Alternative Therapies: What are Acupressure and Acupuncture?

July 23, 2008

Today modern medicine does not offer cure for arthritis, advanced cancers, spondylolysis and chronic back pain due to swelling and blurbing. All these and many more are more than mitigated by alternative therapies like aromatherapy, water therapy, acupressure and acupuncture, etc. It is due to this, that patients and caregivers frustrated with allopathy and surgeries, don’t mind trying another system and are benefited in most cases.

The rise in the number of followers of acupressure and acupuncture is globally known. Today a person may be considered backward and unaware if he does not believe in the benefits of the same. My mom’s softer genes have made me realize that matured people are many in number , if satisfied have to be doing something right. This is when I began my research on acupressure and acupuncture.

What is Acupressure?

This is a traditional Chinese system of medicine and therapy. This system recognizes certain points on the body which are responsible for the therapeutic effects of different kinds. These points are located along various imaginary lines or axis on the body which are termed as meridians. There are around 15-20 meridians on a human body. Each meridian has points on them right from the beginning to the end. It is to be realized that all the points on the meridian are not the points in this system as then the points along one axis itself would be countless and the practice would be impossible. Only those areas which are responsible for the therapeutic response in the body are considered as points.

By applying pressure on these points a therapeutic effect is created on the linked organ or body part. However it is to be appreciated that action on the throat can be achieved by pressure on a point on the wrist. This means that the points recognized in the system are not always near the organ they would effect. This may sound illogical. But I think meaning can be made out of it.

The very fact that the body is divided into meridians and a group of points on the meridian are responsible for some efficacious results means that there is a link or coordination between different areas of the body. As such we know from our scientific information that nerves and blood are all over the body and muscles are also located in wider regions of the body. That means the entire body is interconnected, we just need to find the right links to understand which would be the points responsible for the required resultant action.

Perhaps this is the reason why a point on the wrist is to be pressurized when the throat is to be cured. This pressure is applied mechanically by the hands of the expert.

What is Acupuncture?

Here the manipulation of points is done by pricking them with solid metallic needles unlike mechanical pressure. This is not painful in most cases. Some people are energise after acupuncture and some are relaxed. This has relevance to the type of points being punctured. However a specialist needs to carry out the process as a novice can cause allergies, sores and injuries along with pain by the needles pricking. Hence expert guidance and care is a must.

How are the points recognized?

The skill of practicing this system starts from the recognition and identification of the pressure points themselves. His is done by the variants in the heat on the skin, the difference in the stickiness due to perspiration on certain areas and many other tricks. Now heat, perspiration are well known to be involved with metabolic rates and hence if a point is to be recognized , it would obviously have a higher metabolic heat than other areas of the body. So there is a scientific explanation possible for each aspect of alternative medicine, we just need to explore them.

Chinese culture has been using this system much before the discovery of the blood, tissues and other organs of the body. Hence the rational they gave for the therapy was in form of energy forms – yin and yang which are both complementary to each other. For a healthy body both these energy forms need to balance each other. In a sick body on the other hand, one may be more dominant on account of interruptions in the flow of the other. These interruptions are known as ‘qui’. By acupressure or acupuncture, the qui is released and this results in unblocking of the flow of energy. Thus the subdued energy is increased to balance the dominant one. In short it is a question of balancing energies…yin and yang.

I am sure this also can be linked with modern medicine as all diseases involve loss of homeostasis and equilibrium. How we understand and interpret this is up to us.

Additional Reading:

Acupressure for Knee Pain in Older Adults

Can Acupuncture Help Pain and Nausea? See How It is Done!

Acupressure points for common diseases and body pain

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