None of us like pain. But somehow in life, we suffer from all kinds of pain ranging from head to toe. Pain can come from physical injuries like cuts and burns or it can arise from our inner body, such as headaches, toothache, gastic pain or stomach ache. If pain is not erased, it affects our daily life and our work.

Studies of the anatomy of muscles and standard physiotherapy do not seem to have much success in arresting pain. Often doctors will prescribe pain killers which, unfortunately, do not get to the root cause of pain.

Reflexology–a method of massaging the 'reflex areas' on the feet–is now widely used to cure different kinds of sicknesses when other medical methods are not successful. By using the principle of reflexology with the combination of acupuncture, pain can effectively be erased–without drugs. This branch of medical science has now been called 'myotherapy'–a therapeutic treatment where muscles are massaged. A more common term is 'acupressure'–where pressure is applied to acupuncture points.

How It Works

A Canadian scientist, Professor Pomeranz of Toronto, made the following crucial discovery: acupuncture liberates endorphins–natural morphines–which suppress pain. These endorphins work by blocking the transmission of pain impulses from one neuron to another. Pomeranz realized this when he saw the way the Chinese use acupuncture before surgery. They stimulate the acupuncture point for at least 20 minutes before starting the operation–the amount of time necessary for the formation of endorphins.

In Pomeranz' study of acupunc-ture's effects, he noted that cerebro-spinal fluid (the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord) taken from a subject anesthetized by acupuncture transmits this sedative effect to another who is not acupunctured. This is evidence that there is a chemical substance present in the cerebro-spinal fluid of a subject treated with acupuncture which has effects that may be transmitted by injection.

Using electrodes attached to the brain of an animal, Pomeranz recorded the brain neurons' reaction to pain. Registering as 'blips' on the trace, the pain reactions diminished and then stopped completely when the acupuncture point was stimulated–even though pain was still being provoked.

Pomeranz used a chemical substance that blocked the action of morphine and endorphin in the brain. This morphine antidote 'naloxone' attaches itself to the morphine site on the surface of the neurons and prevents morphine from producing its usual action. Naloxone also prevented acupuncture from relieving pain. If it was injected after acupun-ture was administered, it could also reverse any pain relief that was achieved with acupuncture.

Massage Methods:

Instead of using needles as the Chinese acupuncturist does, anyone can use either the tip of a finger (see figure 1) or end of a pencil, chopstick or any rod that has a rounded-tip with about a two millimetre radius (see figure 2).

You should be able to locate the acupressure points easily as the areas are more sensitive and the feeling from these points is quite different from the surrounding areas. Locate the pressure points by following the diagrams.

Massage each point for 30 seconds each time. Repeat the massage for about 10-15 minutes. The effect can be almost as effective as acupuncture!

General Headache Massage Points:

  1. Yin-tang point–located in between the eyebrows.
  2. Tai-yang point–located slightly below the eyebrow, about two centimetres from
    the outside corner of the eyes.
  3. Feng-fu point–located on the back of the head, in the centre, at level with the tip
    of the ears.
  4. Feng-chi points–between feng-fu centre point and either tip of the ears.

For headache specific to forehead and temples, try massaging the Lie-que points on both wrists (see figure 3).

PDF of Massage Methods

About the Author

Gilbert Kim C. Tay is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine in Ontario.