By Sara Calabro
This edition of “Why Are You Doing That Point?”, an ongoing series that explains popular acupuncture points, will look at Pericardium 6.
Pericardium 6—also known as Neiguan (Chinese name), Inner Pass (English translation) and PC6 or just P6 (acupuncturist lingo)—is located on the inside of the wrist. It’s roughly two finger breadths up from the wrist crease, between the palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis tendons (see picture below).
When needled, Pericardium 6, since the median nerve is directly beneath it, can produce a mild shock-like sensation that extends down into the fingers. This usually goes away after the initial zap but many people report feeling a continuous vibrating sensation for as long as the needle is retained.
Pericardium 6 is chosen for two primary reasons: nausea and chest-area discomfort.
Motion sickness bracelets take a cue from acupuncture
You know those motion sickness bracelets? They are designed to apply pressure to Pericardium 6, whose best-known function is relieving nausea.
Pericardium 6 is appropriate for all kinds of nausea—caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, stress and anxiety, food poisoning, or stomach bugs. It’s also used for nausea as a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, one of the few instances in which Western medicine generally admits to acupuncture being effective. Pericardium 6 is included in many of the clinical trials that look at acupuncture for this use.
Because of its ability to soothe the stomach, Pericardium 6 also is used when someone complains of vomiting, excessive hiccups or borborygmus (stomach grumbling), and abdominal pain or distention.
Pericardium 6 is an easy point to access yourself, which makes it really handy for those uncomfortable moments when your stomach starts turning in public. Just apply firm pressure to the area above your wrist. To make sure you’re getting it, place your whole thumb across the width of the inner wrist while supporting the back of the wrist with your other fingers.
PC6 can help you get it off your chest
The other main indication for Pericardium 6 is chest pain or tightness, including heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and feelings of nervousness or fluttering in the upper body.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear: If you have chest pain, your first stop should be to the ER, not the acupuncturist. Only after cardiac problems are ruled out should you start thinking about Pericardium 6 as a therapy for symptoms in the chest area.
The Pericardium meridian begins at the chest, with the first point on the meridian falling just outside of the nipple (see picture at left). The points that fall farther down the channel are used to affect the starting end of the channel. Pericardium 6 is considered the most powerful point along the Pericardium channel for influencing the chest region.
This is a great point for reducing anxiety that’s accompanied by heart pounding or palpitations, or shortness of breath. Squeezing Pericardium 6 while taking some deep breaths has helped me through more than a few tense moments.
Pericardium 6’s affect on anxiety also makes it a popular point for reducing insomnia. Insomnia in acupuncture is typically thought of as an imbalance in the Heart system, and the Pericardium channel indirectly affects disorders of the Heart. Since many people have insomnia due to anxiety, Pericardium 6 is a sensible choice. Try it next time you’re lying awake.
Next on “Why Are You Doing That Point?” is Large Intestine 11.
Photo by Sara Calabro; PC 6 and Pericardium channel infographics from A Manual of Acupuncture
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