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Headaches are some of the most common conditions experienced by many in today’s busy and stressful world. Although some headaches can be symptoms of other medical conditions, more often than not, they are the result of stress, dehydration, muscle tension, and fatigue.
While most people will buy and take over-the-counter pain medications to eliminate their headaches, there are other alternatives without medication! Also, when taking pain medications, people with certain conditions such as kidney or heart failure will need to avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Acupressure has been used for centuries in China and is still popular in use and demand today. Traditional Chinese medicine asserts that there are acupressure points along our body's meridians or channels. Chinese traditional medicine believes that meridians are connected to particular organs and can organize communication throughout our body. Vital energy called qi (ch'i) flows through these invisible meridians.
Although some believe that meridians are just a theory, acupressure has shown superior therapeutic effects in treating various medical conditions, including headaches. There isn't much science supporting reflexology in the treatment of these conditions. However, several experts believe the effect could be due to neurohormonal responses.
Acupressure, which involves stimulating pressure points or acupoints, leads to neurohormonal responses. Activating acupoints can lead to the overproduction of cortisol and increase endorphins and serotonin.
Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone that can control mood, motivation, and fear. Endorphins are often called a "feel-good" hormone because they can act as a pain reliever and boost happiness. Serotonin hormones can make people happier and calmer. They can also aid in bowel movement, healing wounds, improving sleep, maintaining bone health, and reducing anxiety and depression.
Tension-type headaches (TTH) are the most common type of headache. The pain can be described as a consistent dull ache around your head, a feeling of tightness or pressure on your forehead or the back of your head.
Symptoms may also include sensitivity to light and a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. The pain can last from thirty minutes to several hours or even a week. Tension headache relief pressure points can relieve the pain.
A cluster headache is more common in women. The pain is a highly severe burning or stabbing sensation, usually around one eye. Other associated symptoms include redness and tearing of the eye, throbbing and constant headache, eyelid droop, and runny or stuffy nose.
A cluster headache attack can last from fifteen minutes to three hours and often occurs simultaneously every day.
A migraine headache is a recurring throbbing, pounding, or pulsing sensation that often occurs on one side of the head. Some migraines can occur without warning, while some will have an aura (visual disturbances) such as blind spots and light flashes. Other migraine symptoms are light and noise sensitivity, dizziness, an upset stomach, and nausea or vomiting.
Migraine is more common in women due to hormonal imbalances. Aside from hormones, migraines can also be caused by the release of inflammatory responses in the blood vessels in the brain. It can last from a few hours up to three days.
Sinus headaches occur when there is an infection or inflammation of the sinus. When sinus passages are clogged, it causes pain and pressure on the head. A sinus headache gets worse when the patient leans forward or lies down. It can also be accompanied by several symptoms such as fever, facial swelling, a runny or stuffy nose, and pain in the upper teeth.
Acupressure and acupuncture are both traditional Chinese medicines. Acupressure can relieve headaches through the application of pressure on the pressure points. Acupuncture is the insertion of a thin needle on the meridians. They both stimulate the meridians or channel pathways of energy to improve blood circulation, relieve headaches, and more.
However, since acupuncture involves the insertion of a needle, it must be done by a licensed acupuncturist. It is also best for patients with chronic headaches, musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, etc.
On the other hand, acupressure can be self-administered by the person with headaches and other conditions. Anyone can follow the different steps provided above to stimulate the pressure points for headache relief.
When performing self-massage to acupoints, it is vital to be patient and consistent because the relief may not be immediate. Regular massage can decrease the pain and its recurrences.
Also, pregnant women and people with underlying conditions such as heart problems should avoid acupressure. It is also vital to wait for at least 20 minutes after taking a bath, eating, and exercising.
When performing acupressure, it is essential to:
A Pranamat ECO set consisting of massage mats, a storage bag, and a pillow is also helpful when conducting self-massage. It can activate acupressure points and stimulate endorphin release to alleviate headaches, muscle tension, and stress.
Massage can also improve blood and lymphatic circulation to aid in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the cells. It benefits the body and mind.
Reflexology is a very safe way to treat headaches and other disorders. There might also be pressure points for headaches on the feet. However, since there are very few studies regarding its effectiveness in treating headaches, further research is necessary to support the claim.
Also, if you have underlying health conditions or severe headaches, it is vital to consult a specialist before using acupressure.
Pressure points to relieve headaches include Drilling Bamboo, Union Valley, Gates of Consciousness, Third Eye, and Shoulder Well.