In 2017, Complementary Therapies in Medicine published an article demonstrating the effects of acupressure on premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is the periodic recurrence of physical, cognitive and behavioural symptoms which occurs during the luteal (second) phase of menstruation and ends by day 4 of menstruation. The most common symptoms are irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety, bloating, abdominal discomfort, breast pain, headaches and fatigue. (1)
This randomized, single-blinded clinical trial utilized 90 participants (between the ages of 18-45) with PMS, who were randomly assigned to three groups. The two acupuncture points utilized and studied were LV3 (liver 3) and LI4 (large intestine 4). One group used LV3, another group used LI4 and the third group used a placebo point.
All three groups of participants received 20-minute acupressure training sessions. This was done for a total of three menstrual cycles - the first cycle had a training on the acupressure points, and the following two cycle were simply self-applied. Fourteen days before menstruation, these women were instructed to apply pressure on their assigned acupuncture point for 20 minutes, daily, until bleeding began.
The authors identified that there was a significant decrease in the number of PMS symptoms, depression & anxiety scores in the groups using LV3 and LI4 points, in comparison to placebo, after the second and third cycles. The authors concluded that this acupressure protocol could be an effective method to aid in decreasing the severity of PMS symptoms.
Note: these points are to be avoided in pregnancy, unless utilized by a licensed ND or acupuncturist. Also, these points are learnt anatomically (and through experience), so, without proper guidance/training like these participants had, you can’t be quite sure you’re pressing on the correct spots.
(1) Clinical Key First Consult: Premenstrual Syndrome. Elsevier BV. 2014.
Bazarganipour F, Taghavi S-A, Allan H, et al. The effect of applying pressure to the LIV3 and LI4 on the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2017; 31: 65-70.