It’s common to feel constipated every now and then. It can happen for many reasons, like dehydration or stress. Some medications and medical conditions can also cause constipation.

Fortunately, it’s possible to relieve constipation with natural remedies like acupressure. This involves applying physical pressure to various points on your body to support digestion and induce bowel movements.

You can do acupressure on yourself or have it done by a trained professional. In either case, it’s important to understand how it works, as well as the potential side effects.

Read on to learn how to use pressure points for relieving constipation.

Acupressure is type of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It’s a form of acupuncture, which is the practice of stimulating specific points on your body by inserting tiny needles into your skin. When pressure is used to activate these points, as in massage, it’s known as acupressure.

According to TCM, your body has a vital energy called qi. This energy flows through channels in your body, called meridians. These meridians are thought to be connected to your tissues and organs.

TCM practitioners maintain that a balanced Qi is necessary for good health. If your Qi is blocked or imbalanced, health issues can develop. This includes ailments such as:

  • pain
  • discomfort
  • constipation

Therapies like acupressure are used to balance qi.

In acupressure, a practitioner uses their fingers or hands to apply physical pressure on certain points along your body’s meridians. This is said to trigger a response that promotes healing and relief.

There are more than 2,000 pressure points in the body. The specific points used in acupressure depend on your ailment.

You can use acupressure for constipation by stimulating the following pressure points. According to TCM, these points are linked to various organs involved in constipation.

San Jiao 6: Branching Ditch

San Jiao 6 (SJ6) is commonly used for constipation. According to Peirano, this point stimulates the lower jiao, which includes the large and small intestines, kidneys, and bladder.

To use this point for acupressure:

  1. Find SJ6, three finger-widths away from your wrist crease on the outer side of your arm.
  2. Press on the point with your opposite thumb or index finger.
  3. Apply circular pressure for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat on your other arm.

Stomach 25: Celestial Pivot

Stomach 25 (ST25) is used to balance your digestive system. It can help both constipation and diarrhea, says Peirano.

To use this point for acupressure:

  1. Locate ST25, two finger-widths to right of your belly button.
  2. Press on the point with your thumb or index finger.
  3. Apply circular pressure for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat on the left side.

Spleen 15: Great Horizontal

Spleen 15 (SP15) is located near ST25. It’s used to stimulate peristalsis and enhance the effects of ST25.

To use this point for acupressure:

  1. Find SP15, four finger-widths to the right of your belly button.
  2. Press on the point with your thumb or index finger.
  3. Apply circular pressure for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat on the left side.

Liver 3: Great Surge

If stress could be the underlying cause of your constipation symptoms, Peirano recommends using Liver 3 (LV3) in your feet. This pressure point for constipation is said to regulate liver qi and relieve stress.

To use this point for acupressure:

  1. Locate the soft skin between your big toe and second toe.
  2. Press on the point with your thumb or index finger.
  3. Apply circular pressure for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat on your other foot.

Large Intestine 4: Joining Valley

Like LV3, Large Intestine 4 (LI4) is used for stress. This may help constipation if your symptoms could be due to emotional stress.

To use this point for acupressure:

  1. Find the soft skin between your thumb and index finger on the top of your hand.
  2. Press on the point with your opposite thumb or index finger.
  3. Apply circular pressure and continue for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat on your other hand.

Kidney 6: Shining Sea

Kidney 6 (KI6) is an acupressure point on the foot used to induce bowel movements. According to TCM, it can ease constipation by promoting fluid production.

To use this point for acupressure:

  1. Find the KI6 point below your inner ankle bone.
  2. Press on the point with your thumb or index finger.
  3. Apply circular pressure for 1 to 3 minutes.
  4. Repeat on your other foot.

Acupressure can help relieve some symptoms of constipation.

According to licensed acupuncturist Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM, LAc, acupressure promotes peristalsis, the movement of your intestinal muscles. This helps move stool through your digestive system.

The practice also activates the vagus nerve, which is involved in healthy digestive function. The vagus nerve sends signals between your brain and digestive system.

Additionally, according to a 2019 study, acupressure increases endorphins. This relaxes muscles and reduces stress, which is helpful if your constipation symptoms are due to stress.

Acupressure is generally considered safe, but it may not be for everyone.

Use caution if you’re pregnant. Some pressure points can induce labor. To reduce the risk of complications, consult a trained acupressure professional.

You should also avoid acupressure if you have:

  • lung, kidney, or heart disease
  • a pacemaker
  • inflamed or injured skin

Additionally, the practice has potential side effects, including:

  • bruising
  • soreness
  • lightheadedness

Avoid using hard, deep pressure to help prevent these side effects.

You can try several other strategies to prevent and relieve constipation. In addition to acupressure, you might try the following:

  • Eat high-fiber foods. Fiber softens and bulks up your stools, making them easier to pass. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking extra fluids will also soften your stools. It’s important to stay hydrated as you eat more fiber.
  • Stay active. Routine exercise can promote regular bowel movements. Try aerobic exercise or yoga to get things moving.
  • Take magnesium citrate. Magnesium citrate is a natural remedy for constipation.
  • Manage stress. Stress can cause or worsen constipation. Focusing on stress relief can naturally relieve your symptoms.
  • Train your bowels. It can be helpful if you’re able to have a bowel movement at the same time every day. You should also pass stool as soon as you feel the urge.
  • Take an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment. OTC medications like laxatives, stool softeners, or fiber supplements may also help. Check with your doctor before taking any of these treatments.
  • Change your medications. Some medications may worsen constipation. Talk with a doctor about changing the dose or taking a different medication.

When to seek medical care for constipation

If your constipation doesn’t improve with home remedies, get in touch with a healthcare professional. You should also get medical help if you have constipation with:

  • persistent abdominal pain
  • bloody stools
  • painful bowel movements
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • lower back pain
  • unexplained weight loss
  • difficulty passing gas
  • sudden changes in your bowel movements
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Acupressure is a natural remedy for constipation.

According to practitioners, it triggers bowel movements by promoting peristalsis and increases gastric juices. The practice is also said to relieve stress, a common cause of constipation.

You can perform acupressure on yourself at home. Avoid applying hard pressure, as this can cause bruising and soreness.

If you’re pregnant or have a chronic disease, talk with a doctor before trying acupressure.