Acupressure is a form of alternative medicine that is based on the Chinese belief in Qi (pronounced, and often spelled, 'Chi'). This is the universal 'life force' that travels around our bodies and that is present in everything. Other forms of healing that are based on this belief are acupuncture and Reiki.
According to these practices, we all have Qi flowing through our bodies through 'chakra', and most of our ailments are caused by this flow being disrupted or blocked, or by a buildup of 'bad Qi'. By applying pressure on certain areas – the 'acupuncture points' situated along the meridians, acupressure aims to free up the flow of Qi so that it moves more healthily around the body and so that it can promote self healing. This is a holistic view of human health and it is believed that problems around the 12 major meridians (corresponding with the major organs) can account for all manner of different problems.
Of course the idea that you can heal all manner of ailments from aching joints, to stomach problems to addictions by merely attending a pleasant massage-type session is a highly appealing concept. However the existence of Qi and the meridians is not supported by scientific evidence and as such it remains a controversial subject and firmly an 'alternative medicine'. Despite there being no scientific basis for the process however, many subjects do report improved health and comfort following the procedures. So the question is, does it work? And do the pros outweigh the cons? Here we will have a look at the pros and cons of acupressure and this will hopefully help you to make an informed decision.
Pros of Acupressure
It Has Some Measured Benefits
Acupressure has been shown to help alleviate certain problems and improve health in a number of ways. It has shown for instance to be able to relax the muscles and encourage blood flow. It has also been shown to stimulate the release of various hormones and chemicals in the body that are beneficial to our overall health such as growth hormone. It can also help with certain joint complaints etc – if you have a bad back or a muscle injury then acupressure is no bad thing. The muscles relax, the blood flow helps to warm them up and provide nutrients, and the whole body de-tenses. Of course this can have a vast range of health benefits from improved blood pressure to headache relief.
It Is Safe
Many people opt to try acupressure before moving on to traditional medicine because it is natural and non-invasive. If you other options are surgery or medication that can have serious side effects, then the far less daunting prospect of being massaged is of course appealing. Many doctors are too eager to prescribe drugs as a solution to all our ailments, and this has lead many individuals to turn to alternative medicines. As long as you don't ignore the doctor's advice and you are objective and scientific, then trying acupressure can provide a good thing to try.
In fact, not only is acupressure less daunting and invasive than many medical techniques, it's also actually desirable and pleasant. Many people will have massages not for their health per-se but simply to relax and indulge themselves. Acupressure is no different – this is a great way to feel relaxed and forget about your worries – and that in itself can help you to de-stress.
You Can Practice it at Home
Most of us consider acupressure as something performed by experts and for the most part this is advisable. However it is also something you can learn yourself or get a friend to learn, and this provides a great way for you to alleviate pain without having to travel or spend any money.
Cons of Acupressure
Despite claims of acupressure being effective for things like back ache and headaches, these all work simply by relaxing the body. That is to say that there are no other proven affects caused by unblocking the Qi. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but objectively you will not be able to cure something like a kidney disease with acupressure.
It's No More Effective Than Massage
The bigger blow though comes from the simple fact that acupressure is actually no more effective than being massaged normally. Both can help to relax the muscles, stimulate blood flow and help you de-stress.
This would be fine, except you're spending a lot of money on the acupressure. Unless you've taught yourself, or you're getting a friend to carry it out, then you will be spending an awful lot of money for a process that is not proven to be particularly effective.
It Can Have Negative Effects
While acupressure is certainly a more mild solution to your problem than a course of medication, you should not make the mistake of thinking that it is completely without side effects. If you have arthritis for instance then acupressure can be used successfully to treat it, but in some cases it can also exacerbate the problem.
Because acupressure is not considered conventional medicine, it is difficult to regulate and it is less standardized across the board. In other words, you can get a very different experience depending on where you go and this is one big reason that it can sometimes actually cause problems for arthritic patients etc – because the specialist doesn't really know what they're doing. Make sure that if you do get acupressure that you take your time in selecting a good specialist that is recommended by friends and who knows what they are doing.
There is nothing particularly scientific about acupressure, but there is nevertheless some circumstantial evidence that it can be useful in treating a range of problems. Certainly it can be useful for relaxing the body, calming the mind and improving circulation – and it has very minimal side effects and risks so it certainly worth a try if you are struggling with health problems. If you do use acupressure though, then don't pay over the odds, and make sure to find a specialist that you can trust and who is recommended by friends.