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arvind | Alternativemedicinec

Acupuncture and Acupressure: The differences and its career opportunities

Feb 2nd 2015 at 3:21 AM

While in acupuncture hair-thin needles are used to stimulate acupoints and treat health concerns, no such skin penetration is involved in acupressure. Instead, as the name suggests, it uses a firm pressure on the acupoints in the form of a massage to treat medical conditions. Despite this basic difference, there are also many similarities like they both work on the principle of touching meridians; the meridians transfer energy or chi across the body. If we take a closer look at Traditional Chinese medicine, TCM, we will find that many ailments are caused by the imbalance in the flow of energy across the body. This imbalance in turn is caused by blockages of chi in any of the fourteen meridians. Both acupuncture and acupressure are effective in removing the blockage and consequently facilitate sufficient flow of energy. Some of the common diseases and ailments that can treated with acupuncture and acupressure are allergies, arthritis, depression, nausea, migraine headaches, menstrual cramps, and anxiety.

The widely held belief is that acupuncture is more effective in stimulating the dormant self-healing ability of the body than acupressure. Moreover, today apart from these two techniques, there are many other therapeutic methods that are commonly used: deep-tissue massage, laser acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, and more.

Coming back to acupuncture, the needles used in this treatment are different from the conventional ones that we are familiar with, and also don’t inject any foreign material into the body. They come in different lengths and are made of disposable, hypoallergenic, sterile metal. The acupuncturist administering the treatment should be properly trained, as otherwise you will have a bruised body; in the normal course, the needle is delicately pushed into the skin, muscle and tissue and the procedure is pretty painless. The needles break the blockage by targeting parts of the body which act as pressure points.

Being a more complex procedure than acupressure, acupuncture must be performed by people with proper knowledge of TCM. And while you may not be required to take off your clothes while availing acupressure treatment, you are required to disrobe during acupuncture treatment.

Making a career in the acupuncture profession:

Referred to as alternative or complementary in the Western world, the popularity of acupuncture is growing rapidly. Consequently there is growing demands for acupuncture-related courses among students. Students can go for a certified acupuncture training course as it will endow him with the skill sets required to become a full fledged professional. One such course is the Doctor of Medicine in Acupuncture - M.D.(Acu), which is a 1 year post-graduate course registered under the Government of West Bengal under Act XXVI. The course is conducted by the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines, and allows degree holders to practice anywhere in India.

The eligibility norms are students have to have passed any degree course from a reputed institution recognized in India or must have completed courses like M.B.B.S., B.D.S., D.M.S., D.H.M.S., B.H.M.S., and B.A.M.S.  The course programme is made up of six subjects, and incorporates subjects like Oriental Diagnosis and Acupuncture Meridians.

There are also programs that can extend for up to 3-4 years. Students may opt for bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from recognized university or college. For becoming a certified acupuncturist, a master’s program which is accredited to Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is advisable.

The road to becoming an acupressure specialist

An integral part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure is also known as Asian bodywork therapy (ABT). The hand-on method used for treating a range of modern-day ailments combined with the absence of any side effects has helped it grow in the public consciousness. Today many people are ready to take up acupressure as a full-time professional as there is money to be made and fame to be earned. But before you can think big, you need to know how you can hone the skills required for the profession. The first step starts with your enrolling into a Postsecondary Massage Therapy Program. There are a number of programs that you can choose from, but while selecting a specific program cross check the duration, course fee, and topics covered. The eligibility norms may stipulate that the student must be 18 years of age and must have completed a high school diploma or equivalent. It is important that students get enrolled in programs approved by their respective state's licensing board for massage therapy. Second, take an examination conducted by a recognized institute like the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB).

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