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5 Acupressure Points to Stop a Runny Nose

Running out of tissues and patience because of that runny nose? Try these acupressure points to stop the downpour.

Woman in an office sits next to a tall pile of work folders while holding a tissue over her runny nose.

A runny nose can feel as if an endless faucet of mucus has attached itself to your face. This mucus is a defence mechanism – it traps and flushes out offending pathogens. While waiting to get better, you may be tempted to get a bulk supply of tissues and antihistamines. But did you know that acupressure and massaging certain acupoints on your body can help with a runny nose?  

Acupressure massage is a practice within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that uses acupoints on the body to maintain or achieve an optimal flow of qi (vital life force). We explore five acupressure points to help you “turn off the faucet”.

TCM Physician Kong Teck Chuan advises massaging these points about two to three times a day for two to three minutes each time before increasing to five minutes.

“There are different levels of strength and duration of massaging as well,” says Physician Kong. “Massage for three, six or nine seconds and relax in intervals for short, medium, and long stimulation of acupoints. Comfort levels differ according to the individual and it’s important to note that you should feel comfortable. Please don’t injure your body’s tissues.”

1. Ying xiang (LI20, 迎香) 

Ying xiang
Located in the nasolabial groove, at the level of the midpoint of the lateral part of the nasal wing.

Ying xiang (LI20, 迎香) drains Lung Fire, dispels Wind, and relieves congestion. This acupoint helps clear the nose and Lungs by improving blood circulation in the area. It also regulates qi and brings pain relief. 

To locate ying xiang, find the midpoint between the start of your nostril to the opening of your nose, then move just outside of it into the nasolabial groove. This is why its name refers to “welcome fragrance” or “receiving fragrance”.

Using the tips of both index fingers, massage this acupoint in small circular motions. Pressure should be light and gentle and not too quick. then massage upward and downward along your laugh line for a few more minutes. 

2. Yin tang (EXHN3, 印堂)

An illustration of yin tang acupressure point located between the eyebrows
Stimulating yin tang after a day full of work can help relieve headaches.

Yin tang (EXHN3, 印堂) reduces nasal discomfort due to allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. Like ying xiang, researchers believe it positively impacts resetting the airways. It is also a great point for a massage for headache and sinus pressure relief. 

Locating this acupoint is relatively easy. Known as the “hall of impressions”, it is the midpoint between your eyebrows, just above the nose bridge.

In small circular motions massage this acupoint. Note that pressure on this acupoint should be light and gentle, in small motions and not too quick. 

3. He gu (LI4, 合谷)

An illustration of the he gu or LI4 acupoint as one of the acupressure points to relieve a runny nose
He gu is useful in helping rebalance the flow of qi and expelling Wind, providing relief from allergy symptoms.

The he gu (LI4, 合谷) acupoint is a versatile point essential in moving qi and improving blood circulation. It provides pain relief for many ailments, from headaches to stomach cramps. Acupressure on this point expels Wind, which includes conditions like nasal allergies and colds. Research has also shown that he gu may assist in improving respiratory function. 

He gu is located on the back of the hand, in the fleshy area between the base of the thumb and the index finger. To massage this point, place the thumb of your other hand on this point. Then place the index finger of that hand on the palm, almost like you’re pinching the point. For the massage to be effective, massage the acupoint until soreness or numbness is felt.

Strong stimulation is not suitable for those with a weak body constitution and this is not recommended for pregnant women.

4. Feng chi (GB20, 风池)

An illustration of feng chi as one of the acupressure points to heal symptoms of cold
Feng chi is located at the back of the neck, where you can feel a depression on the base of the hairline.

Known as the “Wind point” or “Wind pool”, feng chi (GB20, 风池) rebalances by distributing Wind and clearing Heat. It’s a go-to acupressure point for many types of headaches. This acupoint also alleviates respiratory symptoms, including a runny nose.

The point is located at the base of your head, where your neck meets. To find it, glide the palpating fingers down the back of your head until you feel a depression or the “pool” just as your neck begins. Press firmly and massage. 

5. Qu chi (LI11, 曲池)

An illustration of the qu chi or LI11 acupoint as one of the acupressure points to relieve a runny nose
When the elbow is flexed, the point is in the depression at the lateral end of the transverse cubital crease, midway between chi ze (LU5) and the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

Sometimes a runny nose stems from conditions involving Heat. In such cases, the qu chi (LI11, 曲池) point is useful because it helps clear excess Heat. This is due to its ability to modulate the immune response as well as its anti-inflammatory effects.

The name of this point, “pool at the bend”, tells you how to find it. Start with bending your elbow. You’ll see your elbow crease; this point lies at the outer edge of that crease. Using your thumb will most likely provide the needed pressure. Press on the point firmly and massage for a few minutes.

A 2015 German study on acupuncture and loratadine found that acupuncture works just as well as antihistamines to reduce rhinitis symptoms, including nasal congestion and a runny nose. But what about acupressure? The Journal of Chinese Medicine study demonstrated that self-administered acupressure could relieve the symptoms and also reduce the use of antihistamines. 

While you can find relief from a runny nose, it’s also good to avoid it altogether. Physician Kong reminds us of certain habits that contribute to a runny nose. These habits include staying too long in an air-conditioned room or frequently eating raw and cold food. A lack of exercise can also be an indirect cause because it lowers immunity and makes it easier for us to fall ill. In addition to a nutritious, balanced diet and exercise, you can also try TCM herbs like royal jelly and bird’s nest to help boost your immune system.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Runny Nose. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17660-runny-nose> [Accessed 14 November 2022]
  2. BMC Chinese Medicine. 2021. Acupressure in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled exploratory trial. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8684198/> [Accessed 14 November 2022]
  3. Healthcare Medicine Institute. 2015. Acupuncture Soothes Allergies & Sinus. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1420-acupuncture-soothes-allergies-sinus> [Accessed 14 November 2022]

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