Acupressure TheoryAcupuncturist Damon Lee

An Introduction

In order to grasp a basic understanding of acupressure, it is imperative that you are given a frame of reference from where to begin. Unless you know the "why" as well as the "how," you would merely be treating symptoms by formulas. Also known as finger needle or finger pressure, the practice of acupressure has developed from the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture. There, its roots can be traced back five thousand years. Many differences can be noted between the two techniques. Some of the major appeals of acupressure are: the safety of the procedure, no instruments or equipment needs to be purchased, the techniques can be learned in a relatively short time, and last but not least, IT WORKS!

In regards to our health, any illness is only a disturbance in the Yin-Yang equilibrium. The practice of acupressure is therefore directed towards restoring a normal Yin-Yang balance. The uses of acupressure vary from relieving pain to improving blood circulation and from cosmetic purposes to preventative medicine. However, with the use of acupressure comes a severe caution. It is to be remembered that pains and aches are nature's way of informing you that "something is wrong." Even when your pain disappears by the use of acupressure, it is a must to see your doctor for further examination.

Theoretically, the principles of acupressure revolve around the concept of TAO. Literally, this word means "path" or "way." In this sense then, it is the way of the universe or, the ordering principle behind all life. TAO is bonded to the profoundly symbolic figure of Yin and Yang as follows: yinyang Yin and Yang are the two forces that co-exist throughout the universe. The principles of Yin and Yang apply to all human elements. Life is a process of change through the interplay of these two forces. One cannot exist with the other. Yin represents the interior, Yang represents the exterior. As we see the studying the diagram, all values are relative. Absolutes such as good/evil and dark/light do not exist in this world, as they are relative to the mind that ponders them. Thus principles are not in opposition to each other. They compliment and balance each other. Opposites are stages of a turning wheel. Life turns and bends back on itself until the self becomes a full circle.

Life Energy

It is believed by the Chinese people that there is Qi (vital/life energy) in our bodies that flows continuously from one organ to another. It is the force of Qi that keeps the body alive. Throughout a twenty-four hour period, Qi circulates fifty times around the body, twenty-five times during the day, and twenty-five times during the night. Therefore, various points of different meridians will become more active at specific times. Treatment of a disease will be more effective if one uses these points in conjunction with the flow of energy to the same organ (e.g. kidney problems should be treated from 1700hrs to 1900 hrs, using the kidney point KI:1).

The concept of vital energy is not familiar to our Western train of thought. Scientifically, vital energy cannot be observed or measured. This creates some skepticism within our culture. Another deterrent is the complexity of the theory. One cannot fully understand the energy flow chart in a short period of time. The basic concept is derived from the Yin-yang theory, it would resemble a big ring having no beginning and having no end. Here, then, we have indefinite change.

The properties or actions of the vital energy are nourishing energy and protective energy. The nourishing energy (Ying Qi) flows according to the blood circulation. This energy is created from our intake of food through metabolism, absorption __. The protective energy (Wai Qi) is a by-product of the metabolic process. It has a more aggressive and speedy behavior, so therefore cannot be confined by the blood vessels. This energy travels among the muscles, flesh (skin) and fat. If the protective energy is in balance, under normal conditions the individual should feel that the muscles and flesh are working smoothly. The skin should be soft, shiny and elastic.

When the vital energy gets out of balance or, becomes abnormal, congestion occurs. This is the term used to explain the abnormal flow of the vital energy, which cannot pass or penetrate a particular organ or area of the body as per normal. Symptoms can be manifested in accordance with the organ or area involved.

The vital energy may dry up or become extremely weak in a special meridian, resulting in the display of different signs and symptoms. Usually this means the end of the vital energy. Even by doing a post mortem, the vital energy cannot be detected or seen after it stops flowing in our bodies.

The Energy Flowing Cycle

For diagnostic purposes, studies have shown that many people suffer pain during certain periods of the day. Headaches, for example, usually occur at noon. The individual might possibly be experiencing some degree of heart disturbance which, in time, could contribute to the headache.

As we can see, this theory is much more complicated than first impressions reveal. It is also beyond anyone's ability to prove or disprove the vital energy circulating system theory. The Chinese medical field has used this theory for at least five thousand years. If we can keep our minds open, we too could possibly benefit from this ancient wisdom. At the very least, we can incorporate the vital energy theory as an item of interest.

The Life Energy Flowing Cycle

The Solid Organs

The Empty Organs

Lung Meridian




Large Intestine Meridian


Spleen Meridian




Stomach Meridian


Heart Meridian




Small Intestine Meridian


Kidney Meridian




Bladder Meridian


Pericardium Meridian (Heart Governor)




Triple Warmer
(San Jiao) Meridian


Liver Meridian




Gall Bladder Meridian

The Meridians and Acupuncture Points

A. The Meridians (Ching)

There are 12 paired (general) meridians that correspond to 12 organs. An additional two extraordinary meridians cover the anterior and the posterior (front and back) areas of the body; there are no corresponding organs to these two meridians. All together, these are described as the 14 meridians.

The 12 Regular Meridians

The 2 Extraordinary Meridians



Large Intestine (Colon) Meridian



Conception Vessel



Triple Warmer (San Jiao) Meridian



Governing Vessel



Small Intestine Meridian



Heart Governor (Pericardium) Meridian



Lung Meridian



Heart Meridian



Spleen Meridian



Stomach Meridian



Kidney Meridian



Bladder Meridian



Liver Meridian



Gall Bladder Meridian

B. The Acupuncture Points

When we know how to master the technique of applying appropriate pressure, let us understand the acupuncture points. We have a few general types of acupuncture points that will be mentioned in the future.

(1) The General Acupuncture Points have their own names in Chinese, but it is easier to use numbers for those who do not know Chinese. For example, when we mention CO:4, it means the fourth point on the Large Intestine (Colon) Meridian, and its Chinese name is "Ho-KU" (the narrow valley) because the point is located between the thumb and index finger. ST:36 is the 36th point of the Stomach Meridian, etc. There are 361 points located on the 14 meridians.
(2) The Extraordinary Points are those that do not belong to the meridians. "New points" have been discovered in the past few years.
(3) The Trigger Points or the Unknown are those spots or areas that are painful to the touch, tender and sensitive to pressure. Usually these areas appear only when the individual is sick, or if certain parts of the body are injured.

For example, trigger points could be located along the lower lumbar regions about 1.5 body-inches away from the middle line of the spine; for tension headaches, some painful spots are located along the neck muscles. They disappear after the disease is cured or the injured parts are heated. These are very useful acupuncture points for diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

C. Reactions of the Acupuncture Points

Each acupuncture point has its special characteristic, such as functions, location, sensitivity and reaction to stimulus (pressure, heat, mechanical stimuli, needles during acupuncture treatment, etc.). When pressure is applied to a point, the individual should have certain kinds of special sensations such as numbness, tingling, warmth, swelling, congestion and radiating impulses to other parts of the body. Generally, when these sensations appear during treatment, it indicates that better results may be achieved compared to if the individual does not feel these sensations. This might be due to several reasons:
(1) incorrect location of the point
(2) the individual's physical conditions are very poor
(3) the point has been repeatedly used
(4) inappropriate pressure - too light or too strong
(5) the nature of that point - sensations are too light to be felt or detected by the individual

D. Key Points

These points are the most effective points to be used from past experiences. Usually 1-2 points are enough to provide a successful treatment.

E. Assistant Points

Assistant points are to be used in case of repeated treatments on Key points. In some difficult cases, more acupuncture points are needed to cover large areas. In long term treatments, the Assistant points should be added with the Key points in order to obtain satisfactory effects.

F. Measurement of Points (Body-inch = "Bi")

Due to the fact that every individual's physical build is different, the ordinary measurements such as inches and centimeters cannot be used. The idea of using "body-inches" has been developed to measure from one spot or point to another, so that proper locations of special points can be found for each specific individual.
See diagrams below:

Body Inch Measurements