How to activate your self-healing powers

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Acupressure is supposed to relieve various ailments by applying pressure to certain parts of the body. Does it really work?

What is acupressure, and how does it work?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes acupressure, which is supposed to help with a variety of physical and psychological disorders. Pressure is applied to certain areas of the body in acupressure, which is thought to stimulate the body's self-healing processes. Typically, the fingers are used, although other options include the ball of the hand, the elbow, or the foot. This natural healing therapy is regarded to be a form of forerunner of acupuncture.

Why should acupressure aid in the treatment of complaints?

Every living being is thought to have a life energy, also known as Qi, according to TCM teachings. Qi travels through routes, also known as meridians, in humans. These are then linked to the organs. The life energy can no longer flow freely if the meridians are blocked. This results in various ailments and diseases. Furthermore, an imbalance is thought to drive hunger, increasing the risk of obesity.

Pressing on specific acupressure sites on the body is claimed to help relieve these blockages and hence reduce discomfort. In truth, acupressure can be used as a self-treatment; in some situations, people perform it unknowingly. When they experience a minor headache, for example, they can automatically massage their temples. Before beginning therapy, you should consult with an expert doctor, or alternative practitioner, or take an adult education course to learn about the various acupuncture and acupressure points (there are 361 in all). These points are often sensitive to discomfort when they are blocked.

Possible causes of blockages

But why do Qi blockages occur in the first place? According to TCM, the following causes can be behind it:

  • emotional outbursts
  • psychological stress, for example, due to a bereavement
  • injuries
  • chronic diseases
  • unhealthy lifestyle, for example through poor nutrition or too little exercise

Acupressure: What you should pay attention to

Apart from an introduction by an expert, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to perform acupressure on your own at home:

  • The stomach should be neither completely full nor completely empty - so ideally you should perform acupressure between two planned meals with a time gap.
  • Pressure is applied to the respective acupressure point with the fingertip. The intensity of the pressure depends on what is to be achieved with the acupressure: Firm pressure calms, and gentle pressure only slightly stimulates the flow of qi.
  • The duration also varies: Pressure can be applied from five seconds to five minutes.
  • Sometimes light tapping or kneading of the affected point also helps.
  • In general, acupressure should be performed three times a day, preferably in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.

Depending on the severity of the discomfort, it can take different lengths of time for an effect to occur through acupressure. Some sufferers feel an immediate improvement, while for others it takes 15 to 20 minutes.

For which complaints does acupressure help?

Acupressure is suitable for various medical conditions. These include:

  • Headaches
  • Tension
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Overweight
  • Digestive problems
  • ear problems (e.g. tinnitus)
  • high blood pressure
  • menstrual pain

What does science have to say about acupressure?

Acupressure's effects have been studied in a number of scientific studies. In a meta-analysis published in 2011, for example, the effectiveness of acupressure on various diseases was examined across 43 randomized controlled trials. The results showed that three research showed efficacy against menstrual cramps and six studies showed efficacy against nausea and vomiting. Acupressure has also been shown to help with muscle pain and sleep issues.

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