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Treatment

Aromatherapy

Whether you choose to breathe them in, rub them on, or gargle with them, essential oils have been used to treat a host of physical and emotional ailments for at least 6,000 years. From Egyptian to Roman to Native American societies, there is a host of recorded data that documents how ancient societies utilized the powerful healing processes found naturally in essential oils. This practice is known today as aromatherapy.

The method of extracting essential oils from various plants, flowers, and seeds comprises a unique sect of herbal medicine that is recognized for its incredible healing properties. From skin diseases to respiratory infections to gastrointestinal health, aromatherapy is a versatile form of treatment since it can be used for a variety of conditions. The secret to its effectiveness lies in the powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties found naturally in almost all essential oils.

Most essential oils contain the germ-fighting agents necessary to knock out bacteria, fungi, yeast, parasites, and viruses. And unlike pharmaceutical drugs, essential oils interact with multiple body systems at once, making aromatherapy a broad-spectrum form of treatment. The reason behind this rapid absorption of essential oils in our bodies is due to the fact that our bodies and essential oils contain many of the same naturally occurring chemicals. Because of this similar composition, our systems very easily absorb and employ the complex chemical treatments found in essential oils.

How To Use

The best way to determine how to use aromatherapy is to consider the ailment you are treating. Almost every essential oil can be inhaled, making inhalation through various methods a popular form of treatment. This method is best used when treating respiratory conditions, colds, flu, and addressing emotional and mental disturbances. For a skin condition, wound, or burn, a topical application would be the most effective. Ingestion is a popular method throughout the world, but few essential oils can be consumed. Before taking any essential oils by mouth, it is imperative to consult with your physician as certain essential oils pose a toxic threat when ingested. There are several different ways to unlock the antiseptic properties present in essential oils.

Inhalation

The first and fastest form of treatment is inhalation. Inhalation is an ideal aromatherapy technique as it safe on the system and employs our sense of smell, the most powerful of senses. Through sense of smell, the healing properties of essential oil rapidly interact with body systems connected to emotion, nervous system, body temperature, and appetite.

Steam Tent

Creating a steam tent is most beneficial when treating cold and flu symptoms. To do so, simply boil a pot of water, remove from heat, and add in about three drops of your essential oil of choice. Create a tent around your face by standing a few inches over the pot, covering your head with a towel, and trapping the steam around you. You will want to inhale the steam deeply for a few minutes, or until your nasal passages clear and your cough subsides. Be sure to stay far enough from the pot to avoid burning your face.

Diffusion

Another inhalation method is with the use of an essential oil diffuser. As with a steam tent, you will want to add three drops of essential oil to the water-filled diffuser. Diffusers come in different forms; some are candle-lit and others are electric. As the diffuser is activated and heats up, the water will steam and release the essential oil into the air. You will want to breath deeply and slowly to take in the essential oil molecules that are released through the diffuser.

External Application

Another common method is through external application.  Utilizing essential oils in a bath is the preferred method of treatment as the warm water assists in the absorption of essential oils into the skin. As Hippocrates taught, “a perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday is the way to good health.” A recommended dosage for a full bath is 3-15 drops per tub. This form of application is effective as it is one of the few therapies that can rapidly penetrate body tissues.

Massage

An essential oil massage is an excellent form of therapy that will also alleviate the pain and itching associated with viral and fungal skin infections. To create aromatherapy massage oil, combine 10 drops essential oil for every ounce of vegetable oil or lotion. To treat physical injuries using aromatherapy, a compress soaked in essential oils will provide a soothing effect and reduce swelling of the injured area. To create the compress, utilize 5 drops of your chosen essential oil in 1 cup of water and soak the compress in the solution.

Spray

In some cases of illness, a throat spray or gargle made of essential oils may be the most effective form of treatment. This can be easily created by combining two drops of essential oil into a teaspoon of honey and taking by mouth, or by adding 1-2 drops of essential oil to 1/4 cup of water and using as a gargle to treat throat infections. It is common practice in European countries such as France to ingest essential oils to treat certain forms of organ dysfunction. However, it is vital to consult a physician before taking any oils internally, especially if you are pregnant as a few varieties of essential oils can cause a toxic reaction when ingested.

Types of Essential Oils and Their Uses

There are over fifty kinds of essential oil that are used therapeutically. Here is a complete list of those most commonly used. As always, be sure to consult your physician before use.

  • Angelica: The seed and root oils from this plant contain properties that effectively manage menstruation, digestion, and coughing. However, this essential oil can over-stimulate the central nervous system, making it important to use sparingly and with caution.
  • Anise: This delicious tasting (and smelling!) essential oil is useful as a lactation stimulant while breastfeeding, and can soothe muscle spasms, indigestion, and insomnia. It is vital to control the amount of anise essential oil used due to the fact that large doses can cause skin rashes and retard proper circulation.
  • Basil: Basil is used to treat the herpes and shingles viruses, headaches, and indigestion issues. It also acts as a lactation stimulant and aids in the treatment of mental and emotional disorders.
  • Bay: The essential oil derived from the leaf of the bay tree relieves sinus and chest congestion and is used to improve memory and lymphatic circulation throughout the body.
  • Benzoin: This antiseptic and antifungal essential oil also alleviates dry skin and provides emotional support.
  • Bergamot: This refreshing essential oil can be used to battle the viruses responsible for flu, herpes, shingles, and chickenpox, ease digestion, and act as an anti-inflammatory for the urinary tract system, mouth, throat, and skin.
  • Birch: Often made available for purchase under the moniker “wintergreen” essential oil, birch is useful in treating psoriasis and relieving arthritis and muscle pain. However, large amounts of birch are toxic to the system, so use with caution.
  • Carrot Seed: No, this essential oil is not distilled from the carrots in your refrigerator. Carrot seed actually comes from the seeds of the plant Queen Anne’s lace, a distant ancestor of today’s carrot. This oil can be used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, rashes and certain precancerous skin conditions.
  • Cedarwood: Cedarwood is most useful in treating respiratory and urinary infections, and can also be used to fight off acne, dandruff, and chronic itching. Avoid all cedar oils while pregnant.
  • Chamomile: This versatile essential oil is used to treat a host of conditions. Chamomile acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, pain reducer, and addresses indigestion, ulcers, and liver damage. This essential oil is also commonly used to treat insomnia and acts as a powerful antidepressant.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon can be used to treat urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and is helpful to relieve tension. However, you will want to dilute cinnamon essential oil with a less potent essential oil, as cinnamon is a potential skin irritant.
  • Citronella: While this essential oil is more commonly known as an insect repellant, citronella is also useful in treating colds and infections. Be cautious with topical applications as it can cause skin irritation.
  • Clary sage: Clary sage is used throughout Europe as a sore throat remedy and also can be used to alleviate pain and menopause symptoms. Clary sage should not be combined with alcohol.
  • Clove bud: This essential oil is used to fight infections such as colds, flu, and chest congestion. It can also act as a stress reliever and memory stimulant.
  • Coriander: Coriander is an antiseptic essential oil that eases pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and acts as an antiseptic in treating flu, cystitis, and diarrhea.
  • Cypress: Use this essential oil to treat sinus and lung congestion or to ease symptoms associated with low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
  • Dill: Dill is useful in treating indigestion and can also be helpful as an appetite suppressant.
  • Eucalyptus: The essential oil derived from the eucalyptus tree is a powerful antiviral agent. It is useful in treating throat infections, fever, flu, chest congestion, and herpes.
  • Fennel: Fennel is commonly used as a lactation stimulant, but can also be helpful in treating indigestion, urinary tract disorders, and to quickly heal bruises. Do not use if you have epilepsy as fennel can over-stimulate the central nervous system.
  • Fir: Use this essential oil to treat asthma, chronic cough, and to soothe muscle pain.
  • Frankincense: This valuable essential oil treats fungal infections, ulcers, lung sensitivity, and chronic diarrhea. Additionally, frankincense has been used throughout the ancient world to increase consciousness and relaxation.
  • Geranium: Geranium possesses both antiviral and antifungal properties, making it an important treatment for shingles, herpes, and ringworm. This essential oil can also be used to treat menopausal symptoms and regulate blood pressure.
  • Ginger: Ginger can be used internally to alleviate digestion issues such as nausea, diarrhea, gas, and loss of appetite. It can also address infections of the lungs and urinary system.
  • Helichrysum: Use Helichrysum to treat bronchitis, asthma, and pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • Inula: Inula is mostly used to treat skin infections and herpes, but can also relieve sinus, chest congestion, muscle pain, and inflammation.
  • Jasmine: This essential oil is sometimes used to treat complications with the prostate. It also acts to soothe headaches.
  • Juniper: Bronchial infections, eczema, and hemorrhoids are all treated with this essential oil. Use with caution as overuse can over stimulate the kidneys.
  • Labdanum: This antiseptic essential oil is used to treat colds, coughs, wounds, and hemorrhoids.
  • Lavender: This quintessential aromatherapy oil contains the broadest reaching of benefits. From treating burns and eczema to lung and sinus infections, indigestion, and skin infections, lavender is a go-to ingredient in aromatherapy treatment.
  • Lemon: The essential oil derived from the lemon peel is antiseptic and antioxidant. Use it to treat viral and bacterial infections, aid with digestion issues, and boost immunity.
  • Lemongrass: This antiseptic essential oil can be used to ward off scabies and ringworm and to treat headache and indigestion pain.
  • Marjoram: Use Marjoram in treating colds, flu, migraines, and high blood pressure. It is also useful as a topical skin application in treating bruises, burns, bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Melissa: This essential oil contains both antiseptic and antiviral properties and is an appropriate treatment for strep, herpes, chickenpox, chest congestion, and high blood pressure.
  • Myrrh: Use myrrh as an external application on yeast infections, eczema, skin infections, ringworm, and wounds. It can also be used to boost immunity and aid with digestion, coughs, and diarrhea.
  • Myrtle: Used throughout the ages to treat the complexion, myrtle is also helpful in treating respiratory infections, muscle spasms, and varicose veins.
  • Neroli: Neroli is particularly useful in treating symptoms of menopause. It also addresses circulation problems like high blood pressure and hemorrhoids.
  • Niaouli: Use this essential oil on bacterial and fungal infections as well as in treating respiratory allergies.
  • Palmarosa: Palmarosa contains wonderful antiseptic and antiviral properties that are useful in treating acne, skin infections, and herpes.
  • Patchouli: Patchouli holds antiseptic abilities and is used to treat eczema, athlete’s foot, and skin inflammation.
  • Pepper, black: Pepper can be helpful in caring for colds, flu, urinary tract infections, and food poisoning. It is important to be cautious when using topically as pepper can be a skin irritant.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is a powerful antiseptic essential oil and is used to destroy bacteria, viruses, and parasites found in the digestive tract. It also helps to alleviate sinus and lung congestion, irritable-bowel syndrome and the itching associated with ringworm, herpes, scabies, and poison ivy.
  • Ravensare: This essential oil is an important antiseptic treatment against flu, bronchitis, viral infections, and sinus congestion.
  • Rose: Rose oil is a strong antiseptic that fights infection and can also treat asthma, liver dysfunction, and depression.
  • Rosemary: This essential oil stimulates the nervous system, lowers cholesterol and alleviates chest congestion, sore throat and sore muscles.
  • Rosewood: Rosewood is a sweet-smelling essential oil that treats infections, colds, headaches, and nausea.
  • Sage: This antiseptic essential oil is used to fight throat and mouth infections. It should be used with caution as it contains a potential neurotoxin that is especially harmful to individuals prone to seizures.
  • Sandalwood: Sandalwood is primarily used to treat genital and urinary tract infections and can also be helpful with nerve pain, inflammation, and persistent coughs.
  • Tangerine: This gentle essential oil taken from the peel of a tangerine combats sleep and digestive disorders. It is a wonderful essential oil to use on children and pregnant women due to its extremely safe and mild composition.
  • Tea Tree: Similar to eucalyptus essential oil, tea tree oil contains strong antiseptic properties. It is useful in fighting vaginal, sinus, fungal, and viral infections. Like lavender, this is a popular essential oil for use in aromatherapy due to its extremely powerful and versatile nature in treating a host of conditions.
  • Thyme: This antibacterial essential oil eliminates intestinal worms, chest congestion, and indigestion. In the past, Thyme was actually used to treat whooping cough. Due to its powerful antibiotic nature, it is not recommended for daily use.
  • Vetiver: Use vetiver to increase circulation, treat muscle pain and sprains, and improve liver function.
  • Ylang-ylang: This sweet-smelling essential oil lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscle spasms, and acts as a strong sedative. Be wary to limit dosage, as high concentrations have been known to cause headaches.

Precautions

It is vital to be aware of the potentially toxic effect of some essential oils, especially for children and pregnant women. A few essential oils that are potentially toxic when ingested include bitter almond, hyssop, mugwart, oregano, pennyroyal, sassafras, savory, and thuja. Additionally, essential oils in their natural state are extremely concentrated and have the potential to burn or irritate skin and other sensitive tissues. It is important to dilute essential oils that pose a potential irritation to the skin with less irritating oils before topical application. The following essential oils should be diluted before use:

  • Bay rum
  • Birch
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Citronella
  • Clove
  • Cumin
  • Thyme

For elderly, allergenic individuals, or someone who has a serious health condition such as asthma, epilepsy, or heart disease, consult with your physician before the use of any essential oils. For continual use, be sure to vary the essential oils that you employ in your treatment, as overexposure of one kind of essential oil may be harmful to your liver and kidney functions over time.

Summary

From anise to cypress to lavender, there is a bounty of useful and medicinal essential oils that will banish viral, fungal, and bacterial infections all the while improving sleep, mood, and emotional health. From Egyptian civilization through today, aromatherapy has played a major role in addressing common illnesses and ailments.

By following sage medical advice and adherence to the recommendations provided here, you can employ and benefit from the antiviral and antibiotic properties drawn from the beautiful flowers, trees, and plants that surround us everyday.

As Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D and Director of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy in San Rafael, California, puts it, “for many common infectious diseases, aromatherapy offers more effective and more wholesome solutions than conventional medicine.”

  • Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. New York: Celestial Arts.
  • Natural Healing Wisdom & Know-How. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
  • Essential Oils for Beginners. California: Althea Press

 



Categories
Treatment

Massage

There are many different forms of massage therapy such as deep tissue, Swedish, Shiatsu and Thai yoga massage are just a few. Some are done fully clothed, while others require the removal of clothes to the comfort level of the client.

The benefits of massage are wonderful especially in stress reduction and relaxation.

How it Works

Massage therapy is a licensed profession, so your therapist will be highly trained in knowledge on the working of the body and its muscles.

You should arrive at your appointment about 15 minutes in advance in so you have time to sign any necessary forms. You will then be led back to your personal, quiet, dimly lit room and usually calming music is being played. Your massage therapist will come in and depending on the type of massage you have decided on, the session may run as long as an hour and a half.

Benefits

The benefits of massage are bountiful. Enhanced lymphatic drainage associated with the increased excretion of toxins is a major benefit as are stress relief, muscular release, and endorphin production (your happy, feel good, natural pain reducing neurotransmitters) is also greatly augmented.

Precautions

Massage is not for everyone. If you are pregnant, have certain pain conditions, are unable to lay flat for a certain period of time, have low blood pressure, or have any open wounds you should consult with your physician prior to this treatment. Also, if you have sensitivities to some lotions or oils, you may want to bring your own so as to avoid any allergic response.

Summary

Massage therapy is a great holistic modality to add to your health care regimen. It moves the lymphatic fluid which is wonderful in assisting in the elimination of toxins, relaxes tense, tight muscles and relaxes the mind.

It is important to consider drinking a sufficient amount of water after your massage.

References

  • Edgar Cayce’s Massage, Hydrotherapy & Healing Oils: by Joseph and Sandra Duggan
  • Deep Tissue Massage Revised Edition by Art Riggs
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Massage Therapy Benefits

The benefits of massage therapy are powerful when it comes to stress reduction, relaxation, easing pain, managing migraines, insomnia, and muscle recovery.

Fix.com’s massage therapy infographic found here will help you find the most appropriate type of massage to meet your needs and lifestyle.

Massage Therapy Benefits

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Aston-Patterning: A Holistic Look at Therapeutic Body Massage

Bodywork expert Rama Newton may not know who will come walking in his door next but there is one thing he feels sure of—that person will go walking out in a whole different place. Founder and owner of Your Balanced Being in Edgewater, Colorado, Rama has seen—and treated—it all.

From common complaints like back pain to aiding in the rehabilitation of a man who broke his neck in a car accident he uses therapeutic body massage to provide relief, education and empowerment to his clients.

“The work that I do is founded from advanced bodywork called Aston-Patterning which is more of a comprehensive way of looking at our bodies in a holistic way,” he says. In other words, he looks at the whole package.

For example, a person with a knee injury who goes to a physical therapist will likely have the knee and its range of motion examined and then be given a treatment plan focused on the injured area.

Rama, on the other hand, wants to know the big picture—not only what’s happening with the knee but how that knee is interacting with the rest of the body.

An evaluation with Rama begins with taking a history of what is going on followed by a visual assessment. “I look at alignment from all four angles watching how the person stands and walks and how their body segments all relate to each other,” he says.

He also gleans information by feeling the muscles’ strength and tension levels. Certain areas might be too dense and working too hard whereas others could be soft and not doing enough. Both can put a body out of kilter.

While many people come to him looking for relief from pain, others seek skill improvement ranging from running to tennis to playing a musical instrument. In those cases he watches the individual do the activity as well. “We’re all unique in how our bodies do what they do,” he says.

“You watch one person do an overhand serve in tennis and watch ten more people and there is similarity but also idiosyncrasies of how their bodies are in position to make that happen.”

Rama studies these idiosyncrasies and the way the body moves as a whole to make suggestions how the movements might relate to the area of discomfort or lack of power or efficiency the client is trying to achieve. Treatment consists of several components.

Often tissue work like massage is involved with specific strokes changing the muscle tissue—for example, loosening up tense muscles. Once this is achieved the entire body is viewed again to see how this one change has affected all the other parts which can lead to focus on additional areas.

Exercises are also crucial to success. Stretching, loosening and/or toning are all possible recommendations depending on the individual.

Finally, education is key. “One of the cool things is how empowering it is,” says Rama.

“It’s not just about me magically doing work on somebody. I always do my best to educate the client and what it is I’m doing and help them to understand their body.

Why are they experiencing and feeling what they’re feeling and how can they take control, what can they do to make it different for themselves.”

For more information about Rama, visit his website Your Balanced Being at www.yourbalancedbeing.com.

Kristen Stewart is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at www.kristenestewart.com.

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5 Tips for Choosing the Right Massage Therapist for You

by Edan Harari, LMT

Let’s face it. Not all the massages we’ve gotten in our past were what we were looking for. Either we just wanted to relax and had a therapist dig their elbows in our back, or we wanted some deep work and the therapist was giving us a Swedish massage that was way too light. But I have good news for you. It doesn’t have to be that way in the future. All you need to do is a little prep work and you can ensure that you only enjoy the session but that you’re also satisfied with the results. After all, you’re spending time and money on the session, you might as well have it meet your expectations. If you’ve ever had to withstand a full 60 or 90 minute massage with a therapist who simply wasn’t to your liking, you know that it can ruin your whole experience. Heck, I’ve even gotten a massage that made me more stressed than I was before!

Here are some tips to choosing the right massage therapist for you:

1. Know your goals

We’re all looking for something different from a massage. It’s important to ask yourself what you’re specifically looking to get out of the treatment. Are you looking for pain relief in a particular region of your body (i.e. tense neck and shoulders), treatment for a medical condition such as tennis elbow or an entrapped nerve, or are you just looking for some stress relief or just want to enjoy the simple yummy-ness of getting a massage.

Different modalities of massage aim to achieve different results and outcomes so knowing what your goals are in advance will ensure that you choose the right therapist for you, as different therapists are not only trained in different modalities but they also specialize in different techniques. For instance, if you’re an athlete, you may be interested in seeing someone who is trained in dealing with injuries or reducing recovery time so you can perform better. Or, if you’re just stressed out and want some general tension relief most therapists should be able to help if they’re good.

2. Learn about the various modalities that are available

There are numerous massage methods that therapists can be trained in. Learning a bit about what types of practices are available in your area may help you determine the best technique that will achieve your treatment goals. For instance, if you’re just looking for what I call a “feel-good” massage, a.k.a Swedish/relaxation massage, then a regular spa massage would suit you just fine. However, if you’re looking for specific work such as reducing pain or releasing tension in a particular area, then perhaps you should find someone who is trained in deep-tissue, medical, myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy or other therapeutic techniques that are aimed at reducing hypertonic (tight) muscles. Keep in mind, massage may not be the best medicine for your particular issue, as there are other bodywork therapies that may be more effective and efficient when it comes to relieving pain and reducing tension such as Ortho-Bionomy, Cranial-sacral therapy, Rolfing, and many more.

3. Figure out what your preferences are

Once you know what your goals are and the type of method that you’d like to try, decide what your preferences are when actually getting the session. Where do you want the treatment to be? Close to your home at a practitioner’s office or at your home as a house call? What type of environment do you prefer? In a relaxing environment such as a spa (dim lights, candles, relaxing music) or are you more concerned with reducing your pain and would not mind getting the treatment in a medical setting such as a physical therapist or chiropractor’s office? Once you know your preferences, don’t forget to look for these details on their website or you can just call or e-mail them to ask. You will get to know a little bit about the therapist simply by asking such questions. Focusing on how eager they are to accommodate you will let you know if your experience with them will be a positive one.

4. Do your homework

Before choosing a therapist, there are many factors to consider. You may want to first see if there is information about them online and then ask them for a brief phone conversation (15 minutes or less) where you can ask them some questions. The following are some great questions to ask so you can get a better idea if they are the right therapist for you:

What type of massage education do they have?
Is it an officially recognized (accredited) school? Is it well-known or a small school that no one has ever heard about?

Are they licensed and/or certified?
Some states require both such as in New York, while others such as California only require certification. It’s much safer to use a therapist who is not only formally trained but also licensed/certified.

How many years have they been practicing?
The more clients a therapist works with, the more likely they will be intuitive. They will also more likely have a better understanding of anatomy and physiology since they have worked on more bodies, which may make their work more effective.

What are the types of clients that they usually work with and what are some of their treatment goals?
Some therapists focus on working with the elderly or with children, while others work with athletes or the everyday person. If you’re an athlete and in need of a sports massage, you may not want to go with a therapist whose primary focus is working with the elderly.

What’s their favorite modality to practice and what’s your philosophy when it comes to massage and healing?
While some therapists prefer to give deep tissue massage and have a no-pain no-gain approach, others may prefer to use a more gentle approach to bodywork, working with the body’s natural ability to heal itself without using force. It’s good to know what type of work the therapist loves doing, as that’s usually going to be the best work to get from them. You also might want to ask them why they chose this profession in the first place. A therapist who is passionate about what they do is almost always going to be giving you better quality work than someone who isn’t.

Finally, read reviews! While each client’s experience may be unique, you’re more likely to be able to differentiate a really good therapist from an excellent one by reading as many reviews as you can. Google their name and/or the place that they work to find out what others are saying. Are a majority of the reviews positive? Yelp and LinkedIn are credible online sources where you may find the reviews you need.

5. The only real way to know is to try

One of the best ways to find out if a therapist is to your liking is to book a session with them and give them a try. But remember, you may not necessarily have to go through a full hour massage with someone to try them out. Try asking them if you can book a 30-minute session to start and if you like their work, you will extend the treatment to either 60 or 90-minutes. Ask them if they can schedule you in when they have an opening afterwards to make sure that it could work out. Some therapists won’t agree with this, but it never hurts to ask.

And remember, just because a therapist has graduated from a good school, has years of experience, amazing reviews, and seems like they may be a great choice for you, doesn’t guarantee that you will resonate with them or even like their work, but it will bring you closer to finding just the right person for you. Someone who has your needs in mind and who has no agenda other than to make you feel better and give you the type of bodywork that you feel is right for you. After all, it’s your body and no one knows what your body needs better than you do.

Written by Edan Harari, LMT
www.KineticMassage.com
www.DissolvePain.com
e-mail: Edan@KineticMassage.com

 

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Massage and Insomnia: The Healing Power of Touch

A gentle massage can do more than just relieve pain and discomfort in the body. If you have chronic difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of insomnia, massage can help establish a pattern of restful and rejuvenating sleep.

As we move throughout our daily lives and experience stress, we store a lot of tension in our muscles and ligaments without knowing it. Restlessness at bedtime could be a result of anxiety, overwork, overeating, indigestion, an empty stomach, smoking, or an excessive intake of caffeine or sugar. Feeling angry, upset, resentful, afraid, or unsafe can also contribute to sleeplessness. Through massage, pent-up energy due to stress is released from targeted parts of the body.

Studies have shown that massage enhances relaxation and improves sleep patterns, especially when used in tandem with essential oils. Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) in particular may result in improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, a more stable mood, and increased mental capacity, reports a study conducted at University of Maryland Medical Center.

That being said, certain types of massage may be more effective for particular people. Swedish Massage, the most popular type of massage, is both relaxing and stimulating as it combines movement of joints with soft, kneading strokes to massage the topmost muscle layers. Thai Massage, on the other hand, uses yoga-like stretching and puts gentle pressure on energy lines in the body called meridians. It is similar to Shiatsu Massage, which means “finger pressure” and involves the therapist using rhythmic pressure on precise acupressure points. Shiatsu massage focuses on restoring the flow of the body’s vital energy, called chi.

In addition, Neuromuscular Therapy Massage and Deep Tissue Massage are used in cases of chronic pain and severe stiffness. They target underlying causes of discomfort in the muscular and nervous systems. Chair Massage offers a 15- to 20-minute seated massage of one’s neck, head, shoulders, back, arms, and hands.

Edan Harari of Kinetic Massage Therapy says, “A good thing about massage is that while it’s recommended that you see a professional for complete and more effective one hour sessions, you can also benefit greatly from having your partner or a loved one give you some nurturing and gentle massage before you go to sleep.”

Regardless of which massage therapy you choose, the therapeutic qualities of massage can help manage insomnia. Be sure to maintain regular massage treatments until symptoms of sleeplessness subside.

Written by Nicole Kagan

Reviewed by Edan Harari, LMT

References

  • Benefits of thai massage. (n.d.).
    suphattrasretreat.com/Benefits.aspx
  • Insomnia. (2012, January 20). Retrieved from
    umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/insomnia-natural-treatments
  • Massage therapy styles and health benefits. (2012, May 10). Retrieved from
    webmd.com/balance/massage-therapy-styles-and-health-benefits

 

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Controlling Fibromyalgia with Hydrotherapy and Massage

Hydrotherapy has long been known for its healing powers and therapeutic attributes when utilized as a treatment for chronic illness. One illness that is profoundly affected by adding hydrotherapy and massage is Fibromyalgia. Using the techniques of hydrotherapy bath and the incorporation of massage therapy can greatly reduce the common symptoms that are brought on with Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a condition most well-known for an overall feeling of pain and fatigue to the body. It is characterized by trigger points such as joints and muscle stiffness accompanied with physical and emotional fatigue. Utilizing hydrotherapy bath that has a warm temperature between 91° and 94° Fahrenheit can stimulate muscle and joint relaxation while improving circulation throughout the body. This consistent motion of circulation with relaxation will help with the mobilization of Fibromyalgia trigger points and decrease overall pain that is felt.

In conjunction with hydrotherapeutic bath, massage can add another level of comfort for those suffering from Fibromyalgia. Massage uses pressure on the muscles to stimulate blood flow and encourage relaxation. While this can help with the pain and discomfort often felt with Fibromyalgia, the real benefit to massage is the emotional release that it can provide to help alleviate the mental fatigue that the syndrome has on the body.

Fibromyalgia affects the body both physically and mentally from the constant battle with chronic pain and fatigue. Hydrotherapy and massage together can create an ongoing treatment that can help with muscle relaxation, joint stiffness, overall achiness, and circulation. The two therapies can also help to balance the emotional fatigue by encouraging the body and mind to relax and unwind to promote better management of the syndrome.

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Massage as an Alternative Treatment for Scoliosis

About Scoliosis

Six million Americans are living with scoliosis, a condition resulting in an abnormal curvature of the spine that can impact an individual’s quality of life depending upon its severity. Approximately 1 in 1,000 children are diagnosed with scoliosis and suffer some degree of back pain from the condition which can be congenital, caused by injury, or degeneration or malformation of the vertebrae. Most people living with scoliosis endure many related health issues to include musculature back pain, arthritis, difficulty breathing, sciatica, headaches and insomnia.

While nothing can completely correct or “cure” Scoliosis, there are presently two mainstream treatment options for moderate to severe scoliosis. The first line of treatment is orthopedic bracing – a treatment that does not straighten the spine or fix any curvature already present, but rather stops the progression of the curve from worsening during the growth period following puberty. The brace must be worn 19-23 hours per day for approximately two years during adolescence. The second line of treatment is bone-fusion surgery – an option for more severe curves that will almost straighten the spine, but not without side effects or risk.

Mild Scoliosis, or smaller curves, are about 10 to 20 degrees. The American medical model takes an observational role in these types of curves, not intervening until or unless the curve approaches about 35 degrees.

Living with the pain resulting from scoliosis has an obvious impact both physically and psychologically. Even mild scoliosis can create tightness, pain, and physical limitations. In European countries, the mild curves are referred to massage therapists for pain management and the hope of possibly slowing down the progression of the curve but this has not been mainstream practice in the U.S.

Deep Tissue Massage and Scoliosis

Massage therapy is utilized for many purposes including rehabilitation from sports injury, stress reduction, pain relief, and as an aid to general wellness and relaxation.

Deep Tissue Massage has been used as an alternative treatment for the relief of scoliosis-related symptoms for years. When the body is massaged, tight muscles are stretched thus losing their tension. Circulation improves as blood is allowed to flow to these tighter areas. Deep tissue massage is often reported and observed to improve posture, increase flexibility, and facilitate healing and strength in the muscles due to increased blood flow.

Scientific evidence on the benefits of massage therapy for scoliosis is very limited. Therefore, specific conclusions about the treatment effects cannot be backed with “hard data.” There are a few case studies and the majority of patients report positive outcomes on both physical and psychological/emotional levels after receiving deep tissue massage treatments.

Deep Tissue Massage must be done with expertise and care as to not work overstretched muscles covering the rib cage. A credentialed massage therapist should be referred by a spinal orthopedist or neurosurgeon. While massage therapy will not fix or stop the curvature of the spine, it is a treatment option chosen by many for pain management, increased mobility, and the reduction of many scoliosis-related symptoms.

By Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

 Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland

Reviewed by Edan Harari, LMT

  • Freedom From Pain Institute, 2011
    erikdalton.com/media/published-articles/scoliosis-and-massage-therapy/
  • Associated and Massage Professionals, 2013
    massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/583/Scoliosis-and-Structural-Integration-
  • BioMed Central Ltd., 2013
    scoliosisjournal.com/content/3/1/2
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Natural Health News and Articles

3 Benefits to Baby Massage for Good Health

There has been increasing research on the benefits of introducing low impact, mild massage to babies. From relieving colic to soothing growing muscles, you and your baby could find a happy balance. Here are 3 benefits to incorporating massage into your baby’s daily routine.

Brain and Central Nervous System Development – There are some studies that suggest that the daily touch from baby massage can help develop your baby’s central nervous system and subsequently brain development. The sensation that is felt from the touch stimulates brain function and produces more serotonin. This feel-good hormone is responsible for reducing stress leaving your baby with less fussiness.

Colic – Specific massage has shown that it can help greatly reduce the occurrence of colic for some babies. Begin with a gentle belly massage, then follow it with a series of leg bends. This will help stimulate digestion and excretion, which may in-turn help eliminate colic and painful gas.

Bonding and Communication – Adding 10-15 minutes daily of baby massage can help create a bond between you and your baby. It has even been shown to help increase communication between a parent and baby. By spending this time together focused on your baby’s needs, you may become more in tuned with his or her reactions to environment. You will see clear displays of affection and enjoyment from your baby that you can translate into other situations.

Edan Harari, a licensed massage therapist, adds, “In addition to all these great benefits, you can also help your baby get a deeper sleep by giving them a massage before you put them in bed. I recommend taking an infant massage lesson with a professional certified massage therapist to learn some of the important basics of how to give an effective massage to your baby, as it will differ from giving one to an adult.”

Baby massage is simple and healthy for you and your baby, creating a bond and routine that is fundamental to his or her development. With just a few minutes daily you might be able to make your baby more comfortable and empower yourself more as a parent.

Reviewed by Edan Harari, LMT


Reference:

  • Meredith Corporation, 2013
    parents.com/baby/care/newborn/babymassage/?page=1
  • Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/valentinap/129820098/
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Natural Health News and Articles

Massage to Stimulate Weight Loss

There are many weight management programs that focus on the typical regimes with weight loss – calorie intake, physical activity, and supplementation. However, there is a way to stimulate weight loss that can be incorporated with a weight loss program – Stomach massage.

It may seem comical that something as relaxing and refreshing as massage could actually increase weight loss, but recent studies have shown that introducing abdominal massage into your weight management can actually make your program more successful. Adding massage basically does 3 things to increase weight loss.

Stimulates Digestion – Stimulating digestion helps to better manage how your body processes calories and food intake for better energy. This will help keep the calories that are ingested be burned and utilized quicker.

Reduces Stress – By reducing stress levels, the body also reduces the production of Cortisol (the hormone that increases belly fat). By limiting the amount of Cortisol the body produces, it is easier to maintain weight that is lost overall.

Increases Relaxation – By adding massage in a weight loss program, your mind and muscles will learn to relax more effectively. This will allow your muscles to respond better to physical activity and subsequently will tone up quicker. Also, when your mind is relaxed you are more likely to commit to the program and feel more positive about the results.

Edan Harari of Kinetic Massage Therapy says, “Abdominal massage, as well as any type of bodywork that focuses on the organs (viscera), may help stimulate other organs in the abdominal region to function better. In general, visceral manipulation may benefit chronic muscle pain, headaches, acid reflux and heartburn, sciatica and emotional issues.”

While massage alone is not the answer to weight loss, adding it to a weight loss program can increase success for many people. It’s a simple, natural, and enjoyable way to add to your overall weight goals.

Reviewed by Edan Harari, LMT

 


References:

  • Demand Media, Inc., 2013
    livestrong.com/news-articles/300069-stomach-massage-for-weight-loss/
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Natural Health News and Articles

Using Massage Techniques to Treat Headaches

There are many remedies and medications that you can take to help alleviate a throbbing head. However, by using some simple massage techniques you can work your way through most types of headaches. Overall, the main technique needed to combat any headache due to muscular tension or illness can be treated with 3 basic techniques:

  • Using your pointer finger and middle finger, gently knead between your eyebrows 30 times.
  • Using your thumbs, knead the area around your temples 30 times the wipe your thumb back towards your hair line on both sides 30 times.
  • Press and knead the area just below your skull line 30 times, applying more pressure gradually as you go.

If your headaches are more specific you can add to the basic techniques mentioned with a few simple moves that target chronic areas. For a migraine, simply knead the corners of your forehead with your middle fingers inside the hairline for at least 30 seconds. You can also adjust slightly for a headache in the crown of your head by using all of your fingers to knead the crown of your head for 30 seconds. Finally, headaches in the back of the head and neck can be helped by gently massaging the area at the back of the head where your neck begins for about 30 seconds.

When all else fails, massage the inside of the palm of your hand for a minute then the back of calves for a minute. This will stimulate blood flow away from the head and neck and towards the hands and feet. This can help lessen the pressure that is often associated with a headache.

Whether your headaches are tension, illness, or muscular, there is a massaging motion that can help reduce the pain and pressure without introducing major medication into your body. Combined with common techniques such as cold compresses and breathing exercises, you could eliminate your headaches altogether.

Reference:

  • Shen-Nong, Ltd., 2005
    shen-nong.com/eng/treatment/massage_acupressure_techniques_problems.html
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Migraine Infographic

Migraine's 4 stages and natural holistic remedies

Migraine’s 4 stages and natural holistic remedies

Read about Natural Holistic Therapies for Migraines that formed the basis for the infographic above

 


Supplements – 5 supplements (Riboflavin, Magnesium, Ginkgolide B, Coq10, Omega 3) have shown to benefit migraine sufferers.

Herbs – Feverfew and butterbur are popular herbs that are commonly used to provide relief from migraines.

Biofeedback – This relaxation technique uses special equipment to teach you how to monitor and control certain physical responses related to stress, such as muscle tension.

CranioSacral Therapy – CranioSacral therapy is a form of treatment which has its origins in osteopathy and can be very effective in the treatment of migraine headaches.

Meditation – Meditation, an age-old technique of mentally concentrating to have resolution, can help treat migraine symptoms both physically and emotionally.

Essential Oils – Lavender oil is touted as being one of the best for migraine pain management.

Heat & Cold Therapy – Apply hot & cold compresses to the head or neck can be helpful in relieving pain & tension.

Homeopathy – Delivered at small homeopathic dosages, the SNRA molecule has shown to be fast-acting in migraine relief.