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In writing this article, it had always been my goal to create a list of five of the best acupuncture points for digestion. You know the drill, time, finances (I don’t know how that got in the way), everything to help you procrastinate, and then BAM! A nice hot bowl of knowledge soup is ready to be consumed, and it’s all for you!
The best acupuncture points for digestion?
Let’s dive in and take a look:
Stomach 36 (ST36) -Zusanli
Located on the stomach meridian, roughly 3 inches below the kneecap and about 1 inch toward the outer edge of the leg. It is thought to influence upper abdominal organs and the parasympathetic nervous system.
ST 36 Research
A 2013 study published in the Oncology Nursing Forum evaluated the effectiveness of ST-36 acupressure on the recovery of postoperative gastrointestinal function in patients with colorectal cancer. The study found that patients who received acupressure at ST-36 had significantly earlier passage of flatus and time to liquid intake compared to the control group, suggesting an improvement in gastrointestinal function.
Liver 3 (LV 3) – Taichon
Location: On the foot, in the depression distal to the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones.
Usage: It’s known as a “source point” of the Liver meridian and is often used to address issues related to the liver, stress, and emotional well-being, which can indirectly affect digestion.
Pericardium 6 (PC 6) – Neiguan
PC6, also known as Pericardium 6 or Neiguan, is one of the most commonly used acupuncture points and has a variety of applications according to both traditional Chinese medicine and modern research.
PC6, or Pericardium 6 (also known as Neiguan), is an acupuncture point located on the inner forearm. To find PC6:
- Place three fingers (index, middle, and ring finger) at the base of the wrist, with the edge of the ring finger just at the wrist crease.
- The point is located underneath the edge of the index finger, between the two prominent tendons (palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis) that can be felt there.
- It is roughly in the center of the inner forearm, about two thumb widths (or three finger breadths) from the wrist crease.
This point is commonly used for its calming effects and to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness. It’s also the point where motion sickness bands apply pressure to help prevent nausea.
PC 6 Research
This study investigated the effect of acupuncture on esophageal motility in patients with refractory GERD symptoms. The acupuncture points used in these studies included ST36 and PC6, suggesting that PC6 may have a role in improving symptoms related to acid reflux by enhancing the function of the lower esophageal sphincter.
A Cochrane review published in 2015 found that stimulation of PC6 significantly reduced the incidence of nausea, vomiting, and the need for rescue antiemetics compared with sham treatment. This suggests that PC6 is effective for managing symptoms related to the digestive system, particularly nausea.
Spleen 9 (SP 9) – yinlingquan
Location: On the inner leg, just below the knee in the depression on the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia.
Usage: SP 9 is a he-sea point on the spleen meridian, often used for urinary and digestive issues, especially those involving dampness in the spleen.
Stomach 34 (St 34) – Liangqiu
- To locate it, place your finger on the kneecap (patella) and slide your finger up the thigh about two finger-widths, or approximately 2 inches.
- The point is just off the outer edge of the quadriceps muscle, which is the large muscle on the front of the thigh.
These points are part of traditional Chinese medicine and are believed to help control the flow of energy around the body, as well as positively influence overall metabolism and digestive health. Through research we have been able to integrate TCM effectively and uphold U.S. standards of care and evidence based medicine.
Carlo St. Juste II, MAOM has a background in acupuncture with over 10 years of clinical experience and over 16 years in the Martial Arts. He has worked with various organizations to implement employee wellness programs including The City of West Covina, The City of Brea, Broadcom, USC, American Suzuki, and Pomona College. He is dedicated to promoting integrative health and has seen the benefits of knowledge and implementation first hand.