Once regarded in American culture as somewhat of a joke, both acupuncture and acupressure have recently seen a surge in popularity and are becoming more and more common in the medical field each day. The ancient forms of medicine are now being used as a treatment for everything from allergies to bodily pain to stress. But what exactly are acupuncture and acupressure, and how are they different?
Acupressure and Acupuncture - Find Out The Difference
Acupressure and acupuncture are similar in a lot of ways. Both are considered integrative forms of medical therapy when used on their own to treat medical conditions and as complimentary medicine when they are used in combination with traditional medicine like drugs your doctor may prescribe. Both acupuncture and acupressure stem from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is based on the thought that the body's vital energy flows through meridian points on the body that connect to various organs, carry energy and contribute to overall health.
Meanwhile, both acupressure and acupuncture stimulate each of 14 meridian points on the body, which believers of TCM say can relieve pain, treat body disorders and clear any blockage of life energy so as to restore the body’s yin and yang (also known as Chi or Qi).
The major difference between acupuncture and acupressure is that acupressure uses firm pressure and massage to stimulate the meridians (also called acupoints), while acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate those acupoints.
Both methods are virtually pain free and can be used to treat a number of ailments including allergies, anxiety, arthritis, nausea, headaches and migraines, depression and foot problems and pain like bunions, corns, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and neuromas. It is said that the ancient methods have the ability to ease uncomfortable conditions by affecting hormone levels, the immune system and neurotransmitters in the body.
Which Method Is Best For My Ailments: Acupressure or Acupuncture?
Choosing whether to visit an acupressurist or an acupuncturist depends on the type of ailment you’re facing and what kind of healing you’re looking to achieve.
- Acupressure: This treatment is fairly easy to learn and is a good choice for common ailments like headaches, migraines and nausea. In fact, many cancer patients turn to acupressure, as it can have a relieving effect on common side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea. The firm pressure applied during acupressure (similar to a Shiatsu massage) helps to stimulate endorphins, which increases blood flow and oxygen, relaxes your muscles, decreases pain and promotes healing. In addition to relieving pain, acupressure works to rebalance the body by strengthening the immune system and reducing stress and tension.
- Acupuncture: This treatment takes much more time to learn than acupressure and therefore requires the expert skills of a licensed practitioner. Acupuncture is said to be more effective at treating many ailments than acupressure because it can be applied all over the body at once and thus facilitates a better flow of energy. Some ailments that can benefit from acupuncture treatment include osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, menstrual cramps, depression, insomnia, infertility and muscular conditions (back pain, neck pain, plantar fasciitis, etc). Acupuncture is commonly integrated with traditional Western medicine or chiropractic methods to achieve optimum results.
Both acupuncture and acupressure aim to achieve similar results with slightly different techniques, meaning both have the ability to be beneficial for you and your ailments. Which method you choose largely depends on your comfort level with massage versus needles and the level of treatment you’re looking to achieve. Either way, both acupuncture and acupressure can go a long way in your journey to optimal health.