01 August 2008

Acupressure for headache

Whether you get the occasional headache or suffer from chronic or recurring headaches, you can benefit from simple acupressure techniques that you can do yourself at home.

Acupressure for a family member

If a family member has a headache, turn the lights down (bright light makes some headaches worse) and ask them to lie on their back.  Seat yourself comfortably by their head.  You might want to put on some soft music to help them to relax.  If it’s cold, cover them with a blanket.  Don’t feel you need to rush – take your time. If you are relaxed then this will help them to relax too.

1. Push-stroking the forehead
Put the pad of your thumbs above the middle ends of their eyebrows and slide/push above the eyebrows and out to the side hairline.  The pressure is firm but not too hard.  Each time you return to the middle, start a little higher.  Repeat until you are sliding your thumbs across the top hairline.  Repeat the whole sequence over about two minutes.

2. Point-pressing “Sun point” (Tai Yang) and “Wind pool” (Feng Chi)
First locate “Wind pool” with your middle fingers.  Slide your hands under their head, so that your middle fingers meet at the hairline on the nape of their neck.  Now move your fingers out sideways, along the hairline.  You will feel a dip between the two neck muscles, about 5cm to each side.  There is often a little depression in the skull bone here.  Don’t worry too much about precise location – use slight pressure along the hairline until your “patient” tells you they feel a pleasant ache.  This point is usually tender when someone has a headache.

Keeping your middle fingers on “Wind pool”, now move your thumbs outwards from the outside corner of the eye towards the side hairline.  Roughly half-way, you should find a slight depression.  It is likely to be a little tender.  This is called “Sun point”.

Gently press these four points and gradually increase the pressure until they feel a pleasant distension (mild pressure) radiating up to the top of the head. Then gently pull the skin at these points, with firm but not hard pressure, three times.

3. Combing and rubbing the head
Using your fingertips like a comb and, vibrating your fingers quickly as you comb, slide your hands from the forehead hairline down to the ears.  Then comb from the forehead hairline to the top of the head and to the nape of the neck.  Repeat for about two minutes.

4. Point-pressing “One hundred meetings” point (Bai Hui)
The simplest way to find “One hundred meetings” is to gently fold the ears forward - the point at the top is the “ear apex”.  Now draw an imaginary line between these two ear points over the top of the head.  “One hundred meetings” is in the middle, at the top of the head.  Place your right thumb pad on this point and press it with your left thumb.  Ideally, they will experience a little numbness at this point.  Hold for about one minute.


If you have a headache and no-one’s around, don’t despair!  Try these simple self-massage techniques.

1. Squeeze and lift the nape
When seated, clasp your hands together behind your neck.  Using the heel of the hand, use a gentle upwards pressure to lift the skin and muscles of the neck.  Repeat for about one minute.

2. Pressing and kneading “Joining valley” (He Gu)
“Joining valley” is located in the fleshy pad between the thumb and index finger.  It is tender in most people, and especially during a headache.  Squeeze this area between your thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand until you find a tender point(s).  Press and knead with a circular motion, alternating hands, for about a minute.  Ideally you will feel pressure and heaviness radiating to the fingers.

3. Point-pressing “Great rushing” (Tai Chong)
“Great rushing” is located between the big toe and second toe.  Slide your finger from the toe web along the top of your foot, between the two bones, until you feel the bones meet.  “Great rushing” is located in the tender spot before the bones of the big and second toes meet.  There could be several tender spots here!

Sitting comfortably, hold the right shin with the right hand and place it on the left thigh, or rest it on a pillow or footstool within reach of the left hand.  Press “Great rushing” with the left thumb for about thirty seconds, until a feeling of soreness and pressure arises.  Then do the same for the other foot.

Those of you who have been to the Clinic for acupuncture will recognise one or all of these points.  The reason they are so commonly used is that they are very effective.  Over thousands of years of acupuncture practice in China, these points have continued to show up as being useful in so many conditions.

You can use these simple, time-proven techniques to keep your own family healthy. Of course, headaches should always be investigated by a medical doctor.  And if you have persistent headaches that don’t get a lot better with acupressure at home, then please call the clinic for advice.

For a free diagram of these acupressure points, please email the Clinic: info@oceanacupuncture.com.au

This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other Ocean Acupuncture practitioners.
The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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