Chapter 2- History Of Acupressure

Acupressure is the most ancient and simplest of the various oriental therapies such as acupressure, acupuncture, shiatsu, zone therapy and reflexology which are prevalent today. Each of these therapies strives to produce healing effects on the internal organs of the body through well-defined points on the body-surface. Acupressure is a unique science.

It is believed that eastern therapists evolved this science several centuries ago with a view to maintaining health and curing common ailments. According to one opinion,acupressure and acupuncture originated in India. They later spread to central Asia, Egypt, China and other countries. It is believed that this therapy was taken from our country to other countries by Buddhist monks.

The Chinese consider acupressure as their own science and believe it to be more than 5000 years old. There are references of acupressure and acupuncture in the ancient Chinese books. The Chinese, irrespective of the place of origin of this therapy, must be credited with making acupressure respected and popular in modern times. When there is pain in any part of the body, we generally try to get relief by rubbing or pressing that part. If we take this natural reflex into consideration, we should not be surprised at the evolution of acupressure. Centuries ago the people noticed that pain could be relieved when they pressed pointed stones on some specific parts of the body. During a battle, soldiers sometimes experienced that when they were wounded by arrows, they recovered from a long-suffered illness. This led those people, having the power of minute observation, to think that certain points on the skin must have connections with the internal .organs of the body. The systematic study that followed helped, to discover new acupressure points. There is the description of about 1000 acupressure points on the body in the various Chinese and Japanese charts. 669 points are listed in Dr. Chu Lien’s ‘Hsin Chen Chiu Hsueth’ (Modern Acupuncture), a standard textbook on acupuncture used in present day China. However out of these points 90 to 100 points are of importance for common ailments.

The science of acupressure and acupuncture was almost shrouded in antiquity until the first half of the 20th century. Mao-tse-tung, the far-sighted and nationalist
statesman of China revived it in 1949. However, this science awaited world-wide recognition long after it came to be widely used in China. yvhen in 1971 President Nixon came to China on an official visit, he was accompanied by a number of persons that included James Reston, a renowned journalist. Shortly after he arrived in China, James Reston began to suffer from appendicitis. It is a known fact if appendicitis is not controlled in time, it would lead to the bursting of the appendix. This would cause grave complications. To avoid this an emergency operation was performed upon James Reston. But as it happens in many cases, he did not get relief from abdominal pain even after the operation. When no remedy was effective in relieving pain, James agreed to try acupuncture. To the surprise of all, James got immediate relief. President Nixon was greatly impressed by this treatment. Thereafter the science of acupressure and acupuncture took no time to spread throughout America. In 1973, a group of American doctors led by Dr. Paul Dudley White, a renowned cardiologist was sent to China to observe and study acupressure and acupuncture therapies. After returning to America, Dr. White conceded that though he could not understand how these (acupressure and acupuncture) methods produced healing effects, he would definitely assert that they were certainly beneficial. Specific points on the ears too can be used to affect the internal organs of the body in the same way as the pressure points on other parts of the body. ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’, the ancient Chinese book too refers to the relation of the ears with other parts of the body.

The custom of twisting the ear for the treatment of headache or hysteria is quite common in China. The treatment of piercing the ear for asthma is well-known in India. In 1957, Dr. Paul Nogier, a neurosurgeon in France deeply studied ear acupressure and gave it the form of an authentic science. Dr. Nogier calls it ‘auricular therapy’. An extensive study of the method of ear-acupressure has been made in China too during the last ten to fifteen years. As a consequence, about 200 points on the ear alone have been discovered. However, only a few of them are of real importance for day-to-day illnesses. Dr. Rene Buordial, an acupuncture specialist in France, states that he would prefer to apply pressure on the points on the ears by fingers rather than puncture them withneedles.

Today the popularity of acupressure is increasing by leaps and bounds. It has become a favorite therapy of Evan Nagy, a well-known ballet dancer, Marilyn Monroe, a celebrated film actress and several international athletes.

“Nothing has helped me so much recently as acupressure. Acupressure is of immense help in improving an athlete’s physical performance.” Statements of this kind by the high jumper Dwight Stones, and the discus thrower Mac Wilkins, both world record holders at their respective events at the Montreal Olympics are worth noting. The point tsu-san-/i which is situated below the knee is also known in China as ‘three villages’. A regular pressure on this point increases the strength of knees and feet. It is believed in China that one who takes the help of this point can walk much more (the distance between three villages) than ordinary persons.The heart of an athlete is put to considerable strain. This is prevented by treating the acupressure point called nei-kuan situated nearthe wrist, which helps to regulate blood circulation and breathing.

Dr. Zier of ‘Damp 2000’, a well­ known hospital in Germany is carrying out trials with acupres­sure. He has measured the per­formance of athletes on a static bicycle before and after the stimulation of acupressure points. He says that acupressure increases strength and checks an improper increase in the heart­ rate after strenuous activities. Acupressure also has a very good effect on muscular pain and cramps.

Nowadays acupressure is mostly used as a means of curing a disease. But the Chinese give more importance to the ‘preventive aspect’ of this science. In old days an acupressure or acupuncture specialist used to be paid regularly only so long as the person under his care remained healthy. The specialist was not paid if the person under him fell ill and the specialist had to treat the patient with medicines purchased with his own money. If a patient. inspite of not being very old or not suffering from an incurable disease, died while under the treatment of an acupressure specialist,the specialist had to hang a lantern outside his house. Even a stranger would know of the efficiency or inefficiency of the acupressure specialist by counting the number of lanterns hanging outside his house Like the Chinese we should also accept the maxim ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Today, about 90 per cent of all treatments is of a ‘curative’ nature. But within the next few years 90 percent of treatment will be of a ‘preventive’ nature.

Curative treatment or medicines will be needed in only the remaining 10 per cent of cases. Prevention of illness will be of immense benefit to mankind. Hospitals and doctors will be relieved of the great rush of patients.As a consequence,those who are in genuine need of medical treatment or surgery will get it without any delay. Personal loss or loss in national production caused on account of illness will decrease considerably and nation’s precious wealth will be saved from being wasted.

Today acupressure is being taught scientifically at a number of reputed universities all over the world. This fact itself is an evidence that the importance of acupressure has been acknowledged and recognized. The people of our country are still indifferent to health. However, it is certain that the popularity and importance of acupressure will increase in our country also with the increase of people’s consciousness in respect of health.

The World Health Organization too is now paying due attention to acupressure and acupuncture. In 1979, this international body held a meeting to discuss these oriental therapies. The delegates of this WHO meeting put forward a list of diseases that can be effectively treated by acupuncture or acupressure. This list has been reproduced
below: acute sinusitis, common cold, tonsillitis, severe bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pain in eyes, retinitis, myopia, cataract, toothache, glossitis, pharyngitis and throat pain, hiccough, flatulence, hyperacidity, ulcers in stomach and intestines, acute and chronic dysentry, diarrhoea, constipation, headache,. migraine, neuralgia, facial palsy (paralysis), paralysis, neuropathy, mennier’s disease, nocturnal eneuresis, stiffness of shoulders, tennis elbow, sciatica, backache, osteoarthritis, etc…

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