Chinese Medicine - Acupressure

Used for thousands of years in China, acupressure applies the same principles as acupuncture to promote relaxation and wellness and to treat disease. Sometimes called pressure acupuncture, Acupressure is often thought of as simply acupuncture without the needles. But what exactly is acupressure and how does it work?
 

What Is  Acupressure?
 

The role of acupressure has been paramount in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than 2000 years, and the fact that it is still in use today is a testimony to its effectiveness in the treatment of illness and pain. Acupressure is essentially a method of sending a signal to the body (by needle or other means) to “turn on” its own self-healing or regulatory mechanisms. Normally, Qi (vital energy) circulates through natural pathways in the body called meridians. Blockage of this flow or an imbalance in Yin and Yang can cause illness and pain. Acupressure helps to correct functional imbalances and restore the flow thus returning the body to a more natural state of well-being.
 

Acupressure is an effective form of stimulation used to help relax the muscles. If done regularly, this method of self-massage can sustain improvement and minimize recurrence of symptoms. Be patient and consistent when practicing acupressure on them. A simple way to stimulate these points is to press firmly with a finger in a rotary movement or an up-and-down movement for several minutes at a time. It is recommended that you use this information under the guidance of your physician.

How To Administer Acupressure

 

  • Use deep, firm pressure to massage and stimulate each point.

  • When massaging acupoints, try to relax in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.

  • Repeat the massage as often as you like; there is no limit to the number of times a day.

  • Besides massaging these points on yourself, anyone can also help massage these points for you.
     

Acupressure practitioners use their fingers, palms, elbows or feet, or special devices to apply pressure to acupoints on the body's meridians. Sometimes, acupressure also involves stretching or acupressure massage, as well as other methods.
 

During an acupressure session, you lie fully clothed on a soft massage table. The practitioner gently presses on acupressure points on your body. A session typically lasts about one hour. You may need several sessions for the best results. If your Practitioner is trained in Acupressure techniques, these can be integrated into a Full Body Massage, by an RMT, a Foot or Hand Reflexology Session by a Certified Reflexologist, or a Head, Face, Neck, Shoulders, Arms, Hands, and Back Indian Head Massage session by an Indian Head Massage Practitioner.

How Might Acupressure Help The Body?

One of the main ways in which acupressure's use has been explored has been in sleep. Does pressuring certain points on your body help you rest and have better quality sleep? The answer, it seems, might be a qualified yes. Breast cancer survivors in a 2016 study felt less fatigued and experienced higher quality sleep when they self-administered acupressure, and elderly people in nursing homes who had a course of expert acupressure for eight weeks for a 2017 study reported better sleep. An overview of 32 different studies about acupressure and sleep published in 2016 found that there seemed to be a uniform improvement in sleep, even among the elderly or disabled. 

There have been a number of studies on the use of Acupressure massage on cancer patients dealing with the after-math nausea from chemotherapy, and the results were very encouraging!

If you want to try it at home, I have included a routine of key Acupressure points you can try to help you get a great night's sleep. Particular pressure points may prove relaxing. For sleep, the An Mian point below the ear can help put you to sleep quickly. When pressing the acupressure points for insomnia, listen to your body. You should feel immediate relief when you press down on these points. It should not hurt, and if you are pressing to a point where you feel pain, stop!

Acupressure Point Massage has been shown to be quite effective with helping to manage stress, migraine suffering, digestive disorders, headaches, toothaches, facial pain, high blood pressure, motion sickness and a list of so many more ailments. 

If you're collaborating with a person who's helping you, communicate with them about your pain levels and what you find bearable. Also, something else to remember: These acupressure points are for short-term, minor relief. It can help for a night or two. For more lasting issues, you'll need to seek intensive help.

Below is a list of the names of some of the more commonly used Acupressure points and what they can be effective in helping with.

Gallbladder 20 (GB20): Feng Chi 
This point is recommended for headache, migraine, eye blurriness or fatigue, low energy, and cold/flu symptoms. It is located by feeling the mastoid (ear) bone and following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull.

Gallbladder 21 (GB21): Jian Jing 
This point is located by pinching the shoulder muscle with your thumb and middle finger and is commonly used for stress, facial pain, headaches, toothaches and neck pain. Use with caution in pregnant women.

Large Intestine 4 (LI4): He Gu
This point is good for stress, headaches, toothaches, facial pain and neck pain. However, as a word of precaution, it can induce labor and must never be used during pregnancy.

Liver 3 (LV3): Tai Chong
You need to take off your shoe to find this point. This is an excellent area to stimulate for stress, low back pain, high blood pressure, limb pain, insomnia and emotional upset.

Pericardium 6 (P6): Nei Guan
This point can help provide relief for nausea, anxiety, carpal tunnel syndrome, upset stomach, motion sickness and headaches and is even used for regulation of heart palpitations.

Triple Energizer 3: Zhong Zhu
This point is located in the groove formed by the tendons of the 4th and 5th finger, behind the knuckles and is commonly used in the clinic for temporal headaches, shoulder and neck tension, and upper back pain.

Spleen 6 (SP6): San Yin Jiao
This point can be very helpful for many urological and pelvic disorders as well as fatigue and insomnia. Avoid during pregnancy.

Stomach36 (ST36): Zu San Li 
You can find this point useful for fatigue and depression as well as knee pain and gastrointestinal discomfort. Asians frequently stimulate this point for health promotion and longevity.

References

  1. Kashefi F, Khajehei M, Ashraf AR, Jafari P. The efficacy of acupressure at the Sanyinjiao point in the improvement of women's general health. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Dec;17(12):1141-7. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

  2. Wong CL, Lai KY, Tse HM. Effects of SP6 acupressure on pain and menstrual distress in young women with dysmenorrhea. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 May;16(2):64-9. Epub 2009 Nov 14.