Posts Tagged ‘Acupuncture’

Acupressure, Energy Psychology, and Relaxation

In this article, we will discuss acupressure points for relaxation and stress management, and the related set of techniques commonly called ‘Meridian Therapies’ and Energy Psychology techniques.
Use Energy Psychology to Lose Weight M Gach (1990) (see Bibliography) defines acupressure points as “places on the skin that are especially sensitive to bioelectrical impulses in the body and conduct those impulses readily” (p.5). Several thousand years old, Chinese Medicine (sometimes called ‘Oriental Medicine’) conceived of these points as junctures of special pathways (or meridians) that carry the vital life force or qi. When these points are stimulated, either manually (acupressure) or with needles (acupuncture), this assists the body in self-healing.

A report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that, according to their clinical evidence, acupuncture was considered to have potential clinical value for “nausea/vomiting and dental pain, and limited evidence suggested its potential in the treatment of other pain disorders, paralysis and numbness, movement disorders, depression, insomnia, breathlessness, and asthma.” Prec-linical studies have documented acupuncture’s measurable effects, but they “have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system (italics mine) of medicine”.

The NIH proposed that acupuncture produces its effects by the conduction of electromagnetic signals at a greater-than-normal rate, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing bio-chemicals, such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. These particular studies only examined acupuncture, i.e., stimulation of the points with needles, and further studies are planned on acupressure, i.e., stimulation of the points manually.
There are several acupressure points on the body that are useful for calming stress and promoting relaxation, but I will discuss two common ones that can quickly be used, per Gach’s (1990) book, Acupressure’s Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments:
1. The Third Eye acupressure point is located between the eyebrows, “in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead” (p.140). It is best to use the middle finger at the point and hold with gentle pressure for approximately one minute. It is recommended for “spiritual and emotional imbalances, headaches, and eyestrain”, among other things.
2. The Sea of Tranquility acupressure point is located on the center of the breastbone, “three thumbs widths up from the base of the bone” (p. 140). It is recommended to relieve “nervousness, anxiety, frustration, irritability, insomnia, and depression”.
A new set of psychological and peak performance techniques have evolved out of this Eastern theory of health and medicine. Collectively, they are commonly referred to as Energy Psychology techniques and ‘meridian therapies’ since they work with the qi that flows through the body’s meridians.
One type of meridian therapy known as Thought Field Therapy (TFT) was originally formulated by psychologist Roger J. Callahan, Ph.D., and further evolved by others, including Fred Gallo, Ph.D., Gregory Nicosia, Ph.D., George Pratt, Ph.D., and Peter Lambrou, Ph.D.
According to Dr. Callahan, TFT was discovered in 1981, when he had tried everything in his repertoire to help a woman with a lifelong, severe and apparently intractable water phobia.
He decided to try a variation on a holistic, mind-body healing method he had been studying, based on the theory in Oriental Medicine that life energy or qi flows along meridian lines in the body. These meridian points appear to act as a governing force in healing and growth. He discovered that by directly treating the blockage in the energy flow created by a disturbing thought pattern, the disturbance or upset dissipates.
Callahan continued to expand on his discovery and has come up with a number of brief treatments or ‘algorithms’. Algorithms are step-by-step procedures or sequences of body taps on acupressure points geared to particular conditions which clients can perform on themselves. It basically works as follows. The therapist asks a person to think about a troubling situation or event and rate how uncomfortable they feel at the moment on a scale from zero to ten, where ten is the worst you can feel and zero is no trace of the problem. Then the client taps with two fingers on various acupressure points on the body, according to the prescribed recipe pattern (algorithm). The algorithm is based on the particular emotions elicited by the troubling event. After a series of tapping per the algorithm, the treatment is complete. Clients are taught to self-administer the treatment so they may create relief whenever needed.

For a detailed history and literature review of the various types of meridian therapies, see Gallo’s (Energy Psychology (Innovations in Psychology). An excellent self-help reference is Lambrou’s (2000) Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions.

For information on Barbara Cox, author of this article, go here.

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Mini Monks in Nepal

Mini MonksWhen I signed up to work with Mindful Medicine Worldwide I was able to request my location so I chose to work in Chapagaon, a rural location just outside of Kathmandu. The clinic is on the grounds of a Buddhist teaching monastery. A teaching monastery is where boys age 5 to 18 come to live to learn to be Buddhist monks. That’s right, there are lots of mini monks here, running around in burgundy and yellow robes.

One of the perks of being in this clinic is getting to treat the mini monks, whether it be rubbing Neem oil on their heads or dressing their many cuts and scrapes. (What the hell is Neem oil ? Why, it’s a wonderful Ayurvedic antimicrobial, antifungal, skin healing plant oil that has a gnarly funk to it.)

In my head, before I came here, I had thought how peaceful it would be to be next to a Buddhist monastery. I had pictured rolling green hills and monks chanting in unison at dusk. Monks in training are actually quite noisy; they’re learning to play horns, they chant out of tune and tempo. Every morning at 9:30 and evening at 7:30 they come into the clinic using the little English they know, “hellloo, hello, helloo?” I massage the Neem onto their shaved, fungus-infected heads, not bothering to wash my hands in between. A few of them roll back their ears to show crusty spots where I apply a Chinese herbal balm to it. Another shows me the chunk of skin missing on the bottom of his foot and points to the Calendula. Read the rest of this entry »


Teaching Massage in Nepal

Nepal clinic

This is my second blog on being in Nepal as a volunteer for Mindful Medicine. (See my earlier blog for more details on how I ended up in Nepal.)

What I like about Mindful Medicine is that they want their work to be sustainable, to make a lasting difference. Instead of just bringing acupuncturists in for 2 to 4 month periods to treat, they have them teach as well. The Vajra Varahi clinic-paid interpreters have been learning basic acupuncture treatments so that they can help the acupuncturists that come here as well as treat in their absence.

Since I am a body worker and only halfway through my training as an acupuncturist I came to work here in a slightly different capacity. I was able to bring a massage table that was donated from Earthlight to do the work (30 pounds, by the way!). My job here is to teach the staff the basics of massage and anatomy so that they can continue to help the local population. A lot of people here have low-back, neck, and shoulder pain, often accompanied with arthritis. See the picture below (enough said).

Nepal bushels


I’ve started teaching. The students are Satyamohan, Sonya, and Prajwal who are all 25 years old and Ramita who is 33 and the only one with a child. They all have other jobs in the clinic, such as interpreting and reception work. I designed my classes based on my 6 years of experience, what Jessica and Grainne of Mindful Medicine had talked to me about, and what I went over with the clinic director when I got here. The students are picking it up fast and I’m actually envious of the way they get to learn massage, with one-on-one attention and none of the bullshit classes I had to take to satisfy state requirements. I’m working really hard to make sure that they can apply what I am teaching them once I am gone. Read the rest of this entry »


Wind Invasions and Other Funny Business

Wind InvasionEver wonder what in the world us acupuncturists are thinking when we tell you that you have some kind damp heat accumulation in your lower jiao, or that your liver qi is attacking your spleen? Well how about a wind invasion?

I hope to help you understand a bit better where we are coming from by talking today about wind invasions. After all, it is the time of year for them. By wind invasion I am really talking about colds and flus. So how does what we do for a cold differ from what you might otherwise accomplish at the drug store? Simply put, the methods, and herbs prescribed for these illnesses work to both address the symptom as well as fight off the infection. And it does this with specificity in mind as to the particular type of infection. A cold pill only gets you through it.

Now we all know the basic symptoms of a cold or flu, but not every infection will present the same. Take for example what we call a wind heat invasion. This is the type of cold that creates hot-type symptoms such as fever, cough, red/swollen throat, sweats and perhaps a thick green or yellow mucus. This is in sharp contrast to the type of cold that produces chills, headache, stiff neck, and a clear runny nose as seen in a wind cold invasion. Read the rest of this entry »