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What are the Pros and Cons of Acupressure Treatment?

By Melissa Barrett
Updated May 17, 2024
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Acupressure treatment has built an impressive reputation for healing over thousands of years. Its effectiveness for treating nausea, anxiety and headaches has been documented, and acupressure techniques are slowly finding their way into mainstream medicine. Still, many physicians who recommend it to their patients use it only in addition to more clinically reliable alternatives. Acupressure treatment has many personal success stories but relatively few scientific studies to back those stories' claims.

Acupressure is derived from acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It is thought to balance the oppositional forces within the body. Once this balance is restored, it is believed that healing happens naturally. Many practitioners of Western medicine do not believe these forces exist and dismiss the idea as superstition.

Certain benefits of acupressure treatments have been documented through independent studies. Decreased muscle tension and increased circulation are commonly reported by people receiving acupressure therapy. The treatment has also been shown to produce endorphins, which naturally reduce pain.

Some studies also have shown acupressure's effectiveness in treating nausea. Acupressure increasingly is being used in conjunction with prescription medicines to reduce nausea in chemotherapy patients. Bracelets designed to place pressure on the nausea acupoint have been well-received as a non-chemical prevention of motion sickness.

While the effectiveness of acupressure for nausea has been documented, studies of using the treatment for other conditions are not as positive. Many studies show that acupressure is effective in treating anxiety and headaches but, statistically, it's no more effective than other forms of massage. Some preliminary studies have been done on using acupressure to treat conditions such as allergies and asthma, but there has not been enough data to determine effectiveness.

Although acupressure is considered safe for most people, it can cause complications when used by those with certain medical conditions. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, brittle bone syndrome and varicose veins are advised to avoid acupressure treatment. Acupressure can also induce uterine contractions and should be avoided in pregnancy.

Acupressure treatment can be expensive and time-consuming. Individual treatment sessions generally last up to an hour and can cost between $20 and $100 US Dollars (USD). More than one treatment is often required, and therapists do not always guarantee results. Acupressure, like many alternative therapies, may or may not be covered by health insurance. Fortunately, many of the methods used by acupressurists are easily learned and safely repeatable at home.

Local and regional regulations regarding licensing of acupressure therapists can vary widely. In areas where little or no licensing requirements are needed to run a massage business, extra care should be taken when choosing an acupressure therapist. As with any massage therapy, the possibly of injury exists if acupressure treatment is done incorrectly.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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