Acupressure: What is this Alternative Medicine?

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure, or medical massage, is one of the oldest healing traditions in the world.  It is estimated that this practice is 5,000 years old and predates the practice of acupuncture.  It is a Chinese healing art that uses the fingers and other parts of the body to apply pressure on certain points of the body.  These points are called potent or acupoints which, when pressed, stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities.  When the acupoints are pressed, they release muscular tension, promote blood circulation and promote and redirect the flow of Chi to support healing.  Unlike acupuncture, acupressure does not employ the use of needles but rather firm pressure working synergistically with therapeutic touch, bodywork, imagery, massage, somatic work and energy psychology.  It also has the advantage that one can give oneself acupressure relief when required. 

How Does Acupressure Work?

Before we can begin to understand how acupressure works, we must learn how the human body works according to Taoist philosophy.

The human body consists of a complex highway of nerves, muscles and blood streams. In the same way, the body has flow of energy, or Chi (Qi) which supports its health. Chi is a universal life force and is responsible for all the processes in the human body. According to Taoism, Chi is described as the vibration of energy that runs through everything, all the time and at a basic level. It is found in all cultures and faiths. In Africa, it is known as “ashe”; in India, it is known as “prana” which means life or “shakti” which means energy or power; and in Japan, it is known as “ki”. As Chi is our life force, without Chi means death.

To understand Chi, we must understand the philosophy of Yin and Yang, which is a concept of interdependence between opposites. Yin represents the female, who is earth and is dark, passive and absorbing. Yin is represented by the tiger, even numbers and the color orange. She is associated with valleys, streams and broken lines.

The opposite of Yin is Yang. Yang represents the male, who represents heaven. As such, Yang is light, active and penetrating. Yang is represented by the dragon and the color azure. He is associated with mountains, odd numbers and a solid line.

Within each is always a grain of the other as one cannot exist without it’s opposite. Thus, when drawn, Yang will have a small grain of Yin, or white, which is drawn as the dot for the eye. Yin will have a small grain of black, or Yang, drawn for the eye. Again, the illustrated Yin and Yang depict the interdependence of opposites.

Bringing It Together

Based on Taoist beliefs, Yin and Yang are two opposite forces that work together in the cosmos.  Yin and Yang are the foundation for Chi.  Chi, in its most basic definition, is the force that governs the universe.  Yin and Yang must be balanced to provide harmony and health.  If one is stronger than the other, then there is unbalance resulting in illness, distress and unrest.  Therefore, in order for one to be healthy, then one’s Chi must be balanced.

Yin and Yang was an early attempt at cosmology and was possibly founded by Tsou-Yen (c. 305-240 BC).  The Yin and Yang School of Chinese Philosophy was founded based on the opposition of Yin and Yang as well as the doctrine of the Five Elements.  The Five Elements are Metal, Wood, Fire, Water, and Earth.  Combined, the result is an ordered cycle in the production of nature and history. 

Now I Understand Chi. How Does Acupressure Work?

Acupoints are highly sensitive points on the body.  The points were traditionally mapped along meridians by practitioners and used for thousands of years.  There are twelve primary meridians that are symmetrical on each side of the body and each pair relates to a specific organ.  There are also two single meridians which follow the midline of body with one along the spine and the other on the front. 

Meridians are the highway for the flow of Chi.  In a healthy person, the highway is not blocked, thereby allowing the Chi to flow freely without any obstructions.  In contradiction, a person with an illness or discomfort will have a point on the meridian which is blocked.  This obstruction prevents the flow of Chi to circulate properly.  The objective of acupressure is to remove the block and allow Chi to flow freely so that good health can be obtained.

How Do You Scientifically Explain How Acupressure Works?

Even though Chinese practitioners have understood and accept that pressure on acupoints provide relief from pain and know that better health can be attained, the Western world tries to explain this phenomena through science. 

Studies have been made on the effects of stimulating acupoints.  When an acupoint is stimulated, endorphins are released.  Endorphins are a chemical that is released by the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body and acts as a natural painkiller.  Therefore, the stimulation of the acupoints causes our body to release endorphins, which help block the sensation of pain, which in turn, provides relief.  When relieved of pain, we relax and allow blood circulation and oxygen to flow through the affected areas more effectively, thereby resulting in relief of symptoms and better health.  

Is Acupressure an Option for Me?

That choice is yours alone to make. Before making your decision, consider all options that are available to you. From that list, decide which options are most appealing. Narrow that list down to three. Then, research and learn about these options as much as possible. Research on-line, in the library, medical libraries, talk to people who are experienced in administering the treatment, join forums on-line and meet people who are or have taken the treatment, ask lots of questions, and join support groups. After a thorough investigation of each option, make your decision. Try the treatment for a short period and decide if it is working for you. If it is, then you’ve made the right choice. However, there are times when treatments won’t work for different reasons. If that happens, it’s justifiable to go back to your list, and try the second option that you have chosen. Sometimes, a decision does not have to be the final one.

Copyright Beth100

© March 4, 2010

 

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35 comments

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 3 years ago from Canada Author

Scottie Futch -- You've brought a smile to my face as my goal with my writing is to teach or remind someone with my information on a daily basis. Thank you for the great compliment! And, Happy New Year!


Scottie Futch profile image

Scottie Futch 3 years ago from North Carolina

A highly detailed and insightful look into the art of acupressure. You reminded me of a few things that I had forgotten and taught me a thing or two that I never knew. Who knew online articles could actually manage to do that? :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

Skeptik -- It is important to know the difference between healing work and treatments for relief. Very different issues. I am sure many will come and ask Skeptoid questions. Thanks!


Skeptik 4 years ago

Thanks for mentioning that it has NOTHING to do with the body's energy fields. Any questions? Ask Skeptoid.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Rookie70 - It is similar to accupuncture in the sense that it uses the same meridians and applies a stimulus at that spot to help alleviate pain. Other than that, they are different. Accupuncture is invasive -- it pierces the body. Acupressure is non-invasive -- it is done on the surface of the skin.


Rookie70 6 years ago

Is this similar to acupuncture?


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Billyaustindillon -- Yes, I too have used acupressure, and it works wonderfully. It's a fantastic non-invasive solution for injuries, muscle soreness and RSI. I'm very glad that you found relief through this methodology too. Thank you.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Acupressure is a wonderful recuperative methodology. I have used it many times recovering for injuries and muscle soreness. Excellent hub.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

General -- Thank you though I suspect you already knew most of this. :)


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 6 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

Yeah it is Angela this is indeed very helpful and informative hub...


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

King Larry -- Chill! No need to go to extremes around here. lol


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Tatt -- Can't stop thinking about you! Can hardly wait to talk! xoxo


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Sage -- Thank you very much for your compliments! :) They make me smile (a big smile too)! I'm really glad that you enjoyed this hub! Always a pleasure to see you! :)


TattoGuy 6 years ago

Been thinking of you as well Beth, can you be on msn on Thursday night about 8pm UK time, we deff need to chat ; ) xox


King Larry 6 years ago

Whoa cool hub there sister. I guess that chump Stevennix2001 wasn't lying when he told me you were such a great writer. Looks like I won't have to whoop his butt after all. lol. Nah, I'm just joshing. Don't mind me. I'm the hubpages newest bad boy, so don't mess with me. mwahahahaha!


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

I love this hub, you did an amazing job researching and an excellent job writing. As it is a very thorough and easy to follow and understand.

The videos are a wonderful addition as I tend to be a more of a visual person.

Thanks so much, I really, really enjoyed this hub!

Sage


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

BP - lmfo You're a lot smarter than you present yourself! I could write it in another language, and you'd still understand! Thanks BP! xox


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 6 years ago from australia

Wowee you put so much time and work into this one Beth. Great info even I could understand :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Teresa -- There is no better testimony than from one who has experienced it!! Thank you Teresa for sharing your success of healing with accupressure. I'm really happy that it helped you and thank you for recommending it to everyone.


Teresa Laurente profile image

Teresa Laurente 6 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

It really helped me heal, it seems it has the power to be effective and stronger than vitamins or what. I recommend acupressure to any one.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Steven -- :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 6 years ago

I could never leave a pretty lady like you alone. ;) besides, i'd miss you too much. :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Steven -- Admittance is the first step to recovery. It's true. There's hope for your forum of addiction. :) xoxo glad to see you haven't left me alone. :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 6 years ago

Or maybe I'm just addicted to the possibility of being with you. ;) besides, it's not often i get to be with the prettiest girl in the world. ;) xoxo


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Brian -- Even more cool -- it works!!! :)

Steven -- Thanks, and we both know that you're much too addicted to the forums and my hubs to stay away for too long...okay, 3 days is long enough! XD xox


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 6 years ago

Great hub Beth. Sorry, I didn't get a chance to comment on it sooner. I'll definitely be sure to look into more of this Chi stuff your talking about. lol. Anyway, seeing as how this will be my last comment for a while on here, I was going to ask if "The Medicine Man" movie you were talking about was the one with Sean Connery. The reason why I ask is because there's like five different movies under that name in imdb.com, so I thought I'd ask. Besides, I need to have a good film review, when I come back. ;) Anyway, thanks again for the great read, and hopefully I'll hear from you soon. See you later.


brianzen profile image

brianzen 6 years ago

Very cool.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

PDH -- There is plenty to learn about yin/yang/chi and the universe. I'm glad that you've come back -- it's a huge compliment. Thank you Maita!!! xox :)


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hi Beth, actually I came back to understand the concept of yin/yang more from you, it really is interesting, Maita


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Ann -- Acupuncture is well known, but acupressure is not as common. We all hear about chi and yin/yang, but so few actually understand what it's all about and how they relate to each other. Thanks for your always supportive comments! Great to see you! :)


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Great explanation, Beth! I knew I could count on you giving great info when I have limited experience/knowledge about this area!

Well done and many great features!


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Theherbivorehippi -- Thank you for reading and leaving your supportive comments. I appreciate this very much. :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

PDH -- I liked the video too. I've done this to relieve my own headaches, it and it works like Magic!! lol Perhaps we can link ours together... :) Good luck with yours and enjoy your day!


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

Such amazing information!!! This is so informative! Thanks so much for sharing. :)


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Beth, now I know about this one, nice video as well, I will tyr to come up with acupuncture/acupressure tonight, let us see, Night my friend, Maita

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