Can Massage Therapy Help Prevent Colds?

Research studies do suggest that massage therapy can positively impact and manage inflammatory and auto-immune conditions in the human body.

What does this mean…exactly?

A published study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals (Sep 2010) suggests that 53 adult subjects receiving a 45-minute massage therapy session showed measurable and significant increases in the volume of lymphocytes in their systems.  Who can’t use some more dis-ease sentinels in their circulatory system?

250px-SEM_LymphocyteThe more T-Cells and B-Cells that are keeping watch in our bodies and effectively eliminating viruses that would otherwise keep us from our jobs/passions and normal lives, the better.

Especially in the winter months, when cold and flu season is at its peak because viruses survive longer in colder, drier open air during transmission from host to host, it is good to know that there are studies out there that record the positive effects that a massage therapy treatment can have on a human body.  In my opinion, repeated exposure to massage therapy can have the cumulative effect of the results of this single study, although more research needs to be done to prove it empirically.

Let’s not give those viruses a place to cozy into for, at best, a few days or even a week or more…being out of the loop in a cold/flu state is No Fun.  If you have to have a cold, your immune system and its ability to respond are your first, best line of defense and correction – Be Well: get a massage!

You can subscribe to the National Institute of Health’s PubMed Central (PMC) for free and read thousands of published research articles, just like this one, at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/

Massage Therapy and Improving Mental Health

When you hear the term “addiction”, you might think of drugs, extreme sports participation, Fanatics of sports teams, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, egocentric disorders (narcissism, etc), or stalking behaviors.  Chemical imbalances attribute a large portion of the root of mental diseases that Western medicine defines and sometimes it is a simple pattern of choices that our brain makes that determine, over time, our inability to change or our trained capacity to be “successful” based on these repeated, and very often destructive behaviors.

A Little About Mental Health

Our overall longevity, health, and quality of life depends largely on a few factors: getting shelter, food, social interaction, and security – the last being the highest level of cognitive health…and I think, also the highest level of existence.  When humans do not experience long-lasting, healthy, and quality security, it affects their perception of the world – the other three – which ALL have a physical impact on the body.

Depression is one of the most inaccurately and inadvertently diagnosed dis-eases in modern times.  This does not assume that depression or any other form of mental distress are any less important or don’t have as much an impact on a human’s health than an acute or chronic injury, viral or bacterial infection, or sources of imbalance received into the body from an outside source.  Because of the power of the patient to manage, or rather “mismanage” as medical diagnosis seems to imply, depression is also one of the most difficult psychological disorders with physical manifestations to “cure”.  Maintenance of lower levels of depression are what many humans are challenged with and achieved on a daily basis – some examples of daily rituals that humans use to maintain good mental health might include religion, motivational reading or listening, and expression of gratitude, and all the practices & rules therein.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Who says In 1949, Congress passed a Bill recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. in a effort to raise public awareness and discourse about the existence, role, and maintenance options for mental illness in society.  Today, the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health concur: approximately 1 in 4 adults develop, at some point, degree, or length of time, a mental disorder.

What does it mean In the world of health care options, there are a rapidly growing number of methods that have been noted as successful.  As it is with “fixing” things, not every person responds the same way to a method and not every method works for everyone.  The discourse and repeated awareness is to engage the public in the current options, successes, and reasons for addressing mental health as an important part of quality life – for the person and those people surrounding them.

Why it’s important our attitude and ability to rebound from events that affect us physically and mentally are the two most important qualities to be aware of when finding non-pharmaceutical or alternative methods of healing.  A healthy ego, self-esteem, and perception of the big picture are just a few ways that people get from depression that is moderately imbalanced to depression that is at-risk of existing in a void, beyond help from outside sources.

How Massage Therapy Affects Mental Health

Massage therapy can help a person overcome or recover from physical & mental addictions or conditions that are supported by physical imbalances (hormonal, pain management, restricted range of motion, etc) and feed depression or various other psychological elements to your health.  It has been used and recommended by medical doctors to alleviate mental stress for patients and recommended by massage therapy professionals in the field by the nature of the physical effects that correlate improved physical function with improved mental faculty.

Anyone can search the internet to find articles, blogs, stories, anecdotes, and research to support the use of massage therapy to better or enhance the quality of life for those addressing their mental or psychological imbalances, but there are a few places that I recommend you search and decide for yourself.

For quantified results (before:after, test pilots, research studies):

For anecdotal results (what works for me, industry statements, experienced practitioner reports):

 

In 2002, Cathy Wong at About.com published an article called What Do Physicians Think About Alternative Medicine?  Amazing results of a 276-Colorado-Physican pool (published originally in the Archives of Internal Medicine):  48% of the 276 MDs recommend Massage Therapy to their patients AND 60% of the MDs wanted to learn more about alternative medicine/therapies.

Massage therapy can be a method of release of muscle memories resulting in (possibly) either physical or emotional discomfort or trauma but definitely reprogramming – the intent of the work is to balance the chemical, virtual, real, and spiritual body and the methods used to achieve balance are some of the most diverse and effective known to humans – from touch therapy (bodywork) to medical massage (soft tissue manipulation).

Be careful: getting regular massage may seem or actually be addictive – the endorphins that are naturally produced from an activity such as exercise, good food, and good social interaction are also produced during a massage session in your favorite place or using your favorite massage modality.  But this kind of addiction can be managed in a way that makes it a moderate form of healthy healing time for your mind, body, and soul.

 

More info about mental health:  National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA)

On the Record – CAM Products and the FDA (revised)

This may be something you’re interested in: the adequate protection your health through regulated consumables: now, or in the future.

Last year, I wrote an article that outlined the FDA’s attempt to regulate CAM products, including massage therapy oils/consumables, to the Nth degree, mirroring Sweden’s [Medical Products Agency’s] current regulatory process for products on the shelves in their country.

Haven’t heard any more about it?

Well, here’s a recap of the article I wrote with some ancillary information you may be interested in reading. When you’re done, read on about a new initiative to reform the FDA – and understand how you can help yourself and the country’s regulation of food and drugs.

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) industry has boomed over the past 10 to 20 years. Thousands of CAM products and services have flooded the market, in which there is also the same demand – and it only grows. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that in May 2004, 36% of Americans, aged 18 or older, used some form of CAM product or service. This number is expected to increase dramatically over the next 10 years and beyond.

There is some concern in the general public, the CAM practitioner community, the bodyworker community, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the growing popularity of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the implications for regulation of the consumable products that are an inherent part of the delivery of the CAM service. The FDA is proposing regulation by law of the industry of CAM by regulating the CAM products that are used by practitioners in the industry.

The FDA Stance. They state that in the interest of the safety of the general public that utilizes the services and products of the CAM practitioners, they are considering restricting use of certain types of products that are produced in circumstances that are not advisable or regulated by the FDA, a governmental agency acting on behalf of the Consumer. Click here http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/06d-0480-gld0001.pdf to read their Draft Guidance and reasoning on the subject.

The CAM Practitioner Stance. Most tissue-manipulation and energy bodyworkers use only their hands (and no implements or organic products internally) and external lubricants to manipulate the tissue through the skin of the client. There are other CAM practitioners (like nutritional counselors and holistic doctors) that prescribe nutritional supplements, botanical or essential oils, and dietary aids and foods, under which the FDA would like to categorize, label, and regulate the production of these CAM products. What “CAM products” will become is: difficult to find – less available if laws regulate what can be purchased; more expensive to purchase – because of less competition and the cost to produce the product under FDA regulation; more processed, less organic – because of the proposed pharmaceutical nature and process of the production of CAM products; and, the variety of products will be greatly diminished due to the origin of the products not being approved by the FDA to be legally prescribed or sold for use in CAM practices.

The CAM Client Stance. The general public wants to know what is in the products that are being used on their skin and inside their bodies. They are becoming more aware of the old adage “You are what you eat” and how true it is in regard to what ever a person is exposed or consumes. They have a right to understand and be able to choose the products they are exposed to or consume based on the latest information possible from a consumer group that acts on their behalf. The possible regulation by the FDA may: limit the types and variety of products available to the CAM Client thereby removing a choice, raise the cost of obtaining these products due to the regulatory nature of the production of the CAM products, increase the safety of the products being used on or in the bodies of the CAM Client thereby reducing the physical response to a product that has been untested for safety and effectiveness toward the condition it is meant to address, and possibly change the face of the products that will ever be available to the CAM Client based on the recommendation of their CAM Practitioner.

Your Stance. The FDA is accepting and registering public comment for purposes of survey and public record about their proposal. You have the opportunity to register your opinion for the record, and may do so here: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oc/dockets/comments/COMMENTSMain.CFM?EC_DOCUMENT_ID=1451&. If you are concerned about the CAM products that are on the market today and want to voice your opinion to the FDA, you’ll need to do so by April 30th, 2007, to be “on the record.”

There is a new movement, on behalf of consumers and the public affected by the current practices of the FDA, to bring to the attention of Congress the deficits the FDA places on the newest markets of drugs and CAM products; “new science.” The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) is leading a campaign to reform the FDA, starting with a petition that will be delivered to Congress.

To read what the petition is about and to sign it electronically or print a copy to send to your elected Congressperson, visit the AAHF online.

You are the “one more” signature closer to changing things…