- Pericardium-6 and Lavandula angustifolia oil
Pericardium-6 is along the Pericardium Channel, a meridian that starts 1 cun lateral to the center of the nipple (at Pericardium-1), and runs along the anterior surface of the arm, across the wrist, to a point by the nail of the middle finger. The acupoint Pericardium-6 can be found 2 cun directly above the midpoint of the wrist crease, between the tendons of the palmaris longus and the flexor carpi radialis.
- Pericardium-6 is best known for its renowned ability to relieve nausea and travel sickness, and from this perspective can be compared to at least one of the benefits of ginger (Zingiber officinale). However, Pericardium-6, or “inner gate,” is primarily used to regulate the flow of qi and blood in the chest area, as well as to calm the mind.
- To regulate the flow of qi and blood according to Oriental medicine is to smooth and harmonize their circulation around the body. When the flow of qi and blood is disrupted or impeded in some way — frequently due to psychological stress and tension — the general condition of stagnation may ensue. Stagnation of qi and/or blood in the chest can result in constriction, discomfort, or pain, and reflects problems of a cardiac or respiratory nature.
- Pericardium-6 not only helps to release and regulate the flow of stagnated qi and blood, but has a deeply calming effect on the mind and emotions. This is something it shares with some of the acupoints on the Heart meridian, except that it also helps to smooth and regulate Liver-Qi — the organ responsible for the smooth flow of qi throughout the body. It is this combination of actions that makes Pericardium-6 suitable for nervous tension, irritability, restlessness, and insomnia.
- Although it is impossible to reduce the properties of true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to these effects alone, the essential oil nevertheless mirrors the key actions of Pericardium-6. Lavender, too — an important ester-rich, antispasmodic essential oil — helps to regulate the flow of qi. Its ability to relieve nervous tension, anxiety, and agitation, as well as ease headache and palpitations, reflects the fact that it harmonizes the qi of the heart and liver in a way that is similar to Pericardium-6. Not surprisingly, lavender oil is considered to be the “rescue remedy” of essentials oils, particularly as it is also highly useful for cuts and burns.
- Both the acupoint and the essential oil are also indicated for premenstrual tension and dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) — further evidence of their therapeutic synergy.
- Spleen-9 and Juniperus communis oil
The acupoint Spleen-9, Yinglingchuan or “yin mound spring,” is below the knee, on the medial surface of the leg at a point 13 cun from the ankle, just off the edge of the tibia. Lying in what often feels like a natural anatomical hollow, the point is relatively easy to both locate and treat.
- The main therapeutic action of Spleen-9 is inseparable from the principal function of the spleen itself. The term ‘”spleen” in Oriental medicine refers not only to the anatomical spleen, but to the pancreas as well. The two are considered to function as a single energetic organ, the central role of which is to govern the transformation and transportation of food and fluids in the body.
- The spleen-pancreas therefore plays a crucial role in the digestive process — by transforming food and fluids into qi and blood. As a result, numerous common digestive problems require the tonification (strengthening) of the spleen.
- Another possible consequence resulting from weakness of the spleen’s transformative function is dampness. Dampness is one of the most important pathogenic (disease-causing) factors in Oriental medicine, and is associated with a wide range of common disorders. Symptoms can include fatigue and lassitude, a feeling of heaviness, edema, leukorrhoea, osteoarthritis, and an overweight or obese condition.
- The acupoint Spleen-9 is a key pressure point for this disharmony, working to strengthen the spleen-pancreas and eliminate dampness from the body. It is used for fluid retention, osteoarthritis, cystitis, and other common problems associated with dampness.
- The decongestant, antirheumatic, and mildly diuretic properties of essential oil of juniper berry (Juniperus communis) are similar to those of Spleen-9. It is not surprising, therefore, that juniper oil shares with Spleen-9 a reputation for relieving edema, cystitis, and osteoarthritis. From an Oriental energetic viewpoint, their shared ability to drain dampness from the body clearly explains why.
- Both Spleen-9 and juniper berry essential oil may also be employed for their psychological benefits in cases of poor concentration due to mental plethora, as well as worry and overthinking involving a burdened emotional state.
The Benefits of Integration
Oriental aromatherapy and aromatic acupressure offer the versatile practitioner a powerful way of applying essential oils — one that can be easily integrated with therapeutic massage and bodywork. The therapeutic principle that underpins their potential is one that is increasingly recognized as vital to healing — the concept of energetic synthesis, or synergy.
Licensed massage therapists hold the key to unlocking the future potential of clinical aromatherapy in the United States, as no other therapeutic approach is so perfectly designed to deliver the proven healing benefits of essential oils. It is a shame that aromatherapy is too often perceived as a commercial phenomenon driven by hype and hearsay, whereas the reality is very different. However, I am convinced this will soon change — if massage therapy will only recognize its “soul mate.”
By Gabriel Mojay, a qualified practitioner of aromatherapy, shiatsu, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Since 1990 he has been principal of the Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), which now has branches in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has lectured in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom and is the founding co-chair of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. He is the co-author of Shiatsu — The Complete Guide, and of Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Information on ITHMA training courses is available at www.aromatherapy-studies.com.
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2004.
Copyright 2004. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
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