What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is often called acupuncture without the needles. Instead of needles, acupressure involves the application of manual pressure (usually with the fingertips) to specific points on the body.
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, the body has vital energy called "chi" or "qi" that flows along invisible lines of energy flow called meridians. There are thought to be at least 14 meridians connecting our organs with other parts of our body. Acupuncture and acupressure points lie on those meridians. If the flow of qi is blocked at any point on a meridian, it's thought to be the cause of ailments and lead to disease anywhere along the meridian. That's why a practitioner may apply pressure to an acupressure point in the foot to relieve a headache.
There is no scientific consensus on how acupressure might work. Some theorize that the pressure may promote the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body, called endorphins. Another theory is that the pressure may somehow influence the autonomic nervous system.
How is Acupressure Done?
Acupressure is often administered by an acupuncturist with the person receiving the acupressure lying on a massage table.
Acupressure can also be self-administered. Although it's best to consult an acupuncturist for proper instruction, acupressure is generally done by using the thumb, finger or knuckle to apply gentle but firm pressure to a point. The pressure is often increased for about 30 seconds, held steadily for 30 seconds to two minutes and then gradually decreased for 30 seconds. It's often repeated three to five times.
The point P6 can be found by turning the arm so that the palm is facing up. Place the thumb at the center of the crease of the wrist (where the hand meets the wrist) and then position it two finger widths away from the crease towards the elbow. The point is between the two large tendons.
Acupressure and Chinese medicine
Chinese medicine views the body as a small part of the universe, subject to laws and principles of harmony and balance. Chinese medicine does not make as sharp a destinction as Western medicine does between mind and body. The Chinese system believes that emotions and mental states are every bit as influential on disease as purely physical mechanisms, and considers factors like work, environment, and relationships as fundamental to a patient's health. Chinese medicine also uses very different symbols and ideas to discuss the body and health. While Western medicine typically describes health as mainly physical processes composed of chemical equations and reactions, the Chinese use ideas like yin and yang, chi, and the organ system to describe health and the body.
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