My husband, who is as traditional as they come regarding doctors and medicine, recently started acupuncture treatments for back pain, and he's having positive results. Acupuncture, as is widely known, has a long history as a (primarily non-western) method for supporting health and wellness. It is commonly available these days and is even occasionally covered by insurance. The major drawback is that, for most of us, it's not something we can do at home. "Stick this needle in my back, would you?" is not a request that lends itself to marital harmony. Luckily, acupuncture has a less-pointy brother that does not result in an ill-advised game of pin the tail on the spouse. Acupressure for the win!
Acupuncture and acupressure are based on the concept that humans have a vital life force (qi) which can become blocked as it flows through meridians in the body. Stimulation of certain acupoints is said to relieve the congested energy and return balance to the body. As with many alternative health practices, medical research hasn't yet proven that it works--or doesn't work, for that matter. So I thought I'd do a little experimenting on myself this week just for fun.
A quick internet search returned many, many online resources, so I kept it simple and started with acupressure for beginners. The technique is easy--just apply deep, firm pressure, either static or with a massaging motion. Finding the right spot is a little trickier, but, again, the internet has lots of pictures and diagrams.
Acupressure is often used to alleviate pain, nausea, headache, and anxiety/depression, but I didn't have those kinds of issues last week. I was, however, awake at two in the morning googling acupressure for insomnia. I learned that I should apply gentle pressure to the "spirit gate" point, located on the palm-side wrist crease below the pinkie finger. All three nights I tried it, I was able to fall asleep after a few minutes with no problem.
My other favorite points are called "wind pool" and are found at the base of the skull, where the neck muscles attach. Stimulating these points is said to alleviate respiratory symptoms, reduce stress, and calm the mind, but it mostly felt really good. I also had positive, if somewhat vague, results with the Tai Chong (Liver 3) point on the top of the foot and the "bubbling spring" point (such great names) on the sole.
I know I've just barely scratched the surface, but I'm intrigued by this introduction to acupressure. Maybe it has actual physical benefits, maybe it's endorphins, or maybe it's a placebo effect. I'm fine with any of those explanations, so I'm keeping this one as a Take It.