People can try using acupressure to relieve nausea resulting from various causes, including morning sickness, anxiety, and motion sickness.
Pressure point therapy, or acupressure, is a type of alternative treatment that many people believe can help with pain and other ailments.
Although there is no definitive evidence to prove the effectiveness of acupressure, anecdotal evidence and some studies suggest that it may help, and there is little risk in trying it.
In this article, we look at the research on pressure point therapy and explain which pressure points may help with nausea and anxiety.
Acupressure involves pressing on specific points around the body to boost overall health and heal particular ailments.
While there is a large body of research on acupuncture, few studies look at the effects of acupressure.
However, pressure point therapy is generally safe and noninvasive, and some people may find it beneficial. They should not use it as a substitute for a doctor-approved treatment, though.
There is some evidence that acupressure therapy may help with anxiety, which may, in some cases, reduce nausea.
A 2012 study examined acupressure’s effect on anxiety in people about to undergo surgery. Both the placebo and acupressure groups experienced a reduction in anxiety. However, there was a significant decrease in anxiety-related vital signs, such as rapid heartbeat and breathing, in those in the acupressure group.
Some research from 2019 also suggests that acupressure may help reduce fatigue in people with migraine, which can cause nausea. However, the study did not look at the effects of acupressure on nausea specifically.
Many people experience nausea at some point during their lifetime. Nausea can occur for many reasons.
For example, gastrointestinal distress, pregnancy, anxiety, migraine, chemotherapy, and other factors can all cause nausea.
Acupressure practitioners say that manipulating these pressure points may help with nausea:
Nei Guan (PC6 or P6)
The Nei Guan pressure point is on the inner wrist.
A systematic review from
The authors note that although the quality of the reviewed studies was low, the evidence justifies further research in this area.
The Youmen pressure point lies on either side of the upper stomach, just below the breastbone.
Practitioners suggest that manipulating this point may
Due to the location of this point, a person may need an experienced acupressure practitioner to apply pressure to it for them.
He Gu (LI4)
He Gu is a point on the hand, between the thumb and index finger, that corresponds to the large intestine.
Zhong Zhu (TE3)
This point lies in the groove between the knuckles of the little finger and ring finger.
Acupressure practitioners claim that applying pressure to this point can help with headaches and upper body pain.
If a person’s nausea is due to headaches, manipulating this pressure point may help.
Zu San Li (ST36)
Zu San Li (ST36) is a pressure point on the outer lower leg, a short distance below the knee.
Practitioners believe that pressing on this area can help with gastrointestinal issues, including nausea and vomiting.
Tai Chong (LV3)
If a person’s nausea results from emotional distress, pressing on this point may provide relief.
The point resides on the top of the foot, slightly below the area where the big toe meets the second toe.
Feng Chi (GB20)
An acupressure therapist may press on this area, which is behind the ear, to relieve nausea due to migraine or headache.
Yin Tang (Extra-1)
Shou San Li (LI10)
Applying pressure to this point may help with gastrointestinal distress, which anxiety can cause in some people.
People who wish to see whether manipulating these pressure points works for them can try the following techniques:
- using the thumb and index finger to apply pressure
- using the heel of the hand to apply pressure to larger pressure points
- applying pressure that is firm but gentle
- using a circular motion
- applying pressure to each pressure point for several minutes
Some people believe that performing acupressure on a pregnant person may induce labor, though the scientific evidence for this is lacking.
When performing acupressure, a person should be in a comfortable position and environment.
Practitioners suggest pairing pressure point therapy with deep breathing to enhance feelings of relaxation.
People can repeat acupressure sessions as many times as they want. They can perform acupressure therapy on themselves or ask someone else to massage their chosen pressure points.
If a person experiences chronic nausea with no clear cause, they should see a doctor.
Nausea can sometimes be a symptom of a serious condition.
A person who has nausea and the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention:
- chest pain or discomfort
- pain in the jaw, neck, or back
- discomfort or pain in the shoulders or arms
- stomach pain or discomfort
- shortness of breath
- sudden fatigue
- hot or cold sweats
This combination of symptoms may indicate a heart attack.
Anecdotally, some people find relief from nausea with acupressure. However, there is little evidence to confirm the benefits of this therapy.
In most cases, a person is safe to try acupressure, as it is not dangerous and can occur in conjunction with doctor-approved treatments. People should be more cautious during pregnancy, though.
If a person has nausea that is chronic or occurs alongside other symptoms, they should see a doctor to rule out a possible underlying condition.