Acupressure, an ancient practice with a history spanning 5,000 years, continues to captivate holistic wellness enthusiasts who firmly believe in its efficacy over physical therapy. Within this realm, it is widely recognized that the procedures encompassed by acupressure yield more profound results. Each living being possesses a life force, known as qi or chi (pronounced “chee”), which represents the body’s energy. When this energy flows freely and remains in balance along the meridians, health thrives. Acupoints strategically tap into the body’s major energy pathways.
When the flow of energy is blocked or depleted, illness can manifest. Such disruptions often arise due to stress or injury. Acupressure is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain. These endorphins play a vital role in immune function, pain relief, stress reduction, and even slowing down the aging process.
Lower back pain has long plagued modern society, resulting in not only lost work hours but also a plethora of associated complications and challenges. Recent studies have further substantiated the benefits of acupressure in comparison to physical therapy. While these studies may have overlooked functional status and disability, which are typically considered by most low back pain researchers, the results remain significant and applicable. In February 2006, a randomized controlled trial was conducted at The National Taiwan University in Taipei.
During the trial, 129 patients with chronic low back pain received either acupressure or physical therapy for one month. The primary endpoints focused on self-administered Chinese versions of standard outcome measures for low back pain, such as the Roland and Morris disability questionnaire, at baseline, after treatment, and during the six-month follow-up. The study revealed that after treatment, the mean total Roland and Morris disability questionnaire score in the acupressure group was significantly lower than that in the physical therapy group, irrespective of the absolute score difference or mean change from baseline.
Compared to physical therapy, acupressure exhibited an 89% reduction in significant disability, and this improvement was maintained during the six-month follow-up. However, it is important to acknowledge certain limitations of the study, including the potential psychological impact of therapy, a 15.5% loss of patients during the six-month follow-up, and the effectiveness of any manipulation therapy relying on the therapist’s technique and experience.
The participants in the study ranged from 18 to 81 years of age, with exclusion criteria including pregnancy and contraindications to acupressure. Sixty-four patients were assigned to the acupressure group, and 65 to the physical therapy group. Regardless of whether the results are conclusive or inconclusive, they undeniably shed light on the positive aspects of acupressure and holistic healing.
On a lighter note, acupressure has also emerged as a potential aid for students battling sleepiness. A study involving 39 student volunteers revealed that those who were taught self-administered acupressure on stimulation points located on their legs, feet, hands, and heads were less likely to feel drowsy during class. The acupressure technique involved gentle tapping of fingers or using thumbs and forefingers to lightly massage the stimulation points. However, further research is warranted to explore the impact of acupressure on human alertness.
Considering these remarkable findings, self-administered acupressure may also be worth considering as an alternative for children with ADHD, potentially providing an alternative to Ritalin.