Acupressure for Weight Loss

Acupressure is a practice in traditional Chinese medicine that involves applying manual pressure on specific points on the body. Unlike acupuncture, acupressure practitioners use their fingers, palms, elbow, feet, or other devices instead of needles.

There have been claims that acupressure is effective at helping someone lose weight. While there is little research to confirm this benefit, some studies are showing promising results.

Acupressure is safe for most people who may want to try it as supplementation to a conventional diet and exercise plan.

Acupressure Points for Weight Loss

Verywell / Jessica Olah

What Is Acupressure?

Acupressure is part of the ancient practice of traditional Chinese medicine. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe the human body has 361 acupressure points connected by pathways known as meridians

An energy flow called qi follows these pathways through the body, which is responsible for overall health. Disruption of the energy flow can cause disease.

By applying acupuncture to certain points, it is thought to improve the flow of qi and therefore health.

Each pressure point can be found along one of the principal meridians:

  • Lung meridian
  • Large intestine meridian
  • Spleen meridian
  • Heart meridian
  • Small intestine meridian
  • Bladder meridian
  • Kidney meridian
  • Pericardium meridian
  • Stomach meridian
  • Gallbladder meridian
  • Liver meridian

There are also two other meridians that don’t fall under the category of principal meridians. These include the governor vessel meridian and conception vessel meridian.

Each meridian lines a pathway to a different organ system and is thought to affect how healthy that system is depending on the level of energy flow.

Studies have shown that acupressure can help with various ailments including headaches, nausea, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and chronic pain.

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

Although acupressure has been proven effective for many ailments, the jury is still out when it comes to weight loss.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that gaining weight is caused by an energy imbalance within the body. Since acupressure is designed to restore this balance, it is thought that it can help reduce overall weight in people who are overweight or obese and using other ways to lose weight.

Recent research has found that there may be some truth to these claims. It has been found that acupressure points that influence digestion, metabolism, and stress reduction could all play a vital role in the use of acupressure for weight loss.

One systematic review pulled information from seven studies and found that using pressure points on the ear, known as auricular acupoints, aided in the overall reduction of weight over a 12-week period.

4 Pressure Points for Weight Loss

Acupressure therapy is something that can be done at home. If done properly, it could also lead to health benefits and be a cost-effective and viable supplemental treatment option for those already working toward losing weight.

There are four pressure points, other than the auricular acupoint, that could aid in weight loss. This is, however, an evolving area of study, and many of the benefits are still being investigated.

Tips for Proper Technique

For the therapy to be effective, the proper technique will need to be applied. It’s important to find the pressure point and press down until there is resistance without pain. While pressing down, make a circular motion with your thumb using even pressure throughout.

San Yin Jiao (Three Yin Intersection) 

The SP6 pressure point can be found on the spleen meridian. It is thought that it has a great effect on the organs in the lower abdomen as well as the parasympathetic nervous system, the system that controls all bodily functions while it is at rest.

The point is located on the inner ankles, about three inches above the ankle bone. Apply firm pressure to the point using one or two fingers, and massage in a circular motion for two to three minutes. For the best results, do the same thing on both the right and left sides.

Zu San Li (Leg Three Mile)

This point is named so because stimulating it would allow farmers to walk an extra three miles. It is located on the front of the leg below the knee. It is found on the stomach meridian.

This could help aid in weight loss by improving digestion. To massage this point, apply firm pressure and massage in a small circular motion for two to three minutes, repeating on both sides. 

Tian Shu (Celestial Pivot)

This pressure point can also be found along the stomach meridian. It is located midway between the outer border of the abdominal muscle and the umbilicus line. It is thought to help with gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and dysentery. It can aid in weight loss by helping regulate the intestines.

Find the point on your abdomen and apply a firm level of pressure. Massage the point in a small and circular motion for two to three minutes, repeating on both sides.

Zhong Wan (Central Stomach) 

This point is located not on one of the 12 main meridians, but on the conception vessel meridian. It is thought that this pressure point aids in digestion by influencing the organs in the upper abdomen.

To activate this pressure point, apply firm pressure and massage in a circular motion for up to three minutes.

Who Shouldn’t Use Acupressure?

Although acupressure is considered safe, it should not be used as a first-line treatment for any condition, nor should it be used by everyone. If you are pregnant, you should take caution because certain points can stimulate uterine contractions and may even induce labor. Those with chronic health conditions that involve joint or muscle issues should avoid acupressure prior to speaking with their healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

Acupressure is a safe practice that has been used for thousands of years for a variety of ailments. Some recent research has shown that it could also potentially be a effective weight loss aid.

If you are very overweight or obese, you should always consult with your healthcare provider prior to starting any new treatment or therapy, including acupressure. They can let you know whether it’s safe for you to use acupressure.

It’s important to remember that acupressure should be used as an additional way to help with weight loss and should not be your only strategy to lose weight. A successful weight loss plan always includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.