It’s common for people to suffer nausea after having surgery -- and it’s not only uncomfortable but also provokes concern for issues of immobility, incisions and fresh sutures. Curiously, no matter how sophisticated and complex your surgical procedure may have been, an effective antidote to the nausea may be a simple and drug-free one, placing pressure at a certain point on your wrist. There have been numerous studies on this in the last several years, and recently a Cochrane review confirmed that stimulating the wrist acupressure point significantly reduces the risk of postsurgery nausea and vomiting for many people.
The specific point is acupuncture/acupressure Pericardium 6 (P6), which when stimulated releases several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, says Lixing Lao, PhD, licensed acupuncturist and director at the Center for Integrative Medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine. These brain chemicals block nausea-producing ones. When I spoke with Dr. Lao, he said that studies have shown this to be effective not only for nausea from surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, but also motion sickness and morning sickness.
Many studies have used acupuncture or acupressure, and some used wristbands with a button positioned to stimulate the P6 point, but it’s also easy to ward off nausea using only the tip of your thumb, says Dr. Lao. Here is how to find the correct point: Put your index and middle finger together and place them lengthwise across the inner wrist, just under the first crease of your palm. Press the mid-point between the two prominent tendons just below your fingers but a little closer to the body. Do this on both sides, alternating arms.
Dr. Lao says to start massaging the P6 point in any situation where you anticipate becoming nauseated. For example, if you have a tendency to get motion sickness, begin your massage as you get into the car and continue for a few minutes. If you start to become nauseated later, press and massage some more until nausea goes away. Sorry to say this doesn’t work for everyone, but it won’t take you long to find out if you are among the lucky, because when you find the right spot, you’ll feel relief in minutes. Dr. Lao adds that the wristbands, available in pharmacies and department stores, are fine and very convenient -- just be sure you place the button, and the tip of your thumb, on the correct spot so you can add some pressure of your own if necessary to get sufficient stimulation.