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You’ve probably suffered from fatigue at some point in your life. You’re tired, weak, achy, drained — it’s a terrible feeling. But it usually fades away in a day or two. Unless, of course, it’s caused by a chronic disease…
MS, Lyme disease, thyroid problems, anxiety, depression, diabetes and (of course) chronic fatigue syndrome all come with a debilitating dose of fatigue. In fact, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of chronic diseases across the board.
Luckily, no matter what the cause of your fatigue there is a simple solution that can provide relief. And it won’t even cost you a penny. In fact, it’s a treatment you can give yourself in the comfort of your own home — acupressure.
Now for many years, acupuncture has made headlines for its ability to combat fatigue in scientific studies. People with the ultimate form of fatigue — chronic fatigue syndrome — saw a dramatic improvement in their fatigue after just four weeks of acupuncture treatment, according to a 2015 study.
But the thing is, acupuncture can be expensive. It’s not covered by insurance. And it requires frequent visits to an acupuncturist’s office. Sure, it’s an effective form of healing for many ailments. But because of the price and time commitment, it’s not for everybody.
That’s why researchers from the University of Michigan decided to see if acupressure, a treatment that follows the same overall premise as acupuncture, could also be an effective treatment for fatigue.
Both acupuncture and acupressure involve stimulating certain points on your body to promote healing. Acupuncture, however, stimulates these points with needles, while acupressure stimulates these points with pressure applied from your fingers. Basically, acupressure is also something you can safely and easily apply to yourself, while acupuncture requires needles and a lot of training.
No needles needed
To see if acupressure had the same fatigue-busting powers as acupuncture, U of M researchers decided to teach acupressure to women suffering from extreme fatigue after undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Now if you don’t already know, fatigue is a huge problem for people who undergo conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. In fact, a third of women who undergo conventional treatment for breast cancer have extreme fatigue that lasts as long as 10 years after they stop treatment.
Through 15 minutes of training, researchers were able to teach these breast cancer survivors how to correctly apply pressure to certain points to relieve their fatigue. They taught them both relaxing points (typically used to treat insomnia) and stimulating points (typically used to promote energy).
The women stimulated these points on their body for 15 minutes per day for a total of six weeks. And at the end of the six-week trial period, they had reduced their fatigue by 27 to 34 percent. Both the relaxing and stimulating acupressure points worked for them. But only the relaxing acupressure improved their sleep quality—so that’s something to consider if you also have sleep issues.
The moral of the story is, if you’re dealing with occasional or chronic fatgue, acupressure is a cheap, safe and effective solution. All you need to do is learn a few points and set aside 15 minutes in your day. Before long, you’ll be well on your way to a fatigue-free life. Here’s a video of some fatigue-reducing acupressure points to help you get started.
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M. Zick, A. Sen, G.K. Wyatt, S.L. Murphy, et al. “Investigation of 2 Types of Self-administered Acupressure for Persistent Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors.” JAMA Oncology, Vol. 2, No. 7, July 7, 2016.
E. Kim, B.K. Seo, J.B. Choi, H.J. Kim, et al. “Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome and idiopathic chronic fatigue: a multicenter, nonblinded, randomized controlled trial.” Trials. 2015. 16:314.
“Acupressure for Fatigue.” Shikoda. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9qNw2KSmMI. Retrieved July 8, 2016.