Today’s post is about Acupressure. We had a number of acupressure classes when I was at Bancroft, but I have to confess that at the time, I was so focused on learning massage that I found it a bit overwhelming to look at health from a TCM perspective, which is pretty different from the way you’re used to looking at and diagnosing illness in the West.
However, one experience I had in those classes really stood out in my mind. At the time, I had had a cold for several months, with a cough that was so bad that I had broken a rib just from coughing! I mentioned it to our teacher, who asked if I had lost someone close to me recently. I was stunned by the question: my Mom had passed away 5 months earlier and there was no way my teacher could have known that. Turns out the lung meridian is connected to grief. Interesting, isn’t it?
Since then, I have studied acupressure further on my own on a sort of leisurely basis, and frequently use it on myself for things like headaches, colds, soreness, stomach bugs, low energy, etc. It really is amazing how well it works.
A great book on human acupressure if you want to try it out on yourself is Tsubo: Vital Points for Oriental Therapy. I pull that out whenever I have something that needs treating.
What Is Acupressure?
Acupressure is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing method which has been practiced in Asia for thousands of years, and has slowly but surely been gaining acceptance here in the west as well.
It is based on the theory that energy (“chi”, “qi” or “ki”) is constantly flowing in the body, along 12 main pathways called “meridians”. Each meridian is connected to a certain organ, and has a symmetrical “twin-meridian”, mirrored on the other side of the body. For example, the stomach meridian runs from a point right under each eye to the lateral edge of the nail of the second toe on each foot.
When the flow of energy gets blocked, from stress, trauma, injury or even negative thoughts, problems arise. We don’t feel well and are more susceptible to illness.
The acupressure practitioner deals with these blockages by using finger and palm pressure on certain points called “acupoints” which are located along the meridians (there are more than 400 of them). At these points, the energy is closest to the surface, and working on them helps improve the flow of chi and restore health. To decide which points to work on, the practitioner goes through a whole list of things, known as the Eight Principles. To explain all that would take up too much space here, if you are interested in learning more about that, I highly recommend getting a book on the subject (for animals, I can highly recommend Acu-Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure. The authors explain TCM in a really clear and easy to understand way).
Meet Jodi McLaughlin
Today’s case study comes from Jodi McLaughlin, a Certified Holistic Small Animal Massage Provider, Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, and the creator of The Blissful Bunny Massage Workshops. She has written many articles on alternative healing for rabbits, and is also featured in Lucile Moore’s books, Touched by a Rabbit and When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care: Traditional and Alternative Healing Methods.
Jodi has spent many years working on both animals and humans, but one rabbit in particular touched her life in a very special way. Jodi met Diego Cinqo De Mayo Rivera in 2003, and it was love at first sight. Diego was paralyzed at around 6 months of age and Jodi started working with him 4 months later (and continued to work on him for 5 years). He briefly regained use of his hind legs but arthritis and nerve/soft tissue compromise caused the return of the hind leg paresis.
The pdf to the right is a full record of one of the acupressure treatments Jodie did with Diego for those of you who are interested in how she decided which points to work on, and how Diego reacted to it.
I’m very thankful to Jodi for agreeing to let me publish all this on Animal Wellness Guide. Here is Diego’s story in Jodi’s own words:
Jodi is currently taking a break from treating animals due to family obligations, but don’t miss her other guest posts here on AWG: The Basic Bunny Massage Strokes and Massage And Acupressure Treatment For Rabbit Digestion.