This COVID summer is a little ... different, and for many of us, travel looks different as well, with more of us hitting the road. Whether you’re cara-vanning cross country or exploring your local city, staying healthy is more important than ever! Luckily, Chinese Medicine can offer many different tips and things to pack in your travel bags for your next summer break vacation!
Acupressure for Traveling
Acupuncture and acupressure are branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine that have been used for thousands of years as part of a comprehensive medical system. Acupressure works similarly to acupuncture, but instead of acupuncture needles stimulating the points, you use massage on the points to help stimulate and relax the muscles. From a Chinese medicine perspective, energy, or Qi, circulates through the whole body. Blockage of the circulation and internal imbalances can cause illness and pain. Acupuncture and acupressure work by increasing circulation to the body and regulating inflammation and immune function. The central nervous system alters the release of hormones and endorphins to bring the body into homeostasis and balance, while the autonomic nervous system down regulates stress hormones while also stimulating the body’s rest and digest functions.
How to Use Acupressure
Use your thumb or index finger to lightly press and massage the point for 1-2 minutes. When massaging these points, relax in a comfortable position and breathe deeply. For all of these points, take it easy and massage gently at first since these points can be sensitive and tender. Repeat as many times as you’d like throughout the day.
4 Acupressure Points for Traveling
Large Intestine 4
Large Intestine 4 is commonly used for any symptom having to do with the face, eyes, nose, mouth and ears. It is useful for headaches, sinus congestion, sore throat, tooth pain, ear ache, and any aches and pains on the face. Use this when you have a headache, or for ear aches or congestion on the airplane. To locate this point, squeeze the thumb against the base of the index finger. The point is on the highest point of the muscle and at the end of this crease formed by the thumb and index finger. Use your thumb or index finger to lightly press and massage the point for 1-2 minutes.
**Please note that this point is a strong point for inducing labor, so DO NOT use this point if you are pregnant.
This point is located in the middle of the forearm, between the two tendons that run along the length of the inner forearm. To find the point, turn your hand over so the palm is facing up, then the point is 2 finger widths from the wrist crease. When massaging, press gently downward since this can be a sensitive spot.Pericardium 6 is a wonderful point to use for traveling because it helps to relieve nausea, motion sickness and upset stomach.
To find this point, place your hand just underneath your knee cap, with your fingers pointing inwards. The point will be in a tender spot about 4 fingers width down from your knee (most likely under your pinkie finger), just next to the tibia bone (the big long bone on the front of your leg). Use your thumb or index finger to lightly press and massage the point for 1-2 minutes.This point is fantastic for any kind of digestive issues like low appetite, bloating, gas, stomach pain or upset stomach. It is a wonderful point for nourishing Qi and Blood in the body, making it great for boosting the immune system and increasing energy, and it also helps to relax and calm the mind.
This point is a rock star of an acupuncture point because it helps to circulate Liver Qi through the whole body. It is useful for a variety of issues, including any kind of muscle or joint pain, headaches, insomnia, menstrual cramps, stress and anxiety. It is located on the top of your foot, in the webbing between the big toe and second toe. The point is about 2 finger widths above the place where the skin of the big toe and second toe meet. Use your thumb or index finger to lightly press and massage the point for 1-2 minutes.
Chinese Herbs for Traveling
DAO Labs are my favorite Chinese herbal formulas to take with me while I’m traveling - their packaging is convenient and I can literally bring them anywhere easily. Plus, they taste great! I never leave home without these two formulas:
Immunity Support is based on the classic Chinese herbal formula called Jade Windscreen (Yu Ping Feng San). This blend of herbs work together to stabilize and boost the immune system, making it a go to formula for anytime your immune system needs to guard against airborne pathogens. The individual packs make this formula a breeze to pack in your travel bags and take before getting on the plane, cruise ship, train, road trip, and more! It’s easy to add to water and enjoy as a pre-flight drink at the airport, which is the perfect time to give your immune system a boost to help prevent catching a cold.
Digestive Harmony is the classic Chinese herbal formula called Bao He Wan, which works to help maintain gut health and harmony. It is great for any kind of digestive upset following a heavy rich meal or night out on the town. It is equally effective if you drink it before or after the big meal or party, and it’s also effective for hangover relief. I love bringing this formula with me when I go on vacation because eating local cuisine is one of my favorite parts of exploring a new city. It is reassuring to know I have something on hand that keeps my stomach settled, and works fast to deliver digestive balance and harmony in case of overindulging.
Other Things to Pack
Pack a Scarf
No matter where in the world I’m going, a scarf is a must have in my travel bag. In Chinese Medicine theory, the outside world and nature can affect the internal body. Things like wind and cold can enter the body and cause symptoms of the common cold, and they enter through the back of your neck, which is referred to as the Wind Gate. So, one way to protect your neck is by wearing a scarf, especially when it’s windy and cold out. A light scarf is perfect for walks on the beach, that stuffy hot yet cold air in airplanes, and going back and forth from hot and humid outside temperatures to freezing cold air conditioning inside. Wearing a scarf around your neck is a simple way to help keep your body and immune system strong so you don’t catch a cold.
White Flower is a classic liquid liniment that is made of camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil and peppermint oil. It can be used for any kind of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints, bruises and swelling from traumatic injury. It’s also great as a bug repellant and relief from insect bites and stings. It can even help relieve headaches and nasal congestion. To use, apply a drop topically to temples, forehead, neck and/or sides of the nose.
Wishing you safe and happy travels this summer!
Dr. Jennifer Tom, DACM, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist with a private practice in Carlsbad, CA. She is passionate about providing practical, down to earth health care using acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. When she’s not seeing patients, you can usually find her rock climbing or cooking. Follow her on Instagram at @jenntom_acu.
The contents of this article are only meant for informational purposes, and should not be considered personal medical advice, nor a substitute for seeing a medical professional. Please consult your local physician for any specific concerns regarding your healthcare.
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