By Sara Calabro

Asthma is scary, especially in kids. Understandably, watching their child struggle to breathe sends many parents into panic mode and reflexively reaching for the inhaler.

Asthma is nothing to mess around with—if your child is on asthma medication, don’t stop using it without speaking first to their pediatrician. However, for mild asthma attacks and as a preventive tool for more serious cases, acupressure can be very helpful.

If your child is dealing with asthma, acupressure provides an effective, drug-free way for you to help them breathe better and reduce the anxiety that’s associated with asthma attacks. Even better: You can teach your kids to perform acupressure for asthma on themselves. Kids who learn how to self-soothe when they’re young will be at an advantage as they age.

Can kids really learn acupressure?

Yes! As early as toddlers, kids can start mimicking the healing techniques that their parents show them.

No matter what age you introduce your kids to acupressure, it’ll be a gift. Whether it’s for asthma or something else, having a fundamental understanding of the body’s ability to heal itself—and their ability to take control of their own health—is invaluable for kids.

Below are the three acupressure points for asthma. Teach your little ones the first two and treat them to a soothing massage with the third!

ps. These points also work on adults.

Conception Vessel 17 is on the chest

Conception Vessel 17, known as Chest Center, is right where you’d expect it to be—in the center of the chest. This point is indicated for shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, and anxiety.

How to find it
The Conception Vessel runs along the midline of the body, so points along the channel are singular, not bilateral. Conception Vessel 17 is level with the nipples on the centerline. The technical location of the point is on the sternum at the level of the fourth intercostal space (the space between two ribs). Since that’s hard to remember, I recommend starting at the level of the nipples and feeling slightly up and down the sternum until you find a tender spot. Ask your child to let you know when they feel it.

As a preventive therapy for asthma, ask your child to lie down and take some slow deep breaths into the abdomen while you’re pressing Conception Vessel 17. If your child is actively having an asthma attack, ask him to sit up or stand in front of you, and you can access the point that way.

Lung 6 is on the forearm

I love the name of this point. Translated in English as Maximum Opening, Lung 6 is a great opportunity to visualize acupressure helping your child breathe better. While pressing the point, you can hold the intention that you are opening your child’s airways and allowing them to breathe more freely.

How to find it
Lung 6 is located on the inside lateral (toward the thumb) forearm, roughly halfway between the elbow and wrist creases, slightly closer to the elbow. If you run your finger lightly along the line between the elbow and wrist, you may find a depression where the point is located.

Since Lung 6 is on the forearm, it’s easy to apply pressure to this point while looking at your child and coaching them through their breathing. I recommend doing the point on one arm at a time. Start with whatever one is most comfortable for you and your child, then try the other. Medium to firm pressure is okay for most kids.

Dingchuan is on the upper back

The English translation for Dingchuan is Calm Dyspnea (difficult breathing), which makes it aptly named for its primary indication of asthma. Dingchuan is what’s known in Chinese medicine as an extra point, meaning that it’s not associated with a particular meridian on the body. Acupuncturists turn to this point for asthma as well as any other breathing issues, including shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and even chest pain.

How to find it
Dingchuan is located on the upper back, where the neck transitions into the back. The technical location is just below the seventh cervical vertebra, about a half-inch lateral. The seventh cervical vertebra is the one that sticks out most prominently at the base of the neck. Find that protruding bone and go just below it and a half-inch to the side.

Use your thumbs and press Dingchuan firmly on both sides. Most kids will find firm pressure feels good on this point, like a massage. Encourage them to focus on breathing steadily while you press.

Photos by Lane Oliveri

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