Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), an ancient health and wellness system, is at least 23 centuries old and renowned as one of the world’s most practised holistic healthcare approaches.
It comprises a broad range of healing practices, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, cupping/scraping, massage, dietary therapy, etc.
The role of acupressure, the ancient Chinese healing method, has been pre-eminent in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years and is still being used today. Acupressure is closely associated with acupuncture, but the practitioner uses their palms, elbows or feet, or special devices to stimulate acupoints instead of using needles.
In short, acupressure is acupuncture without needles. This ancient Chinese wellness treatment has been used for centuries to treat a myriad of ailments related to the nervous system, the digestive system, the urogenital system, muscles, bones, and skins.
In this article, we will explore acupressure, how it works, whether acupressure is beneficial for weight loss, and different acupressure points.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is an age-old healing practice in traditional Chinese medicine, which involves applying manual pressure, typically using the fingertips to specific target points on the body.
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, invisible energy pathways called meridians allow for the flow of life energy, known as qi or chi, to circulate through the human body.
It is thought to have twelve significant meridians in our body, which are also known as the principal meridians that help coordinate the work of the organs.
In addition to these 12 main meridians, the meridian system consists of other eight extraordinary meridians. The acupressure points lie along those meridians. Conversely put, meridians are considered as the strings connecting acupressure points in the body.
The acupressure treatment is based on the concept that qi flows through meridians. This alternative medicine aims to encourage the movement of qi through the meridians inside our bodies.
How Does Acupressure Work?
As we discussed above, according to traditional Chinese medical theory, our body consists of several pressure points that run along 12 principal meridians and eight miracle meridians.
Moreover, the 12 main meridians are believed to be connected to specific organs or a network of organs, establishing a communication system throughout your body.
In line with traditional Chinese medicine, the blockage of the flow of qi through the meridians or imbalance of the natural opposing forces yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy) can cause and propagate illness and pain.
Acupressure is thought to help restore balance and regulate opposing forces of yin and yang by stimulating the pressure points to release qi.
Usually, acupressure practitioners stimulate the acupoints by applying sustained deep pressure using hands, fingers, or thumbs.
However, sometimes, other methods like stretching or acupressure massage also involve in this alternative medicine technique. A trained practitioner/acupressurist often administers acupressure, with the person receiving the acupressure sitting or lying down in a comfortable position on a massage table.
There’s no consensus on how acupressure works on our body, as scientific studies have refuted the existence of meridians and pressure points. Moreover, the research into the health benefits of acupressure is in its early stages.
What Are The Different Points of Acupressure?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are literally hundreds of acupressure points on the body. Keep on reading to find out some of the acupoints and their benefits.
Stomach 36 (ST36): Zu San Li
Located along the stomach meridian, ST36 is one of the most important acupoints thought to influence general wellness and longevity. This pressure point is located on the lateral side of the leg below the knee.
Massaging this point may help treat gastrointestinal discomfort, immune deficiency, fatigue, knee pain and depression, and various other illnesses.
In addition, TCM practitioners believe that stimulating this acupressure point could help you lose weight by improving digestion.
Spleen 6 (SP6): San Yin Jiao
San Yin Jiao is a junction point of the spleen, kidney, and liver meridians, located on the inner side of the leg above the ankle. This point is believed to influence the organs of the lower abdomen and the parasympathetic nervous system. Several studies have shown that stimulating this point has effectively alleviated irregular menstruation, digestion, and immune disorders.
Stomach 25 (ST25): Tian Shu
The ST25 pressure point can be found on the stomach meridian. This point is thought to influence abdominal function and help with gastrointestinal issues such as borborygmus, constipation, distension, diarrhoea, and dysentery.
It is located at the midpoint between the outer border of the abdominal muscle and the umbilicus line. Moreover, this acupressure point is said to help with weight loss by regulating the intestines.
Gallbladder 20 (GB20): Feng Chi
According to traditional Chinese medicine, GB20 is recommended for tension headaches, migraine, neck pain-stiffness, blurred vision or fatigue, low energy, and shoulder tension. It is located behind the mastoid bone between the trapezius and the upper portion of the sternocleidomastoid muscle at the lower occipital border.
Gallbladder 21 (GB21): Jian Jing
GB21 is located in the midpoint of an imaginary line, connecting the prominent vertebra and the highest point of the shoulder. TCM practitioners claim that applying gentle pressure to this spot may help in relieving stress, neck pain, shoulder tension, and other upper limb disorders.
Gallbladder 2 (GB2): Ting Hui
Ting Hui, the acupoint of the gall bladder meridian, is a point around the ear located anterior to the intertragic notch, at the posterior border of the condylar process of the mandible. Applying pressure to this point is said to help with reducing the effects of tinnitus, wry mouth, and toothache.
Large Intestine 4 (LI4): He Gu
Located in the yang ming large intestine meridian of hand, LI4 is a pressure point that is said to help to relieve facial pain, headaches, stress, toothaches, and neck pain.
Furthermore, this acupressure point on hand is believed to be beneficial for weight loss by stimulating intestinal function.
However, avoid this point during pregnancy as it can induce labour pain. This acupressure point, also known as the Union Valley point, is located on the backside of the hand between the thumb and the index finger.
Liver 3 (LV3): Tai Chong
LV3 is located on the top of the foot, between the big toe and the second toe. Stimulating this point is said to aid in alleviating stress, anxiety, hypertension, dysmenorrhea, lower back pain, limb pain, and insomnia.
Pericardium 6 (P6): Nei Guan
Located along the pericardium meridian, Nei Guan is believed to have an influence on the chest and digestion. This point located on the inner side of your wrist can help relieve nausea, anxiety, median nerve compression, indigestion, motion sickness and headaches.
Triple Energizer 3 (TE3): Zhong Zhu
Zhong Zhu is located in the groove formed by the tendons of the ring finger and little finger behind the knuckles. Applying pressure on this acupoint is said to help in relieving upper back pain, temporal headaches, neck stiffness, and shoulder pain.
Small Intestine 19 (SI19): Ting Gong
Ting Gong can be found on the small intestine meridian. Stimulating this pressure point is thought to help in alleviating all kinds of ear disorders, including tinnitus, vertigo, nausea, and vomiting.
This acupoint is located on the face region, in the depression between the middle of the tragus and the condylar process of the mandible when the mouth is open.
Governor Vessel 26 (GV26): Shui Gou
Shui Gou, also known as DU26 or Ren Zhong, is traditionally used in Chinese medicine as a first-aid revival point, located along the governing vessel (GV)/DU meridian. This pressure point is said to help relieve neurological conditions and acute low back strain.
GV26 is located at the junction of the upper and middle third of the philtrum; this acupressure point is thought to have an influence on weight, especially obesity.
Large Intestine 11 (LI11): Qu Chi
The LI11 pressure point can be found on the large intestine meridian. This pressure point may help alleviate febrile diseases, clears heat, resolves dampness, relieves itching, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain and vomiting.
It is located at the crease of the elbow. Find this point by flexing the elbow and press on the outside of the elbow crease with the thumb.
Conception Vessel 12 (CV12): Zhong Wan
Located along the conception vessel meridian, CV12 is also known as the stomach control point. It is thought that this pressure point helps in digestion by influencing the organs in the upper abdomen. This acupoint is located on the abdominal wall associated with the pancreas.
Spleen 10 (SP10): Xuehai
SP10 found on the spleen meridian is thought to influence blood sugar levels, especially in diabetes patients. This acupoint is located above the superior border of the patella, roughly two inches away from the body’s centre at the bottom part of the thigh muscle.
Does Acupressure Help You Lose Weight?
Even though there is no reliable evidence for the effectiveness of acupressure, it is thought to be beneficial in decreasing stress, promoting digestion, and enhancing metabolism. Each of these factors plays roles in maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight.
In addition, metabolism is linked to weight management. Several common lifestyle mistakes may slow down your metabolism, which can lead to weight gain over time. Conversely, a person with a high metabolic rate can burn more calories and quickly lose weight and keep it off.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure is believed to be stimulating the qi flow through the meridians to improve metabolism and thereby aid in weight loss.
Weight gain, according to TCM practitioners, is caused by an energy imbalance within the body. Since acupressure is thought to help restore this balance, it is believed that it can help decrease overall weight in people who are overweight or obese.
In addition, some acupoints are even thought to have an impact on appetite and blood sugar levels, making acupressure a potential supplementation to the conventional diet and exercise plan.
Although scientific research supporting the effectiveness of acupressure for weight loss is limited, some studies have observed that there may be some truth to the weight-loss claims.
For example, a 2019 study of overweight and obese adults undergoing auricular acupressure, a type of acupressure that stimulates specific points on the outer ear or auricle, found that it was effective for weight reduction. The findings of this systematic review revealed that auricular acupressure helped reduce both overall body mass index (BMI) and body weight (BW) in research participants.
These outcomes remained unchanging whether the acupressure was administered alone or with diet and exercise. Researchers also discovered that a more extended acupressure treatment period was associated with a greater effect on decreasing BW and BMI.
Several pressure points, such as ST36, SP6, CV12, GV26, SP10, etc., are believed to influence metabolism, digestion, and other factors associated with weight loss. Moreover, the fat-burning point, located 1.5 inches below the navel, is an acupressure point that is thought to influence losing belly fat by promoting blood circulation.
However, more research is needed on the use of acupressure as an efficient therapeutic option for weight loss or obesity control. Remember, a healthy diet, exercise, and quality sleep are the prerequisites for the success of your weight loss journey.
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, which applies the same principles as acupuncture. There are claims that acupressure is effective for alleviating many ailments and promote relaxation and wellness as well.
In addition, some acupressure points are also thought to help with weight loss. Even though there is little research to prove these advantages, a few studies are showing promising outcomes.
In general, acupressure is safe to incorporate into your lifestyle. Although research on acupressure for weight loss is sparse, the current studies propose that acupressure may be an efficacious intervention for weight loss.
Acupoints may be beneficial for your weight loss, but if you don’t eat right, living a sedentary lifestyle or getting poor-quality sleep will hamper all your efforts at weight loss and lead to weight gain. So do practice mindful eating, stay physically active and get proper rest to reach your healthy weight goal.
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