Acupressure, acupuncture, and related practices Do-in, G-Jo, Shiatsu, and Myotherapy, practiced in Asia for thousands of
years, have only gained
wider acceptance in the West in recent times. Traditional Asian medicine emphasizes
personal responsibility for one's health.
This page is designed to put the relief of common and minor discomforts
and symptoms into your own hands.
By learning how to stimulate your own pressure points, you can relieve minor or moderate symptoms, and reduce the need for nonprescription drugs. Unlike most drugs, relief is usually immediate.
Don't use acupressure to replace standard emergency procedures or licensed
medical treatment. If you are seriously injured or have persistent symptoms seek urgent medical treatment (call 911 in the U.S.)
Acupressure should not be used:
- As the only treatment for illness; if you are sick, see a doctor
- If you have a heart condition
- Just before or within 20 minutes after heavy exercise, a large meal, or bathing
- If the point in question is under a mole, wart, varicose vein, abrasion, bruise, cut, or any other break in the skin
- If you are pregnant, especially if more than 3 months
Note that symptoms marked (M) indicate that the need for medical attention is likely, and those marked (EM!) indicate that emergency medical attention may be needed if the condition is severe or life-threatening. (i.e. call 911 in the U.S.) For these symptoms, only use acupressure to supplement professional medical care, or when no professional medical care is available. Only try acupressure for these symptoms after seeking professional care and after using standard first aid and emergency techniques.
How Does It Work?
The concepts of internal and external environment are very important to the philosophy of traditional Asian medicine. The human body encloses a perpetual flow of bioenergy, or life-force, called "chi, "ki" or "qi." It flows into the body and along pathways called "meridians," influencing the functioning of all the organs. We remain healthy when the flow balances internally and externally. We become ill when external or internal events disturb the flow. Along the meridians are a large number of pressure points that act as "valves" for the flow of chi. Stimulating acupoints restores balance, relieving symptoms.
Directions for Using Acupressure
To stimulate an acupoint properly, you must apply deep probing pressure.
Therefore, only apply pressure with:
Finger tip (or pinch)
Pencil Eraser (not the point)
You can browse the alphabetical list of symptoms, or use one of the pull-down menus to get a list of acupoints to try. The figures and text give the approximate location of a point. Thumb widths and palm widths (the width across the four fingers, not including the thumb) shown in the diagrams refer to those of the person being treated. Explore the area with a deep probing pressure, until the exact point announces itself to you with a sharp twinge. It starts as a jolt, and after a moment becomes a numbing sensation, or a tingling radiating from the point. It can be quite a shock the first time, but sensitivity decreases with experience.
When you have found the point, apply pressure for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat using the same point on the other side of your body. You should feel immediate relief. You may feel a release of tension, sinus drainage or perspiration. You might belch or pass gas. Sometimes points on opposite sides of the body will have different effects. If symptoms increase, don't use that side or point.
If the first point doesn't work, try the next point or points until you find one that does. There may be more than one approach to your symptoms, such as "kidneys" vs. "backache." When you find a point that helps, use that point. If the relief is temporary, re-stimulate the point. Sometimes a pain will go away and return three or four times, lesser each time. Inner harmony is your goal, so find a quiet place, sit or lay down, relax. Avoid loud music, exercise, food, drugs or alcohol while stimulating your acupoints.
Acupressure can be shared with others, but be cautious. Most states have laws against the practice of massage or medical care without a license. Keep it to family and friends. Be aware of the warnings. Explain what you are doing and what to expect. Thumb widths and palm widths shown in the diagrams refer to those of the person being treated. Point locations vary from person to person. Look for reactions and ask for feedback to fine-tune your efforts.