Experts believe that ailments can be cured naturally when approached through acupressure - a system of integrated, holistic medicine.
According to acupressure therapists, the body has 14 imaginary energy centres, also called "meridians." Each is linked to a particular organ in the body. Energy flows continuously along these meridians, but if there is a blockage in any of these points, it results in sickness.
When you approach an acupressure therapist with your complaint, s/he will assess the problem and locate the blockage. S/he will then focus on releasing the congested energy centres by applying the pressure of touch, thus creating a harmonised flow of energy "guaranteed" to restore your health.
This therapy is based on the underlying principle that our bodies, a jangled mass of criss-crossing nerves and veins, much like circuits on any electric board, are highly interconnected. And, the right amount of pressure applied in a particular part will reveal its effect in another.
Both acupuncture and acupressure are interrelated disciplines that have their roots in ancient Chinese medicine. There are many legends that attempt to explain its origins. One such legend has it that, nearly 3,000 years ago, Chinese warriors stumbled upon the therapy, quite by accident, as they lay wounded on the battlefield, pierced by arrows. When they recovered, most of the soldiers claimed that they experienced relief for the first time from chronic illness.
Acupuncture involves the use of sterilised needles. The piercing is done along the meridians, based on the principles of Eastern philosophy that the body is a huge river flowing and full of energy, or chi [prana, in Sanskrit]. If chi is disturbed, at any point, there would be blockage. This would eventually result in illness. Piercing the body along areas in which the blockage has occurred is said to release the "jam," resulting in the free flow of life's energy once again.
Acupressure, it is believed, was initially developed by Buddhists in China, who were also renowned spiritualists. They deeply believed and propounded the theories of non-invasive alternative healing.
In the early 1990s, at the height of the AIDS scare, people began to have a collective aversion to needles. Therapists re-discovered a gentler alternative - acupressure - which involved only the application of measured touch. It was found to be just as effective in promoting healing with no side-effects.
Dr V Sarvotham, a senior therapist in Bangalore, practices acupressure-healing techniques he has honed over a lifetime. His sons, Dr Vijay and Dr Vinay Sarvotham, follow the tradition, having obtained their Bachelor's of Acupressure from Singapore. For over three decades, the father-sons' trio have specialised in treating spine-related disorders like spondylitis [lumbar and cervical], slipped disc, prolapsed disc, herniated disc, aches and pains, headaches, migraines, and sciatica, without the use of drugs.
Dr Ved Prakash Banga, MBBS, is a New Delhi-based acupuncture practitioner. He has explored the integration of this system of alternative healing with modern medicine. He specialises in eye care through acupuncture, especially in eye ailments that do not often respond to modern medicine. This includes blindness caused by diseases of the retina, macula and optic nerve, progressive myopia in children, and severe dryness and redness of the eyes. He says, "Today, integrating holistic therapies with modern medicine has taken healing to a new level."
Principles of healing
Both acupuncture and acupressure work on the same principles.
Modern medicine strictly views the body in parts and not as an integrated whole. That's why each part of the body is treated through specific drugs, separately. For instance, if you have stomachache or headache, and you approach your doctor, you are in all probability given a medicine that targets only those particular organs of your body that are in distress. However, alternative medicinal systems such as acupressure and acupuncture, have long maintained that the human body cannot be targeted in bits and pieces and that an ailment that affects one part of the anatomy can, indeed, have its source elsewhere. Attacking the problem at its root can bring about healing that is lasting. Acupressure is ideal form of therapy, since it does so in a very gentle manner.
Dr H Bhojraj, a scientist-healer in Bangalore, treats illnesses that do not respond to allopathic treatment, such as spondylitis, migraine, hyper-acidity and even menstrual trouble. "The body is an interconnected system of energy channels [meridians] and balancing the energy in one's organs can promote lasting healing," says Bhojraj. "By learning how to stimulate your own pressure points, you can also relieve niggling illnesses, without the need for antibiotics and other drugs."
Combining with other therapies
Acupressure treatment in India is usually combined with ayurveda, Reiki and other known modes of alternative healing, including homoeopathy. Instead of pressure, in some cases, colours, magnets, and also wheat seeds are used in the meridians to remove the blockage of energy flow. "Performing yoga and pranayama can also help you become more conducive to acupressure therapy. A brisk walk too will facilitate deep breathing, since it calms the mind, and releases the pranic energy associated with healing," says Bhojraj. "At times like this, acupressure becomes more effective as the energy flows through our bodies more harmoniously."
Acupressure in pregnancy
Therapists agree that acupressure is a blessing in disguise for pregnant women. Says Vijay: "It is estimated that 80 per cent of all pregnant women suffer from aches and pains, or old physiological disorders that manifest before and after pregnancy." He notes: "Acupressure has given good results in relieving 'pregnancy stress,' thus making the trimesters less discomforting. This also results in easy labour, with no side-effects. Most gynaecologists and obstetricians around the world today strongly recommend acupressure as one of the safest forms of therapy."
According to information released by the WHO, "It [acupressure] regulates intestinal function and enhances immune response without causing an imbalance in the intestinal flora [gut] as do antibiotics."
Says Bhojraj: "Not many people realise that ailments can be cured through a simple system of touch - by applying and releasing pressure on specific meridian spots of the body that are known to be linked with the activity of various organs. We encourage our patients to heal themselves and we teach them how to keep illness at bay with this natural therapy based on scientific principles."
But, how much pressure should one apply to bring about the desired effects? And, more importantly, how much is too much? Therapists assert that this is highly subjective. According to Vijay, "Pressure applied involves a personalised approach. This depends on [the therapist's] experience. One theory says, 'Feel and deliver the pressure,' correlating to the client's response. So, the best judge of the correct pressure would be the patients themselves. This, in effect, promotes self-healing."
Things You Should Know
- While acupuncture and acupressure are often described as self-healing therapies, a deeper understanding of the vast subject is required before you attempt to heal yourself, or others
- Do not use acupressure to replace standard emergency procedures or licenced medical treatment. Acupressure should be used as a complementary therapy. Check with a specialist before opting for treatment
- According the WHO restrictions, don't perform acupressure/acupuncture just before or within 20 minutes after heavy exercise, a large meal, or bathing
- Select your therapist carefully. While most therapists are medical doctors; many may have only trained or specialised in the therapy without a medical background. It would be best to approach a therapist who has a solid medical background and uses the modality as a complementary therapy. Always inquire into the credentials/clinical experience of the therapist before proceeding with treatment.
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