Acupressure stimulates and opens the meridians or energy pathways that run throughout the entire body. Used for thousands of years in China, acupressure applies the same principles as acupuncture to promote relaxation and wellness and to treat disease.
The different pathways are associated directly to specific parts of the body such as the heart, kidneys, lungs, and lymphatic system.
This body work can help with such ailments as anxiety, headaches, nausea, insomnia, and numerous other issues.
It is based on the concept of life energy which flows through “meridians” in the body. In treatment, physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the aim of clearing blockages in these meridians. Pressure may be applied by hand, by elbow, or with various devices.
Acupoints used in treatment may or may not be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi (also spelled “chi”).
Many East Asian martial arts also make extensive study and use of acupressure for self-defense and health purposes, (chin na, tui na). The points or combinations of points are said to be used to manipulate or incapacitate an opponent. Also, martial artists regularly massage their own acupressure points in routines to remove supposed blockages from their own meridians, claiming to thereby enhance their circulation and flexibility and keeping the points “soft” or less vulnerable to an attack.
Research into the health benefits of acupressure is in its infancy. Many patient reports support its use for a number of health concerns. More well-designed research is needed, though.
Here are a few health problems that appear to improve with acupressure:
- After surgery
- During spinal anesthesia
- After chemotherapy
- From motion sickness
- Related to pregnancy
The PC 6 acupressure point is located in the groove between the two large tendons on the inside of the wrist that start at the base of the palm. There are special wristbands that are sold over the counter. These press on similar pressure points and work for some people.
Cancer . In addition to relieving nausea right after chemotherapy, there are individual reports that acupressure also helps reduce stress, improve energy levels, relieve pain, and lessen other symptoms of cancer or its treatments. More research is needed to confirm these reports.
Pain. Some preliminary evidence suggests that acupressure may help with low back pain, postoperative pain, or headache. Pain from other conditions may benefit, as well. To relieve headache, the LI 4 pressure point is sometimes tried.
Arthritis . Some studies suggest that acupressure releases endorphins and promotes anti-inflammatory effects, helping with arthritis.
Depression and anxiety. More than one study suggests that fatigue and mood may improve from the use of acupressure. Better designed trials are needed to be sure.