Acupressure – Effective Treatment in Promoting Health in Infants and More

In a recent double-blind clinical trial* (at the School of Nursing at the China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan), premature infants received meridian massage (acupressure) three times per day for 15-minute sessions over a course of 10 days. During the acupressure sessions, (prior to feedings) the study group (of premature infants) had their abdomens rubbed, received stomach meridian massage and other acupressure kneading applications.

Studying the control group (who received standard care) as well as the trial group, researchers made some remarkable observations. Though the first week of the research yielded no significant difference between the two groups; the ensuing week showed that weight gain of infants was substantially higher in the trial group. These results are promising as acupressure may be an effective and natural health treatment, which neonatal nurses can administer (to premature infants) to improve health and to stimulate growth.

What is acupressure?

Derived from acupuncture, acupressure is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that stimulates pressure points along the meridians of the body. As a noninvasive, natural health care treatment, acupressure is believed to remove blockages from Chi (life force/energy), thus restoring balance to the body and promoting self-healing capabilities.

Acupressure is both an energy medicine and a form of massage therapy, and treatment is typically pain free. In addition, needles are not necessary in this gentle but firm touch therapy (as with acupuncture).

Acupressure Health FAQs

In addition to helping promote health and wellness in premature infants, acupressure is known to help relieve pain, restore balance to the body, reduce stress, improve immune system functioning, enhance blood circulation, and promote overall wellbeing in children and adults.

Some of the many health conditions that acupressure can be helpful in treating include nausea (especially in cancer patients), fibromyalgia, back pain, and arthritis, among others.

Who can Practice Acupressure?

Though there are community courses that offer basic acupressure techniques for self healing, there are a growing number of massage therapy schools and Oriental medicine colleges that provide acupressure certification programs. Whether offered as an advanced study or as an individual training program, acupressure instruction generally entails the history and application of the healing art, as well as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) philosophies. Other related studies include Five Element theories, meridian therapy, anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

Professional certification in acupressure can be achieved on a National level through the ABT (Asian Bodywork Therapy) exam, which is given through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). However, examine your prospective course of study carefully to make certain that it meets all educational and State training requirements (for National certification level).

Because massage therapy is growing in demand, diverse and specialized training like acupressure is essential to holistic health and conventional health practitioners. As mentioned in the clinical trial above, nurses who have acquired training in infant acupressure may well gain an advantage in employment in neonatal units. Other conventional medicine practitioners like veterinarians and vet technicians are turning to acupressure training to better serve their equine and canine patients. Massage therapists who have achieved acupressure certification are better equipped to offer more in-depth bodywork treatments to clients; and can earn a substantially higher income by adding these educational credentials

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure is a traditional Chinese technique based on the same principles as acupuncture. Unlike acupuncture, that uses needles to achieve response, acupressure uses gentle but firm physical pressure exerted by hand, elbow, and foot or with the aid of different devices. Pressure is applied to different acupuncture points found on the human body surface to achieve the desired remedial effect. Many East Asian martial arts extensively use this technique to incapacitate their opponents. As per the historians acupressure is older than acupuncture, but acupressure lost popularity with the advent of acupuncture. Still it continues to be most effective method for the treatment of tension related ailments and pain.

While we talk of acupressure and acupuncture we continuously refer to the traditional Chinese principles of acupressure or acupuncture points. The traditional Chinese principles treat the human body as a whole; it represents various jiaos or levels of the ventral body cavity. Any disease is taken as a loss of balance between the yin and yang energies and treatment of disease is attempted by modifying the activity of one or more systems of function. Chinese principle holds that acupuncture or acupressure works by normalizing the free flow of qi (vital energy), blood and body fluids (jin ye) throughout the body. Pain is treated by correcting the local or systemic upsurge or insufficiency. Pain is considered to indicate blockage or stagnation of the flow of qi, blood and/or fluids, the delicate balance between qi and blood is of primary concern in Chinese principle, hence the saying blood is the mother of qi, and qi is the controller of blood. Both qi and blood work together to move and to nourish the body fluids.

Acupressure or acupuncture points are located along several layers of pathways, most commonly the twelve primary pathways or meridians, located throughout the body. Beside that other pathways are the eight unusual Pathways Qi Jing Ba Mai, Luo Vessels, the Divergent and the Sinew Channels. Ten of the primary pathways are named after organs of the body, eleventh pathway is named for the membrane that wraps the heart, the last pathway is the ‘three spaces’ (San Jiao). The twelve primary pathways run vertically, bilaterally, and symmetrically and every channel corresponds to and connects internally with one of the twelve organs. There are six yin and six yang channels in all. Out of these, three yin and three yang channels are present on each arm, and three yin and three yang on each leg.

All the acupuncture points of a channel lie on its external pathway. The internal pathways are the deep path of the channel where it enters the body cavities and related organs. The external pathways of the twelve channels depict three complete circuits of the body, chest to hands, hands to head, head to feet, feet to chest, etc. There are some electronic devices now available which will make a noise when the correct acupressure/acupuncture point is pressed. As soon as a point is pressed, the muscle tension give way to the pressure, enabling the muscle fibers to stretch and relax, blood to flow freely, and toxins to be released and eliminated. Increased circulation also brings in more oxygen and other nutrients to the affected area. This increases the body’s resistance to illness and promotes a longer, healthier, more vital life. When the blood and bioelectrical energy circulate properly, we have a greater sense of harmony, health, and well-being. The acupressure expert decides which points to treat by observing and questioning the patient in order to make a diagnosis according to the tradition. There are four diagnostic methods: inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiring, and palpation.

The whole process I relatively pain free. After prolonged finger pressure is applied directly on the pressure point; gradual, steady, penetrating pressure for approximately three minutes on the affected point is ideal. A general guideline is that the pressure should be firm enough so that it hurts between pleasant, firm pressure and outright pain. The middle finger is the longest and strongest of the fingers and is best suited for applying acupressure. The thumb is strong, too, but often lacks sensitivity. The knuckles or fist or other tools can be used according to specific requirements. The rule of thumb is to apply slow, firm pressure on the point at a 90 degree angle from the surface of the skin. It’s important to apply and release finger pressure gradually because this allows the tissues time to respond, promoting healing. After repeated acupressure sessions using different degrees of pressure, the patient will begin to feel a pulse at the point. This pulsation is a good sign, it means that circulation has increased in the affected area. Each body and each area of the body requires a different amount of pressure.

At present different kinds of acupressure are being practiced. The same age-old pressure points are used in all of them to date. Varying rhythms, pressures and techniques create different styles of acupressure. Shiatsu, for instance, the most well-known style of acupressure, can be quite vigorous, with firm pressure applied to each point for only three to five seconds. Another kind of acupressure gently holds each point for a minute or more. Pressing with an intermittent, fast beat is stimulating; a slower pressure creates a deeply relaxing effect on the body.

Slow motion kneading uses the thumbs and fingers along with the heels of the hands to squeeze large muscle groups firmly. This motion is similar to that of kneading a large mass of dough. This relieves general stiffness, shoulder and neck tension, constipation, and spasms in the calf muscles.

Brisk rubbing uses friction to stimulate the blood and lymph. The skin is rubbed lightly to relieve chilling, swelling, and numbness by increasing circulation, as well as to benefit the nerves and tone of the skin.

Quick tapping with fingertips stimulates muscles on unprotected, tender areas of the body such as the face. For larger areas of the body, such as the back or buttocks, loose fist is used. This can improve the functioning of nerves and sluggish muscles in the area.

Acupressure can be very effective in helping relieve headaches, eyestrain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, and tension due to stress. It also relieves ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, lower back aches, constipation, indigestion, anxiety and helps you get to sleep at night. The best part of acupressure is – there is no side effect as no drugs or medications are being used.

Acupressure and Its Benefits

Acupressure is a very old technique used in alternative medicine that originated in the ancient Chinese dynasties. This alternative therapy method is actually also based on the principles of acupuncture. Acupressure involves the use of finger pressure on specific points along the body. These acupressure points are also termed as potent points. These are places on the person’s skin that are especially sensitive to bioelectrical impulses in the body. These potent points are believed to be capable of conducting impulses readily. By tradition, the ancient Asian cultures have always conceived of the potent points as junctures of special pathways that are believed to carry the human energy.

This energy according to the Chinese people is called chi. By stimulating these pressure or potent points with pressure in acupressure (or by the use od needles in acupuncture) endorphins are released. Endorphins are neurochemicals from the person’s brain that function to relieve pain. As a result, pain is blocked through this alternative therapy method and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area is improved. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing. At times, heat is also used in conjunction with acupressure to promote healing. Because acupressure inhibits the pain signals sent to the brain through a mild, fairly painless stimulation, it is believed as having the ability to close the “gates” of the pain-signaling system of the body, and thus preventing painful sensations from passing through the spinal cord to the brain, inhibiting pain from being felt.

Acupressure Therapy – Health in Your Hand & Feet

Acupressure Therapy was known in India even 5000 years ago, unfortunately, it was not preserved properly and went to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in the form of Acupuncture. From Sri Lanka, this therapy was taken to China and Japan by Buddhist monks or nomadic Aryans took it there and at present China is teaching Acupuncture to the world. This therapy was known to Red Indians way back in the sixteenth century. In the twentieth century, researches have been made in USA which has contributed greatly to the development of this therapy. It is practiced by many allopathic and naturopathic doctors there, now the World Health Organization, too has paid attention to this simple and easy therapy.

The word “Acupressure” is related to “Acupuncture.” Acu mean a needle and Puncture means to pierce. Acupuncture means the art of treating diseases by piercing specific points in the body. Acupressure means the art of treating diseases by applying pressure on specific points with the help of one’s thumb, figure or jimmy (wooden or rubber stick).

Purpose

The purpose of Acupressure is to promote the body’s own healing power. When key acupressure points on the surface of skin are pressed, muscular tension is released, and the circulation of blood and the body vital life energy, which the Chinese call “chi” energy, is promoted. Acupressure can be used to treat numerous conditions; among them are effects of daily stress, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, aches and pains, allergies, menstrual difficulties, fatigue, anxiety and back pain etc.

Precautions

Acupressure should not be used for certain conditions that requires medical care, such as serious as serious burns, ulcers or infections. Caution should be taken with the use of abdominal pressure points, especially when the patient is sick and the abdominal area is to be avoided when the patient has a life threatening illness, such as intestinal cancer or a pregnancy.

Description

Acupressure uses pressure usually applied with the thumb, fingers or acupressure device called jimmy. The blockage of energy along these meridians can cause physically discomfort, pain, tension and stress. The stimulation points removes blockage by relaxing muscles, and allowing blood to flow more freely. It can also free an emotional block by releasing accumulated tension. The pressure may also release lactic acid that accumulates in muscle tissues. Lactic acid is produced by muscles during vigorous exercise, and it is usually removed from the blood by the liver. It can however accumulate in the muscle. In the west, the various systems of acupressure are in use today including:

Acu-Yoga: A system of whole body stretches and Yoga postures that press and activate points on the meridian channels.
Jin Shin Jyutsu: A system of self help acupressure that involves gentle touching of the body rather than massage likes movements.
Do-In: A system of self acupressure, which involves massaging meridian points and muscles and also includes deep breathing and exercises movements and stretching.
Shiatsu: A vigorous technique that involves rhythmic pressing of acupressure points.

During acupressure light to medium pressure is applied on acupressure points and it is rotated in a tight circle. Primarily, this is done with the fingers, thumbs and hands. Sometimes the elbows or knees are used for key pressure points. Since the most reactive points are tender or sensitive when pressed, this response helps to determine the right location. If the response cannot be felt, the pressure point location may not be correct or the pressure may not be strong enough. The sensation felt during an acupressure treatment should fall some-where between pleasure and pain.

Three-Fold Benefits of Acupressure:

Diagnosis: Instant and proper diagnosis – medical checkup without any tests.
Cure: Cure of all types of diseases including that of cancer/brain problems.
Prevention: Prevention of all types of diseases includes heart problem, paralysis and even cancer.

From The View Point of Health the World Could Be Divided Into:

About 60% – those people (including those to be born) who are healthy but liable to catch diseases. With the regular acupressure treatment, their illness can be prevented.
About 25% – Those people who are suffering at present can be cured without much cost with the help of this science and prevented from falling ill again.
About 15% – Who requires medical help, medicine and surgery. There are enough practitioners and hospitals in the world that can take care of these people. Afterwards they can also be prevented from falling ill with the use of Acupressure Therapy.

Acupressure For Health

Acupressure is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that is quite similar to acupuncture. Instead of needles, instruments or fingers apply direct pressure on specific points of the body in order to alleviate symptoms or to support various organs or systems of the body.

Acupressure is widely used in Asia, but it hasn’t been fully accepted by the Western medical establishment. Part of the reason is that Western medicine uses science as the predominant method for determining whether a practice or therapy is effective. For most of acupressure’s history, it has relied on non-scientific word of mouth for its positive reputation.

In recent years, however, both Eastern and Western medicine have worked together to scientifically test the efficacy of this form of physical therapy. Today I’m going to share some of the current findings on this ancient practice. In particular, I want to focus on chronic conditions that may benefit from this safe and natural practice.

Acupressure vs. Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea refers to a pain condition that accompanies a woman’s monthly cycle. Most women experience some degree of pain and discomfort during that time of the month. But in the case of dysmenorrhea, the pain is classified as being severe and often debilitating.

A Korean study, in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, set out to determine whether acupressure could help alleviate some of the more acute effects of dysmenorrhea.

58 college-aged women participated in this experiment. Half of the women were subjected to a course of acupressure to a specific point, known as the “SP6 acupoint”. The other half were used as a “control” group, to help provide a comparison to the acupressure treatment group.

The treatment group received acupressure within 8 hours of menstruation. The researchers measured the symptoms relating to dysmenorrhea before the acupressure was applied, 30 minutes afterward and also at the 1, 2 and 3 hour mark – following the administration of acupressure.

The researchers found that there was a significant reduction in the severity of symptoms immediately after treatment. The effect appeared to last for up to 2 hours after the treatment ended.

As a result of these findings, the authors concluded that acupressure, “can be an effective non-invasive nursing intervention for alleviation of primary dysmenorrhea, with effects lasting 2h post treatment.”

Pregnancy Support via Acupressure

One of the most common and unwelcome symptoms of pregnancy is “morning sickness”. In February of 2008, a study appeared in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice that examined the role that acupressure can play in easing pregnancy related nausea and vomiting.

Before I discuss the specifics of the trial, I want to note that the researchers specifically recruited pregnant women who could not take conventional medications to treat their symptoms. During pregnancy many doctors and their patients try to avoid giving and taking medications if it’s not absolutely required.

In this study, a group of 26 women were asked to wear an “acupressure band” for 3 days. The (wrist)band applied pressure to the P(6) acupressure point – which is indicated for stomachaches, vomiting and a whole host of unrelated symptoms. A separate group of women also wore an acupressure wristband, but did not have therapeutic pressure applied to the P(6) point.

The group that wore the wristband (applying pressure to the P(6) point) found an improvement in the control and/or alleviation of “morning sickness” symptoms.

Acupressure on palmCatching Some Z’s with Acupuncture

If you go into a conventional doctor’s office and complain of sleeping problems, you’ll likely walk out with a prescription for a powerful sleeping pill, and that pill may or may not work for you. But what you can count on is the need to continue taking that pill long term – unless you find a way to address the underlying cause of your sleeplessness. Acupressure may provide an alternative to sleep medications. A few recent studies provide evidence to support this mind/body option.

Two studies were released in December of 2008. The first one enrolled 25 volunteers with sleep disorders. All of the volunteers had the HT 7 acupressure point stimulated every night for two weeks. In this instance, a medical device was used instead of a practitioner’s fingers or a wristband.

60% of the volunteers (15 of the 25) experienced an improvement in sleep quality. As an interesting side note, 14 of the 25 volunteers were also suffering from cancer. In those participants, the rate of efficacy was even higher, at a 79% success rate.

A second study was published that same month to determine if stimulating the HT 7 acupressure point might have some effect on melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone produced primarily by the pineal gland. The brain produces it to help control sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin is directly involved in our normal sleep patterns. Therefore, many people use supplemental melatonin to help promote a good night’s rest.

In this current study, 40 people with insomnia were split up into two groups. One group received pressure therapy on their HT 7 point, while the other group did not.This trial lasted a total of 20 nights.

Both groups were asked to complete medical questionnaires relating to their levels of anxiety and sleep quality. Urine samples were also collected to determine the amount of melatonin in their systems.

The authors of the study examined all the questionnaires and the biological samples and found that there was a reduction in anxiety and an improvement in sleep quality in those volunteers that received the acupressure treatment. There was another finding that may help to explain this result. The patients receiving acupressure had higher levels of melatonin. A greater number of the treatment group had what was considered “normal” melatonin levels. No safety issues were found with the use of the acupressure medical device