By Stephanie Petrow, Licensed Acupuncturist, Dipl. OM
Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years and is becoming more integrated with Western Medicine. Licensed acupuncturists learn specific techniques to safely insert hair thin needles at specific points on the face and body. This is done to stimulate energy (qi) and assist the body’s innate healing. Using the foundation of acupuncture, acupressure is a gentle and more convenient way to stimulate the same points using physical touch instead of needles.
Since many of us are spending more time at home, try acupressure on yourself or loved ones. To enhance the experience light candles, use essential oils, or play relaxing music. Acupressure can be done any time of day, so include it as part of your morning routine, mid-day, or before retiring to bed. Below are a few of my favorite acupressure points to support the immune system.
To start, wash your hands thoroughly and find a quiet place to sit comfortably. Take a few moments to center yourself with deep steady breathing. Then follow the sequence of points listed below, starting at the top and working your way down. Use the locations noted as a guide when finding the points. You should target tender spots, tension, or even a slight depression at or near the location described. Once you find the point, apply firm pressure and hold for about 2-3 minutes at each point then repeat another round and switch sides. Do this 2x a day especially when feeling congested or fatigued. Note: a slight ache while applying pressure is to be expected. Also you may ‘press and release’ each point (instead of holding), to create a pumping sensation.
Kidney 27 (Shu Fu)
Location on body: On the upper chest, below the clavicle (collarbone) and about 1” out from the centerline. This area may be tender when pressed.
Benefits: Kidney 27 is one of my favorite points. It helps open the chest, regulate breathing, and is sometimes referred to as a ‘reset or reboot point’ due to being positioned near the thymus gland. The thymus gland is more active in children than adults and according to PubMed*, “controls and harmonizes the entire immune system and the immune functioning of the organism”.
Large Intestine 4 (He Gu)
Location on body: On your hand between the thumb and index finger. Press into the muscle of the webbed area. If may feel tight or achy when pressed.
Benefits: This is one of the most powerful pain-relieving points on the body. It also clears heat, reduces sweating, and benefits the face and head region. It’s a great point to relieve fever, headache, congested sinuses, sore throat, and jaw pain.
(Avoid if pregnant as this point could induce labor)
Large Intestine 10 (Shou San Li)
Location on body: Bend your elbow about 90 degrees, find the outer edge of your elbow crease. Then press and feel 1-1.5” away from the elbow along the forearm. This area usually holds a lot of tension and you’ll know the spot, as it will be tender.
Benefits: This point is often paired with Stomach 36 (below) to magnify the same benefits. It also helps relieve tension and pain from the arms and shoulders.
Stomach 36 (Zu San Li)
Location on body: Bend your knee approx. 45 degrees and feel for a tender depression about 4 fingerbreadths below the outer edge of the patella (knee cap). Press here to stimulate this point.
Benefits: This is a very common point to boost energy and support immunity. In addition, it helps harmonize digestive conditions such as nausea, upset stomach, and constipation. This is important since a large percentage of immune cells are found in the gut.
Kidney 1 (Yong Quan)
Location on body: On the bottom of your foot, below the ball of your foot and between the first and second toes there is a depression. Press here to find the point.
Benefits: This point is lesser known for immunity than the points listed above. However, it literally and energetically grounds you since it’s located on the bottom of the foot. It also clears heat, calms the mind, and promotes restful sleep…and getting a good night’s sleep helps bolster immunity.
To compliment this acupressure series and further boost immunity, I recommend the following.
- Increase your fluid intake.
- Add spices such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon to your meals. Spices not only add flavor, richness, and warmth to food, they also have anti-viral properties.
- Eat warm, cooked meals (oatmeal, broth soups, stews, roasted vegetables, and lean meats). Avoid dairy products and cold foods (sushi, salads, raw foods, smoothies, iced drinks) when feeling ‘under the weather’. Warm meals are easier on your digestive system and keep things moving. Cold foods constrict and may congeal fluids or generate phlegm.
- Soak for 15-20min in a warm Epsom salt bath 2-3x a week to relax muscles and warm your body.
- Use an essential oil diffuser with eucalyptus, peppermint, or citrus scents to help freshen and purify the air.
- Check out probiotics and the ‘Forceshield’ elixir at gryphandivyrose.com or connect with Stephanie @StephaniePetrowLAc for more information.
Stephanie Petrow, Licensed Acupuncturist, Dipl. OM