This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Traditional Chinese medicine views health as the constantly changing flow of vital energy, or qi (pronounced "chee") throughout the body. If that flow is hindered, sickness may develop. The goal of acupressure (and acupuncture) is to release blocked energy by stimulating specific points--called acupoints--along the body's 14 primary meridians, or energy channels. Pressing firmly and steadily on the proper acupoints, it is suggested, can promote energy flow to a part of the body that is experiencing disease or discomfort, enabling it to heal itself more readily. While acupuncture involves stimulation with needles, acupressure typically uses only the practitioner's hands to restore the balance of qi.
Although Western science has found no evidence that meridians actually exist in the body, studies do suggest that pressing on acupoints can release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.