Pain Reliever in Hand

Hegu is generally used by acupuncturists as part of a customized program that includes a variety of other acupuncture points, says Meredith St. John, academic dean of the New England School of Acupuncture, in Newton, Mass. For example, the points to treat a patient for anxiety would be different than those for treating someone with menstrual painóbut hegu would likely be a common denominator in both treatments, she adds.

Aculief Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif., sells a $30 clip that applies constant pressure to the spot. The company says it hasn't done any studies on the clip, but that its customers say it helps headaches and other pain.

To manipulate your own hegu point, acupuncturists say to put a thumb on top of the fleshy part between the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand. Place your forefinger on the other side of the hand and press hard. If you're doing it right, it will hurt, Dr. Bao adds.

A minute or two may be enough, or you may need to try for longeróbut benefits will start to decrease after about 20 to 40 minutes of steady pressure, Dr. Reed says. If you get no relief from pressing one hand, try the other one, acupuncturists add.

Pressing on hegu is generally safe, however, acupuncturists say pregnant women should avoid it. Traditional Chinese medicine texts say manipulating the point can induce labor.

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