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Best Of Acupressure News and Reviews

February 21, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Prospective consumers tend to categorize alternative and complementary therapies on a subconscious level. The fact of the matter is that some holistic techniques seem more reasonable than others. This is often a consequence of the culture and medical care to which we’ve been exposed throughout our lives. Human nature generally dictates that we gravitate to that which is familiar. With that in mind, allow me to suggest that esoteric healing techniques afford something rather profound to us all: an opportunity to expand our horizons and experience the world in a broader context.

Acupressure is an ancient healing modality that employs the application of finger or palm pressure to specific acupoints on the body. The acupoints in question correlate to various organs and systems that may be dysfunctional. For over 4,000 years, healers have employed this practice in the management of both mental and physical maladies including asthma, drug addiction, labor pain and even weight loss.

The past several months have provided a treasure trove of evidence supporting the modern use of acupressure.

Acupressure for Dysmenorrhoea – The February 2010 edition of the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine reviewed the current state of research regarding acupressure in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps and pain). The Korean scientists conducting the analysis identified 4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving a total of 458 participants. Two of the studies “reported significant improvements in the severity of pain for acupressure compared with sham acupressure on non-acupoints”. The remaining trials documented positive changes in anxiety and reductions in the use of pain medication in those receiving acupressure treatment. One of the studies specifically looked for evidence of adverse reactions and did not find any. Overall, the authors commented that, “The available data from RCTs suggest that acupressure alleviates menstrual pain”. However they cautiously added that, “These results were limited by the small number of trials. Well-designed RCTs with rigorous methods of randomization and adequately concealed allocation are needed”. (1)

Acupressure for Post-Stroke Care – An experiment recently conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder examined the relative merits of applying acupressure in a group of stroke patients. Previous inquiries postulate that acupressure may “positively affect heart rate and blood pressure”. A specific form of acupressure known as Jin Shin was used in the 16 stroke survivors who participated in the trial. Over the course of 8 weeks, the study volunteers received Jin Shin acupressure or placebo acupressure. The treatment period was followed by a washout phase, after which the groups underwent the opposite treatment as part of a crossover study design. A consistent benefit in relation to heart rate was found during the Jin Shin intervention. The conclusion of the trial states that, “Active acupressure reduced heart rate significantly more than did placebo acupressure during treatments. Although no treatment effect on blood pressure was found, this could be due to 67% of participants taking antihypertensive medications during the study”. (2)

Acupressure for Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea – One of the biggest hurdles in the administration of chemotherapy is the tolerability factor. A trial appearing in the February 2010 issue of the European Journal of Oncology Nursing suggests that acupressure may be a valuable tool for patients undergoing conventional cancer treatment. A wristband (Sea-Band) that stimulates the P6 or Neiguan acupoint was applied to 34 women with gynecologic cancer. Pre and post-tests indicate that the patients wearing the acupressure wristband demonstrated a decline in nausea severity and a reduction in retching and vomiting episodes. The researchers also noted a decline in the dependence of antiemetic medication use to help manage symptoms. (3)

Acupressure for Insomnia – A different acupoint was the focus of a Taiwanese study recently published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies. The Shenmen point (also known as HT7) has been traditionally associated with sleep quality. In order to scientifically test this historical claim, researchers from Taipei Medical University enlisted 50 men and women with insomnia to participate in a randomized controlled trial. Half of the study volunteers were provided with “standard acupressure on the HT7 points of both wrists”. The remainder or the control group “received only light touch” at the same wrist acupoint. The duration of the study was 5 weeks and the researchers utilized the Athens Insomnia Scale-Taiwan form (AIS-T) and patient questionnaires as a means of quantifying pre and post trial sleep quality. Not only did the acupressure improve insomnia symptoms during the treatment period, but the benefits extended for an additional 2 months after the completion of the study. (4)

Acupressure for Chronic Headache Pain – Chronic headaches are sometimes treated with muscle relaxant medications. Researchers from the Department of Rehabilitation at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan recently conducted a head-to-head comparison of these medications versus acupressure in 28 patients diagnosed with chronic headache. Baseline measures of “self-appraised pain scores” and headache related quality of life were documented at the beginning of the study, after one month of treatment and at a 6 month follow-up examination. Pain ratings, based on a “visual analog scale” were significantly lower in the acupressure group – 32.9 vs 55.7 in the medicated test subjects. These benefits were present at the 6 month follow-up as well. The authors of the study summarized their findings as such: “Our study suggests that 1 month of acupressure treatment is more effective in reducing chronic headache than 1 month of muscle relaxant treatment, and that the effect remains 6 months after treatment”. (5)

Acupressure vs. Medication in the Management of Nausea
Vomiting Episodes
P value
None 6 (11.5%) 32 (60.4%) 41 (8.45%) 0.001
1-2 37 (71.2%) 21 (39.6%) 10 (19.6%)
3-5 9 (17.3%) 0 0
Values are number of patients and percentage of total for that treatment group.
Source: Ann Saudi Med 2008;28:287-91 (link)

There are two divergent theories about how acupressure works. The traditional Asian philosophy suggests that illness and pain are often the result of a system that is out of balance. The blockage of energy flow at one or more meaningful spots in the body (known as meridians) is thought to cause this imbalance. Applying pressure to the blocked acupoints or medians allows for “life energy” to flow more freely. A visual example is a traffic jam. Acupressure alleviates the congestion in a vulnerable location in the body and allows for energy/traffic to flow better in every direction.

The western interpretation of acupuncture is based squarely on established chemical and physiological reactions that occur within the body. According to modern science, acupressure likely exerts its positive effects by improving circulation, reducing muscle pain and tension and stimulating the release of endorphins (“feel good” hormones). The very act of increasing blood flow to an sensitive location can stimulate healing by increasing access to nutrients and oxygen in the damaged tissue. In addition, inflammatory substances and injury related toxins can be shuttled out of the area more efficiently in the presence of optimal circulation. (6)

If you’re still not entirely comfortable with the idea of acupressure, consider this: Shiatsu massage is a Japanese form of acupressure. Many non-holistic types have enjoyed some form of Shiatsu at one point or another. The benefits of such a treatment are obvious to anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of trying it. But what’s not so apparent are the underpinnings of this rejuvenating massage technique. Shiatsu practitioners purposefully stimulate acupoints throughout the session. The principal intent is to clear blockages in energy flow that may contribute to poor systemic health and trapped tension in the musculoskeletal system. The end result is that you generally feel incredible afterward. Part of the reason for this sensation is likely thanks to acupressure.

Update: February 2011 – Acupressure continues to provide glimpses of promise in the scientific literature. But, like most other healing modalities, it doesn’t work for everybody and under all conditions. Here’s a review of several current studies that bear this out: 1) A new trial conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine reports that the application of magnetic acupressure at the LI4 acupoint appears to safely reduce severe pain in cancer patients undergoing bone marrow aspiration and biopsies. 2) PressureRight, a popular acupressure wristband, failed to outperform a placebo/sham acupressure wristband in a group of 340 women during labour and delivery. 3) A combination of acupuncture and acupressure wristbands decreased instances of post-operative retching and vomiting in 154 children undergoing adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy. 4) Acupressure on the SP6 meridian provided immediate and delayed (3 hours after treatment) symptom relief in young women with primary dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. 5) Massaging and tapping acupoints associated with the eye, kidney and liver twice-daily for 4 weeks effectively reduced intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma. A significant improvement in visual acuity was also noted. None of these studies points to acupressure as a panacea or a therapy that’s well suited as a primary care agent. However, it does seem to be a worthy candidate in instances where adjunct therapies could be applied. (7,8,9,10,11)

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Women's Health

9 Comments & Updates to “Best Of Acupressure News and Reviews”

  1. O de Roos Says:

    Does anyone knows where I can order the acupressurebands?
    I am searching for a patient with outrageous gagging.

    Thank you so much! O de Roos, the netherlands

  2. JP Says:

    Good day, O de Roos.

    One of the more popular acupressure bands (http://www.sea-band.com/faqs) is available by contacting:

    Kuypers & Co. b.v.

    De Nieuwe Vaart 36
    1401 GR Bussum

    Tel: +31 35 695 70 80
    Email: info@kuypers-co.nl

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:


    BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015, 15:93

    Comparison of the efficacy of aroma-acupressure and aromatherapy for the treatment of dementia-associated agitation

    Background: One of the most common symptoms observed in patients with dementia is agitation, and several non-pharmacological treatments have been used to control this symptom. However, because of limitations in research design, the benefit of non-pharmacological treatments has only been demonstrated in certain cases. The purpose of this study was to compare aroma-acupressure and aromatherapy with respect to their effects on agitation in patients with dementia.

    Methods: In this experimental study, the participants were randomly assigned to three groups: 56 patients were included in the aroma-acupressure group, 73 patients in the aromatherapy group, and 57 patients in the control group who received daily routine as usual without intervention. The Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) scale and the heart rate variability (HRV) index were used to assess differences in agitation. The CMAI was used in the pre-test, post-test and post-three-week test, and the HRV was used in the pre-test, the post-test and the post-three-week test as well as every week during the four-week interventions.

    Results: The CMAI scores were significantly lower in the aroma-acupressure and aromatherapy groups compared with the control group in the post-test and post-three-week assessments. Sympathetic nervous activity was significantly lower in the fourth week in the aroma-acupressure group and in the second week in the aromatherapy group, whereas parasympathetic nervous activity increased from the second week to the fourth week in the aroma-acupressure group and in the fourth week in the aromatherapy group.

    Conclusions: Aroma-acupressure had a greater effect than aromatherapy on agitation in patients with dementia. However, agitation was improved in both of the groups, which allowed the patients with dementia to become more relaxed. Future studies should continue to assess the benefits of aroma-acupressure and aromatherapy for the treatment of agitation in dementia patients.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 02/23/16:


    J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2016 Feb;9(1):11-5.

    Acupressure on Self-Reported Sleep Quality During Pregnancy.

    The aim of this study was to investigate the short-term effect of acupression at the H7 point on sleep quality during pregnancy. After oral consent had been obtained, the midwife invited the women claiming to have poor sleep quality and anxiety symptoms to complete the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-1. Then, the same midwife, previously trained by an expert acupuncturist (I.N.), advised the women to put on the wrist overnight compression H7 Insomnia Control half an hour before going to bed and to take it off upon awakening, for 10 consecutive days and thereafter every odd day (active group). Women refusing to wear the device for low compliance toward acupression were considered as the control group. After 2 weeks, a second questionnaire evaluation was completed. In the active, but not in the control, group, a significant improvement of sleep quality was observed after H7 device application. The study suggests that H7 acupression applied for 2 weeks improves sleep quality in pregnant women. This preliminary result should serve to stimulate further studies on the long-term effects of acupression.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 06/27/16:


    Res Nurs Health. 2016 Jun 21.

    The Effects of Acupressure Training on Sleep Quality and Cognitive Function of Older Adults: A 1-Year Randomized Controlled Trial.

    We explored the effects of acupressure training on older adults’ sleep quality and cognitive function. Ninety older adults with impaired sleep quality were selected from screened volunteers and randomly divided into equal control and experimental groups; 82 completed the 1-year follow-up. Participants in the control group were given instructions on sleep health, while those in the experimental group received sleep health instructions plus individual and small group acupressure training sessions and support to practice the intervention on their own each day. All participants were assessed by trained assistants blind to study group allocation using Chinese versions of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, the Mini-Mental State Examination, and four subscales from the revised Chinese version of the Wechsler Memory Scale, at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months. Repeated measures analysis of variance showed that acupressure training improved older adults’ sleep quality and cognitive function, but the mediating effect of sleep on the relationship between acupressure training and cognitive function was not supported. Given the ease, simplicity, and safety of acupressure training observed with community-dwelling older adults in China, attempts should be made to replicate these preliminary positive findings with larger samples.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 12/12/16:


    West J Nurs Res. 2016 Nov 30.

    Effects of Auricular Acupressure on Constipation in Patients With Breast Cancer Receiving Chemotherapy: A Randomized Control Trial.

    The purpose was to examine the effects of auricular acupressure to relieve constipation in patients with breast cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy. Participants were 52 patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy at E University Hospital, Seoul, Korea, randomized into two groups of equal size. For the experimental group, auricular acupressure was applied to seven auricular acupoints for 6 weeks using vaccaria seeds, whereas the control group received the usual care. Constipation-assessment scores of the experimental group were significantly lower compared with the control group (p < .001). Stool-form scores of the experimental group were significantly higher compared with the control group (p = .003). Patient Assessment of Constipation-Quality of Life scores of the experimental group were significantly lower compared with the control group (p < .001). Auricular acupressure was effective at relieving constipation in patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy. Auricular acupressure was also a safe and acceptable nursing intervention. Be well! JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 04/16/17:


    Holist Nurs Pract. 2017 May/Jun;31(3):167-176.

    The Effect of Acupressure Applied to Point LI4 on Perceived Labor Pains.

    Controlling labor pain is one of the basic goals for caregivers during the birthing process. There are many pharmacological and nonpharmacological methods that are used for controlling pain and helping the mother to cope with pain and have a favorable labor. The study was planned as a randomized, controlled experimental study to detect the effect of acupressure applied to Point LI4 on perceived labor pains. The study sample comprised 88 pregnant women (44 acupressure group, 44 control group), who complied with the study guidelines, agreed with the conditions of the study, and signed the informed consent. Acupressure was applied to the study group when cervical dilatation reached 4 to 5 cm and again when cervical dilation was 7 to 8 cm. Acupressure was applied to Point LI4 on both the hands at the same time from the beginning to the end of the contraction (16 times). Evaluation with the visual analog scale was made 6 times: when the pregnant woman was first admitted to the hospital, before and after acupressure, and within 2 hours after delivery. The control group received routine care. There were statistically significant differences between the groups in subjective labor pain scores (P < .0001). There was a significant difference between the groups in terms of total duration of labor. As shown from our study, applying acupressure to Point LI4 was found to be effective in decreasing the perception of labor pains and shortening the labor (P < .05). Mothers were pleased with this treatment, but they found it insufficient to control their pain.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 10/17/17:


    Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2017 Sep-Oct;22(5):339-342.

    The Effects of Acupressure on Pain Severity in Female Nurses with Chronic Low Back Pain.

    BACKGROUND: Low back pain causes physical and psychological impacts among nurses. This study aimed to investigate the effects of acupressure on the severity of pain in chronic low back pain in female nurses.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study is a single-blinded randomized clinical trial conducted among 50 nurses suffering from chronic low back pain. After simple sampling, participants were randomly assigned into acupressure and sham groups using lottery method (25 patients in each group). In the experimental group, the intervention was performed by the researcher three times a week throughout a 3-week period. The sham group received placebo interventions. Data was collected through VAS questionnaire before, immediately after, 2 weeks, and 4 weeks after performing intervention. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS version 18 using descriptive and inferential statistical methods.

    RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the mean pain severity scores in the pre-interventions phase between the groups (P = 0.63), however, a significant difference was observed Immediately, 2 weeks, and 4 weeks after performing intervention. Further, the mean pain severity scores in intervention group significantly decreased compared to the sham group (P = 0.000).

    CONCLUSIONS: Acupressure on specific points was proved to reduce pain. Thus, acupressure can be used as nonmedicament, inexpensive, and without side effects treatment in reducing pain.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 06/09/18:


    Pediatr Dent. 2018 May 15;40(3):177-183.

    Effectiveness of Acupressure on Dental Anxiety in Children.

    PURPOSE: Acupressure is a non-invasive variant of acupuncture and is known to reduce general anxiety. The purpose of this study was to test acupressure’s effect on children’s dental anxiety.

    METHODS: Eight- to 12-year-old children undergoing scaling and/or restorative procedures were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: acupressure (Group 1); sham (Group 2); or control (Group 3). Anxiety was recorded for all the children using the Modified Child Dental Anxiety scale (MCDAS). Acupressure beads with a piece of adhesive strip were employed over the selected acupoints for groups one and two. Anxiety was further recorded for all the children prior to and after completion of the treatment using MCDAS. The Frankl scale was used as the objective measure to assess the behavior of all the children. A physiologic parameter (pulse rate) was also recorded. The scores obtained from all the three groups were tabulated, compared, and analyzed statistically.

    RESULTS: A significant difference was found in MCDAS, pulse rate, and the Frankl behavior ratings among the three groups of children, with acupressure group displaying a lower level of anxiety.

    CONCLUSION: Acupressure can be a viable alternative to reduce dental anxiety in children undergoing scaling and restorative procedures.

    Be well!


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