseous.
Find the Inner Gate on yourself by turning the palm of one hand to face you. Locate the crease on your wrist that sits closest to your palm. Measure three finger-widths down from the crease. Press firmly in between the two wrist bones to feel the tender spot of the Inner Gate, according to Acupressure Online. Because points can be quite small, you may have to use your forefinger or middle finger, rather than your thumb, to press the spot. You can also use the eraser end of a pencil to manipulate the point. To relieve nausea, press and hold the point for three minutes or more on each wrist, beginning with the side that feels less sore.
Although the Inner Gate point works well to relieve nausea temporarily, an authentic TCM treatment would involve manipulation of more than one point, notes Pamela Weiss, acupuncturist and professor at the department of nursing at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. In her chapter on acupressure in the book “Complementary/Alternative Therapies in Nursing,” Weiss argues that nausea typically reflects imbalance on a deep internal level. Any one of a number of possible underlying issues can cause nausea. To completely eliminate nausea, seek the advice of a TCM practitioner.
- “A Complete Guide to Acupressure: Jin Shin Do”; Iona Teeguarden and Pierluigi Duina; 2002
- “Dr. Susan Lark’s The Estrogen Decision Self Help Book”; Susan Lark; 1995
- “Breast Cancer Research and Treatment”; "The Efficacy of Acupoint Stimulation for the Management of Therapy-Related Adverse Events"; LF Chao et al; November 2009
- Acupressure Online: P6
- “Complementary/Alternative Therapies in Nursing”; Mariah Snyder and Ruth Lindquist; 2006