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Nausea and vomiting most frequently are due to viral gastroenteritis - often mistakenly referred to as stomach flu - or common early pregnancy's morning sickness. Acupuncture treatment can help.

What is nausea?

Most people have felt nausea at some point in their lives. It is the sensation of having an upset stomach or being about to vomit. (expelling of undigested food through the mouth).

Nausea and the accompanied feeling of vomiting are common symptoms that can be triggered by a wide range of conditions. The sensation of feeling the need to vomit is known as nausea, and nausea is a common symptom for many health conditions [1] and even during pregnancy. In fact, for many women, the first trimester of their pregnancy is marked by chronic nausea and vomiting.[2]

Nausea is usually a precursor to vomiting, and there can be many causes of nausea. Nausea and vomiting are also common side effects experienced after specific surgical procedures, and efforts are on to understand more about why certain surgical procedures are followed by nausea and vomiting.[3] Doctors are also working toward how to prevent nausea. 

One such remedy that can help reduce and prevent nausea is acupuncture. This ancient healing technique is based on traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture focuses on putting pressure on specific points on the body to help to balance the energy in the body. Putting pressure on these points helps promote blood circulation and release muscle tension. The stimulation of these various pressure points around the body helps restore the natural energy flow of the body. 

But does acupuncture work for nausea, and what are the acupuncture points for nausea? Let's take a look.

See: Acupuncture helps a Pregnant Lady to Overcome Nausea

Acupuncture for nausea & vomiting

There are many pressure points across your body, known as acupoints that can help with nausea. While it is possible for you to yourself reach many of them, some of the other acupuncture pressure points, though, are more difficult to locate. For these points, you can consider seeing a trained acupuncturist. 

However, before you start acupuncture for nausea at home by yourself, here are some of the factors you should keep in mind:

• Use your index finger or your thumb to massage these pressure points. 

• Apply gentle, but firm, pressure.

• Press for at least two minutes on each point. 

• The pressure should be repeated a couple of times during the day. Continue the treatment for several days or until you start feeling better. 

Some of the easily accessible acupuncture points for nausea are worth knowing.

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Acupuncture Points for Acupuncture

 1. P6 or PC6 (Nei Guan)

This acupuncture point is known as Pericardium 6 (P6 or PC6), and it is located on the inner side of the wrist. The point is also referred to as Nei Guan. 

Studies [4] by the Southern Medical University in China and The University of Hong Kong have found that pressing on this point can help people deal with nausea caused after surgery and nausea that is caused due to anesthesia. Even studies by the Poole Hospital Trust have found that acupuncture can help in the prevention of post-surgical nausea and vomiting.[5]

Here is how to try acupuncture for nausea on the P6 pressure point:

1. Hold up your hand in a manner that your palm faces you. 

2. To find the P6 point, place the first three fingers of your other hand across your wrist from the base of your palm.

3. Now place your thumb just below these three fingers.

4. Gently press down your thumb so that you can feel two large tendons under your skin. 

5. The center of your lower wrist is the exact location of the P6 pressure point. Keep applying gentle pressure to this spot in a circular motion. 

6. Now repeat the same on your other wrist.

2. L14 Point (He Gu)

This acupuncture point for nausea is the large intestine 4 (L14) point located on your hand. Pressure applied to this point is known to help with nausea that stems from headaches, pain, and digestive problems.6, 7

Here are the steps to perform acupuncture on L14 point by yourself at home:

1. Locate the highest spot on the muscle between your index finger and thumb. 

2. This should be the place where your thumb connects with your fingers. 

3. When you bring your finger and thumb together, you should notice this area bulging out slightly. 

4. The L14 pressure point is located around half an inch inwards on the back of the hand. 

5. Apply pressure here for a few minutes and then repeat on your other hand. 

A word of caution - most acupuncturists agree that women should not apply any pressure to the L14 point if they are pregnant.

3. LV 3 or LIV3 (Tai Chong)

Tai Chong or LV3 acupuncture point for nausea is located on your foot and is linked to the liver. This can help in nausea caused by unknown reasons and sometimes even in pregnancy-related nausea.8,9 However, always make sure to ask your doctor before trying acupuncture in pregnancy. 

Here's how you can do this acupuncture pose: 

1. Place the foot on the floor in a flat posture. Place your finger on the gap between your big toe and the toe right next to it. 

2. Now slide down your finger about two fingers wide onto your foot. 

3. The LV3 pressure point is located on this spot. Apply pressure in a circular motion to this area and then repeat on the other foot. 

There have been several research studies done in this field that have shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving nausea. In 2012, the Tarbiat Modares University [10] in Iran conducted a study that looked at acupuncture versus fake acupuncture on 80 pregnant women. The study found that acupuncture significantly decreased pregnancy-related nausea in the women who were given real acupuncture as compared to the participants who received fake acupuncture. The women who experienced relief were treated by acupuncture at the KID21 point for 15 to 20 minutes each day for four days in total.

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While acupuncture has shown to be effective in relieving and preventing nausea, if you are experiencing chronic nausea without any apparent reason, it is always recommended to see your doctor. Nausea, after all, is a common symptom of many medical conditions, and you might be having an underlying medical condition that needs treatment other than acupuncture.  Acupuncture has been medically tested and proven to help with nausea, and if you are feeling nauseated, then you can also try applying pressure to the points discussed above. You can also visit a professionally trained acupuncturist to get relief from nausea with acupuncture. 

See: Headache, Low Back Pain, and Stress with Bisoma Acupuncture


1. Sartre, J.P., 2013. Nausea. New Directions Publishing.

2. Quinla, J.D., and Hill, D.A., 2003. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. American family physician, 68(1), pp.121-128.

3. Sinclair, D.R., Chung, F., and Mezei, G., 1999. Can postoperative nausea and vomiting be predicted?. Anesthesiology The Journal of American Society of Anesthesiologists 91(1), pp.109-118.

4. Cheong, K.B., Zhang, J.P., Huang, Y. and Zhang, Z.J., 2013. The effectiveness of acupuncture in the prevention & treatment of postoperative nausea & vomiting - a systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 8(12), p.e82474.

5. Al‐Sadi, M., Newman, B., and Julious, S.A., 1997. Acupuncture in the prevention of postoperative nausea & vomiting. Anaesthesia, 52(7), pp.658-661.

6. Streitberger, K., Ezzo, J., and Schneider, A., 2006. Acupuncture for nausea & vomiting: an update of clinical & experimental studies. Autonomic Neuroscience, 129(1-2), pp.107-117. 

7. Samuels, N., 2003. Acupuncture for nausea: how does it work?. Harefuah, 142(4), pp.297-300.

8. Knight, B., Mudge, C., Openshaw, S., White, A., and Hart, A., 2001. Effect of acupuncture on the nausea of pregnancy: RCT. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 97(2), pp.184-188.

9. Smith, C., Crowther, C., and Beilby, J., 2002. Acupuncture to treat nausea & vomiting in early pregnancy: an RCT. Birth, 29(1), pp.1-9.

10. Rad, M.N., Lamyian, M., Heshmat, R., Jaafarabadi, M.A., and Yazdani, S., 2012. An RCT of the efficacy of KID21 point (Youmen) acupressure on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 14(11), p.697.

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