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How to Relieve HCV Symptoms

Nicole Cutler L.Ac.

November 13, 2007

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When you apply pressure to certain points on your body, it is possible to reduce pain and improve your health. Discover how acupressure can be used to relieve some common symptoms associated with Hepatitis C, including liver-area pain and fatigue.

In martial arts, the secret to defeating an opponent who is larger and stronger than you lies with the knowledge and use of pressure points. The different ways to define a pressure point can widely vary, depending on the frame of reference. Regardless of these variations, pressure points are generally understood to be locations on the body that have a large impact on the recipient when pressed firmly. Although many disciplines of combat and self-defense use pressure points to cause discomfort, there are also points on the body capable of relieving discomfort. For people living with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), there are a handful of pressure points that can be used for the latter purpose. Applying force to specific locations on the body can relieve some of the symptoms characteristic of this illness and ease the side effects known to accompany HCV anti-viral therapy.

Acupressure

Originating from Chinese medical theory, using finger pressure on points on the body to improve health is known as acupressure. Beginning five thousand years ago, Chinese people began using acupressure to improve the flow of energy within the body. By analyzing human pathology, the founders of Chinese medical theory discovered that certain locations on the body contained pools of energy close to the skin’s surface. These spots provided easy access for influencing the body’s energy. Additionally, these medical philosophers understood that blockages in the flow of energy led to imbalances that could result in illness. To regain and maintain health, acupressure is used to help keep energy flowing smoothly, thus encouraging the body towards balance.

Daily stress, muscular tension and illness create energetic imbalances that accumulate over time. Applying pressure to one of over 300 acupressure points can restore balance by improving the localized flow of blood and energy. This influx of circulation allows for nutrients to better reach and feed starved cells as well as increases the body’s efficacy of toxin removal. Additionally, studies show that stimulating specific pressure points reduces stress hormones and increases endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving and mood-enhancing chemicals.

How Much Pressure?

When experimenting with acupressure, many people wonder how much force they should use. According to Michael Reed Gach, author of Acupressure’s Potent Points and founder of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, “the amount of pressure should make the point ‘hurt good,’ somewhere between pain and pleasure.” Use prolonged finger pressure directly on the point – gradual, steady, penetrating pressure for approximately three minutes is ideal. Each point will feel somewhat different when pressed, with some feeling tense, while others feeling sore or achy. For best results, acupressure practitioners advocate relaxing and breathing deeply to further facilitate energy circulation.

Hepatitis C Applications

For some people living with chronic Hepatitis C, finding medication-free techniques to reduce this illness’ symptoms can be more valuable than any amount of money. Whether due to this virus’ strain on the liver or as a result of treatment aimed at squelching HCV, many of the complaints typically associated with Hepatitis C can be relieved by applying pressure to the right point on the body. Acupressure is known to improve energy level, build the immune system, support the liver, relieve nausea, alleviate headaches, enhance mental clarity, ease depression and reduce pain. Below are five pressure points deemed most useful for managing symptoms characteristic of HCV:

  1. Nausea – Called Pericardium 6, this point is located on the forearm between the two main tendons, approximately one and a half to two inches above the wrist. This point is usually tender.
  2. Fatigue – Called Stomach 36, this point is located on the outer part of the lower leg, in the tender area approximately one and a half to two inches below the knee, just one finger breadth to the outside of the bone. This point also strengthens the immune system.
  3. Stress and liver-area pain – Called Liver 3, this point is located on the top of the foot, in the tender spot approximately one to one and a half inches above the toe web of the big toe and second toe.
  4. Headaches – Called Large Intestine 4, this point is located on the top part of the hand, between the web of the thumb and index finger. Usually tender, Large Intestine 4 is at the highest point on the bulge formed when the thumb is next to the index finger.
  5. Mental confusion and fatigue – Called Governing Vessel 20, this point is on the very top of the head. It is located at the intersection of the following two imaginary lines – (1) from the top point of the ear across to the top point of the other ear and (2) between the eyebrows back over the head to center of the spine.

Although the relief you are seeking may not be immediate, the daily, repeated application of pressure to a point over the course of a few weeks will often shift someone’s physical discomfort. When applying pressure to a point, you may find it possible to gradually work up to holding points for longer periods of time. However, limit yourself to ten minutes per point to avoid the complications of increasing circulation too much. Additionally, a person who is pregnant or severely ill should consult with their doctor prior to adding anything new to their daily routine.

You don’t need to have a black belt in karate to capitalize on the ancient wisdom of the body’s pressure points. Armed with knowing the location and purpose of the preceding five acupressure points, you can reduce your HCV symptoms without putting anything else in your medicine cabinet.

References:

Kallen, Ben, Acupressure for the active guy: this ancient healing art can boost your energy and relieve you pain—without needles, Men’s Fitness, September 2001.

www.acupressure.com, Glossary, Michael Reed Gach, PhD & Bantam Books, 2007.

www.acupressure.com, How to Apply Pressure, Michael Reed Gach, PhD & Bantam Books, 2007.

www.docmisha.com, Applying Chinese Medicine, Misha Ruth Cohen, 2007.

www.fightingarts.com, Pressure Points 1: Going to the Heart Of Pressure Points – What They Really Are, Bruce Everett Miller, PA-C, FightingArts.com, 2007.

www.hcvadvocate.org, Self-Help Acupressure for Hepatitis C, Ramona Draeger, Balancing Touch, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2007.

Posted by Nicole Cutler L.Ac. on November 13, 2007

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