Would you take painkillers if you knew you could reduce a headache by massaging a special point on your body? A study published by the British Medical Journal says you can reduce lower back pain by acupuncture, and it’s more effective than physical therapy.
Acupuncture is made up of the Latin acus meaning needle and punctura meaning to puncture. It’s a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) , an alternative method of treatment. It dates back to 6000 BCE, according to an article in Rheumatology, though others report that it has only been around for 2,000 years.
Acupuncture uses a thin-hair like needle to stimulate a pressure point. In TCM, pressure points are points along your meridians, channels your life energy or qi (chi) flows through. According to TCM, when meridians are blocked or out of balance, illness and pain can occur.
Acupuncture is just one way to stimulate a pressure point. It’s stronger than acupressure to stimulate the body’s innate healing ability.
Acupressure in Martial Arts
Although acupuncture and acupressure both began in China for healing, a Japanese samurai, Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, introduced the idea of using pressure points in martial arts. He dissected the bodies of men killed in battles to identify pressure points to cause pain or knock enemies unconscious.
In Chinese fiction novels, there was a thing called dim wak or the death touch, which is a pressure point used to either kill people instantly on some accounts or cause a delayed death. A death touch pressure point has yet to be found, though striking some places in the body, such as the temple, can cause death. It is usually caused by trauma to an artery, which is not caused by a touch, but a strong hit.
Acupressure is the practice of relieving pain and illness using precise pressure to achieve balance in your life energy, contrary to the use of needles in acupuncture. Some studies have said acupressure release endorphins from the brain which act as natural painkillers. TCM has identified more than 300 pressure points on 14 meridians.
- Hand Valley Point: This is located between your thumb and index finger. Applying pressure here is to reduce stress, relieve toothaches, headaches, constipation and shoulder pain.
- Base of Thumb Point: This point is located at the base of your thumb, above your wrist. It is to alleviate breathing problems and coughing.
- Kidney Point:This is on the sole of your foot as shown in the picture on the right. It should be avoided during pregnancy and is to help heal dizziness, neck pain, nausea and constipation.
- Outer gate: Two to three fingers below your wrist on the outer forearm in the center between the tendons, you can find this point. It is for increasing the body’s resistance to colds.
- Tai chong (LV 3): This is just below the space between your big and second toe. It is used to reduce stress, anger, anxiety and menstrual pain.
These are just a few of the various pressure points that can help you relieve pain and discomfort in your daily life. You can find more on Modern Reflexology.
Although Acupuncture and acupressure are controversial, researchers disagree on its effectiveness, but there are many published studies that support this practice. So why not give it a try?