2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Stress Less: Acupuncture

Click here for the original post.

It’s pitch dark in your living room. You bang your shin hard against the edge of a coffee table, and momentarily you actually see stars. You reach down and rub the sore spot; within seconds you actually feel a little better. Although you may not be aware of it, you’re performing acupressure.

Touch heals, even if it’s your own. You press your fingers against your temples when you feel a headache surge, hold both hands over your lower abdomen for cramps, and instinctively rub the back of your neck when you feel tense.

The best part of acupressure? You don’t have to pay anyone to do it. It’s self-care par excellence.

Although many people think of acupressure as “acupuncture without needles,” the idea that finger and hand pressure could actually accomplish something predates acupuncture by 2,500 years. Doctors in ancient China introduced the idea of skin penetration with needles to enhance the fingertip pressure of acupressure.

Because of this, the rules of traditional Chinese medicine apply to acupressure. The body’s vital energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), flows through channels called meridians. When the channels go out of kilter, the energy flow slows down or speeds up. In a system like this, the goal of maintaining good health (as well as healing symptoms) is to balance the flow of qi. If you are totally healthy, say doctors of Chinese medicine, your qi flows freely, like water through pipes.

Along the 14 meridian paths are individual points that open the meridian when pressure is applied or an acupuncturist inserts a needle. There are 365 points, each individualized by the name of its channel and by a number. Acupuncture students need to memorize the location of each point, but you do not.

A little background
Most of the acupressure in China is done for acute illnesses and first aid for injuries. In the US, people use acupressure for stress reduction, pain relief, and improvement of overall well-being. By and large, acupressure is a self-administered form of therapy.

Since the points are identical to those in acupuncture, practitioners of Chinese medicine can perform it, but because it’s quite labor-intensive, they generally limit acupressure to patients who become excessively anxious at the sight of a needle. For this reason, you don’t find a lot of acupressure practitioners. If you search for an acupressurist on the internet, for example, you’ll usually locate a Shiatsu practitioner instead.

Do it yourself
There’s a right way to press on a point and here’s how: you’ll be using your thumb, finger, palm, or knuckle. If finger, choose the middle one, as it’s the strongest. You have to push firmly; don’t wimp out, but don’t be a masochist either. It’s supposed to be a “good” hurt, but if you don’t press fairly hard, nothing will happen.

Your first press should be for a slow count of twenty; release gently and repeat, adding a “twenty” until your final push holds for about a minute and a half. This translates to four separate pushes, each successive one a count of twenty longer than the one preceding it (20-40-60-80). Acupressure points follow a left-right symmetry, so when you complete a spot on one side, repeat on the other.

Two other techniques are important. If you’re treating points in large muscles, like your calf or thigh, firmly massage the area first with the heel of your hand. This will loosen the muscle and allow you better access to the acupressure point. If a point is located just beneath your skin, such as a scalp or facial point, tap the area quickly with two fingers before applying fingertip or thumb pressure.

You can learn acupressure techniques for stress reduction, anxiety control, energy enhancement, and overall good health from books and via the internet (put “acupressure meridians” into any search engine). There’ll be diagrams of the meridians, with labeled dots indicating acupressure points. If you have some misgivings about exactly where your points are located, a sensible step would be to visit a licensed acupuncturist and have her perform a full traditional Chinese medicine evaluation. She’ll ask you about your medical history, check your pulses and tongue for further diagnostic information, and give you an acupuncture treatment. At the end of the session, ask what points you could use for acupressure self treatment. She can dot them with a skin marker and show you what kind of pressure is needed.

A self-treatment from an acupressure text would read something like this: “For stress reduction, press and hold P-6 with your thumb, take a few deep breaths, and release. Repeat three times, increasing the length of pressure each time. Follow this by firm pressure at the spot between your eyebrows.” You’d discover that P-6 is on the underside of your wrist, about an inch below the palm of your hand.

Some other commonly used points:
• For stress, B-38, between your shoulder blades at the level of your heart (you needn’t contort yourself–just lie on a pair of tennis balls).
• For tension headache and to induce sleepiness, work GB-20, beneath the back of your skull, two inches outward from the midline.
• For frontal headaches, go for LI-4, treated by pinching the webbing between your thumb and forefinger.

Before you roll your eyes and snort in disbelief, believe me, I’ve tried acupressure and it’s extremely effective.


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Ten Drugs Doctors Should Consider De-Prescribing

    Physicians use the word polypharmacy when a patient is taking five or more prescription drugs daily. A recent survey showed that half of women Medicare recipients were taking five or more drugs daily, and 12% of them were taking ten (!) or more. New patients frequently arrive at WholeHealth Chicago carrying bags stuffed like piñatas with prescription drugs and nutritional supplements, the latter recommended by Read More

  • Toxic Metals, Heart Disease, and Chelation Therapy

    In last week’s Health Tip I reviewed the well-researched health dangers of environmental toxic metals (also called heavy metals). They’ve always been a serious health risk, but with the Trump Administration’s recent rollbacks of clean air and water regulations we can expect even more trouble ahead. Statisticians predict an astonishing 160,000 unnecessary deaths over the next decade from the reversals of clean air and water Read More

  • Heavy Metal Toxicity and Your Health

    For those who were otherwise preoccupied that day long ago in high school chemistry, the heavy metals refer to a group of especially dense metals or metal-like substances (called metalloids) found in the environment. These metals–specifically lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum–can all be absorbed by your body and stored there. Our environment is already quite toxic (Trump’s EPA deregulations aren’t helping) and it’s getting Read More

This month, save 20% off all Metagenics Medical Foods

UltraMeal
UltraInflamX
UltraClear