Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupressure is one of several techniques used in traditional Chinese medicine. Developed over 4000 years, a Chinese medicine practitioner will treat the symptom as only one factor in the individual’s entire physiological and psychological profile, which must be studied to find ‘the pattern of disharmony’.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, illness results from an imbalance in the flow of Chi (‘life energy’) through the body. The original meaning of Chi (pronounced ‘chee’ and sometimes spelt ‘Qi’) was simply air, breath or energy, but it eventually came to mean the vital nourishing and protective energy that sustains everything in the world. We receive Chi at conception from our parents, and after birth continue to derive it from food and air.
Chi is animated by a constant movement of energy between yin and yang, two opposing but complimentary forces. When one predominates, the flow of energy is disturbed and disease and emotional instability can result.
Chi circulates through the body along a network of invisible channels beneath the skin called meridians. There are 12 basic meridians, paired on the right and left sides of the body and named after the internal organs to which they are attached, such as the lungs, large bowel and (in the case of P6) the pericardium.
Dotted along the meridians are 2000 or so known acupoints, where Chi is said to be concentrated and at which it enters and leaves the body. Stimulation of these points – whether by needles, heat, mild electrical currents or pressure – is said to free the flow of Chi, releasing blockages and restoring depletions, thus returning the body to harmony.
How the Chinese use Acupressure
Tuina, as acupressure is known in China, is the technique of applying pressure with the hands to the acupoints and meridians. Some points are known to be particularly powerful and the Chinese will press or scrape them with a fingernail or the edge of a spoon as a self-help measure.
Pericardium 6 (P6) is one of these. P6’s functions include the movement of energy in the chest, harmonisation of the digestion and stomach, the regulation of blood flow and calming of the mind.
The Chinese use it to treat chest pain, irregular and painful periods, pre-menstrual depression, insomnia and because of its influence on the stomach – to relieve nausea and vomiting, acid regurgitation, hiccupping and belching.