Monday, February 25, 2008

Allergy Rescue with Acupressure

You can use the ancient art of acupressure for allergy relief.

Not to be confused with acupuncture, the placement of needles at specific points on the "energy meridians" of the body, acupuncture involves only gentle manual pressure to treat a variety of illnesses in ways that defy a truly scientific explanation, but which nonetheless work.

In the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, allergies were thought of as "wind" conditions. That means that they came in on the wind, but also that they start "as fast as the wind" and they were very superficial, not really causing genuine disruption of the body as a whole, just causing sudden disagreeable symptoms.

Getting rid of "wind evils," in the theory of two thousand years ago, involved activating the same kind of energy involved in elimination of waste from digested food and drink, the energy of the intestines. Exactly why the ancient masters of Chinese medicine might suppose that the energy of the large intestine somehow was connected to the space between your thumbs and index fingers is a subject that can't be explained in just a few hundred words, but the acupuncture point there, known as LI4, is one of the most important for elimination.

And if you can get some relief from your allergies, do you really care whether the theory behind acupuncture admits easy scientific explanation? Try this:

Locate the webbing between either one of your thumbs and the adjacent index finger.

Apply a gentle pressure to the skin, pushing toward the bone that supports your index finger.

Within a few minutes, you should feel fewer allergy symptoms, notably less runny nose.

The idea behind this kind of acupuncture is that somehow pressing on this point encourages the same kinds of energy that are involved in defecation, only the "waste" that is eliminated is the energy brought in on the wind. Just a few minutes pressure should be enough.

Traditional acupressure recommends some combinations of pressure points for special situations.

To increase the effects of pressing the LI4 point on the hand, apply gentle pressure to the ST44 point between the second and third toes on either foot. This combination is meant to expel "wind energy," what we would call allergic inflammation, from the face, and also to relieve any kind of tension over the jaws. You massage the webbing between the toes about half an inch (10-12 mm) into the space between the toes, against the bone joining the toes.

When runny nose is a special problem, Traditional Chinese Medicine theory suggests rubbing the area 1-2 inches (3-5 cm) above the heel. This is the site for acupuncture needles whether the problem is too much mucus or sinuses that are too tight, and pressing the area produces a similar result.

It's very hard to go wrong with acupressure between your thumb and index finger, between your second and third toes, and above your heels. Nonetheless, there is a cautionary note in the ancient literature: None of these maneuvers are recommended during pregnancy, to prevent the possibility of stimulating the uterus. For everyone else, these simple acupressure techniques cost nothing and usually work.

You may also be interested in An Apple a Day to Keep Allergies, Asthma, and Eczema Away and Top Ten Remedies for Nasal Allergies.

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