Potential consumers tend to alternative and complementary therapies on a subconscious level to categorize. The fact of the matter is that some holistic techniques seem more reasonable than others. This is often a result of the culture and medical care that we have exposed throughout our lives. Human nature dictates that we generally attracted to that which is known. With that in mind, allow me to suggest that something very deep esoteric healing techniques for all of us can afford: an opportunity to broaden our horizons and experience the world in a broader context.
Acupressure is an ancient healing modality that the application of finger or palm pressure to specific acupoints on the body. The acupoints in question to correlate with the various organs and systems that can be dysfunctional. Already more than 4,000 years, healers have employed this practice in the management of both mental and physical illnesses such as asthma, drug addiction, labor pain and even weight loss.
In recent months, a wealth of evidence supports the modern use of acupressure.
Acupressure for Dysmenorrhea - The February 2010 edition of the journal complementary therapies in medicine reviewed the current state of research regarding acupressure in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain and pain). The Korean scientists that the analysis identified 4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for a total of 458 participants. Two of the studies “significant improvement in pain severity for acupressure reported compared to placebo acupressure on non-acupoints.” The other trials documented positive changes in anxiety and reduce the use of pain medication on those acupressure treatment. One of the studies specifically looked for evidence of side effects and did not find any. Overall, the authors noted that, “The available data from RCTs suggest that acupressure relieves menstrual pain.” But they carefully added that, “These results were limited by the small number of studies. Well-designed RCTs with rigorous methods of randomization and adequately concealed allocation necessary.” (1)
Acupressure for Post-Stroke Care - An experiment recently at the University of Colorado at Boulder looked at the relative merits of the application of acupressure in a group of stroke patients. Previous studies argue that acupressure can “positively affect blood pressure and heart rate.” A specific form of acupressure known as Jin Shin was used in the 16 stroke patients who participated in the study. In the course of 8 weeks, the study volunteers received Jin Shin acupressure or placebo acupressure. The duration of treatment was followed by washing phase, after which the opposite-treated groups as part of a crossover study design. A consistent advantage compared to the heart rate have been found in the Jin Shin intervention. The conclusion of the test states that, “Active acupressure reduced heart rate significantly more than placebo acupressure during the treatments. Although no treatment effect on blood pressure was found, this may be due to 67% of participants taking of antihypertensive medication during the study. ” (2)
Acupressure for chemotherapy-induced nausea - One of the biggest obstacles in the administration of chemotherapy is the tolerance factor. A study appearing in the February 2010 issue of the European Journal of Oncology Nursing shows that acupressure can be a valuable tool for patients receiving conventional cancer treatment. A wristband (Sea-Band) that stimulates the P6 or Neiguan acupoint was applied to 34 women with gynecological cancer. Pre-and post-tests show that the patients wearing the acupressure wristbands a decrease in nausea severity and a reduction of retching and vomiting episodes demonstrated. The researchers also noted a decrease in the dependence of the anti-emetic medication to help manage symptoms. (3)
Acupressure for Insomnia - Another acupoint was the centerpiece of a Taiwanese study published recently in the International Journal of Nursing Studies. The Shenmen point (also known as HT7) has traditionally been associated with quality of sleep. In order to scientifically test this historical claim, Taipei Medical University researchers recruited 50 men and women with insomnia to participate in a randomized controlled trial. Half of the study volunteers were equipped with “standard acupressure points on the HT7 from both wrists.” The rest of the control group “received only light touch” on the same wrist acupoint. The duration of the study was 5 weeks and the researchers used the Athens Insomnia Scale-Taiwan form (AIS T) and patient questionnaires as a means to quantifying before and after the test quality of sleep. Not only the acupressure to improve insomnia symptoms during the treatment period, but the benefits extended by an additional 2 months after the completion of the study (4).
Acupressure for Chronic Headache Pain - Chronic headache are sometimes treated with muscle relaxant drugs. Researchers from the Rehabilitation Department of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan recently launched a head-to-head comparison of these drugs versus acupressure in 28 patients with chronic headache. Baseline measures of “self-assessed pain scores” and headache-related quality of life were documented in the beginning of the study, after one month of treatment at 6 months follow-up study. Pain ratings, based on a “visual analog scale” were significantly lower in the acupressure group – 32.9 vs. 55.7 in the medicated subjects. These benefits were present at the 6 month follow-up also. The authors of the study, their findings are summarized as such: “Our study suggests that a month of acupressure treatment is more effective in reducing chronic headache than 1 month of the muscle relaxant treatment, and that the effect lasts 6 months after treatment.” (5)
Acupressure versus medication in the treatment of nausea
(N = 52)
(N = 53)
(N = 51)
|No||6 (11.5%)||32 (60.4%)||41 (8.45%)||0.001|
|1-2||37 (71.2%)||21 (39.6%)||10 (19.6%)|
|Values are number of patients and the percentage of the total for that treatment group.|
Source: Ann Saudi Med 2008-28:287-91 (a)
There are two different theories about how acupressure works. The traditional Asian philosophy that illness and pain are often the result of a system out of balance. The blockage of energy flow to one or more significant sites in the body (known as meridians) would cause this imbalance. Applying pressure on the blocked acupuncture points or medians stands for “life energy” to flow more freely. A visual example of this is a file. Acupressure reduces congestion in a vulnerable spot in the body and provides energy / improve traffic flow in all directions.
The Western interpretation of acupuncture is based squarely on established chemical and physiological reactions that occur in the body. According to modern science, acupressure probably exerts its positive effects by improving circulation, reducing muscle pain and tension and stimulating the release of endorphins (“fee
l good” hormones). The act of the blood supply to a sensitive location can stimulate healing by increasing the access to nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissue. In addition, inflammatory agents and damage-related toxins are shuttled out of the area more efficiently in the presence of an optimum circulation. (6)
If you’re still not totally comfortable with the idea of acupressure, consider this: Shiatsu is a Japanese form of acupressure. Many non-holistic types have enjoyed a form of Shiatsu at one point or another. The benefits of such treatment are clear to anyone who ever had the pleasure to try. But what is not so clear are the foundations of this invigorating massage technique. Shiatsu practice targeted to stimulate acupoints during the session. The main aim is to clear blockages in the energy flow that may contribute to poor health and systemic caught tension in the musculoskeletal system. The end result is that you generally feel incredible afterwards. Part of the reason for this feeling is probably due to the acupressure.