***Article 1

Acupressure

Acupressure is an ancient art of healing believed by some people to be even older than acupuncture. It involves the use
of the fingers (and in some cases, the toes) to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s
natural ability to heal itself. Pressing on these points relieves muscle tension, which promotes the circulation of
blood and qi to aid in the healing process.

What’s the difference between acupressure and acupuncture?

Acupressure and acupuncture are actually quite alike. In fact, acupressure is sometimes referred to as “needleless
acupuncture,” because both forms of healing use the same points to achieve the desired results. The main difference
between the professions is that an acupuncturist stimulates points by inserting needles, whereas an acupressurist
stimulates the same points using finger pressure.

How does acupressure work?

Like acupuncture, acupressure involves the stimulation of certain points on the body. Stimulating these points can
trigger the release of endorphins, chemicals produced by the body that relieve pain. When endorphins are released, the
pain is blocked, and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax
and promotes healing.

In acupressure, as with most traditional Chinese medicine concepts, local symptoms are considered an expression of the
whole body’s condition. A person with a tension headache, for instance, may actually be suffering from pain or stress
in the shoulder and neck. An acupressurist would focus not only on relieving pain and discomfort, but removing the
source of that pain and discomfort, before it develops into a more serious condition.

Besides relieving pain, acupressure can help rebalance the body by lowering stress and tension levels and strengthening
the immune system. Certain acupressure points can also relieve tension in the chest, enabling people to breathe more
deeply and sleep better, and there has been anecdotal evidence that acupressure can help pregnant women have a quicker,
less painful delivery.

Advantages and Limits of Acupressure

Acupressure has several advantages over most other forms of healing:

¦It is extremely cost-effective. No special equipment is required; the only items a person needs to perform acupressure
effectively are their own fingers and/or toes.

¦It can be performed anywhere, at any time. A person doesn’t need to practice in a particular setting or a particular
time of the day to experience its effects.

¦It can be performed alone. Self-acupressure has been performed in Asia for thousands of years. In the United States,
many people can learn acupressure from an experienced practitioner or health care provider. In addition, there are a
wide range of books and videotapes on the subject so that people can learn how to self-perform acupressure in the
comfort of their own homes.

¦It is very safe, as long as a person follows the instructions provided by a licensed health care professional. No
drugs are involved with acupressure; hence, there is no opportunity for drug-related side-effects to occur.

¦It offers a great deal of benefits to the patient. Correctly performed, acupressure increases circulation, reduces
tension and enables the body to relax. Reducing tension, in turn, strengthens the immune system and promotes wellness.
However, acupressure is not without its limits. Applying acupressure too abruptly, or using too much force during
treatment, can lead to bruising and discomfort. Great care should be used when applying pressure to points on or near
the abdomen, groin, armpits, or throat. Special care should also be taken by pregnant women or those with recently-
formed scars, burns, infections or skin lesions. Patients should always consult with a licensed health care
professional before using acupressure or any other form of health care.

(from : www.acupuncturetoday.com)

***Article 2

Acupressure Patients Find Relief for Low Back Pain
Study finds acupressure more effective than physical therapy
By Editorial Staff

Acupuncture Today
June, 2006, Vol. 07, Issue 06

Low back pain (LBP) is a common problem for people all over the world. The millions who suffer from LBP on a daily basis seek relief through a variety of methods; far too often, the first line of treatment is over-the-counter pain medication, which is associated with potentially dangerous side effects.

If the results of a recent study are any indication, patients should be turning their attention to Oriental medicine for relief from back pain; the study found that a session of acupressure was superior to physical therapy in reducing pain and disability while improving functional status.

Previous research has evaluated the effectiveness of acupressure in treating LPB, but the results have been somewhat ambiguous. Previous studies failed to account for validated standard outcome measures, functional status or disability – all important variables.

“The efficacy of acupressure in relieving pain associated with low back pain has been shown by a randomized, controlled trial,” explained Dr. Lisa Li-Chen Hsieh, a member of the Institute of Preventative Medicine at National Taiwan University in Taipei and the current study’s lead author. “However, the outcomes in that study were assessed by description of pain character and failed to take into account functional status and disability as recommended by most low back pain researchers. Although trials have investigated the efficacy of physical therapy, acupuncture and acupressure in reducing low back pain, the type of outcome measurement has varied from study to study.”

In conducting the current study, Dr. Hsieh and her colleagues recruited 129 adult patients who had suffered from chronic LBP for a minimum of four months, and for whom the pain was not caused by systemic or organic diseases, cancers or psychiatric diseases. Participants also could not be pregnant or suffer from acute severe pain that required immediate treatment or surgery. Sixty-four patients were assigned randomly to receive acupressure. (The exact technique and points treated were not described in the study.) The remaining patients were assigned to receive “physical therapy,” which included such treatments as pelvic manual traction, spinal manipulation, thermotherapy, infrared light therapy, electrical stimulation and exercise therapy.

Each study participant received six sessions of either acupressure or physical therapy for one month. Primary endpoints were self-administered Chinese versions of standard outcome measures for low back pain at baseline, after treatment and at a six-month follow-up.

After treatment, the Roland-Morris disability questionnaire score was significantly lower in the acupressure group than in the physical therapy group, regardless of the difference in absolute score (-3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], -5.7 to -1.9) or mean change from baseline (-4.64; 95% CI, -6.39 to -2.89). The study documented similar outcomes in terms of function using the modified Oswestry disability questionnaire. Outcomes remained significantly different after adjustment for pretreatment scores and other baseline characteristics, and the results were maintained at six months. In terms of disability, Oswestry scores were as follows: Patients receiving acupressure had an average pretreatment score of 24.4 and a postreatment score of only 17.0; after six months, the score had dropped even further, to 12.2. By comparison, patients receiving physical therapy had an average pretreatment score of 21.1, which dropped minimally to 20.6 posttreatment, and to only 17.9 at six-month follow-up.

Patients receiving acupressure also reported greater improvements in low back pain, leg pain, pain that limited normal work, and days off from school or work. In addition, mean posttreatment scores were higher in the acupressure group for “satisfaction of life with the symptoms” as well as “satisfaction with previous treatment.”

Study limitations included a confounding psychological effect of therapy, a loss of 15.5 percent of patients to follow-up at six months, and the fact that the effectiveness of any manipulation therapy dependent largely on the individual therapist’s technique and experience. Despite these limitations, the researchers believe that acupressure provided clear benefits with respect to pain relief and functional improvement, and that their study could serve as a blueprint for larger trials. of pain relief and functional improvement, and that their study could serve as a blueprint for larger clinical trials.

“Acupressure was effective in reducing low back pain in terms of disability, pain scores and functional status,” they said. “The benefit was sustained for six months and the results will provide a base for comparison across international studies.”

Resources

1.Treatment of low back pain by acupressure and physical therapy: randomized controlled trial. Lisa Li-Chen Hsieh, Chung-Hung Kuo, Liang Huei Lee, Amy Ming-Fang Yen, Kuo-Liong Chien, Tony Jsiu-His Chen. BMJ Online First, www.bmj.com, published Feb. 17, 2006.
2.”Acupressure May Be More Effective Than Physical Therapy at Relieving Low Back Pain.” Medscape Medical News, www.medscape.com, Feb. 21, 2006.
3.”Acupressure May Be More Effective for Low Back Pain Than Physical Therapy.” Reuters Health, www.reutershealth.com, Feb. 16, 2006.
4.”Hands-On Therapy Helps Low Back Pain,” by Salynn Boyles. WebMD News, www.webmd.com, Feb.17, 2006.

***Article 3

Acupressure “Significantly Influences” the Cardiovascular System
Therapy Creates Changes in Heart Rate, Blood Flow and Arterial Pressure

Acupuncture Today
May, 2000, Vol. 01, Issue 05

Although not as well-known as acupuncture, acupressure is rapidly gaining acceptance as a safe, non-invasive form of
care.

The technique itself is very similar to acupuncture. Instead of inserting needles, acupressure involves using the
fingers, thumbs, palms, heels of the hand and elbows to apply pressure and stimulate specific points along the
meridians (or energy channels) of the body.

Like acupuncture, recent studies have shown acupressure to be effective for a variety of conditions, from easing
postoperative pain and morning sickness to vomiting and improving the quality of one’s sleep. Unfortunately, the
mechanism responsible for acupressure’s success in relieving pain remains ? like acupuncture – largely unknown.

To see what effect acupressure may have on the cardiovascular system, a pair of researchers from the Faculty of Health
Sciences in Linkoping, Sweden conducted a study of 24 healthy male volunteers between the ages of 20 and 36. Their
results, which appear in a recent issue of Complementary Therapies in Medicine, showed marked changes in arterial
pressure, heart rate and the amount of blood flow to the skin in those receiving acupressure, leading the researchers
to conclude that non-invasive stimulation techniques may be “low-risk and cost-effective” forms of care.

The subjects were divided into three groups of eight. One group received active stimulation consisting of pressure on
acupoints; the second received active stimulation via stroking along the meridians; and the third received a control
stimulation. Stimulation was performed by way of a 15-centimeter long dental instrument with a two-millimeter ball-
point at each end.

A variety of measurements were taken while the subjects were stimulated, including heart rate, systolic arterial
pressure, diastolic arterial pressure, mean arterial pressure and skin blood flow. Data on skin blood flow, arterial
pressure and heart rate were recorded once every minute, from 20 minutes before stimulation to 30 minutes after. All
measurements were taken by a researcher who was blinded to the type of treatment the subjects received.

Results of the treatment showed dramatic cardiovascular changes in the pressure group. Heart rate, for instance,
decreased an average of seven beats per minute in the group receiving acupressure, compared to five beats for the
stroking group and just one beat per minute in the control group. Similar changes in arterial pressure and skin blood
flow were seen in the pressure group, but not in the stroking or control groups.

Based on their observations, the researchers concluded that applying pressure to acupoints “can significantly influence
the cardiovascular system.” Non-invasive stimulation techniques such as acupuncture, they believe, “could be a low-risk
and cost-effective treatment,” particularly in areas where acupuncture needles are difficult to obtain or where
diseases such as HIV and hepatitis ? which can be spread by using unsterilized needles ? are rampant. They also called
for increased research concerning the effects of pressure on acupoints, especially any effects acupressure may have on
the autonomic nervous system.

References

1.Felhendler D, Lisander B. Pressure on acupoints decreases postoperative pain. Clin J Pain 1996;12:326-329.
2.De Aloysio D, Penacchioni P. Morning sickness control in early pregnancy by Neiguan point acupressure. Obstet Gynecol
1992;80:852-854.
3.Chen ML, Lin LC, Wu SC, Lin JG. The effectiveness of acupressure in improving the quality of sleep of
institutionalized residents. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci Aug 1999;54(8):M389-94.
4.Felhendler D, Lisander B. Effects of non-invasive stimulation of acupoints on the cardiovascular system.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine 1999;7:231-234.

***Article 4

TCM Gets Another Boost From Oprah Winfrey
By Meghan Vivo, Associate Editor

Acupuncture Today
August, 2007, Vol. 08, Issue 08

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” recently featured acupressure as part of the show’s recurring health segment titled “Ask Dr. Oz.” The May 21 episode followed up on a February show in which Dr.

Mehmet Oz, vice chair of surgery and professor of cardiac surgery at Columbia University, and founder and director of the complementary medicine program at New York Presbyterian Columbia, introduced Oprah’s audience of 48 million Americans to acupuncture. The May 21 show offered additional support for TCM, this time by focusing on acupressure.

Oprah begins the acupressure segment with a statement in support of Eastern medicine: “Dr. Oz believes that the future of medicine lies in the ancient healing arts. That’s why we love him so much, because he likes to combine Eastern and Western medicine, like acupuncture and massage.”

Based on the interest generated by the Feb. 13 acupuncture episode, Dr. Oz introduces acupressure as another helpful way to relieve stress, headaches and nausea: “Acupressure is something I have done to myself quite frequently. It works for a lot of folks.” He proceeds to describe the fundamentals of acupressure, starting with a lesson in energy meridians and the way those lines of energy get disrupted, causing headaches and various aches and pains.

“Aren’t we just an energy field, anyway?” asks Oprah.

“Most of what we are is just tiny little elements of protons and matter with energy holding us together,” replies Dr. Oz, “so it’s not crazy to think that because we’re made of energy, we would have energy streams that we can refer to. The problem is that in Western medicine, because we can’t see them, we can’t get our arms around them, we can’t treat them. This is part of the challenge for us as a people to start thinking differently about the way our bodies work.”

“Do a lot of doctors believe we’re energy?” Oprah inquires.

“I think there are a lot of physicians, especially cutting-edge, who realize we don’t have all the answers. … There are a lot of physicians who believe energy has something to do with it,” responds Dr. Oz.

To demonstrate how easy (and painless) acupressure is, Dr. Oz chooses a point between Oprah’s thumb and index finger and applies pressure for a few moments. He explains that this point is effective for headaches because it releases endorphins. He also applies pressure to a point three finger lengths above Oprah’s wrist, between the tendons, to relieve motion sickness. Then he shows Oprah a stress-relieving pressure point where the trapezius muscle in the shoulder becomes the neck.

“Feels good to me,” says Oprah.

Next, Dr. Oz takes off Oprah’s shoe and applies pressure at the center of the base of her foot. Halfway up the side of the foot is another point to ease problems with menstruation, increase regularity and reduce bloating. Finally, Dr. Oz presses on the side of her foot just next to the small toe, a point that helps resolve blurry vision and other eye problems. The look of delight on Oprah’s face expresses her clear satisfaction with the acupressure treatment.

“Are you now combining in your thought process Eastern and Western medicine?” asks Oprah.

“Every patient that I operate on at New York Presbyterian hospital gets a reflexology-type treatment – a treatment that is based on energy and rejuvenating the patient,” states Dr. Oz.

With this kind of continuing endorsement by a highly successful, knowledgeable physician on the most-watched daytime talk show in the U.S., the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession can only gain credibility and visibility. For a complete review of Oprah’s Feb. 13 episode featuring acupuncture, read “The Globalization of Acupuncture and TCM” in the April 2007 issue of AT.

***Artilcle 5
Acupressure Treats Dysmenorrhea
By Editorial Staff

Acupuncture Today
September, 2010, Vol. 11, Issue 09

Dysmenorrhea, which can be quite common in women, is characterized by lower abdominal pain and cramping, sometimes accompanied by heavy bleeding, that begins at the start of the menstrual cycle.

Studies have estimated that the prevalence of women who suffer from dysmenorrhea can range from 28 percent to as high as 72 percent.1,2 Now, a new study has found that a simple acupressure technique may help relieve symptoms.3

A group of Iranian researchers randomly divided 172 university students with dysmenorrhea into two groups. One group received an acupressure treatment at the Tai Chong point on the foot and the other received acupressure at a sham point. The students were not told which group they were in.

During the first menstrual cycle of treatment, all subjects were given information about the acupressure protocol and filled out a symptom questionnaire. They were then shown how to administer the acupressure protocol themselves. At the second-cycle session, the acupressure, alternated with massage of the point was applied. Each treatment lasted for 20 minutes. The subjects were asked to perform the acupressure treatment themselves three to seven days before their next two menstrual cycles. Once the fourth menstrual cycle started, they were asked to evaluate the level of their dysmenorrhea symptoms.

For those subjects who received acupressure at the Tai Chong, the number of subjects who stated that they were not affected by symptoms (both in terms of pain severity and lost work time) went from 20 (23 percent) to 48 (55 percent). At the other end of the scale, 14 subjects 16 percent) reported the most severe symptoms at the beginning of the study. By the end of the study, none reported having the most severe symptoms. As the researchers explained, “In other words, in the group in which the acupressure protocol was applied to the Tai Chong point, rather than an arbitrary point, the number of participants with the most severe dysmenorrhea decreased and the number of participants with the least severe dysmenorrhea increased over three menstrual cycles.” As they concluded, “Applying acupressure to the Tai Chong point not only decreased pain and physical symptoms of our study group participants, but also decreased the social and economic consequences of their having dysmenorrhea.”

References

1.Burnett MA, Antao V, Black A, et al. Prevalence of primary dysmenorrhea in Canada. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2005 Aug;27(8):765-70.
2.Pitts MK, Ferris JA, Smith AM, et al. Prevalence and correlates of three types of pelvic pain in a nationally representative sample of Australian women. Med J Aust 2008 Aug 4;189(3):138-43.
3.Bazarganipour F, Lamyian M, Heshmat R, et al. A randomized clinical trial of the efficacy of applying a simple acupressure protocol to the Taichong point in relieving dysmenorrhea. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2010 Jun 12. [Epub ahead of print]

 

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