Acupressure, like its close cousin acupuncture, is a medicinal method that emerged from traditional Chinese medicine, and has been part of the alternative or complementary medical world for a long time. And studies may indicate that it has real medical value in specific situations — even if it's just a placebo effect or the product of a calming environment. Acupressure works by targeting certain pressure points on the body with steady force (acupuncture uses a needle, while acupressure merely uses fingers) and is thought in Chinese medicine to be a way of regulating bodily energy, aiding disease healing and helping health. Even if you don't buy into ideas about energy and flow, however, the idea of targeted massage, whether by yourself or others, at particular acupressure points across the body has been extensively researched, and it reveals some intriguing possibilities for helping sleep, stress, and nausea in particular.
"There are acupuncture points all around the body on the meridian lines that have different uses and effects," licensed acupuncturist Joel Granik tells Bustle. The points help balance the body’s energy flow (qi). Acupressure is when these points are stimulated through applying pressure." It's suggested that placing force on some acupressure points actually helps the body because it stimulates the same brain pathways as pain relief drugs. A study in 2015 from Georgetown noted that applying pressure to a particular acupressure point on rats reduced activity in one of the brain's stress pathways and may therefore reduce pain, but it's unknown whether this same mechanism occurs in humans. Whether this is true or not, when you delve into the science of acupressure's efficacy, you start to discover it's more than it might appear.