Acupressure, as an alternative therapy to allopathy, is second only to yoga in India. Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine that concerns itself with the anatomy and physiology of the human body. The therapy is used the world over and the art of healing has evolved in the Japanese and the Korean schools as well. “Although the basic principles would remain the same (similar to the Chinese form), the practice differs on the choice of points or the effective local distance of influential points, through the path of channel ending and starting points”, claims therapist Dr. Sumati Dol.
It maintains the regular flow of bio–energy (or dequ (pronounced dichi) as the Chinese refer to it) in our body. According to the science, the human body is divided into 14 meridians which are situated in the back and in the front. Each of the meridians, identified as either the Yin (the male) or the Yang (the female), have specific points that link it to different glands and organs. Like the urinary tract, gall bladder, stomach, liver and the kidney, fall under the Yin meridian.
Though the aim of the therapy is to increase our body’s resistance to disease, many aches and pains can also be got rid of with its help. Generally, a patient can undergo a 20 minute therapy at a time, which is repeated for about 10 days at a stretch.
Acupressure is easy to learn and can be used everyday, especially when one suffers from headache or a common cold. The eastern system entails using one’s fingers, the thumb, elbow, palm and blunt metal or wooden instruments for self help. However, to stimulate specific points or medulas, an experienced acupressurist is required, according to Dr. Dol.
There are, also, other everyday acupressure related methods that can not only help one relax but also stimulate one’s blood circulation. At home, standing on a therapeutic “Power mat” (a carpet of non–invasive needles) for about five to 10 minutes could prove very useful. When in the office, the power mat (with a light sheet folded twice to blunt the needles) can be placed under the back. Or, when driving a car, using a seat of blunt wooden balls can prove therapeutic.
Like other alternative systems of medicine, the best effect is seen when it is availed of together with certain other therapies, two pressure points combined with diet therapy or with aromatherapy, for instance. A ‘Moxsa stick’ (herbal concoction in soft cotton padding) is used at the ‘Alarm points’ (the points to which the ailment is linked), as well as at the specific points. “The patient is made to lie, his/her navel is then filled with common salt and covered with a thin, punctured wafer of ginger. The ‘Moxsa stick’ is, then, lit and circled many times, very close to the navel”, reveals Dr. Dol. The soft perfume of herbs provide immediate relief in complaints of gas and diarrhea. This type of aromatherapy is even said to cure jaundice.
Unlike Indian reflexology (where glands and organs are linked to specific points on the palm and the soles of your feet), acupressure provides instant release. Using a needle to remove blood at a point, is another way of removing an energy block on a meridian. Dr. Dol asserts that most Indians prefer acupressure over the invasive needle approach of acupuncture.
Doing It Nature’s Way
Normally, our body gives out water everyday through sweat and urine. In tropical countries this is more. Conditions like lethargy and insomnia and diseases like diarrhea occur because people don’t drink enough water.
“How many of us are really healthy, asks Naturopath Dr. A C Gupta. “The causative factors must be removed and a holistic approach of wellness of both our physical and mental selves need to be adopted”, he states.
Naturopathic massage provides for a choice of oil, underwater (hydrotherapy) or powder. The effects of massage are soothing and tranquilizing. It relaxes the body, the blood circulation becomes better by up to three times which in turn adds luster to the body.
The beneficial effects of lubrication with oil massage and an underwater massage are the same, says Dr. Gupta. As forms of treatment, both can be administered locally i.e. to certain areas only, as well as to the full body.
The massage therapy is very different from the one given in akhadas (wrestling schools in India) or in villages for that matter. The beneficial effects of oil massage are seen if it is performed scientifically by people who are well trained in the various manipulative movements. Oils such as sesame, coconut or mustard are heated before use. Generally, more pressure is applied to a fat person than to a relatively thinner individual. Massage is not administered to women who are over five to six months pregnant or having menstruation and people who suffer from swelling, fever or skin diseases.
“In villages, people wash their face, hands and feet with water. What they use is a kind of hydrotherapy. By washing with water, the villagers stimulate certain reflex areas. These nerve systems have not yet been proved by physiology or neurology, but they exist”, states Dr. Gupta.
Underwater massage has three effects, namely, the reflex action or when the tension is diverted from head to feet; mechanical action or when the heat goes to the skin of the feet, and the local effect, when it strengthens the nervous system.
Hydrotherapy can be given as: hot (above 43°–44°C), neutral (37.4°C) and cold (below 33°–34°C). Prescription for each person is highly individualized.
A hypertensive person is prescribed a cold, spinal bath (reedh snan). Similarly, a thin person is given a neutral spinal bath, while a person with back pain is prescribed a hot spinal bath. The best cure for constipation, diarrhea, loose motions, etc. is kati snan or hip bath.
Similarly, arm bath can cure ulcer, while for colitis, gas, constipation, blood pressure, asthma, headache, arthritis or diabetes, a foot bath is the recommended therapy. Curative element of bhap snan (steam bath) abounds around healthy skin. As the therapy is to be taken on an empty stomach, an enema may be prescribed to the patient.
“Hydrotherapy can also help reduce weight in the case of obese people. But, unless the patient is willing to use diet therapy, the beneficial effects of it will not be realized”, cautioned Dr. Gupta.
In the case of powder massage, the patient’s body is treated with a talcum powder massage (herbal powders are used very rarely) with the help of a gadget. However, most naturopaths generally don’t advise taking it.