Constipation probably isn’t something you talk about with friends, though if you asked them, you’d be surprised how many suffer from the condition often.

You’ll also find that following the typical advice about increasing fiber, hydration, and exercise does not work for everyone. For this reason, comprehensive, individualized approaches like those provided by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are becoming more valued.

TCM includes acupuncture/acupressure, massage, herbs, dietetics, and qigong, all of which can help relieve constipation and treat the root of the condition. Of course it’s best that you work with an experienced practitioner who can assess your condition objectively, determine if any lifestyle activity, prescription drug, or food intolerance is a culprit, and find the best treatment approach for you.

In the meantime, using the general acupressure protocol below can provide you some quick relief at home.

But first…

What is Constipation?

Some resources define constipation as dry, hard-to-pass stools, while other sources say that it’s the absence of a bowel movement for 3-4 days. Both definitions point to the colon absorbing too much water from stools or from dysbiosis (the absence of beneficial gut bacteria that normally provide essential vitamins and secrete mucus to keep stools soft as well as protect the colon lining).

Constipation is undesirable because, well, it’s uncomfortable! Sometimes stools become so hard & dry it even hurts to poop. Also, defecation is one of the body’s best ways of eliminating waste and toxins from the body. You’re less likely to experience hemorrhoids, painful fissures, leaky gut, vitamin deficiencies, poor immunity, and other risks of constipation like colorectal cancer if you’re moving your bowels daily.

Common Constipation Treatments and Their Limits

Again, most medical doctors will tell you to drink more water, eat more fiber, and get more exercise in order to stay regular. Getting enough Vitamin C, magnesium, and supplementing with a probiotic can also help prevent constipation. Certainly, everyone should be taking this advice. It may be just enough to get you over a brief episode of irregular bowel movements.

However, for people with chronic constipation, further investigation is necessary. You don’t want to depend on laxatives, enemas, or even purgative natural herbs, though they may be necessary to unblock the bowels initially.

Quite often stress & tension can throw off the balance of beneficial gut flora and can negatively impact gut motility. Or someone may have a hard time “letting go” emotionally, which translates as tension in the body when one tries to maintain control. That’s precisely what happen in the large intestine! It becomes tense and still and if we simply to to push and strain when peristalsis has slowed, we can only make matters worse (hemorrhoids).

This is where TCM, particularly acupuncture/acupressure and qigong, can be a savior since they relieve stress and treat emotional/energetic issues reliably.

Acupressure for Constipation

If you’re feeling backed-up, you may benefit greatly from trying the general acupressure sequence below. All of the points have a direct impact on gut motility and move your vital energy downward.

Press each point for ~ 1 minute. Slow down your breathing to help you relax and keep your mind occupied by this direct experience of connecting with your body. As you inhale, feel the pressure of your finger against the point, as much as you can tolerate. As you exhale, feel any tension release.

The process can be relaxing and highly enjoyable, especially if you incorporate the use of essential oils. For adults, you can use a regulating essential oil diluted mildly in a carrier oil at your fingertips to help augment the effect of the treatment. My favorite is a blend of lemon, peppermint, and rosemary.

For children, using a 5% dilution of mandarin/tangerine essential oil is safer and more appropriate. Mandarin is well-known in Chinese Medicine for improving digestive health.

The Points:

Conception Vessel (CV) 12

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Locate on the vertical midline of abdomen midway between the xiphoid process of the sternum and the belly button.

Conception Vessel (CV) 6

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Stomach (St) 25

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Locate these points bilateral to the belly button on the abdomen, midway between the belly button and outer border of the abdominal muscles.

Stomach (St) 36

For adults, this point is approximately 4 finger-widths below the kneecap on the highest portion of the muscle lateral to the shinbone. Or for both adults and kids, move your finger up along the muscle lateral to the crest of the shin bone toward the kneecap until you feel a depression in between the tibia and fibula bones.

Triple Warmer/San Jiao (SJ) 6

This point is approximately 4 finger-widths up from the outside of the wrist, which is about 1/3 of the distance between the wrist and crease of the elbow.

Large Intestine (LI) 4

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Locate this point at the peak of the mound above the end-crease of the thumb & first finger.

Gua sha/scraping on sacrum

(Contraindicated in pregnancy)

Using a clean flat surface (TCM practitioners often recommend patients use a spoon at home), scrape the sacrum gently in a downward movement to release tension and move energy down.

Clockwise massage on belly to stimulate large intestine

With one of the diluted essential oils mentioned above this list, massage the abdomen in a clockwise circle, tracing the outline of the large intestine with firm but tolerable pressure. Repeat several times.

acupressure massage for constipation

After completing this sequence, you may want to go for a relaxed walk. Feel your energy moving down into your feet to further release tension from your body. You can then sit on the toilet, breathing deeply to encourage a relaxed bowel movement. If it doesn’t come easily, don’t push! Just repeat this sequence later until the time is right.

Once the bowels are moving again, this sequence can then be used daily as a preventative measure.

Of course if you have any stabbing pain, if there’s dark blood, or signs that your condition may be a more serious issue, seek the help of a health practitioner.

I sincerely hope this acupressure sequence aids any of you who suffer from constipation. Please reach out if you need further help!

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Written by Brandy Falcon
I help families manage modern health challenges by connecting them to traditional wisdom and healing practices.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE