The Japanese practice of Shiatsu, which literally means "finger pressure," is similar to acupressure. In acupressure and Shiatsu, thumbs are most commonly used to apply pressure, although other fingers, knuckles, palms, elbows and even feet can be used in some of the therapies.
The advantage of acupressure over acupuncture is that you can do it yourself—all you need are your hands, a little knowledge and some time. It’s also cheap—free, in fact, once you’ve learned the basics. And it’s simple and safe
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture began to become better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery. Currently, nine to twelve million acupuncture treatments are performed in the United States each year.
Acupuncture is based on the belief that health is determined by a balanced, harmonious flow of vital life energy, know as qi (also spelled ki or chi and pronounced “Chee”), throughout the body. According to this system, qi travels through your body along fourteen major pathways, which are called meridians. Unfortunately, these meridians are not maintenance-free. Things like a bad diet, stress, or viruses can obstruct them. When that happens, your energy flow becomes unbalanced, which results in injury or disease. To regain balance, Chinese medicine teaches that you have to stimulate special points along the meridians, known as acupoints, which enhance or alter the flow qi and restore balance and health.
The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. Along with the usual method of puncturing the skin with the fine needles, the practitioners of acupuncture also use heat, pressure, friction, suction, or impulses of electromagnetic energy to stimulate the points. During an acupuncture treatment session, anywhere from 1 to 20 FDA approved, metallic needles are inserted into the body, ranging from just breaking the surface to up to 1 or several inches long.
Many studies have indicated that patients who receive acupuncture treatments recover faster and spend less than going to a hospital to receive treatments. The most common claim of success by acupuncture advocates is in the area of pain control. Studies have shown that many acupuncture points are more richly supplied with nerve endings than are the surrounding skin areas.
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that influence the body's self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
Each point has a Chinese name describing its characteristic and/or function. Such named acupuncture points are Shen Men, Hu Ku. English translation of the named points and the use of abbreviation and meridians and numerical such as KI3, SP6, ST36, LI4, GB21, SP20, TH10, B23 are more commonly known.
Read about Acupuncture Points....
The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) documents more than forty conditions commonly treated with acupuncture; however, only a few have been confirmed by results form Western medical studies. Acupuncturists generally say that acupuncture is most effective for managing chronic diseases, such as low back pain and asthma. Here are a few of the areas where acupuncture is considered most effective.
The World Health Organization Interregional Seminar drew up the following provisional list of diseases that lend themselves to acupuncture treatment.
Upper Respiratory Tract
- Acute sinusitis
- Acute rhinitis
- Common cold
- Acute tonsillitis
- Acute bronchitis
- Bronchial asthma (most effective in children and in patients without complicating diseases)
Disorders of the Eye
- Acute conjunctivitis
- Central retinitis
- Myopia (in children)
- Cataract (without complications)
Disorders of the Mouth
- Toothache, post-extraction pain
- Acute and chronic pharyogitis
- Spasms of esophagus and cardia
- Acute and chronic gastritis
- Gastric hyperacidity
- Chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief)
- Acute duodenal ulcer (without complications)
- Acute and chronic colitis
- Acute bacillary dysentery
- Paralytic ileus
Neurological and Musculo-skeletal Disorders
- Headache and migraine
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Facial palsy (early stage, i.e., within three to six months)
- Pareses following a stroke
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Sequelae of poliomyelitis (early stage, i.e., within six months)
- Meniere's disease
- Neurogenic bladder dysfunction
- Nocturnal enuresis
- Intercostal neuralgia
- Cervicobrachial syndrome
- "Frozen shoulder," "tennis elbow"
- Low back pain
Pain Relief: With the safety of pain relievers being questioned, a new study gives arthritis sufferers more reason to try acupuncture. One advantage of this type of treatment, says the NIH, is that the rates of side effects are substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions.
In what was hailed as "the largest, longest, and most rigorous study of acupuncture" ever conducted, acupuncture was found to reduce pain and improve function and movement among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee when used with other treatments.
Chronic pain: From migraines to backaches, the best –documented benefits of acupuncture are in the area of the pain management. In one major study, acupuncture provided short term relief for 55 to 85 percent of people who were suffering from chronic pain.
Migraine headaches have been the focus of much acupuncture research. In one typical experiment some Austrian researchers found that out of twenty-six migraine suffers, eighteen reported fewer bouts with headache following acupuncture. Fifteen still felt relief three years later.
Asthma: Because it is effective in easing inflammation, acupuncture can be useful for controlling, asthma, which involves inflammation of the lungs. After reviewing sixteen studies that tested treatments for chronic asthma and other lung diseases, researchers, have concluded that acupuncture is a safe and potentially effective treatment. Ten of the studies found that acupuncture could help people have asthma significantly reduce their need for medication.
Infertility: Recent review of acupuncture and female infertility, by physicians from New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, identified that acupuncture can normalize the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, improve ovulation, and enhance pelvic blood flow, which may help with implantation.
A small number of studies indicate that acupuncture improves sperm quality in some men
Menopause and menstrual problems: Through more research is needed, one small study of twenty-one menopausal women found that acupuncture treatment cut the number of hot flashes these women experienced by more than half. Other studies have found that women suffering from dysmenorrheal—pain during menstruation –can often get relief through acupuncture.
Acupuncture Side Effects:
When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from adverse or addictive side effects. Quite often, a sense of relaxation and well-being occurs during and after treatments. While undergoing therapy for one ailment, other problems may resolve concurrently. This is a common side benefit that again demonstrates the value of balancing the quality and quantity of "vital energy" within the entire person.
How long is each treatment and how many treatments do I need?
Duration of treatment varies for each patient but generally ranges from 30 to 50 minutes. Many conditions require at least six treatments on a weekly basis.
ACUPRESSURE : HEALING WITH FINGERS
If you have ever rubbed your temples to relieve a pounding headache, you may understand the reasoning behind acupressure -- a technique practiced in the Far East even before the advent of acupuncture needles. However, despite its antiquity, acupressure is still considered a powerful healer.
Acupressure uses the same meridian/acupoint philosophy as acupuncture does but, with a twist: Because it does not involve needles it can be used as a simple home remedy, experts say. Pressure is applied directly to the Acupoints of the body mainly by using the hands, fingers, thumb or knuckles and sometimes by using a smooth, blunt object. If your ankle is injured, for instance, you can apply gentle acupressure around the swollen joint to open up channels and increase circulation in that area. Acupressure is performed to release muscular tension, promote the circulation of blood and restore the flow of qi, the body's vital energy, along channels in the body. Acupressure techniques including Shen Tao, Jin Shen, Do Jin Shen, Qigong, Shiatsu and Tuina.
Read about Acupressure Points....
1. Relieve stress and tension
2. Relax mind and body
3. Increase blood circulation
4. Aid in the removal of toxic wastes
5. Provide relief from head, neck and shoulder aches
6. Promote the healing of injuries
7. Increase energy levels
8. Increase overall feeling of well-being
9. Decreasing labor pains
Overall health: Acupressure has proven successful in relieving all kinds of headaches, fatigue, stress, and menstrual and menopausal discomforts. By relieving stress, the body's immune system and, therefore, resistance to disease may be heightened. When tension is released, patients may feel better physically, emotionally and mentally promoting overall wellness and health.
Nausea: Scientists have discovered that acupressure may hold the solution to the problem. Researchers at the Northern Ireland Radiotherapy centre, Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast (1), found that of 105 patients who had failed to respond favourably to drug therapy, acupressure succeeded in preventing nausea and vomiting in 66% of the patients and, in fact, only 6% of the patients failed to benefit from the acupressure treatment. Pregnant women, people undergoing surgery, and folks prone to motion sickness can all benefit using acupressure to calm their stomachs.
The Chinese have also used acupressure as a beauty treatment for thousands of years. You can use potent points to improve skin condition and tone and relax the facial muscles, which can lessen the appearance of wrinkles without drugs.
Although acupressure is not a substitute for medical care, it is often an appropriate complementary treatment. It can, for instance, speed the healing of a broken bone once it has been set, or aid a cancer patient by helping to alleviate some of the associated pain and anxiety of the disease.
How long is each treatment?
A typical session lasts 30 minutes to 1 hour.
How to Choose a Accupuressure Therapist?
Acupressure is administered by a wide variety of practitioners under many styles and guises. Elements of the technique are found in many types of bodywork and massage therapy. Some practitioners hew to a traditional Oriental style of practice, sometimes combined with other components of traditional Oriental medicine such as herbology. Other, more Westernized practitioners dismiss the philosophical angle and regard the meridians as a system of neurological trigger points.