Acupressure is a unique science which produce healing effect on the internal organs of the body through well-defined points on the body-surface to maintain health and curing common ailments.
When there is pain in any part of the body, we generally try to get relief by rubbing or pressing that part. If we take this natural reflex into consideration, we should not be surprised at the evolution of acupressure. Centuries ago the people noticed that pain could be relieved when they pressed pointed stones on some specific parts of the body. During a battle, soldiers sometimes experienced that when they were wounded by arrows, they recovered from a long-suffered illness. This led those people, having the power of minute observation, to think that certain points on the skin must have connections with the internal organs of the body. The systematic study that followed helped, to discover new acupressure points.
Illness is not inevitable, it can be prevented or rapidly cured if the resistance power of the body is strong. By observing the rules of Nature one can easily preserve the resistance power of the body. Acupressure is one simple effective therapy which is based on the rules of Nature. If specific points on the body-surface are methodically pressed, the internal organs of the body corresponding to these points are swiftly affected and the diseases or disorders of those organs are eliminated. Acupressure is a science as well as an art.
Acupressure and acupuncture share the same active points (also called trigger points, acupoints, acupressure points, or acupuncture points). The ancient Chinese developed system of active points stimulation over 5,000 years ago. The active points are located on imaginary lines called meridians. Accordingly, the points are referred to by the meridian they are located on and consecutive number of point on that meridian.
The ancient Chinese believed that life energy chi (pronounced chee) flows through these meridians. In a healthy person the energy flow trough meridians is unobstructed. The blockade of chi flow results in an illness. The Chinese believed that active points stimulation clears the meridians and improves the flow of energy.
The western medical science only begins to understand the mechanisms responsible for positive effects of active points stimulation. Stimulation of active points is thought to lead to increased release of endorphins. Endorphin is a natural body painkiller. Endorphin and morphine are chemically different molecules but, by coincidence, they have very similar 3-dimensional shape. This similarity in shape allows morphine to bind the endorphin receptor, reduce pain, and induce feeling of happiness. Thus endorphin released by acupressure stimulation may lead to relaxation and normalization of body functions.
THE SCIENCE OF ACUPRESSURE
The life has been considered as a bioelectrical phenomenon, that is, our life relies on the bioelectricity that exists in our body. It is only because of the existence of this energy in our body that we can move, breathe, digest food or think. We call this bio-energy ‘Prana’ or ‘Chetana’. The Chinese call it ‘Chi’. This bio-energy is composed of two kinds of forces: ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’. Yin is a negative force while Yang is a positive one. A person remains in good health if there is co-ordination, harmony and balance between these two forces. If the balance is disturbed or ‘warped’, that is, if the flow of one force in the-body is greater than the other, illness arises. These forces (bio-energy) flow through definite courses or channels in the body. These courses are called ‘meridians’. The Chinese call them ‘ling’. It is believed that there are in all 14 meridians in our body for the flow of bioelectricity or bio-energy (Chetana), Out of these 14 meridians, 12 meridians are present in pairs, each on the right side and the left side of the body, while the remaining two are single. One is on the vertical midline in front of the body and the other on the vertically central line on the backside of the body.
The 12 paired meridians comprise of 6 ‘Yin’ meridians and 6 ‘Yang’ meridians. ‘Yin’ meridians start from the toes or from the middle part of the body and go to the head or to the fingers of the hands. The ‘Yang’ meridians start from the head, the face or the fingers and go downside or to the middle part of the body (see figures 3.1 and 3.2).
These meridians which maintain the flow of bioelectricity have connection with the main organs (or systems) of the body. Each meridian has been given the name of the organ with which it is connected. One end of each meridian lies in the hand, the leg or the face and the other in one main organ. That is the reason why pressure applied to a particular point on the hand or the leg,’ affects the remote organ connected with this point.
The names of the main 14 meridians are as follows :
(1) Large Intestine Meridian
(2) Stomach Meridian
(3) Small Intestine Meridian
(4) Bladder Meridian
(5) Triple Warmer Meridian
(6) Gall Bladder Meridian
(7) Lung Meridian
(8) Spleen Meridian
(9) Kidney Meridian
(10) Heart Meridian
(11) Heart Constrictor OR Pericardium Meridian
(12) liver Meridian
Meridian that govern other meridians .
(13) Governing Vessel Meridian,
(14) Conception Vessel Meridian
The intensity of the flow of bio-energy. In a particular meridian is not the same throughout the day. The flow of bioenergy in a meridian is maximum only once at a definite time during twenty-four hours. Twelve hours after that time the bioenergy flowing in that meridian is the minimum. This has been explained in the following figure which can be termed ‘the organ-clock’ : The figure 3.3 shows that the lungs have the maximum flow of bioenergy during 3 to 5 ·o’clock in the morning; the kidneys, during 5 to 7 in the evening; the gall bladder, during 11 to 1 at night and the liver’ during 1 to 3 after midnight. Attacks of asthma mostly occur during 3 to 5 in the morning, renal colic occurs during 5 to 7 in the evening, the pain in the gall-bladder occurs during 11 to 1 at night and the headache and insomnia which are caused by malfunctioning of the liver occur during 1 to 3 after midnight. These facts are significant and any doctor will confirm them.
Modern physicians are unable to explain the reason for the radiation of chest-pain to the shoulder and the whole arm Fig. 3.4 : Pain caused on account of heart attack radiating along the direction of the Heart Meridian in cases of many patients who have suffered from a heartattack. But an acupressure or acupuncture expert finds no difficulty in explaining the reason for this pain. Even the oldest books on acupressure and acupuncture show the location of the heart meridian in that very part of the arm in which a person with heart-attack experiences the radiating pain.
Each of the 14 main meridians has subsidiary meridians. Figure 3.5 shows one subsidiary branch of the Heart Meridian (see the dotted line). One part of this subsidiary meridian passes through the lungs and blood-vessels of the heart and then penetrating the diaphragm joins the small intestine. The other part of this meridian passes through the neck and reaches the eye. The figure shows that the arena of the influence of the main meridian gets expanded due to its subsidiary meridians. One of the subsidiary meridians of the Heart Meridian proceeds to the eye. On the basis of this fact eye-ailments can be treated through the Heart Meridian also.
The medical philosophy of the eastern countries gives sole importance to ‘body-meridians. On the other hand, the western medical science, following Dr. Virchov, approaches to the minute study for finding out the diseased tissue. It even tries to discover which particular cells in the tissue have been diseased (bone-cells, nerves, muscle-cells, cells of blood vessels, etc.). Management and medicines to be given change according to the type of diseased cells. But acupressure therapy is different from the above therapy. A particular part of the body may suffer from any disease such as arthritis, wound, odema or skin-disease, but the acupressure treatment is the same. The reason is simply that the meridian itself is the main controlling force of the part of the body through which it passes. This meridian controls all types of cells present in its corresponding part of the body. This is why the acupressure therapy is simple and easy to apply.
When there is any disorder in an organ of the body; the whole of its corresponding meridian does not become tender or painful but only some points lying on that meridian become tender. Severe pain is felt when these points are pressed. How does this happen? Why is the whole meridian not painful? The reason is that acupressure points work as regulators. They regulate and direct the energy flowing in the meridians. A meridian and its acupressure points can be compared to a telephone exchange and operators respectively. In a telephone exchange the operators regulate the incoming and outgoing telephone calls. In the Same way acupressure points regulate bioenergy which flows through the meridian.
If the flow or circulation of bioenergy in a meridian is not proper, it can be corrected and made proper by stimulating certain points lying on that meridian by applying pressure on them and thus the disease of that organ can be eliminated. The decisive proof of this fact is that as soon as the disease is eliminated, the pain in the acupressure points is relieved.
This implies the following three facts :
(1) If an organ of the body is diseased, pain is experienced in the points of the meridian connected with that-organ.
(2) A disease is eliminated by applying pressure on the painful points. In short, the relation between the organ and its meridian is not one-sided. The meridian is influenced by the organ and the organ is influenced by its meridian; e.g. in heartdisease ; the points lying on its meridian become tender. Similarly, if anyone of these points is hurt or stung, the heart is affected.
This is one of the great advantages of the acupressure therapy, because the diagnosis and treatment become practically the same. It means that if definite diagnosis becomes possible with the help of a point, the same point becomes useful for the treatment for the disease. On the other hand, if the definite diagnosis is not possible and the treatment given on the basis of inference succeeds, the inference in respect of diagnosis proves to be correct.
(3) Pain in the points is relieved as soon as the disease is eliminated.
The disease might have been cured by anyone of the therapies: acupressure, naturopathy, homoeopathy, Ayurveda or allopathy- the pain in the points is relieved with the cure of that disease.
An acupressure point is a tiny sensitive circle of the Size of a finger-tip. Its diameter is about 1 sq. cm. Therefore great care is necessary to correctly locate a particular point. If only a slight touch or pressure on an acupressure point causes severe pain, it is a symptom of a severe disease. There are some acupressure points which enable one to come to the correct diagnosis of a disease; e.g., the pain on the point no. 6 on the Lung Meridian suggests piles, the pain on the point no. 39 on the Gall Bladder Meridian suggests gall stone and the pain on the point no. 4 on the Large Intestine Meridian suggests constipation.
There are several acupressure points on each meridian. If an organ becomes diseased, the question that arises is which points should be pressed to eliminate the disease from the organ. For the cure of a disease some of the points on a meridian are more important than the others. One or more of the following reasons may be responsible for it :
(1) Bioenergy is inhibited easily and to a greater extent in some points.
(2) At some points the underlying meridian is quite near the skin.
(3) Some points can be found very easily and so treatment on these points becomes easy.
(4) There is a hard tissue (e.g., bone) below some points. Such points can easily be pressed against the hard tissue.
(5) Some points are very sensitive. If pressure is applied, on these points, the disease is eliminated rapidly.
Pain on any point on the body is possibly a symptom of some disorder in an organ or in a system of the body. It should be assumed that the point, through pain, pleads for help. In order to help the organ or the system concerned, pressure should be methodically applied on it. Factors such as methods of applying pressure, timings, etc. have been discussed. To know which organ is co-related with the painful point is not always important; more important is the application of methodical pressure on that point.
Accurate and methodical application of pressure on painful acupressure points gives one or more of the following benefits:
(1) One gets relief from the symptoms of the disease. Sometimes this relief is immediate. The disease itself also gradually vanishes.
(2) The strain of that part of the body or sometimes of the whole body and the mind is alleviated.
(3) Even if the symptoms of a few diseases like asthma reappear, their acuteness is considerably lessened.
(4) In diseases like asthma, the period between two consecutive attacks is gradually lengthened.
(5) Sometimes a critical condition (e.g., after a severe heart-attack) can be averted.
When treatment is given through other manipulative therapies such as osteopathy, chiropractic or Swedish massage, at times acupressure points are unknowingly pressed. This may be the cause of the benefits, to some degree, which these therapies give. Ear-acupressure has been developed in which the organs of the body are treated by stimulating points on the ear.
The pressure on the points located on Governing Vessel and Conception Vessel meridians produces a local effect; e.g., an ulcer in the stomach can be treated by stimulating points two inches above the navel on either of these meridians.
At the outset, it is beyond our mental perception how an application of pressure on a point on the body causes effect on a remote organ in the body; but that it so happens is undoubtedly a proven fact.
It should be remembered that each individual body differs. You may be taller or shorter than the normal standard or the constitution of your body may be broad or narrow or of some different kind. So if the distance of any point from a known. or apparent part of the body is to be found or indicated, units of measurement like centimeters and inches are of no use, and so special units of taking measurements have to be applied for this purpose.
If you want to find the point nei-kuan (or any other point) on another person, you must remember to use his hand or thumb to measure on his body. The width of the hand, the thumb or the fingers is in keeping with the constitution of an individual. Your hand may be too large- say, for a child- or too small for a huge man, for accurate measuring.
Pain or sensitivity to pressure is the surest index of accurately finding the point.
If there is something wrong with any organ or part of the body, its corresponding point becomes very sensitive and tender. The pressure on the area around the exact point gives less pain. If the disease is a minor one or is insignificant, a bit vigorous and continuous pressure may have to be applied on the point. But the area around the pressure-point is not sensitive or less sensitive to that much pressure.
There are other signs also which are often helpful in finding the exact pressure-point:
(1) The colour of the point in question appears different from that of the area around it- it appears yellowish, white or red.
(2) The skin on that point looks swollen or rough. Tiny area.
(3) The point in question is warmer than its surrounding area.
(4) Some specialists use a special kind of electric device to locate the correct pressure-point. According to them, an acupressure-point shows very little resistance against electricity. In other words, an acupressure-point can be stimulated even by a weak electric current; but the response of the area around the point is quite different.
‘Acupressure-where and when? :
As acupressure needs no equipment, you can apply this treatment anywhere- in the desert or on the sea-shore, on the top of the mountain, in the office, bus or train or in the privacy of your home. It is needless to say that your house is the best place for acupressure treatment.
For acupressure treatment one should prefer a room in the house which is airy, lighted, peaceful and clean. As previously mentioned, there are different timings for the maximum flow of bioenergy (chi) in the meridians of different organs.
The method of using thumbs or fingers:
Usually it is convenient and also proper to give pressure to acupressure points with the tips of the thumbs. In this method sufficient pressure can be exerted with least efforts and difficulty. Many persons favour to give pressure with the help of the Index or the middle finger. If need be, more pressure can be applied by putting the tip of the index finger on the nail of the middle finger. If pressure is to be applied on three or four points located close to one another, four fingers can be used simultaneously.
The nails of the thumbs and the- fingers should be properly clipped and smoothened in order to avoid any injury or abrasion on the skin while pressing the points.
(1) Give pressure on one palm with the other.
(2) Keep the position of the fingers and the thumbs as shown in the figure and exert pressure on the fingers of one hand with those of the other.
(3) With the help of one hand bend forcefully the fingers of the other hand backwards.
Practice each of these exercises for 2 to 3 minutes.
The position of the body during the treatment :
Acupressure treatment can be taken in any position of the body. Sitting posture, however, is very convenient for acupressure treatment. If you are giving treatment to someone else, make him sit or lie in such a position that he feels comfortable and at ease and enables you to press the acupressure points easily.
How much pressure should be applied :
The degree of pressure to be exerted depends upon the following factors:
(1) The location (site) of the point,
(2) The patient’s disease,
(3) The patient’s age,
(4) The patient’s physical condition,
(5) The patient’s physique.
In the following circumstances, light or moderate pressure is considered proper :
(1) If the patient is taking the treatment for the first time,
(2) When there is acute pain in the point,
(3) When there is swelling around the point,
(4) When the underlying muscles are weak or flabby,
(5) When the corresponding organ is seriously diseased.
When light pressure is to be applied, the pad of the finder may be used instead of the finger-tip, as shown in Fig. 5.5.
Hard pressure is applied in the following circumstances:
(1) If the disease is chronic,
(2) If the patient is not suffering from other complications of the disease,
(3) If the patient is not very tired.
Experience says that in most of diseases steady, continuous and moderate (or deep) pressure brings good results.
If your skin is very thin and sensitive, you can apply talcum powder or oil on it at the time of applying pressure:
Duration of the treatment:
A leading researcher Dr. Chu Lien of China firmly believes that if any organ of the body is malfunctioning or diseased, short and weak stimulation should be given. But when the purpose is only to relieve the pain, vigorous pressure Is necessary.
Each of the required points should be stimulated in a pumping (press-release-press-release) manner for about a minute.
What should be the total duration of the acupressure treatment for each day? The Chinese recommend that the total time for each day’s acupressure treatment should be :
Newborn babies 1/2 -3 minutes
Babies of 3 – 6 months 1-4 minutes
Babies of 6 – 12 months 1- 5 minutes
Children aged 1- 3 years 3-7 minutes
Children aged 3 – 12 years 5 – 10 minutes
Adults 5 – 15 minutes or longer
Usually the acupressure treatment once to three times a day is sufficient. After there is a considerable improvement, the acupressure treatment on alternate days will serve the purpose.
Important instructions :
(l) Under conditions such as fatigue, profuse, perspiration, rapid heart- beats, one should postpone taking acupressure treatment till one regains normal condition. .
(2) If hungry, one should better take some food before taking the treatment.
(3) Acupressure treatment should not be taken immediately after meals or on full stomach. The treatment should be taken two hours after meals.
(4) One should not take acupressure treatment within two hours of taking any-drug.
(5) One should not take acupressure treatment within half an hour after bathing in hot water.
(6) In ordinary circumstances acupressure treatment is not recommended during pregnancy.
(7) Acupressure treatment should not be taken on the point which lies beneath a scar or an injured part on the skin.
(8) One should not take acupressure treatment on the part beneath which a bone is fractured on account of some injury.
(9) If one’s vertebrae are seriously injured or if one is suffering from sciatica, one should not take acupressure treatment on that part of the spinee
Discomforts (temporary ailments) during the acupressure treatment:
During the initial stages of the acupressure treatment, the patient sometimes suffers from some discomforts. These discomforts include headache, cold-catarrh, diarrhea and mental disorders like irritation. These discomforts disappear on their own in a few days. The important point to note is that during the period of these temporary ailments, the patient does not have the feeling of illness. He feels that his body is being cleaned. Acupressure experts consider these discomforts as good signs and indications of improvement.
However, the process of purification which goes on in the body of most of the patients is inconspicuous. It means that these discomforts do not bother them. Only a negligible number of patients are seen to suffer from these discomforts. Every patient, however, should have the knowledge of and preparedness for them.
Start slowly without any pressure, totally observe where you are applying pressure.
When you are accustomed to simple or normal pressure for sometime then use deep firm pressure to massage every point.
Usually acupressure points are more sensitive than surrounding area.
The massage duration indicated with point description is only an approximation. Massage every point until numbing feeling is produced.
You do not need to massage all active points. Some active points produce stronger effect than others. You may choose to limit the exercise to massaging high potency points only.
You can repeat active points massage as often as you want, but be totally in observation, how acupressure is working, is it decreasing or increasing, if it increases you can stop immediately, if it is decreasing you can do upto 5 exercises per day .
When applying deep pressure the active point is expected hurt initially. In this case reduce the pressure to a “comfortably” painful level and persist with massaging the active point. Increase the pressure as the initial painful sensation begins to subside. Continue the massage until numbing feeling is produced
When massaging acupressure points sit comfortably or lie down, close your eyes and breathe deeply.
It is not necessary to massage points on your own, you can ask somebody else to massage your active points.