Traditional Natural Medicine Acupressure

You may have heard about the wonders of acupuncture. This alternative medicine can purportedly help treat various ailments, implementing ancient Asian principles that stymie our Western science. However, the vision of dozens of tiny needles poking into your skin might have turned you off of the prospect. There is an alternative, though: acupressure.

Acupressure, sometimes referred to as Tui na or “push-grasp,” has been used in China since before the beginning of the Common Era. In fact, some acupressure techniques date back to 1700 BC.

What is Acupressure

Because the origins of acupressure techniques predate the scientific method, some of the thought behind acupressure might seem strange. For instance, in traditional Chinese medicine, bad health or mental problems are blamed on disturbances in your body’s energy flow between twelve main points, called meridians. Each meridian is thought to affect a certain organ or group of organs in your body.

To unclog the meridians and loosen the energy flow, therapists apply pressure to several different acupressure points on the body with their hands, elbows or one of several tools. Most often, however, they use fingertips. Their theory is that by releasing energy to flow unhindered, the health problems will be reduced or eliminated.

The Benefits of Acupressure

Acupressure massage has been used to obesity, headaches and back problems. Some women have also found success with acupressure to induce labor. In fact, some practitioners specialize in “maternity acupressure” that seeks to reduce nausea in pregnant women. Keep in mind that non-pregnant women can enjoy the benefits of acupressure as well: acupressure massage can help reduce menstrual cramping.

During a session, acupressurists usually have a brief consultation with their clients about the nature of the problem, and then ask them to lie down on a massage table while they apply pressure to the appropriate acupuncture meridians. However, with the exception of inducing labor, you can perform acupressure on yourself in many cases.

Pros and Cons of Acupressure

Acupressure has few known interactions with other, more conventional medical techniques and, therefore, is generally safe to use in conjunction with other treatments. The exception to this rule is people on a regimen of blood thinning medication.

Another benefit of acupressure, along with being safe, is that it has no side effects except for some occasional dizziness or slight bruising on the pressure points.

On the down side, there is very little scientific evidence that the techniques of acupressure are in fact effective. Many doctors feel highly skeptical of the principles behind acupressure, which can make discussing it with your health care provider difficult.

The few studies that have examined acupressure have found almost no results to prove its worth, although some have found a slight connection between maintaining weight loss or reducing nausea after surgery (although in the latter case it didn’t seem to help reduce vomiting, just the nausea that accompanies it).

However, many people decide that a 2,000 year-old tradition, with numerous patients who profess its benefits, must have some validity to it.

Your First Acupressure Appointment

If you decide to try acupressure therapy, make sure you take a few basic precautions. If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about it first. If you have osteoporosis, diabetes, coagulation problems or any recently broken bones, avoid acupressure and look for other therapies. A good acupressure therapist should avoid any parts of your body that are hurt and should be gentle on tender areas like your face. If you’re in pain, tell the acupressurist so; if the pain continues, stop the session.

Resource

Wong, Cathy (2008). Acupressure – What You Need to Know About Acupressure. Retrieved April 8, 2008, from the About.com Web site: http://altmedicine.about.com/od/acupressure/a/acupressure.htm.