Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique based on the same ideas as acupuncture. Acupressure involves placing physical pressure by hand, elbow, or with the aid of various devices on different acupuncture points on the surface of the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine does not usually operate within a scientific paradigm but some practioners make efforts to bring practices into an evidence-based medicine framework.
There is no scientific consensus over whether or not evidence supports efficacy of acupressure beyond a placebo. Reviews of existing clinical trials have been conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration and Bandolier according to the protocols of evidence-based medicine; for most conditions they have concluded a lack of effectiveness or lack of well-conducted clinical trials.
The points used may or may not be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom. The TCM theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi.
This theory is based on the paradigm of TCM, not that of science. An acupressure wristband that is claimed to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness and other forms of nausea is available. The band is designed to provide pressure to the P6 acupuncture point, a point that has been extensively investigated.
The Cochrane Collaboration, a group of evidence-based medicine (EBM) reviewers, reviewed the use of P6 for nausea and vomiting, and found it to be effective for reducing post-operative nausea, but not vomiting.
The Cochrane review included various means of stimulating P6, including acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, transcutaneous nerve stimulation, laser stimulation, acu-stimulation device and acupressure; it did not comment on whether one or more forms of stimulation were more effective. EBM reviewer Bandolier said that P6 acupressure in two studies showed 52% of patients with control having a success, compared with 75% with P6 acupressure. One author of an article published in the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine disagreed.
A Cochrane Collaboration review found that massage provided some long-term benefit for low back pain, and said, "It seems that acupressure or pressure point massage techniques provide more relief than classic (Swedish) massage, although more research is needed to confirm this."
Many East Asian martial arts also make extensive study and use of acupressure for self-defense and health purposes (chin na, tui na).
The points or combinations of points are said to be used to manipulate or incapacitate an opponent. Also, martial artists regularly massage their own acupressure points in routines to remove blockages from their own meridians, claiming to thereby enhance their circulation and flexibility and keeping the points "soft" or less vulnerable to an attack.
Attacking the acupressure points is one theme in the wuxia genre of movies and novels.
Luo Points is an acupuncture term referring to special points in the body that are believed to have greater significance. According to acupuncture theory, the points, twelve in all, are places where the body can be manipulated to greater effect when applying acupuncture or tui na techniques, and can be used to aid the circulation of qi so as to keep the body healthy.
Fire Cupping is a method of applying acupressure by creating a vacuum next to the patient's skin. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it involves placing glass, plastic, or bamboo cups on the skin with a vacuum. The therapy is used to relieve what is called "stagnation" in TCM terms, and is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Cupping is also used to treat back, neck, shoulder, and other musculoskeletal pain. Its advocates claim it has other applications as well. This technique, in varying forms, has also been found in the folk medicine of Vietnam, the Balkans and modern Greece, among other places.
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