Well, we are definitely right smack in the middle of cold and flu season, folks! And while I always say the best medicine is prevention, there are some really strong viruses out there that can infect you no matter how well you take care of yourself.
So what can you do if you find yourself a little (or a lot) under the weather?
My first answer may be a surprise to you—that acupuncture is fantastic for colds! If you’re at the early stages of a cold, acupuncture can sometimes help you avoid it all together. If it’s already gotten into your system, you will, unfortunately, have to let it run its course, but acupuncture will move it along more quickly and prevent it from going deeper (ie., from becoming something more serious, like pneumonia or bronchitis!).
If you don’t have an acupuncture appointment coming up or can’t get one in the near future, however, the next best thing is to try out some acupressure on yourself.
Acupressure is an ancient therapy that uses the same channels (called meridians) that are used in acupuncture. In acupressure, the skin is never penetrated, but pressure is applied to particular points that trigger responses in other areas of the body. The points are named after the areas they affect.
If you're trying to beat a virus in your system, here are a few acupressure points you can use to ensure a speedy recovery.
But first: How to do effective acupressure
If you’re new to the medicine, finding the points may prove to be a little tricky at first. Good ways to know you’re on an acupuncture point are tenderness or soreness, a slight change in skin texture (this is very slight, but if you’re well versed with energy work, you will probably be able to identify the change), or a slight depression in the skin. The points selected today are easy to find and access, so don’t put too much thought into it—just start rubbing! Once you’re on the point, begin to apply steady, direct pressure with a small massaging motion for about 2-3 minutes. Feel around for congestion (which in this case means pain) and really dig into it.
Large Intestine 4 (LI4)
Location of the Acupressure Point: In the middle of the “V” formed by the thumb and the first finger. You can feel around and find roughly half way along the first hand-bone (your metacarpal), then roll off the bone. This point can be found in a pretty large area in comparison to some other points so you do not need to stress about being exactly on the point. This will still be extremely effective even if you massage that whole area in between the thumb and the first finger (as seen in the picture). Also, this point will be tender!
Effects: Used for any type of cold, strengthens immunity, it is the command point for the face, so any issues involving the head, i.e. headache, toothache, sinus congestion, sore throat, eye problems, allergies, you get the idea. This point is very moving, so it is contraindicated in pregnancy! If you are pregnant, best to stay away from this one and try one of the other amazing points, such as Lung 7.
Lung 7 (LU7)
Location of the Acupressure Point: Holding your forearm in front of you with your thumb pointing up towards the sky, take your first two fingers and place them right at the wrist crease. This point is found in a slight hollow or depression just beyond where your fingers will land (as seen in the photo). Because of the location of this point, I tend to pinch the skin up and then massage the point in that way. This also gives you a greater surface area, so there is a better chance you will land on the point.
Effects: Treats the common cold, neck, pain, and scratchy throat, runny nose and sneezing.
** LI4 & LU7 are a powerhouse duo for colds!
Location of the Acupressure Point: This is an ‘extra point’ and is not found on one of the traditional meridians. This point is easy to find, if you slide two fingers down the nose you will feel yourself “fall off” the bone. This is the spot where the tissue of the nose changes from hard to soft, on most people, this is a substantial change.
Effects: This point is all about the nasal congestion. Pinching this spot with a finger on each side should immediately begin to open the sinuses and help you breathe easier.
Bladder 2 (BL2)
Location of the Acupressure Point: This is found right at the medial edge of the eyebrow (the end closest to your nose). Like L14, this point will be very tender if you are having any sort of sinus issues or headaches associated with your cold.
Effects: Opens the sinuses, relieves headaches, and activates the entire Bladder channel which runs along the whole length of the back body--this is an area that often gets tight and congested with colds as well. ** Biyan and BL2 are wonderful for sinus congestion, but go ahead and massage all around your face as well; forehead, under the eyes, temples. This will really get things moving and help relieve sinus pressure.
Colds and flus can get to the best of us, even those who work extremely hard on their health. When a cold hits, keep these key acupressure points in mind and start doing them right away. In addition, you can try making the cold fighting tea mentioned in my Winter Warming Drinks post, drink lots of water and do your best to take the time you need to rest—remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Trust me, the people around you will appreciate you more when you take care of yourself first.
Here’s to a healthy 2018!