Jan 17

Thai Massage Boosts Immune Systems

Thai yoga massage, also simply called Thai massage, is a 2,500-year-old Ayurvedic-based body science developed and popularized by Buddha’s doctor, Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha. A trained Thai Yoga massage therapist stretches a person with specific, assisted yoga poses. The philosophy behind Thai yoga massage techniques focuses on energy points called “sen.” As the Thai massage therapist stretches the participant, she also presses and massages along the sen lines or points.

Thai Massage Aromatherapy

 

Thai massage acts as an external stimulant to produce specific internal effects. The massage is performed on the floor on a Thai massage mat, instead of a table. Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage techniques also includes compression and stretches.

Thai massage is like yoga only you do not have to do any of the work – the therapist is the one moving and stretching you into a sequence of postures. This particular massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. Thai massage benefits include reducing stress and improving flexibility and range of motion.

Let’s move on to aromatherapy to gain a little info about this subject.

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses essential oils from plants to support and balance one’s mood, cognitive, psychological and physical wellbeing. Aromatherapists utilize blends of therapeutic essential oils that can be issued through topical application, massage, inhalation or water immersion to stimulate a desired response.

Essential oils (also known as volatile oils) are the basic materials of aromatherapy. They are made from fragrant essences found in many plants particularly the leaves, bark, root, flowers, berries, wood, seeds or peel. When essences are extracted from plants in natural ways, they become essential oils. They may be distilled with steam and/or water, or mechanically pressed. Oils that are made with chemical processes are not considered true essential oils.

Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Essential oils are very volatile and highly flammable so they should never be used near an open flame. They also evaporate quickly when they are exposed to open air. Some essential oils used in aromatherapy would be: chamomile, geranium, lavender, tea tree, lemon, cedarwood, peppermint, jasmine, bergamot, and coconut.

Aromatherapy is rarely suggested as a treatment for cancer, but rather as a form of supportive care to manage symptoms of cancer or side effects of cancer treatment. More recently aromatherapy has been used by patients with cancer in hopes of improving quality of life and reducing stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy may be combined with other complementary treatments like massage therapy and acupuncture, as well as with standard treatments.

Now that we have a basic understanding of aromatherapy, let’s check out this study. Sixty-six patients with colorectal cancer were enrolled in a single-blind, randomized-controlled trial. The treatment plan for one group consisted of three light Thai massage sessions with ginger and coconut oil over a 1 week period. The other (control) group received standard supportive care only.

The main finding was that lymphocyte (white cell) count was significantly higher in the treatment group than in the control group. The size of this difference suggested that aromatherapy with Thai yoga massage could boost lymphocyte numbers by 11%. The secondary outcomes were that fatigue, pain and stress were significantly lower in the Thai massage group than in the standard care control group.

Researchers commented “Aromatherapy with light Thai massage can be beneficial for the immune systems of cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy by increasing the number of lymphocytes and can help to reduce the severity of common symptoms.”

Study Link

We, at Healing Energy Massage Therapy, always look forward to hearing about great results from studies using massage therapy.

Jan 16

Hot Stone Massage Useful in Promoting Health and Wellness

Hot stone massage is an age-old healing therapy with history dating back to ancient Egyptians. The Native American culture has long used hot stones during “sweat lodge” ceremonies as a way to facilitate cleansing both the physical body and spirit. In Hawaii, hot molten lava rocks called pohaku are used. A type of hot stone massage is also used in the traditional Ayurveda, a natural alternative healing medicine practiced in India.

Introduced to North American massage therapists in the early 1990’s, hot stone massage is a form of massage therapy that follows the same principles of a regular Swedish massage but with the addition of heated stones, which are believed to better open the body’s energy pathways.

Hot stone massage is a form of “thermotherapy” in which heated smooth, flat stones usually made of basalt are positioned on key points (thought to be energy centers) of the body which helps to rebalance the body and mind. Many hot stone massage enthusiasts even claim they experience a sense of enlightenment, inner peace and renewed spirituality after a hot stone massage session.

Essential oils are used to allow the therapist to work with the muscles easier and the hot stones may be alternated with cold stones or room temperature stones to facilitate the massage treatment.

Hot stone massage 1

Benefits of Hot Stone Massage:

  • Promotes deep muscle and tissue relaxation

  • Alleviates stress

  • Releases toxins

  • Relieves pain

  • Improves circulation

  • Helps digestion

The average human skin temperature is 92 degrees so stone temperatures should never be higher than 120 degrees and most clients find that 105-110 degrees is hot enough. Hot tubs are usually around 104 degrees and most people find them to be right about at the threshold of nice and hot but not too hot.

Previously, other studies have found that thermal stimulation applied to the skin has yielded an increase in local skin temperature and blood flow volume. Decreased foot skin temperature is clinically observed in compromised peripheral circulation, which can be seen among individuals with certain health conditions such as arteriosclerosis or diabetes.

Let’s read more about how hot stone massage is being studied for therapeutic use.

Researchers enrolled twenty-five female students in which 14 participants received a hot-stone application on the umbilicus (abdomen), superior-umbilicus (above the abdomen), and inferior-umbilicus (navel) regions (hereafter referred to as the three-site stimulation group); and 11 participants received the hot-stone application on the umbilicus region only (hereafter referred to as the one-site stimulation group). Heated stones were applied for 9 min to participants in both groups. Four arbitrary frames (the lower leg, ankle, proximal foot, and distal foot regions) were created in order to observe and analyze the skin temperature of a lower limb using a thermograph.

In this study, we observed an increase in skin temperature on the lower limbs following both one- and three-site stimulation with hot-stone administration. In particular, a greater increase in the distal foot region’s skin temperature occurred in the three-site stimulation group. Also observed in this study, no adverse events were observed such as burns, associated with hot-stone therapy.

The skin-temperature increase of the lower limbs and feet observed in this study should be highlighted as a promising thermal-treatment option. When properly and safely performed, hot-stone therapy may be useful as a therapeutic modality. It may be also used to promote health and wellness.

 Study Link

We, at Healing Energy Massage Therapy, always look forward to hearing about great results from studies using massage therapy.

Nov 18

Aromatherapy Massage Relieving Pain and Depression

Essential oils and massage have been used for thousands of years to not only bring relaxation and calmness to people but to also help in promoting wellness and quality of life. Let’s find out some information about the essential oils that were used in the following study along with some information on massage.

Aromatherapy massage is the use of essential oils (extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods and roots) for massaging certain areas of the body to the person’s specific needs. The aromatherapy essential oils massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, and balancing, etc.  The selected aromatherapy massage oils that will be used for the massage session are blended with a carrier/base massage oil (almond oil, olive oil, sesame oil, etc.) to create a unique mix for each client’s individual needs. Some of the methods of massage would be: Swedish massage, neuromuscular massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, acupressure massage, reflexology, and Thai massage.

Frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa for Frankincense oil 1more than 5000 years. The Greek historian Herodotus was familiar with frankincense and knew it was harvested from trees in southern Arabia. Southern Arabia was a major exporter of frankincense in ancient times, with some of it being traded as far as China.

Bergamot is native to Southeast Asia and the tree is bergamot oilthe bergamot result of cross-breeding the lemon tree and the orange tree, which accounts for its pear-like shape and yellow color. It is a cold-pressed essential oil produced by cells inside the rind of the fruit. Bergamot has been used for medicinal and perfumery for centuries. It is responsible for giving Earl Grey Tea its unique flavor.

One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender 2Lavender. The use of lavender has been recorded for more than 2,500 years. Egyptians, Phoenicians and the people of Arabia used lavender as a perfume — and also for mummification, by wrapping the dead in lavender-dipped shrouds. Lavender oil is extracted primarily from the flowers of the plant through steam distillation. Lavender is one of the best known essential oils for pain relief.

 

Here we are ready to find out how effective the blend of oils along with hand massage were on pain and depression.

Pain and depression are common in cancer patients which can significantly affect quality of life. As these are both highly prevalent, the issue of a possible more natural treatment without any side effects would truly be a step up in the medical field.

Researchers assigned twenty eight hospice patients with terminal cancer to the experimental group (aroma hand massage), and 30 hospice patients with terminal cancer were assigned to the control group (general oil hand massage). The experimental group went through aroma hand massage on each hand for 5 min for 7 days with a blended mixture of Bergamot, Lavender, and Frankincense and was diluted with sweet almond carrier oil. The control group went through the same therapy but only sweet almond carrier oil was used.

The results were the essential oils hand massage group showed more positive significant differences in the pain and depression scores in comparison to the control group. This is great news for patients suffering with cancer and that people in the medical field should consider treatments such as these instead of drugs that have serious side effects.

Please keep in mind that if these oils and massage work so well on cancer patients – imagine the benefits they can provide for you during the Holiday Season and throughout the year!!

Study Link

Nov 16

Trouble Sleeping Try a Back Massage

Back massage means only the back is worked on. This technique appeals to people who just do not have the time for a full body massage. The treatment is designed to relax and ease tension in the back where muscle problems most often occur.

The history of massage dates back thousands of years to ancient cultures that believed in its medicinal benefits. The first written records of massage therapy were found in China and Egypt. It is considered one of the earliest forms of pain relief, as well as a way to produce a sense of peace and well-being.

One of the most common and beneficial parts of the body for massage is the back, since the nerves run through the spine. There are several types of massage that are used for the back and these are Swedish massage, deep tissues massage and hot stone massage. These can be used separately or can be combined depending on the individual’s need.

Slow-Stroke Back Massage: 

  • Palm of the hands and fingers are used    slow stroke back massage neck

  • Massage therapist warms their hands

  • Palms of the hands are placed in the sacral area on each side of the spine

  • Gentle pressure is applied

  • Long, slow, rhythmic, circular strokes are used to move upward on each side of the spine toward the base of the neck

  • Then long, slow, rhythmic, circular strokes are used to move downward on each side of the spine toward the sacral area

  • The massage therapist applies 12 to 15 strokes per minute to perform rhythmic movement

  • The massage therapist should continue until completion without removing the hands from the back

The massaging motion works to improve circulation and blood flow to the muscles, bringing nutrients and helping them to remove toxins. In this way, massage not only feels good but is good for you!

Now, let’s find out some information about dementia. Along with advanced age comes a myriad of chronic illnesses, many of which eventually cause dementia. The decreased functional status, changes in cognition and mood, and behavioral disruptions, including sleep disturbances, that are frequently seen in people with dementia place significant stress on the family and caregivers. In fact, many caregivers cite sleep disturbances, including night wandering and confusion, as the reason for institutionalizing the elderly.

Once institutionalized, these elderly residents’ sleep disturbances don’t cease. Two-thirds of those in long-term care facilities suffer from sleeping problems. While tranquilizing drugs may be the drugs of choice at many institutions, these drugs can further confusion and increase the risk for falls.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an alternative to sleeping pills which we all know have so many side effects? Let’s see how back massage for sleep just might be an alternative to taking medications.

Researchers enrolled 40 persons with dementia with sleep problems. The participants were randomized to an intervention group (n-20) who received the 3 minute slow-stroke back massage and a control group who received usual bedtime care (n-20) with no massage.

The results showed a 36 minute sleep increase in the intervention group in comparison to the control group. These findings indicate the possibility of back massage in the treatment of sleep disorders. This would be a great way of treating sleep issues in the process of illuminating sleep medications!

Study

Apr 21

Aromatherapy Massage Oils and Their Benefits

Jan 18

Swedish Massage Improves the Immune System

Massage therapy can help strengthen us physically, improve our mood, lift our spirit and cleanse our body. It can also help in maintaining and improving our immune system.

What is a Swedish massage?

A Swedish massage session is performed with the client lying on a massage table while the therapist stands above them and manipulates their muscle tissue with a variety of strokes. Massage therapists use a combination of long smooth strokes, kneading, rolling, vibrating, tapping movements and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil to reduce friction on the skin.

Researchers have found that massage therapy increases white blood cell activity in the body that work to fight viruses. The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s (Los Angeles, CA) conducted a study involving 53 study participants who were randomized to receive either Swedish Massage Therapy, (n = 29), or a light touch protocol, which served as a control condition, (n = 24).

Both interventions were performed by licensed massage therapists for 45 minutes for only one session. Swedish Massage Therapy techniques included effleurage, petrissage, kneading, tapotement, and thumb friction. The control treatment was performed by the same therapists with an identical protocol, except that the therapist used only a light touch with the back of the hand.

The results were in comparison to light touch, Swedish massage therapy caused a greater increase in the number of circulating lymphocytes (type of white blood cell that is of fundamental importance in the immune system because lymphocytes determine in what way the immune response is going to be to infectious microorganisms and other foreign substances). These results do support the notion that a single session of Swedish Massage Therapy may have profound acute effects on the immune system, thereby, decreasing your chances of coming down with a cold.

Study

Jan 12

Massage and Yoga Beneficial for Pregnant Women in Reducing Depression

Massage therapy for pregnancy and labor is not new. Many cultures throughout the world have traditionally incorporated massage into the birthing process.

Benefits of Pregnancy Massage Therapy

pregnancy massage 4

  • Decreases depression

  • Alleviates anxiety

  • Lowers leg and back pain

  • Cortisol (stress hormone) levels decrease so excessive fetal activity also decreases

  • Lowers rate of prematurity and low birth weight

  • Decreases postpartum depression

  • Fewer prenatal complications.

 Yoga during pregnancy is a very good way to relax and stay fit. It can help prepare the mother for labor and promote the baby’s health. Prenatal yoga classes have also been noted to help the expectant mother to meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent. Before you begin a prenatal yoga program, make sure you have your health care provider’s OK.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga:    

Prenatal yoga 4

  • Improves sleep

  • Reduces stress and anxiety

  • Increases the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth

  • Decreases lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath

  • Decreases the risk of preterm labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction — a condition that slows a baby’s growth

Alright, let’s move on to this very interesting study involving massage therapy, yoga and pregnant women.

The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: massage therapy (received two 20 minute massages per week for 12 weeks), yoga (attended two 20 minute yoga classes per week for 12 weeks) or standard prenatal care control group, and the women in all three groups received the same prenatal care.

The results were women in both the yoga group and massage therapy group experienced significant decreases in depression, anxiety, anger, back pain and leg pain. Subjects in these two groups also experienced significant improvements in relationship scores, whereas women in the control group showed none of the above improvements.

“In as much as depressed women are often reluctant to use anti-depressants because of their potential side effects, massage and yoga may be cost-effective alternatives for the treatment of depression during pregnancy,” conclude the study’s authors, “most especially if they can decrease prematurity and low birthweight, as they did in this study.”

Study Link

Nov 27

Aromatherapy Massage for Uplifting Mood

Aromatherapy massage combines the physical and emotional effects of gentle massage with the psychotherapeutic properties of essential oils. It stimulates the body’s lymphatic and circulatory systems and improves the supply of nutrients to the body tissues and aids in the elimination of toxins. The purpose of an aromatherapy massage is not so much to physically work out all the kinks and sore spots in your body, but to use the restorative properties of essential oils to relax and heal your body and mind.      Aromatherapy Massage Oil Man Face

Jasmine essential oil is known for its sweet and exotic aroma. It has been a favorite oil for many people for thousands of years. The name Jasmine comes from the Persian word ‘yasmin’ which means “a gift from God.”     jasmine 2

Benefits of Jasmine Essential Oil:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Stress

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Menopausal symptoms

Let’s see how jasmine essential oil and aromatherapy therapy do in uplifting mood.

This particular study investigated the effect of aromatherapy massage using jasmine essential oil on physical and emotional experiences with humans. Forty healthy volunteers participated and were divided into a control group (applying placebo onto the skin) and the experimental group massaging jasmine onto the skin.

The researchers stated “In conclusion, our results demonstrated the stimulating/activating effect of jasmine oil and provide evidence for its use in aromatherapy for the relief of depression and uplifting mood in humans.”

Study Link

Oct 27

Trigger Point Massage Effective for Eliminating Headaches

Trigger point massage therapy, is a bodywork technique that involves the application of pressure to tender muscle tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body.

Trigger points are painful when pressure is applied causing stiff joints and limited range of motion, and have a special property called referred pain. Referred pain means that a trigger point in one muscle can create pain in another area.  For instance, when the muscle at the top of your shoulder has a trigger point it will refer pain up the side of your neck and head causing a headache which tends to be a common source for headaches.
Trigger points chart

Trigger Point Massage Benefits

  • Eliminate pain

  • Swelling and stiffness of neuromuscular pain is reduced

  • Range of motion is increased

  • Tension is relieved

  • Blood circulation is increased

  • Flexibility and coordination are improved

Let’s check out a recent study where 20 patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. The group that received the trigger point therapy showed greater reduction in headache and neck pain in comparison to the other group. These results indicate that trigger point therapy can be used to eliminate headaches, neck pain and in the process will also increase motor performance.

Study

   

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Sep 05

Trouble Sleeping? Get a Massage

Trouble Sleeping copy

 

Quality of sleep is very important for health and wellness. Let’s see how various massage techniques can help us with getting some quality sleep.

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage combines the physical and emotional effects of gentle massage with the psychotherapeutic properties of essential oils. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender because of its calming effect.   * In this particular study aromatherapy massage using a blend of   lavender, marjoram, ylang-ylang, and neroli significantly improved quality of sleep along with lowering blood pressure.  

Study: Effects of Aroma Massage on Home Blood Pressure, Ambulatory Blood Pressure, and Sleep Quality in Middle-Aged Women with Hypertension

Back Massage

Back Massage means only the back is worked on. One of the most common and beneficial parts of the body for massage is the back, since the nerves run through the spine. The treatment is designed to relax and ease tension creating a sense of peace and well-being.   * Recent results of a study investigating back massage to reduce insomnia were back massage proved to be effective in increasing sleep time. This could prove to be a great alternative to medications and the side effects they cause.   

Myofascial Release Therapy

Myofascial Release Massage is a safe, gentle, hands-on technique of stretching that treats the myofascial tissue system (tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles) which can become restricted because of overuse, inactivity, trauma, or infection, often resulting in pain and muscle tension.   * A study involving 74 patients suffering with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to either myofascial release treatment or no treatment. The massage group showed improvement in quality of sleep, and reduction of pain and anxiety.

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage incorporates a variety of massage techniques that enhance the body’s natural restorative functioning. Light to firm touch is used to release tension, relax muscles, increase blood and lymph circulation, and impart a sense of calm.   * Researchers found that therapeutic massage is beneficial for improving sleep quality as well as for alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.