Acupressure for PMS
Many of my clients who menstruate report improvements in their menstrual cycles after they start acupuncture. One of my favorite acupuncture studies is actually an acupressure study! The researchers found that acupressure is associated with decreased PMS symptoms and increased quality of life. Read on to learn more about acupressure for PMS.
What points do you press for PMS?
The participants in the study learned to press on two acupressure points: Joining of the Valleys and Supreme Rushing.
Joining of the Valleys is found on the back of the hand in the web between the thumb and forefinger. I usually tell clients to feel for the sore spot!
Supreme rushing is located on the top of the foot in line with the web between the thumb and the forefinger. Similarly to Joining of the Valleys, it's usually sore.
Together, these two points have a nickname: 'Gates of Buddha.' We often use them when things are very stuck. Whether it's anger, nasal congestion, stool, or menstrual blood, these two points in combination get things moving!
How and for how long do you activate the points?
The participants in the study were instructed to massage the points for 20 minutes each day (5 minutes per point per side) for 14 days leading up to the first day of their periods. You could also use the magnets I often give to my clients for home use and just tap on the magnets for a few minutes each day to keep them active.
Are there any reasons not to use these points?
I would avoid using the point on your hand if you are or might become pregnant because it is classically contraindicated during pregnancy. If you try these points for two weeks leading up to your period and don't notice improvement, I would like to work together with you to develop a specialized protocol for you. These points have specific indications, and might not be one-size-fits-all.
What else can I do to support my menstrual health?
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of cooked dark leafy greens, whole grains, proteins (including beans, small amounts of nuts and seeds, and perhaps some lean red meats, poultry, and fish) and dark red and purple fruits is important for menstrual health. Folks with periods should also be careful to drink plenty of liquids! And I don't mean soda and coffee, I mean water. Herbal tea. Broths and soups! Moderate your intake of caffeine and alcohol, too.
Movement is important to get your blood moving, and rest is essential to help you to build the uterine lining back up again. Especially if you feel more tired and weak at the end of your period, take this as a cue from your body that you need more rest. The channels that fill the uterus with blood tend to like when we rest between 11 PM and 7 AM. If you can't do that, just do the best you can to get a good dose of sleep every day!
If you have severe cramping or severe bloating, or if your cramps or bloating last for your whole menstrual cycle, please tell your doctor. This can be a sign that something is amiss and needs medical attention!