Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Acupressure and Acupuncture are the two forms of alternative medicines with their origins in China. Being the prominent factors of ‘The Traditional Chinese medicine’, Acupressure and Acupuncture work upon its theory of stimulation of specific points in the body to clear out the blockages and normalize the flow of energies called Qi, Yin, and Yang. Ultimately the energy imbalance is sorted out that leads to good health and well-being.

These specific points called ‘Acupoints’ are deemed to be those active sites that the energy flows through. Their blockages inhibit the free flow of energy that in turn gives rise to a plethora of physical and psychological problems. Stimulation of these points induces an improvement in the body’s self-healing capabilities (innate immunity) that one is born with. Consequently, the blood flow circulation ameliorates that, in turn, brings the higher amount of oxygen to the various organs to be used by their cells to generate more energy for the body functions. Moreover, the exaggerated release of endorphins (brain chemicals to reduce pain) relaxes the entire body and fills it with positive energy. Acupressure and Acupuncture both work on such energy based principles.

These treatments are now being used worldwide to effectively deal with Nausea, Depression, Anxiety, Migraines, Arthritis, Digestive problems, Fatigue, Insomnia, Allergies, Aches, and Menstrual irregularities. Both Acupressure and Acupuncture are performed by their licensed practitioners who are called Acupressurist and Acupuncturist, respectively.

It is worth knowing about Acupressure and Acupuncture and understanding more about these healing therapies

Acupressure

Acupressure was developed in 2500 BC and is comparatively an older technique than Acupuncture. It is easy to learn and involves the application of pressure on the active points that are known to be associated with health problems, by using thumb, palm, toes, fingers, elbows, or feet.

Acupressure bears a similarity with massage but with an added precision. It is a cost-effective method that doesn’t necessarily require other instruments, a particular place or preferred time. The health booklets usually are the means of guidance for many who learn from them and apply it in their lives to achieve a healthy body free from ailments.

Furthermore, the cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy also turn to acupressure to get rid of its side effects such as nausea. A pressure-exerting band on their wrists helps them pare down and control the symptoms of nausea. It doesn’t even require a professional to do so, just a simple device that works on acupressure principles does the trick.

Adorning oneself with jewellery such as toe rings, waistbands, rings, anklets is in itself a kind of acupressure that we unknowingly practice. In addition to beautifying the body, the jewellery stimulates the pressure points where they are worn. For example- toe rings and nose pins are pressure points for fertility and to ensure a healthy uterus.

How Does Acupressure Work?

Firm pressure is applied to relieve the muscles of its tension and to stop the pain from distracting you (by stimulating the production of endorphins. Acupressure also helps to boost the innate immunity to make your body capable of fighting the infections and invasions by the foreign substances.

Also, acupressure promotes the proper circulation of blood flow to help the body eliminate its toxic by-product substances with ease and produce energy to revitalize your health.

Points to Remember with Acupressure

Although an easy form of alternative medicine, it still requires skilled & experienced handling, the lack of which can create pain or discomfort. Acupressure is not about applying abrupt pressure on any part of your bodies such as abdomen or throat but on the specific points that should be identified first.

  • Acupressure shouldn’t be performed within four hours of administration of medications, drinking alcohol or taking herbs.
  • Also, avoid acupressure immediately before and after a heavy meal and intense physical activity.
  • Even pregnant women shouldn’t consider going for an acupressure session.

Is Acupressure Effective?

Acupressure has regularly been reviewed for its efficacy in treating and lowering the symptoms of various health problems.

A British Non-profit organization; Cochrane concluded in its studies and reviews that acupressure is helpful in relieving the child labour pain. However, it also indicated the room for further research on the same. The same organization’s review also stated that massaging the pressure points reduces the lower back pain more efficiently than any other form of massage.

Acupuncture

It is a sophisticated technique that requires more time to learn and master it. Even though a complicated process, its additional effects can be used to address multiple active points in the body at the same time. Besides, it can also be used as a potent anaesthetic.

What Ailments Does Acupuncture Treat?

According to the WHO- Acupuncture facilitates a better flow of energy and is used to treat the diseases and disorders such as-

A varied form of Acupuncture is practised in the USA in combination with other treatment methods such as chiropractic and traditional Western medicines.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The thin needles are inserted in the predetermined pattern & points into the skin with the highly precise and skilled hands of a licensed practitioner. If done correctly, acupuncture doesn’t cause any pain, except for the tingling sensation that subsides gradually. The acupuncture removes all the blockages at the same time resulting in a perfect balancing of the Qi body energy.

The acupuncture needles can be as thin as 1/100th the size of a syringe needle and are single-use and sterile. To Acupunture technique even more effective, the therapists release a low voltage current into the needles that refresh the functioning of the nervous system. Moreover, the administration of herbal medicines is also done via needles to increase its efficacy. The needles are kept inserted for 5 to 30 minutes. The number of sessions a patient requires is assessed on the basis of their health condition. Acupunture is an effective healing technique and is best performed by trained experts.

Points to Remember with Acupuncture

Unlike acupressure, Acupuncture comes with a risk if not done correctly. The patient may bleed due to the punctured skin, or the needles may break in the worst events. Acupuncture is something that connects with your body at a deeper level and therefore always carries an inherent health hazard factor.

Moreover, pneumothorax; a condition arising due to collapsing of lungs, viral hepatitis; infection of the liver, and bacterial infections at the insertion sites have also been reported. These problems can be ruled out by taking treatment from a trained acupuncturist and by adopting proper hygiene measures.

How Effective is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is highly effective in relieving post-operative pain including dental pain. According to the WHO, the conditions that acupuncture helps you with (in scope of additional of research and studies) include-

Since the endorphins play a crucial role in the hormonal system, effective therapies like acupressure and acupuncture that increase its production are also useful in treating infertility. On the other hand, endorphins regulate the serotonin levels in brains which again makes acupuncture a potent way to treat depression. As a result of acupuncture, you get to have reduced muscle spasms and decreased inflammation.

Acupuncture is an excellent way of addressing and eliminating the root cause of back pain for which 74% of people take painkillers, repeatedly. Painkillers pose adverse effects in the long run and may affect the normal kidney function.

Conclusion

Acupressure and Acupuncture rely on the same principles with their different way of applications. While acupressure is a careful and precise way of exerting pressures on the active points of the body, acupuncture deals with the insertion of needles to reach out to the nervous system even more closely to create planned impulses to the brain.

Both of these techniques, acupressure and acupuncture have their respective advantages that can be utilized successfully with the help of the skilled practitioners.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 7, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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