Acupressure is an ancient healing technique used for thousands of years to treat pain and illness. Acupressure stimulates certain points on the body, triggering the release of endorphins in the brain.
♦ What are Endorphins?
The brain releases endorphins during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy foods, love and orgasm. Endorphins function as neurotransmitters. The release of endorphins eases pain and promotes a feeling of well-being.
The pituitary gland and hypothalamus, nestled just above the brain stem, are responsible for producing endorphins. The hypothalamus is about the size of an almond. It controls such functions as body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian cycles.
The pituitary gland, or hypophis, is about the size of a pea and protrudes from the bottom of the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus are functionally linked via the pituitary stalk.
In the human body, everything is interconnected. Stimulation of certain acupressure points can trigger the release of endorphins in the brain to help ease pain or illness in other parts of the body.
♦ Acupressure Cautions and Warnings
Acupressure can be applied any time throughout the day to help relieve stress and pain. Don’t use acupressure if the acupressure point is under a mole, wart, bruise, vein, cut or abrasion in the skin.
Acupressure isn’t a substitute for medical treatment. Don’t use acupressure to treat a major medical condition or injury. Go to a doctor or other qualified health professional, and use acupressure as recommended to relieve symptoms and help the body heal.
If you’re pregnant, some acupressure points (for example on the slope of the shoulder for neck pain) could stimulate uterine contractions, so use acupressure with caution. Acupressure isn’t recommended for pancreatic cancer patients.
♦ How to Stimulate Your Pressure Points With Acupressure
Stimulate the acupressure point with the thumb(s) if possible, or use the first and second fingers. You can also bend the finger and use the bone of the finger joint to apply pressure, especially if the acupressure point is deep.
Don’t let the fingernails or thumbnails dig into the skin. Cut your nails if necessary. If your hands feel tense, shake your hands for 20-30 seconds before applying acupressure. Tension in the fingers and hands can cause cramping.
You may feel some pain when stimulating an acupressure point. The pain usually diminishes as you treat the point. If the pain continues or worsens, stop applying pressure and try a different acupressure point.
Technique #1: Firm Steady Pressure
Apply firm, steady pressure to the acupressure point for at least thirty seconds. For best results, apply pressure for two minutes or longer. To treat stubborn symptoms, wait a few minutes, then re-stimulate the acupressure point.
Technique #2: Massage
Massage the area of the acupressure point. Steady massage can help stimulate the release of endorphins. Massage firmly in a circular motion for one to two minutes or longer.
Technique #3: Repetitive Stimulation
In some cases, a patient can find relief by repeatedly stimulating an acupressure point. Apply firm but gentle pressure for three seconds, release for one second, then reapply pressure. Repeat 10-20 times per acupressure point.
♦ Dual Point Stimulation
Where an acupressure point exists on one side of the body, it exists on the other side as well. Stimulate both points to restore body balance and effectively relieve pain and illness. Apply pressure to both points at once, or treat one after the other.
Everyone is individual. Try different techniques, and choose those that work best for you.
See also: Acupressure Points for Relief from an Aching Body
♦ About Breathing
Proper breathing is important. Breathing helps focus the mind and stimulate the blood flow. When blood flow is sluggish, the body is deprived of oxygen, causing:
• tense muscles
• foggy brain
• body aches and pain
• organ dysfunction
While applying acupressure, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Breathe deeply and steadily, and don’t hold your breath.
See also: Healthy Breathing: How to Break Bad Breathing Habits
Used properly, acupressure is an effective treatment for a wide range of ailments. Acupressure can treat conditions such as stress-related illness, body aches, congestion, stomach disorders and indigestion, TMJ disorder, headache, sciatica, neck stiffness or pain, and fibromyalgia or other rheumatic conditions.
For visual images of some acupressure points, see also:
Acupressure Points for Stress Relief
Acupressure Points for Stiff Neck and Neck Pain