Acupressure Points for Medical Emergencies

Governing Vessel 26

The Wilderness First Responder course I took in October has really inspired me to think a lot more about emergency care, especially within the field of Chinese medicine. The written record of this tradition goes back at least 2,500 years to a time when it was the only medical system in that part of the world. Over the ages, it developed into a complex and extensive system, with theories and treatments for every type of common health condition. Though most people know of acupuncture primarily as a treatment for pain, even today those in the field learn how to address a wide range of diseases of the internal organs, as well as emotional imbalances, and yes, even medical emergencies.

In China, hospitals are much more integrated and you will find acupuncture and herbal medicine being used in emergency rooms right alongside modern medical treatments like pharmaceutical drugs and surgery. Here in the United States, we are seeing this type of integration in the military, where “battlefield acupuncture” is being used on the front lines as an alternative to opiates in the treatment of acute pain. In fact, just a few years ago the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management and the Veterans Health Administration National Pain Management Program Office completed a three-year $5.4 million program in which over 2,800 providers were trained in battlefield acupuncture. Below are some examples of points that are used in medical emergencies. They can be stimulated via acupuncture or direct manual pressure (acupressure). 

  • Governing Vessel 26 (Ren Zhong): loss of consciousness due to fainting or shock, acute lower back sprain, epileptic seizure. This point is located on the midline, just below the nose. Acupressure should be directed inwards and upwards. In severe cases, pressure should be applied with the fingernail.
  • Heart 9 (Shao Cong): loss of consciousness due to stroke, heart pain, chest pain, heart attack. This point is located on the medial (inner) side of the pinky finger, on the skin right where the base and side of the nail meet. In an acute emergency, an individual can stimulate this point themselves by biting down on it.
  • Pericardium 6 (Nei Guan): heart pain, disorders of heart rate and rhythm, anxiety attacks, incessant vomiting, stabbing abdominal pain. This point is located on the midline of the inner arm, three finger-widths above the crease of the wrist, between the tendons. Pericardium 6 is also known as the chief point for motion sickness and morning sickness.
  • Calm Dyspnea (Ding Chuan): acute asthma attack. This point is located just to the side of the space below the 7th cervical vertebra. The 7th cervical vertebrae is found by locating the large bump at the base of the neck.
  • Ten Diffusions (Shi Xuan): loss of consciousness due to heatstroke. This set of ten points is located on the tips of the fingers.
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