Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Self Acupressure for Relief of Nausea and Stress
Acupressure is an ancient Eastern "healing art." You can perform acupressure on yourself by using your hands, feet, or elbow to apply pressure on certain areas of the skin, called "acupoints." When you press on these points you can relieve tension in the muscles, enhance blood circulation and stimulate the flow or energy, or as it's called in Chinese medicine, qi (pronounced "chee").
Acupressure is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It works in a similar way as acupuncture, but acupuncture uses needles to stimulate energy to flow through channels, or meridians. The nice thing about acupressure is that you can learn to do it yourself. You can read a book about acupressure or you can have someone teach you the basics.
For people with cancer, acupressure can be especially beneficial as a modality that helps relieve stress and tension and helps you to relax. This, in turn, is good for the immune system. For many people, acupressure is also helpful in relieving nausea, which people sometimes experience after surgery or chemotherapy.
There are no known harmful side effects of acupressure, but you should avoid using it in areas where you have varicose veins, wounds or sores. If you have brittle bones or a history of spinal injuries or other bone injuries, you or your practitioner need to apply pressure carefully. Additionally, if you've been taking steroid medications for a long period of time, your tissue may not be as resilient as it used to be, so again, care needs to be taken when applying pressure.
If you're interested in learning acupressure, one good book is Acupressure's Potent Points, by Michael Gach, Ph.D. president of the Acupressure Institute in California.
If you'd like to find an acupressure therapist near you, visit the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (http://www.aobta.org/_aobta.php?find_a_member=yes).
American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia; National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; University of San Diego, Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients