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Acupressure

What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
Side Effects/Cautions
Recommended Books

What Is It?
Sometimes called “acupuncture without needles”, acupressure is a type of massage healing technique that involves stimulating certain points on the body with the fingers, palms and knuckles (and sometimes the knees, elbows and feet). It is a technique that is part of the ancient holistic healing system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which aims to treat illness by balancing the vital energy (qi or chi, pronounced “chee”) which flows through the body via 14 invisible energy channels called meridians.

Shiatsu is the Japanese form of Chinese acupressure and has developed characteristics of its own, incorporating stretching, massage and other manual techniques, often involving the use of the whole body to apply strong pressure.

Reflexology is a type of acupressure which involves stimulating points on the feet.

How Does It Work?
Acupressure aims to remove energy blockages which may be causing illness, by stimulating certain points of the body called acupoints, which are found along the 14 meridians. Specific acupoints are thought to relate to different parts of the body, and stimulating these points with finger and hand pressure releases energy flow to the affected parts.

While the existence of meridians and qi has never been proven, there is evidence to suggest that acupressure (and acupuncture) may work by triggering the release of natural painkillers within the body. Acupressure also improves circulation, easing muscle aches and pain.

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What Happens During Treatment?
Acupressure may be performed on a massage table or mat, with the patient usually wearing loose clothing. The therapist will apply pressure to specific points related to your condition for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes repeatedly.

Treatment generally lasts 30 minutes to one hour. Sometimes one session may be enough to ease an aching back or stiff neck, but regular treatment over several weeks may be needed for some conditions.

Many people report feeling more relaxed, with a loosening of muscle tension after treatment. Some may experience achiness where pressure was applied, but you should feel little or no pain.

Some practitioners will teach patients acupressure techniques that can be self-administered at home.

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What Is it Used For?
Acupressure has been successful in treating pain (including back pain and migraine), nausea, muscle tension, colds, morning sickness and travel sickness. It can also promote relaxation. Acupressure can be self-administered to ease problems such as headaches, earaches, insomnia and nausea. Administered on a regular basis, acupressure may help to maintain health and vitality.

Side Effects and Cautions
Acupressure may not be appropriate for those who have brittle bones (osteoporosis), bruise easily, or are taking anticoagulant drugs or steroids, which can make body tissues fragile.

Certain acupressure points should be avoided during pregnancy - tell your practitioner if you are pregnant, or think you might be.

Acupressure applied to the legs and feet may be damaging if you have circulation problems due to diabetes or varicose veins.

Caution should also be used near open wounds, swollen or inflamed skin or broken bones.

Let your practitioner know if treatments are painful or result in extended discomfort.

References

Find an Acupressure Practitioner

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Recommended Books

Prices are in US Dollars

Acupressure's Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments
Michael Reed Gach

With your hands you have potential to relieve everyday aches, pains and ailments without taking drugs, to improve your health, and to increase your vitality.
In Acupressure's Potent Points, Michael Reed Gach, founder and director of the Acupressure Institute of America, reveals simple techniques that enable you to relieve headaches, arthritis, colds and flu, insomnia, backaches, hiccups, leg pain, hot flashes, depression, and more--using the power and sensitivity of your own hands.
This practical guide covers more than forty ailments and symptoms, from allergies to wrist pain, providing pressure-point maps and exercises to relieve pain and restore function. Acupressure complements conventional medical care, and enables you to take a vital role in becoming well and staying well. With this book you can turn your hands into healing tools--and start feeling good now.

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A Complete Guide to Acupressure: Jin Shin Do
Iona Teeguarden

Jin Shin Do acupressure is the author's unique synthesis of a Japanese acupressure technique, traditional Chinese acupuncture theory, Taoist philosophy and breathing methods, and Western psychological tools. A Complete Guide to Acupressure describes this synthesis in detail, with contributions from Iona Teeguarden and twelve senior Jin Shin Do teachers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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Acupressure for Emotional Healing : A Self-Care Guide for Trauma, Stress, & Common Emotional Imbalances
Michael Reed Gach

Increased stress and traumatic events in our lives have resulted in many millions of people who suffer from insomnia, nightmares, anxiety attacks, depression, and tension headaches. ACUPRESSURE FOR EMOTIONAL HEALING offers relief at your fingertips, quickly and safely, for a wide range of emotional problems. It explains how emotional distress becomes lodged in the body as muscular tension and blocked energy, and shows how acupressure can relieve not just the resulting physical symptoms, but also their emotional source--often without the need for extensive talk therapy or medication.
Acupressure stimulates the same points used in acupuncture, but instead of needles, firm finger pressure is used on the surface of the skin. The pressure releases neurochemicals called endorphins that relieve pain. As in acupuncture, specific pressure points are connected with internal organs and energy pathways in the body (called meridians) that regulate the flow of electrical energy to all systems. Unlike acupuncture, acupressure can be used safely by anyone, with only the hands as equipment.
ACUPRESSURE FOR EMOTIONAL HEALING offers a comprehensive A-Z guide to emotional ailments (from abandonment to worry and obsessive thinking), with fully-illustrated instruction on dozens of precise acupressure point locations and how to activate them, combined with yogic breathing, stretching, and movement routines. Case histories from the authors' practice further illuminate each condition and the path to emotional balance and healing. Most routines can be used independently for self-care and on-the-spot relief. There are also sections on how to use the techniques to help others, with appropriate safeguards.

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