That feeling we call nausea⁠ — wanting to vomit or being sick to your stomach — is a common symptom that has a wide range of causes.

Regardless of why you feel nauseated, know that acupressure is one way to help relieve discomfort.

Acupressure is a traditional treatment method based on acupuncture. It’s slightly different from acupuncture in that rather than using needles, pressure is applied to certain points of your body. Pressing on these points may help relax muscles and improve blood circulation.

There are several pressure points, also called acupoints, for nausea. You can reach some of these yourself. Other pressure points are harder to locate. For those, you’ll want to see a trained acupressure therapist.

When trying acupressure at home, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Tips for acupressure

  • Use your thumb or index finger to massage the pressure points.
  • You can also use more than one finger or the heel of your hand to press on these points.
  • Use firm but gentle pressure.
  • Use a circular motion when applying pressure to these points.
  • Press for at least two to three minutes on each point.
  • Repeat a few times a day.
  • Continue treatments for several days or until you begin to feel relief.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

Pericardium 6 (PC6 or P6) is a pressure point located on the inner side of your wrist. Research shows that it can help people cope with nausea from anesthesia and surgery. To try it:

  1. Hold your hand up so that your palm is facing you.
  2. To find the right spot, place the first three fingers of your other hand across your wrist at the base of your palm.
  3. Place your thumb just below your three fingers.
  4. Gently press your thumb so you feel two large tendons.
  5. The P6 pressure point is located there, at the center of your lower wrist. Apply gentle pressure to this spot.
  6. Repeat on your other wrist.

For more information on this point and how to use it, see this guide.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

The large intestine 4 (LI4) point on your hand helps with nausea caused by headaches, pain, and digestive issues. To try it:

  1. Find the highest spot on the muscle between your thumb and index finger.
  2. This is the area where your thumb connects to the fingers.
  3. This area will bulge out slightly when you bring your thumb and finger together.
  4. The LI4 point is located about half an inch inward on the back of your hand. Apply pressure to this area.
  5. Repeat on your other hand.
Avoid if pregnant

Although more research is needed to verify this, most practitioners agree that you shouldn’t apply pressure to your LI4 point while you’re pregnant.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

This pressure point on your foot is linked to your liver. To try the liver 3 (LIV3 or LV3) point:

  1. With your foot flat on the floor, place your finger in the gap between your big toe and the toe next to it.
  2. Slide your finger down about two finger widths onto your foot.
  3. The pressure point is on your foot in this spot. Apply pressure to this area.
  4. Repeat on your other foot.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

This pressure point on the inside of your foot is connected to the spleen. It helps with nausea caused by stomach problems. To try the spleen 4 (SP4) point:

  1. Sit down, and pull one foot onto your knee so that the inside of the foot is facing you.
  2. Slide your hand from your big toe to the side of your foot.
  3. This point is where your foot begins to arch, just past the padded ball of your feet.
  4. You should feel a slight downward curve of the foot in the S4 point. Apply pressure to this area.
  5. Repeat on your other foot.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

The stomach 36 (ST36) point is located on your lower leg, just below the kneecap. Massaging this point can relieve nausea and pain, as well as help with other health issues. To try it:

  1. Sit down, and place your hand on your kneecap.
  2. Press on the spot where your pinky finger is resting.
  3. The pressure point for nausea is located on the outside of your shin bone, just below the knee.
  4. Apply pressure in a downward motion.
  5. Repeat on your other knee.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

This pressure point on your back is linked to the bladder and spleen. It may be best to see an acupressure practitioner to reach this point. To try the bladder 20 (BL20) point:

  1. Lie down on your stomach.
  2. The practitioner will locate your 11th thoracic spine (T11) on the middle of your back.
  3. This spine bone is at the bottom of your rib cage and is connected to the last ribs.
  4. The pressure points are on both sides of the spine, about two inches from the edges of the bone.

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Illustration by Diego Sabogal

The kidney 21 (KID21) point is used to relieve nausea and vomiting. You’ll need an acupressure practitioner to reach this point. To try it:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. The acupressure practitioner will find this point on your upper stomach area.
  3. KID21 points are located just below the breast bone on either side of the middle of your stomach.
  4. They’re located about midway between your collarbone and belly button.

A number of studies show that acupressure works to relieve nausea. A 2012 study that tested acupressure versus fake acupressure on 80 pregnant women found that acupressure significantly reduced nausea.

Half of the women in the study were treated at the KID21 point for 20 minutes a day, for a total of four days.

See your doctor if you have chronic nausea or if you feel nauseated for no apparent reason. Nausea may be a symptom of a more serious condition.

Seek medical attention if your nausea doesn’t improve or if you also experience:

  • chest pain
  • hot or cold sweats
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • abdominal pain

Acupressure has been medically proven to help with nausea for some people. To relieve nausea at home, you can try applying pressure to these points. You can also visit a trained acupressure professional. You may need more than one visit to see results.

Nausea is a common symptom. It can be a sign of a minor issue, like overeating or heartburn. It may also be a warning sign of a more serious condition, including a heart attack. Seek medical attention if you have other symptoms with your nausea or feel nauseated often.