(Investigator 146, 2012
practitioners consider an unrestricted flow of vital life energy to be
an essential, and that stress within the body caused by illness or
injury results in muscular tension. They believe that when the flow of
vital energy is interrupted or blocked, tension around acupressure
points causes the large muscle groups to contract causing the body to
be out of balance. This inhibits its ability to deal with the
condition. It is also claimed that conditions such as chronic back
pain, headaches, injury-related pain, gastro-intestinal problems and a
whole host of other problems will respond to acupressure treatment.
relieves pain is a moot point. According to Mark Kastner, an
acupuncturist and principal of the Park Boulevard Health Center in
California, acupressure is used to treat a wide variety of pain. In his
book, Alternative Healing, he cites three conjectures. One is that
massage increases blood circulation thus removing toxins such as carbon
dioxide, lactic acid and histamines. At the same time oxygen and
nutrients are brought to the muscle, relieving tension. Another
conjecture is that prolonged pressure on acupressure points stimulates
the pituitary gland and may release endorphins, a natural opiate-like
substance, one function of which is to relieve pain. A third conjecture
is that a cortisol molecule, the body's own natural chemical that
relieves inflammation, is also released during acupressure treatment to
promote healing. Unfortunately, there are no references given to which
one can refer to substantiate these claims.
J. R. Worsely,
founder of the College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, (U .K.) and
the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (U.S.A.) also devotes a chapter
to acupuncture analgesia in his book, Acupuncture: Is it for You?
Again, there are no references to clinical trials or double-blind tests
to support his claims.
is a manual
variant of acupuncture used to treat a wide range of complaints. A
combination of massage and pressure on acupoints using the thumb,
fingers, palm or heel of the hand or even a blunt instrument to relieve
muscular tension. Acupressure also has the advantage of being suitable
for self-treatment, at least for those areas one can reach.
forms of massage
effects relaxation is to be recommended, provided that it is used
primarily for that purpose and not to treat the cause of an illness or
a disease. Many other types of effective massage are available without
the accompanying unnecessary "magic" and at a cheaper price. Although
acupressure practitioners report much success using the technique in
the treatment of headaches, migraine and related disorders brought on
by "stress", these reports are principally confined to popular New Age
"alternative" health publications. They are unreliable, and have no
basis in science.
thing strikes me as
however. In acupuncture, there are some 2000 acupoints, each of which
allegedly correlates via meridians with an organ or other bodily part.
The positions of the acupoints are specified on charts, and fine
stainless steel needles are used to stimulate them. In acupressure, the
pressure exerted by a thumb, or in particular, the heel of a palm,
would cover an area many hundreds, if not thousands of times larger
than a needle point, thus encroaching on other acupoints in close
proximity and unrelated to the problem being treated. On the small area
of the ear alone for example, there are approximately 100 acupoints.
Although this fact alone should negate any claim that acupoints have
anything to do with the treatment, it is further compounded by the fact
that the locations of specific acupoints vary from chart to chart.
H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing,
Australian Skeptics Inc.