(NaturalNews) Acupressure has become increasingly popular in the west in recent years, though it has been used for centuries as a natural treatment for various diseases. A traditional technique of Chinese medicine, it is similar to acupuncture but less known.
The underlying theory is that there is an invisible force or energy, called qi in Chinese, which has healing power. There are many points, called acupoints or meridians, which connect to the glands of the body. In therapy, pressure is applied at specific points to increase the flow of the qi, in and around the body through the point network. Pressuring acupoints ensures normal qi circulation.
Once a therapist diagnoses a particular ailment by acupressure, he or she provides some acupoints to the patient. Self-applied acupressure is a free treatment which is quick and effective in providing relief from many disorders, a unique advantage. Its effectiveness increases with regular treatment, including self-treatment.
The wellness benefits of acupressure are many. Creating a sense of well-being, it helps provide relief from problems due to stress and tiredness. It helps the body heal its injuries, increases blood circulation, releases muscle tension and reduces back pain. Some of the diseases or disorders that have been mitigated by acupressure include diabetes, epilepsy, bronchitis, heart problems, digestive problems and many allergies. Relief of eye strain, sinus problems, arthritis, muscle aches, ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, nausea, constipation and indigestion have been reported. Acupressure can help in inducing pain-free labor during pregnancy and has been used in lieu of pain killers for minor surgery.
Acupressure has also been used to decrease swelling in the lower body caused by water retention. Massaging certain acupoints on the legs, feet and ankles helps to relieve such swelling by eliminating dampness; it can also help to strengthen the spleen and kidneys. This is important because these are the organs responsible for ensuring the right body fluid balance.
There is some anecdotal evidence that the swelling may be lessened by utilizing a "porcupine ball", an exercise ball covered with spiked bumps. These bumps provide pressure to the body part massaged by the ball. In addition, there are abundant wood and plastic hand and foot massagers and other devices with pointed nubs to help a person treat himself. More study of the efficacy of such tools is needed, however.
Several techniques, or types of pressure, are used depending on the particular needs of a patient`s disorder. These vary from firm pressure to the more aggressive kneading of the muscles. Keep in mind that acupressure, like other Chinese medicine protocols, does not cure disease, but it works by bringing the body`s qi into a better flow, thus enabling the body to heal itself. It is also thought that a disruption in the qi flow can actually cause the problem, so restoring the flow ends the discomfort.
Several precautions must be taken before stimulating any point. Acupressure should be avoided after heavy exercise, meals and bathing, and if pregnant. Prescription drugs might interfere with the treatment. Also, if under treatment for cancer or high blood pressure, the doctor`s supervision is necessary.
If care is taken to follow the precautions, acupressure can be an adjunct to treatment or a self- administered help for many common complaints. Its non-invasive quality allows people to use it for free, anywhere, anytime. Even though its more illustrious relative, acupuncture, has been more fully researched and implemented, acupressure offers one alternative to try before opting for acupuncture. Depending on the complaint, it may be all that is needed.