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An Ultimate Guide to Pressure Points for Headache Relief

Headaches are some of the most common conditions experienced by many in today’s busy and stressful world. Although some headaches can be symptoms of other medical conditions, more often than not, they are the result of stress, dehydration, muscle tension, and fatigue.

While most people will buy and take over-the-counter pain medications to eliminate their headaches, there are other alternatives without medication! Also, when taking pain medications, people with certain conditions such as kidney or heart failure will need to avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Acupressure face points massage

Can I Use Pressure Points to Relieve Headaches?

Although there are a variety of ways to treat headaches, acupressure points for headaches provide some of the best remedies to relieve them. Continue reading to find out how pressure points work and how to use them.

The Science Behind Acupressure

Body meridians

Acupressure has been used for centuries in China and is still popular in use and demand today. Traditional Chinese medicine asserts that there are acupressure points along our body's meridians or channels. Chinese traditional medicine believes that meridians are connected to particular organs and can organize communication throughout our body. Vital energy called qi (ch'i) flows through these invisible meridians.

Although some believe that meridians are just a theory, acupressure has shown superior therapeutic effects in treating various medical conditions, including headaches. There isn't much science supporting reflexology in the treatment of these conditions. However, several experts believe the effect could be due to neurohormonal responses.

Chinese massage
Serotonin hormones

Acupressure, which involves stimulating pressure points or acupoints, leads to neurohormonal responses. Activating acupoints can lead to the overproduction of cortisol and increase endorphins and serotonin.

Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone that can control mood, motivation, and fear. Endorphins are often called a "feel-good" hormone because they can act as a pain reliever and boost happiness. Serotonin hormones can make people happier and calmer. They can also aid in bowel movement, healing wounds, improving sleep, maintaining bone health, and reducing anxiety and depression.

Types of Headache Acupressure Can Help With

Headaches have various types and symptoms. Every headache can have a particular cause, and it will need specific treatment. Below are types of headaches that can be relieved by acupressure
Tension Headache

Tension Headache

Tension-type headaches (TTH) are the most common type of headache. The pain can be described as a consistent dull ache around your head, a feeling of tightness or pressure on your forehead or the back of your head.

Symptoms may also include sensitivity to light and a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. The pain can last from thirty minutes to several hours or even a week. Tension headache relief pressure points can relieve the pain.

Cluster Headache

Cluster Headache

A cluster headache is more common in women. The pain is a highly severe burning or stabbing sensation, usually around one eye. Other associated symptoms include redness and tearing of the eye, throbbing and constant headache, eyelid droop, and runny or stuffy nose.

A cluster headache attack can last from fifteen minutes to three hours and often occurs simultaneously every day.



A migraine headache is a recurring throbbing, pounding, or pulsing sensation that often occurs on one side of the head. Some migraines can occur without warning, while some will have an aura (visual disturbances) such as blind spots and light flashes. Other migraine symptoms are light and noise sensitivity, dizziness, an upset stomach, and nausea or vomiting.

Migraine is more common in women due to hormonal imbalances. Aside from hormones, migraines can also be caused by the release of inflammatory responses in the blood vessels in the brain. It can last from a few hours up to three days.

Sinus Headache

Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches occur when there is an infection or inflammation of the sinus. When sinus passages are clogged, it causes pain and pressure on the head. A sinus headache gets worse when the patient leans forward or lies down. It can also be accompanied by several symptoms such as fever, facial swelling, a runny or stuffy nose, and pain in the upper teeth.

Pressure Points for Headaches and How to Stimulate Them

There are several well-known headache relief pressure points. You might be asking, “how to get rid of a headache with pressure points? Below are some of the pressure points to relieve headaches and how to stimulate them:
Union Valley

Union Valley

The Union Valley is also the LI-4 (large intestine 4) or Hegu pressure point. It is a pressure point for headaches on the hands. It is located on the skin between the thumb and index finger.

  1. Find the Hegu point and pinch the area with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.
  2. While applying firm pressure (it should not be painful), move the thumb in a circular motion for ten seconds. Take deep breaths while massaging the area.
  3. Do the same thing on the other hand.

Pressing the union valley point relieves tension on the head and neck, thereby relieving tension headache. Aside from the headache, it can also relieve ear pain, jaw pain, and menstrual cramps and can help in detoxification.

Note: Don’t stimulate the Hegu point if you are pregnant, as it can induce labor.

Drilling Bamboo

Drilling Bamboo

The Union Valley is also the LI-4 (large intestine 4) or Hegu pressure point. It is a pressure point for headaches on the hands. It is located on the skin between the thumb and index finger.

  1. Using the index finger of both hands, apply firm pressure on the two points simultaneously.
  2. Hold the pressure for ten seconds before releasing
  3. Repeat the same procedure as needed.
  4. You can also stimulate one pressure point alternately if you opt to.
Stimulating the B2 point can relieve headaches due to sinus pressure and eye strain caused by electronic devices. Aside from sinus headaches, the B2 point can also relieve allergies.
Gates of Consciousness

Gates of Consciousness

The Gates of Consciousness or the Gallbladder 20 is located at the base of the skull, in the hollow space on the sides of the spine.

  1. Put both the index and middle fingers of both hands on the pressure points. You can also interlock your fingers behind your neck with the thumbs downward.
  2. Apply firm pressure on both pressure points upward for ten seconds.
  3. Repeat as needed.
The Gates of Consciousness provides relief for headaches caused by tension in the neck. It is also great for migraine headaches as it can address fatigue and blurring of vision.
Third Eye

Third Eye

The Third Eye pressure point or the Hall of Impression is located between the eyebrows where the nose meets the forehead.

  1. Apply firm pressure on the third eye pressure point for one minute.
This tension headache pressure point can decrease tension in the head, eyes, and face. It is also connected to the pineal gland, which can promote deep relaxation and induce melatonin production, which is also helpful for migraines.
Shoulder Well

Shoulder Well

The Shoulder Well or Gallbladder 21 is located at the top part of the shoulders and halfway between the base of the neck and shoulder point.

  1. Apply firm pressure in a circular motion on the area using your thumb for one minute.
  2. Do it again on the other side and repeat as needed.

Stimulating the shoulder well can relieve headaches, stiffness, and pain in the neck and shoulders. It can also release tension due to poor posture.

Using Acupressure for Headache Relief Vs. Acupuncture


Acupressure and acupuncture are both traditional Chinese medicines. Acupressure can relieve headaches through the application of pressure on the pressure points. Acupuncture is the insertion of a thin needle on the meridians. They both stimulate the meridians or channel pathways of energy to improve blood circulation, relieve headaches, and more.

However, since acupuncture involves the insertion of a needle, it must be done by a licensed acupuncturist. It is also best for patients with chronic headaches, musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, etc.

On the other hand, acupressure can be self-administered by the person with headaches and other conditions. Anyone can follow the different steps provided above to stimulate the pressure points for headache relief.

headache relief

Tips for Performing Self Massage

Self Massage

When performing self-massage to acupoints, it is vital to be patient and consistent because the relief may not be immediate. Regular massage can decrease the pain and its recurrences.

Also, pregnant women and people with underlying conditions such as heart problems should avoid acupressure. It is also vital to wait for at least 20 minutes after taking a bath, eating, and exercising.

When performing acupressure, it is essential to:

  • Sit, stand, or lie down in a comfortable position
  • Apply firm but not painful pressure to activate pressure points
  • Use deep breathing exercises to relax your body
  • Stop the treatment if the condition worsens
Pranamat ECO
Some people who experience side effects such as soreness and bruising after the massage can try using a gentler pressure to prevent it. The pressure must not be painful.

The Benefits of Using a Pranamat ECO Set

A Pranamat ECO set consisting of massage mats, a storage bag, and a pillow is also helpful when conducting self-massage. It can activate acupressure points and stimulate endorphin release to alleviate headaches, muscle tension, and stress.

Massage can also improve blood and lymphatic circulation to aid in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the cells. It benefits the body and mind.

Pranamat massage mat



Reflexology is a very safe way to treat headaches and other disorders. There might also be pressure points for headaches on the feet. However, since there are very few studies regarding its effectiveness in treating headaches, further research is necessary to support the claim.

Also, if you have underlying health conditions or severe headaches, it is vital to consult a specialist before using acupressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Acupressure is reported to be a highly effective alternative therapy to relieve headaches. If you suffer from chronic headaches, you can try acupressure. Just be patient and consistent and do so under advice from a professional.

Acupressure can relieve different headaches, such as tension headaches, migraines, cluster, and sinus headaches.

Pressure points to relieve headaches include Drilling Bamboo, Union Valley, Gates of Consciousness, Third Eye, and Shoulder Well.