Constipation is an all too common issue causing discomfort, pain, frustration, and stress. (1) Digestion is central to health and wellbeing.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), healthy digestion is central to overall health. We obtain nutrients and energy, the Qi of the food, for all of our body’s activities through digestion. In TCM terms, the stomach’s digestive Qi extracts energy from food in order to make Qi for the heart, brain, muscles, and other organs to function properly.
In my acupuncture clinic, I have helped many people with chronic constipation. I find that a combination of multiple therapies is the most effective method, including acupuncture, herbs, diet, exercises, and acupressure.
Acupressure for Constipation
One of the great things about acupressure is that you can do it for yourself.
Here is a three-step acupressure routine for helping to relieve constipation.
Rub belly in clockwise circle
Abdominal massage has been shown to help reduce constipation. (2)
One was method is rubbing your belly. Its very simple to do. Rubbing your belly helps to wake up your digestive system.
Place your whole palm on the abdomen and apply even pressure. Not so much pressure that it is painful but you should feel your hand.
Rub your belly in a big clockwise circle touching the edge of the ribs and the top of the pelvis. Continue this motion for 30 seconds. You can also casually rub your belly in this way during your relaxation time, listening to music, or before you go to sleep.
Sheng Ju Xu- Stomach 37 Acupressure Point
Stomach 37 is a very important acupuncture point for constipation because it helps stimulate the movement of Qi, the body’s energy, through the digestive system. When palpating you may notice that it is often tender during episodes of constipation.
Acupressure Point Location: Stomach 37 is located 3 cun below the acupressure point Stomach 36.
First locate the tibial tuberosity, a bump just below the knee. Place your hand just below the tibial tuberosity with the index finger touching the bottom of the tuberosity. Stomach 37 is located level with the pinky finger just to the outside of the shin bone when your hand is in this position.
How to massage
First press on the acupressure point then rub in a circle. You can apply pressure which can help. Pressing very hard may cause a small bruise.
Rub this acupressure point twice a day for 30 seconds.
Massage Your Ears
Ear acupressure is especially effective for relaxation and health maintenance. In my clinic we use small magnets on specific digestive acupressure points, which remain in the ear in between visits. This has been shown to reduce constipation in elderly patients.(3)
Rubbing your ears is also an effective way to stimulate the movement of qi throughout the body.
All of the channels connect to the ear, so we can stimulate other parts of the body through it.
How to massage: Rub both of your ears for 30 seconds. Make sure to rub both the front and back of the ear lobes, the tragus, and around the ear canal.
- Sbahi H, Cash BD. Chronic Constipation: a Review of Current Literature. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2015;17(12):47.
- Turan N, Ast TA. The Effect of Abdominal Massage on Constipation and Quality of Life. Gastroenterol Nurs. 2016;39(1):48-59.
- Li MK, Lee TF, Suen KP. Complementary effects of auricular acupressure in relieving constipation symptoms and promoting disease-specific health-related quality of life: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(2):266-277.