How to Use Acupressure to Treat Cold Symptoms
Every culture has their “tried-and-true” cure for the sniffles—from the unsavoury but thankfully obsolete blood-letting practices of medieval Europe, to the more palatable and timeless prescription of chicken soup from the Jewish tradition—they’re all testament to our desire to beat the common cold.
The ancient Chinese was no different—they also developed a system of remedies to prevent and treat the common cold. One such remedy involves stimulating key pressure points within the body to strengthen the body’s own immunity, alleviate cold symptoms, and promote natural healing.
It’s called “acupressure”—a variation of the increasingly popular practice of “acupuncture”. But unlike acupuncture, acupressure achieves its health effects through touch and pressure, rather than the insertion of needles. Its user-friendly and low-maintenance nature makes acupressure much more applicable to everyday settings—such as when you’re in the throes of a cold.
And today, I will share a list of 10 acupressure points you can use at home to help you manage those nasty cold symptoms. But before we go any further, there are a few basic things you need to understand about acupressure and how it can help you fight the common cold.
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Basic Principles Behind Acupressure
Both acupuncture and acupressure have roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—a healing practice that strives to achieve awareness, balance, and harmony of the body, mind, and spirit.
- TCM is built on the concept of “qi” (pronounced “chi”), which is best described as a vitalizing life force that flows within the human body. The goal of TCM is to help maintain a balance of qi and ensure its proper flow throughout the body.
- There are multiple “meridians”, or channels within the human body that connect to various organs and tissues. Qi flows along these meridians to nourish all cells. If a meridian becomes congested, this blocks the flow of qi and causes stagnation, pain, and eventually disease.
- By stimulating and massaging certain pressure points along these meridians, we can remove blockages and promote better circulating of qi. This not only helps address specific conditions related to the affected meridian, but it also helps our body achieve more balance and harmony.
How Does Acupressure Cure a Cold?
Although acupressure can’t completely cure the common cold, research does show that it can produce “a significantly positive effect” on cold symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, headache, and cough.
It does this by promoting the circulation of blood and qi, regulating and strengthening our immune system, and filling our body with the energy and nourishment it needs to fight off the cold.
Now that you have a basic understanding of acupressure and how it can help you cope with the common cold, let’s look at the various acupressure points that can help you address specific cold symptoms.
Acupressure Points for Cold and Sinus Relief
Many of the acupressure points mentioned below require the use of your thumb or fingers to apply moderate to firm pressure. For ergonomic reasons, you may want to consider getting a small acupressure tool like this to help you in the application:
1. Ying-xiang (Welcome Fragrance)
Welcome Fragrance is known for its ability to relieve nasal congestion and improve breathing. It’s one of the acupressure points I try to massage every day even when I don’t have a cold, so that I can strengthen my respiratory system.
How to locate this acupressure point: Welcome Fragrance is in the crevice next to the widest part of your nose on either side of your face.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Use both index fingers to massage the area on either side of your nose in a circular motion for 2-3 minutes at a time, or until both spots feel warm.
2. Yu-ji (Fish Border)
Fish Border is a powerful acupressure point that can help alleviate many breathing-related health conditions including asthma and congestion.
How to find this acupressure point: This point is located on the outer edge of your palm, an inch or so below the base of your thumb.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Press into this point with the tip of your thumb, applying firm pressure for 30 seconds and release. Repeat this for 2-3 minutes a day.
Acupressure Points for Cold and Throat Pain
3. Shao-shang (Lesser Shang)
Got a sore throat? You might want to give the next acupressure point a try.
Shao-shang, known as “Lesser Shang” in English, belongs to a special category of pressure points called “Jing-Well” points that are mostly located on the tips of your fingers or toes. Besides being easily accessible, there’s evidence suggesting these Jing-Well points can effectively treat symptoms associated with their respective meridians. And in the case of Lesser Shang, which rests on the Lung Meridian, it’s especially effective in treating throat pain and swelling.
How to locate this acupressure point: This point is located on the outer side of your thumb, right next to the bottom of your nail bed.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Get ready, you need to toughen up for this one. Because if you want to see results, you’re going to need to apply quite a bit of pressure to stimulate this point.
And I’m not going to lie—it will hurt. But hey, compared to that nasty throat ache you got, this will be nothing (well, almost). I like to use the tip of my fingernail to “dig into” this point, but if that’s not a palatable option for you, try using the tip of a spoon. And remember, if you’re not feeling any pain at all, that means you’re not applying enough pressure.
4. Qu-chi (Crooked Pond)
Crooked Pond is great for expelling disruptive forces within the body called “Wind” and reducing excess heat—both thought to be major causes of painful or itchy throat in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This makes Crooked Pond one of the most effective pressure points for sore throat.
How to locate this acupressure point: First, bend your elbow. You should be able to see a line running down the outer side of your arm where your elbow bends. Crooked Pond lies at the endpoint of that line.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Use your thumb or an acupressure tool to massage this point in a circular motion for 30 seconds, applying moderate and even pressure, and then release. Do this for 2-3 minutes at a time. I like to massage this point off and on throughout the day until my symptoms subside.
Acupressure Points for Cold and Headache
5. Feng-chi (Wind Pool)
Wind Pool is one of my favourite acupressure points because of its ability to alleviate headaches and cold/flu symptoms. I used to suffer from frequent headaches and Wind Pool was one of the key points I relied on for fast and lasting relief.
How to locate this acupressure point: Place your thumb on either side of your neck, approximately an inch away from your spine. Run your thumb upwards along your neck until you feel a groove at the base of your skull. Wind Pool is located within that groove.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Massage Wind Pool on both sides of your neck at the same time, in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds at a time, applying firm pressure. To finish the massage, rub for 10-15 seconds with your thumb in a downward motion. Repeat for 3-5 minutes.
6. Feng-fu (Wind Mansion)
Wind Mansion is another effective pressure point for easing headaches and expelling disruptive Wind from the body.
How to locate this acupressure point: Find the midpoint of your neck where it connects to your head. There, you’ll find a crease where your spine meets the base of your skull, and that’s where you’ll find Wind Mansion.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Gently rub this acupressure point with your thumb, or tap the spot with both your forefinger and middle finger, for 2-3 minutes at a time.
7. Da-zhui (Great Hammer)
Da-zhui, or “Great Hammer” is especially effective in treating fevers associated with the common cold, as well as neck stiffness and pain.
How to locate this acupressure point: If you want to be technical about this point’s location, it’s in the spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra. But if that’s gibberish to you, here’s a quick and easy way to find it:
- Bend your head forward and trace your fingers down the back of your neck. You should be able to feel the “peaks and valleys” of your spine.
- Next, locate the tallest “peak” of your spine that’s protruding from your neck. If it’s not immediately obvious which peak it is, here’s a hint: this bone won’t budge when you turn your neck while everything on top of it will move with your neck.
- The Great Hammer acupressure point is in the “valley” directly below this spot.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Use either your thumb or forefinger to rub this area for 20-30 seconds each time, and repeat for 2-3 minutes until the area feels warm. You can also stimulate the area with hot water for 3-5 minutes when you’re in the shower.
Acupressure Points for Cough and Phlegm
8. Tian-tu (Celestial Chimney)
Celestial Chimney is one of my go-to acupressure points for relieving cough, swollen or itchy throat, and stubborn phlegm. It’s recognized as one of the key points for promoting the circulation of qi in our body and resolving phlegm buildup.
How to locate this acupressure point: Find the midpoint of your collarbone where it connects to your chest bone at the base of your neck. You’ll find a natural recess there, and that’s where Celestial Chimney resides.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Bend your thumb and use the tip of your thumb to press firmly down on this point at an angle. Press on this point for 5-10 seconds at a time, and repeat for 2-3 minutes. And remember, NEVER press with your thumb straight into your neck as it may cause discomfort or even trigger your gag reflex. Due to the sensitivity of this pressure point, don’t use any other tool besides your thumb or fingers.
9. Feng-long (Abundant Bulge)
Abundant Bulge is another point used frequently in Traditional Chinese Medicine to address all sorts of conditions related to phlegm in the body.
How to locate this acupressure point: Abundant Bulge is located on the lateral side (away from your body) of your leg, at the midpoint between your knee and ankle.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Use your thumb or an acupressure tool to press into this point. Massage the spot in a circular motion for 30 seconds at a time, and repeat for 1-2 minutes.
10. Chi-ze (Cubit Marsh)
Cubit Marsh can help reduce excess heat in the lungs, reduce phlegm, and ease chest discomfort. Since I suffer from a rare lung disorder, I like to massage this point daily to help maintain the healthy function of my lungs.
How to locate this acupressure point:
- Turn your palm upward, bend your arm slightly at the elbow, and flex your forearm.
- You’ll see two tendons “pop up” in your elbow crease.
- Cubit Marsh is located in the outer groove of the tendon on the radial side (towards the thumb) of your elbow crease.
How to stimulate this acupressure point: Use the fleshy part of your thumb or an acupressure tool to press into the point, using moderate pressure, for 30 seconds, and then release. Repeat these steps for 1-3 minutes.
Recommended Resources for Acupressure
If you want to learn more about acupressure, here are some excellent introductory books I recommend: