We Tried TikTok's Easy Dry Cough Hack And Here's What Happened

There's something about acupressure that many find appealing. Whether you're an ardent believer in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or not, it's hard to stop yourself from trying the simple skin-to-skin contact method and stimulating external surfaces to relieve discomfort within your body. It almost feels like magic — and best of all, it doesn't require anything other than the use of your fingers.

This is precisely why we wanted to try the TikTok dry cough hack shared by a doctor of pharmacy who goes by the name angelapharmd on the platform (other users had recommended it too). It looked and sounded easy enough: Use a finger to stimulate a spot on your throat to stop a dry cough.

Granted, when we tried it, we weren't really sick; we were just slightly irritated because of excess kitchen smoke from a particularly challenging dish we were trying to make for dinner. Regardless, this didn't stop us from giving it a go. And surprisingly, it seemed to work. We also asked (begged) a loved one who was recovering from a mild case of a chest infection and was left only coughing at night to try it too. It seemed to work for them as well. We were even more intrigued because there was a double dose of skepticism here. 

What exactly is the dry cough hack?

As explained by angelapharmd, the dry cough hack will stop a cough right away. "All you need to do is put pressure with your index finger at the end of your throat at this hollow point," explained the pharmacist, indicating the natural dip where your throat connects to your sternum. 

"Press it for 1-3 minutes, let it go, and you can repeat it up to three times," she added. In our case, we didn't have to repeat the TikTok hack. We simply took our finger to our throat when we felt a cough coming on (that slight tingling feeling) and held it there for a few seconds, and this seemed to stop the cough in its tracks. We were happy we stopped coughing without taking syrup. Although, in the case of the dry hacking left behind from a week-long chest infection, the cough did come back once the stimulation ended. 

We were also concerned that pressing down on the throat would cause discomfort of some sort, but surprisingly, it didn't. 

The dry cough hack is called Ren 22 in traditional Chinese medicine

TikTok might be where the hack spreads like wildfire, but it's not the source of this dry cough hack. In TCM, the pressure point is called Conception Vessel 22, CV 22, Ren 22, Tiantu, or Celestial Prominence. According to naturopathic doctor Dr. Janine Bowring, the point is also called "heaven rushing out," and it works for a phlegmy cough as well, not just a dry one. Ren 22 stimulation is also linked with relief of symptoms that arise with asthma, a hoarse voice or loss of voice, sore throat, hiccups, and difficulty swallowing. 

A milder cousin of acupuncture (which involves inserting thin needles into the body to stimulate pressure points), acupressure actually uses fingers or other tools like rollers, rings, probes, and sticks. While the science behind how it works is still being investigated, acupuncturists believe that your body has an energy flow known as Qi that runs through pathways called meridians (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Apparently, there are more than 2,000 pressure points (like Ren 22) that, when stimulated, can restore balance in your system and remove any hindrances to energy flow that might result in disease or discomfort. When it comes to this natural way of getting rid of coughs, there are other pressure points too; for example, Kidney 27 (located near the collarbone) and Lung 7 (which is on your wrist). While we wouldn't recommend resorting to home remedies like these at times when you should be concerned about your cough (like when there's yellowish-green phlegm or blood), it doesn't hurt to try this hack otherwise.