WHAT IS ACUPRESSURE ?
ACUPRESSURE - What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is an ancient Oriental therapy, similar in its background and training to Acupuncture; the main difference is that finger pressure, rather than needles, is used on the acu points. Acupressure can be very helpful used as first aid; and some forms are deeply relaxing. A wide range of common disorders can greatly benefit from it-e.g. asthma, arthritis, backache, digestive problems, constipation, migraine. skin problems, allergies, circulatory and menstrual problems and PMT to name just a few.
A fully trained practitioner can bring this gentle therapy to the level of a healing art, particularly effective for all conditions related to stress and deep-seated tensions, whether physical, mental or emotional.
Acupressure is also able to offer the benefits of oriental medicine to children and older or fragile people who have difficulty with the needles used in acupuncture.
The practice of touching specific body points for promoting or restoring balance and well-being originated in northern China in prehistoric times.
Charts dating from 400 B.C. have been discovered, showing lines corresponding to modern acupuncture meridians, without the points.
This suggests that the meridian system and its flows of Qi energy ~ were used therapeutically using touch as well as needles.
By 200 B.C., these practices involving touch, intuition and psychic 'seeing', had become highly developed and were known as 'anma arts'. Acupressure techniques are based on a view of the Universe called 'Taoism', which developed the philosophy of Yin and Yang to explain the inner and outer workings of nature.
Today, many oriental therapeutic arts such as acupuncture, shiatsu, qi-gong and anma massage, are derived from the same source from which acupressure springs.
Meridians are flows of energy running along the body surface, with many underground tributaries connecting with organs and energy systems. The acupoints are like whirlpools, or energy vortices, in this river of energy, where the practitioner can influence the current.
If the cells, organs or systems are either congested or deprived of vitalising energy-qi-for any length of time, it predisposes them to conditions of 'dis-ease', or malfunction. Acupressure treatments restore balance, increase energy and clear blockages, enabling the body to heal itself. The initial comprehensive consultation may explore the patient's medical history, dietary factors. lifestyle and any childhood and/or emotional difficulties.
Most practitioners take a pulse reading on both wrists, which gives an accurate indication of the state of the fundamental energy within the body meridians and organs. Patients are asked to relax on a couch, whereupon an appropriate number of acupoints are stimulated. With most forms of this therapy. the pressure applied is both deep and firm and may be held for approximately 1-2 minutes. Acupressure works safely and gently; the body is not shocked into activity, so a reasonable time is required for the necessary changes to occur. Initially, a course of 6 weekly treatments is usual. However, chronic conditions may well need more time before they respond.
ACUPUNCTURE - What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of the complete system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which has been practised in China for thousands of years. Our Western orthodox medicine views health as the absence of illness or clinical symptoms, the Chinese definition of health is that of complete mental, emotional, social and physical well-being. The list of conditions, which respond to acupuncture, is substantial, but large numbers of patients seek treatment for chronic pain, smoking cessation, asthma, insomnia and ME. Ever-increasing numbers of patients are being referred to practitioners by their GP.
The earliest acupuncture books were written 4500 years ago. It is believed that ancient Chinese physicians may have noticed that some illnesses or disorders resulted in certain points, or areas of skin becoming spontaneously sensitive. They may have subsequently learned that manipulating these areas often brought relief from the symptoms. Initially, this was probably carried out manually (using acupressure) and only later were needles introduced. Over the centuries, acupuncture has developed into a precise science.
The basic principle behind acupuncture is that it aims to regulate the body's 'life force', body energy, or 'qi, as it is called in Chinese. The belief is that every individual has the inherent ability to resist disease and that if the organism's energy and internal mechanisms are in balance, good health can be maintained. Acupuncture seeks to correct imbalances and restore the flow of qi through the body's meridians (pathways through which energy flows), using fine needles.
Acupuncture points and energy channels have been systematically mapped out and are recognised as corresponding to specific internal organs arid functions. A skilled acupuncturist must be able to assess exactly which combination of points need stimulation to best suit a given condition and the individual patient.
Diagnosis begins the moment, a new patient enters the consulting room. Careful attention is paid to the way they move, their posture, colouring and speech-all play an important part in eventual diagnosis and treatment method. At this initial consultation, certain questions are asked, designed to reveal stress levels and lifestyle habits.
For example, professional people. are generally asked about the nature of their work, whether they have been busy, or are they bored. In cases of women with menstrual problems, it is important to learn as much as possible about their diet, energy levels and sleep patterns. Current symptoms and the reason why the patient has come along for treatment are determined. It is beneficial for patients to give as good a description as possible about the type of pain they are experiencing--is it burning, sharp, a dull ache? Finally, their medical history and family background are discussed.
The physical examination is then carried out. Firstly, assessing the function of the patient's internal organs by measuring their energy output. Western doctors measure the efficiency of the heart by feeling the arterial pulse in the wrist. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the practitioner checks the energy flows emanating from the internal organs by measuring their energy output on each wrist. This examination also indicates the balance between the internal organs themselves.
Master Acupuncturists can make a diagnosis without interviewing the patient at all. According to the strength or weakness of the organs' qi, blockages can be identified. The energy flow, rather than the symptoms, gives the clearest picture of the patient's overall health.
This is followed by an examination of the patient's tongue. Different areas of the tongue also correspond to internal organs: for example, a dark blue area on the edge of the tongue points to blood stasis conditions, such as liver complaints. menstrual problems, coronary conditions: a deep trough through the centre of the tongue indicates a 'yin deficiency', characterised by conditions such as constant thirst, diabetes and ME.
The above informationis taken from The Alternative & Complementary Health Compendium. For further Information on Acupuncture contact The British Acupuncture Council, Newton House, Newton Lane, Whitley, Warrington Cheshire, WA4 4JA -
Tel: 01925 730727
Next month we will look at The Alexander Technique.
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