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massage can benefit your immune system

Does Massage Boost the Immune System?

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Activate Your Immune System

A new study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, suggests that massage therapy can do more than just relax your muscles and help you feel better. It might also benefit your immune system since they found that people who get a massage show changes in their body’s immune and endocrine response.

According to the results of the study, massage may have caused a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and an increased number of lymphocytes, one of the three types of white blood cells. White blood cells are important in helping the body fight off infections and sickness. They play a large role in our immune system and keeping us healthy.

There has been more research on the effect of massage therapy on the immune system. Research shows that massage therapy may reduce anxiety, depressed mood, and anger as well. It may also increase dopamine and serotonin levels, based on a study conducted on breast cancer patients. These two hormones help with elevated moods and levels of happiness and satisfaction.

Lymphatic Drainage and its Benefits

Lymphatic drainage is a gentle, painless massage technique that stimulates the drainage of the lymph to the lymph nodes activating the body’s natural functions and is an essential part of your immune system. The lymph is a colorless fluid that bathes every cell in the body. The lymph is circulated by massage and physical exercise.  Many tissues depend on the lymph to provide nutrients and to carry off wastes. If the lymph does not circulate, the tissues suffocate while stewing in their own acidic waste products like uric acid and lactic acid. This can increase the chance of developing illnesses such as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a result of a toxic lymph system, which is now one of the most rapidly growing cancers in the United States.

Getting a lymphatic drainage helps:

·         Activate the immune system: by stimulating the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system, invasive toxins in the body are pushed towards the lymph nodes where they can be analyzed and destroyed.

·         Reduce levels of cortisol (the hormone of stress): cortisol is reduced when you receive a lymphatic drainage massage. As a result, you will feel immense relaxation as well.
·         Relieve pain: poor circulation can cause pain and swelling from excess fluid stored in wrong areas around the body. When the lymph nodes are activated and decongested the pain and swelling disappear.

These are benefits that affect not only the body, but also the mind. A lymphatic drainage treatment along with other healthy habits, helps you against seasonal viruses and allows you to feel more relaxed and healthier. That’s why it’s so important to keep your lymph system healthy.

Between 2017 and 2018, 19 percent of American adults received at least one massage according to the American Massage Therapy Association. The report states that most adults that went to get a massage got one because they wanted to relax or for health and wellness reasons. So, pampering yourself once in a while can also really help you build a stronger immune system.

Massage therapy is a growing industry with research on its benefits continuously being conducted. It’s a craft that people need to be trained in so they can help improve the lives of others.

If you are interested in learning more about massage therapy or becoming a massage therapist, click here to learn more about our programs and our massage school in San Diego.

References

American Massage Therapy Association. (2018) Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/economic_industry-fact-sheet.html

Mark Hyman Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee. (2010) The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1079-1088.

Hernandezreif, M. (2004). Breast Cancer Patients Have Improved Immune And Neuroendocrine Functions Following Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 45-52.
Cupping is an ancient healing technique used by Chinese with evidence dating back to Egyptians, Arabs, and the middle ages.

What is Cupping or Cupping Therapy?

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Cupping Therapy: An Ancient Healing Technique Still Present in the Modern Day

The Suction Cups (Bá Guàn 拔罐 in Chinese), is an ancient technique that comes from traditional Chinese medicine, cupping therapy basically consists in using suction cups that adhere to the skin at specific points by the vacuum that is created within them.

There is evidence that not only the Chinese used it but also the Egyptians, Arabs, Greeks and in Europe during the Middle Ages, they were built of bamboo, glass, clay, bronze. Today they are usually made of glass or plastic.

Suction cup massage and other application methods

Although formerly cupping suckers could be ceramic, clay or bamboo, nowadays they are made of glass or plastic (with or without valve). In glass, this vacuum is obtained following the traditional method: by lighting a piece of cotton inside it to perform the combustion of oxygen and thus generate the vacuum once the suction cup is placed on the skin. The professional can resort to different methods of application with their manipulation, according to the objectives of the treatment:

 

  • To free the body of toxins that circulate in the blood and lymph. This type of massage requires previously applying oil on the skin to easily slide the suction cup, which is usually plastic.
  • Application and rapid extraction or flash cupping: this method is usually done with glass suction cups and is recommended to apply specifically on the back, for purposes of pulmonary decongestion. It is based on the placement of a suction cup for 2 or 3 seconds on a specific point and its withdrawal with a rapid movement. The process is repeated until the tour of the entire area to be treated is completed.
  • Fixed suction cup or retained cupping: This technique is recommended to treat organic reflex areas at their reflex points in the back and also for the treatment of the points of maximum pain, the so-called trigger points, usually caused by severe contractures and structural blockages. It consists of leaving the suction cups on the skin for a few minutes, at specific points determined.
  • Suction cup bleeding or needing cupping: it is a recommended method to reduce tension in highly inflamed or congested areas of the body through a slight blood draw. The skin is gently punctured to then place the fixed suction cup until the body releases the necessary amount.(Al-Bedah, 2019)

 

Muscle, energy and circulatory benefits

The experience of professionals who apply cupping and that of the patients themselves who undergo it allows us to say that the application of this therapy entails numerous health benefits of various kinds, sometimes in a preventive and another rehabilitative manner. Among them, the following:

  • Increased blood and lymphatic circulation.
  • Decreased pain.
  • Detoxification of impurities.
  • Work on contractures.
  • Work at the energy level.
  • Stimulation of metabolism and defenses.
  • Relaxing, analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
  • Debugging and myofascial release.
  • Strengthening tendons.
  • Improvement in disorders of the digestive system.
  • Reduction of allergy symptoms and chronic fatigue.
  • Evacuation of retained liquids.
  • Improvement in the absorption of edema. (Castro, 2018)

 

Role in sport and scientific evidence of cupping

After a cupping session, also known as cupping therapy, it is possible to reduce muscle pain and fatigue, reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery. Hence, many high-performance athletes, such as athletes and Olympic swimmers, often use this technique to recover their physical condition quickly when they are in competition. In addition to resorting to it to eliminate contractures and prevent injuries.

A recent study on cupping, New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine ensures that there is initial scientific evidence on its effectiveness in reducing musculoskeletal pain. There are also works that underpin the validity of cupping therapy for back pain by stopping inflammatory processes. And postulates that recommend it when it comes to the autonomic nervous system and reduces pain. Now, it is true that new scientific papers are needed that provide more light on their real clinical and therapeutic effects. (Rozenfeld & Kalichman, 2015)

From the point of view of Western medicine, it is necessary to continue researching about this therapy and its scientific evidence. In this sense, professionals of Traditional Chinese Medicine recommend research aimed at standardizing protocols, types of suction cups, number of sessions and frequencies, etc. On the other hand, as it is an alternative therapy, the placebo effect may be at the origin of its benefits, since there are not enough studies to verify the number of benefits attributed to it.

What risks can the application of Cupping or suction cups have?

In the hands of an expert professional, the use of suction cups is a simple and meticulous job, without risk to the patient, who in turn will begin to feel the improvements he was looking for. However, it is advisable to convey security and confidence at all times, explain slightly what will be the method to be applied, tell you that you may feel some discomfort and warn you about the reddish appearance of the skin after the session. Normally, it shows circular welts or purple spots, the product of suction and blood flow congestion. But in a few days, these bruises disappear naturally.

Bibliography

Al-Bedah. (2019). The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine.

Castro. (2018). Cupping therapy and chronic back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Elsevier.

Rozenfeld & Kalichman. (2015). New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine. Beër Sjeva: Elsevier.

back pain relief options

Relieve Back Pain Through Massage

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What causes back pain?

Most people will experience back pain at least once in their life. Although this pain or discomfort can occur anywhere in the back, the most commonly affected area is the lumbar region. This is because it supports most of the body’s weight.
Lumbago is the second reason why Americans go to the health care provider. Lumbago refers to pain that is felt in the lumbar region. You may also have a stiff back, decreased movement of the lumbar region and difficulty standing straight. You will usually feel back pain first after lifting a heavy object, suddenly moving, sitting in a position for a long time, or suffering an injury or accident. Acute lumbago is most often caused by a sudden injury to the muscles and ligaments that support the back. The pain can be caused by muscle spasms or strain or tear in muscles and ligaments and it can last from a few days to a few weeks.

Does dehydration influence back pain?

The intervertebral discs have an outer part that is strong but flexible and a gelatinous inner part, formed mostly of water. Daily activities dehydrate the disc and hydrate again at night while we sleep and lie. The outer ring absorbs 25% of the body weight and the inner part 75%. When there is an absence of water, the inner part becomes dehydrated and is not able to absorb the shock of the weight properly and causes the outer part to do this work stressing its structural integrity, causing protrusions and disc herniations over time.
Back pain can be a sign of lack of water in the spinal discs that are the shock absorbers that support the weight of the body. These discomforts should be treated by increasing the amount of water to drink. Tragedy: Not recognizing back pain as a symptom of dehydration in the joints and treating it with analgesics, massage, acupuncture and eventually surgery. Over time this will cause osteoporosis when the cartilage cells in the joints eventually die and cause a deformation of the spine, which will lead to the physical inability of the lower limbs.
Dehydration can cause muscle pain, headache, lethargy and drowsiness, nausea and tingling in the extremities. Our body is largely water, just losing 2% can cause a headache, since it can appear by not drinking enough water during the day. In addition to headache with the loss of 2%, it can also reduce memory, have concentration problems, general fatigue, so it would also cause back pain.

How to relieve back pain with only breathing?

It is a simple and practical technique that can help you reduce back pain and, therefore, can be considered as a method to achieve relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety or simply reduce back pain. The key is to properly maintain proper posture during inspiration and expiration.
The exercise consists of lying down, sitting or, just standing but with a straight back trying to maintain the neutral positions of our body. The human body has a “transverse abdomen” muscle (a kind of girdle that lines from the spine to the dawn line, the one below the belly button). It is a very important muscle for lumbopelvic balance and, consequently, for the entire spine. Its main function is to stabilize our posture to protect the lower back and also acts by compressing the viscera of the abdomen. It is an intrinsic muscle of the spine and it is also an exhaling muscle which means that it can be detected when the air is expelled. The importance of exhaling all the air is that the transverse has to contract as much as possible. The contraction exercises of the mentioned muscle are a good basis to protect the lower back. In some people with low back pain, alterations in these reflex mechanisms and different breathing patterns (from those of healthy people) have been found in efforts. Training and coordination of the inspiratory musculature (diaphragm and deep abdominals) could help improve back pain. Breathing is, therefore, among others, an exercise against back pain.
In addition, good and adequate training of our respiratory capacity will improve the mobility, flexibility, and stability of our spine. After a period of adaptation to training, with the consequent increase in tidal volume and respiratory rate during physical activity there will be an increase in expiratory time, which benefits us, because increases in inspiratory time mean a sustained contraction of the diaphragm and other inspiratory muscles, while a reduction in expiratory time would mean less rest and recovery for these inspirers and therefore higher energy cost of ventilation and early fatigue on the inspirers.

Ayurvedic Massage

Developed in India as part of an ancient medicine system that emerged more than 3,000 years ago, Ayurvedic massage focuses on specific energy points within the body and uses essential oils to help relieve stress and maximize relaxation. Massage therapists can also use tuning forks, which vibrate at particular frequencies and can help release tension. Ayurvedic massage is different from many other techniques since the patient is seen as a complete person. Massage is not only physical: it also relieves the emotional burden that leads to the tension that accumulates in the first place.

Deep tissue massage

This last technique is self-explanatory. Advocates believe that by using a lot of sustained pressure, they can reach areas under the skin where pain and discomfort originate. While traditional massage uses light to moderate pressure and focuses on the level of the skin, deep tissue may be momentarily uncomfortable as the massage therapist enters the muscular area, but it can help a lot in the long run.

Conclusion

Finally, it is important to note that, unlike many other medical conditions, the experience of pain in the lower back tends to be different for many people. For example, two people may have exactly the same condition, but for one it is disabling and for the other, it is just a nuisance. In fact, for most people, an abnormality of the spine (such as disc degeneration that can be seen through an MRI) is painless. In addition, there are other factors – psychological, emotional and economic – that often contribute and influence a person’s experience with their pain in the lower back.
Craniosacral Massage at ICOHS College

What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

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Craniosacral therapy is a revolutionary therapy that can help

In the past fifty to sixty years, the professional massage industry has expanded tremendously, widening its reach with the development of unique new therapies and other forms of alternative treatment.

One such innovative therapy is known as Craniosacral therapy, and it was developed in the 1970s by an osteopath by the name of John E. Upledger. After many years of research and clinical testing at Michigan State University, the therapy was more or less solidified and pioneered.

While the effectiveness of Craniosacral therapy has been largely debated over the past couple of decades, there are many who have benefited tremendously through its practice, and for this reason, it is still conducted by a multitude of certified professional massage therapists.

In this article, we will focus on explaining what Craniosacral therapy is all about, in addition to its considered benefits. This hopefully can serve as a resource for those interested in potentially getting certified as Craniosacral therapists, or for someone who would like to either integrate the practice into their life or into their career.

While we don’t specifically offer courses to get certified as a practitioner of Craniosacral therapy at ICOHS College, we do have a Professional Massage Therapist program, designed to provide students with hands-on training and the advanced skills needed to pursue a career in this highly rewarding and giving field.

What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

Typically utilized by chiropractors, osteopaths, and certified massage practitioners, Craniosacral therapy is an alternative massage practice and a form of cranial osteopathy that involves the use of gentle touch. These gentle movements manipulate various parts of the skull or cranium, spine, and pelvis, primarily adjusting the joints.

These light manipulations are said by some practitioners to help manage a variety of diseases and medical conditions. However, as with many alternative practices, Craniosacral therapy is susceptible to much criticism and skepticism, hence why there are plenty of people who do not believe in its benefits.

For those who do support Craniosacral therapy’s uses, it is an ideal form of management for the process is non-invasive and treats the body very delicately, making it suitable for even those with extreme pain or discomfort.

The Upledger Institute describes the touch of Craniosacral therapy as “a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel”.

Considered more of a preventative health measure that helps increase the body’s ability to manage and deal with disease and various ailments, these mild manipulations function in the sense that they improve the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid, along with freeing restrictions throughout the central nervous system, predominantly throughout the soft tissues that surround it.

Since the craniosacral system heavily influences the central nervous system, both of these connect closely and influence one another. The gentle manipulations of these regions encourage equilibrium around the spinal cord and brain, which in turn helps the body to naturally correct itself and prevent the furthering of a variety of dysfunctions and ailments.

Osteopaths often will prescribe treatments of CST (Craniosacral therapy) alongside other forms of therapies, but sometimes Craniosacral therapy is also used in a stand-alone way depending on the individual needs of the patient.

Craniosacral Therapy: The Benefits

Practitioners of CST have utilized the therapy for a number of ailments and conditions. While few studies have been conducted to prove Craniosacral therapy’s efficacy for illness, the Upledger Institute does list a number of conditions that CST has addressed including:

● Chronic fatigue
● Spinal cord and brain injuries
● TMJ syndrome
● Fibromyalgia
● ADD/ADHD
● PTSD
● Headaches and migraines
● Traumatic brain injury and concussion
● Chronic pain, especially throughout the back and neck regions
● Scoliosis
● CNS disorders
● Orthopedic conditions

While this list is fairly comprehensive, if you are considering receiving CST, be sure to speak with a qualified, trained Craniosacral therapy professional who can devise a course of action for the specific needs of your circumstances.

Understanding Craniosacral Therapy: Final Thoughts

Now that the practice of Craniosacral therapy has been presented, you can hopefully decide better if this is the right therapy or even career choice for you. As with all things in life, Craniosacral therapy is not a one shoe fits all solution.

For some, Craniosacral therapy is immensely helpful, healing, and restorative. Yet, there is not an extensive amount of comprehensive research available to strongly scientifically back up claims made of its effectiveness.

In all reality, CST is not a practice that is of benefit to everyone, so it is important to decide for yourself how you feel about it and commit to further in-depth research on the topic. The advantage here is that there is very low risk involved in receiving Craniosacral therapy, so the positive effects could far outweigh the negatives or any potential hazards.

If you are located in the San Diego area and are interested in studying to become a Professional Massage Therapist, at ICOHS College we offer this exact program designed for prospective students to learn the advanced skills and gain the practical training needed to pursue this career path.

Our Professional Massage Therapist program goes far beyond the standards set by the California Massage Therapy Council. While we don’t offer training on Craniosacral therapy specifically, we do have a number of other educational and exciting classes available, including:

● Energy Channels & Acupoints – Tui Na
● Shiatsu – Zen Touch
● Kinesiology
● Client Assessment
● Physiology/Pathology
● Business Practices
● Special Populations
● Communications, Ethics and Career Prep
● MBLEx Preparation
● Practicum – Clinic & Community Outreach
● Fundamentals of Holistic Health
● Anatomy and Massage
● Strategies for Success
● Touch Anatomy
● Circulatory Massage
● Deep Tissue Massage
● Passive Joint Mobilization
● Anatomy with Manikins
● Eastern Perspectives
● Chi Integrated Exercises

These courses prepare students to pursue careers as entrepreneurs and massage business owners, along with careers in settings such as doctor’s offices, chiropractor’s offices, nursing homes, hospitals, holistic health clinics, cruise ships, spas and resorts, massage therapy clinics, and health clubs/fitness centers.

Our dedicated educators are passionate about seeing their students succeed and fully pursue their professional goals.

Does this sound like the right next step for you in your education path? Reach out to us today and request more information about our Professional Massage Therapist program.

massage therapy at ICOHS College

Therapeutic Herbal Poultice Treatments

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A glance at this unique ancient massage technique

In this fast-moving world, everything is always changing – and what seems like lightning speed. This is especially true for trends. Spa trends are no different, however, some seem to latch on for longer periods of time than others.

One steadily increasing trend in the bodywork field is known as therapeutic herbal poultice treatments. These treatments complement massage practices, and while they have only started trending over the course of the past few years, this technique actually originates from ancient times hailing from the practices of various indigenous groups.

One of the best-known origins is 14th century Thailand, where a similar hot pack was applied to war-soldiers that were coming back from battle. The combination of the heat, along with medicinal herbs, made it a promising solution for those in pain and discomfort, and also caused its more modern version, the herbal poultice treatment, to become an integral part of Thai medicine.

What Are Therapeutic Herbal Poultice Treatments?

At ICOHS College, we offer a comprehensive Professional Massage Therapist program that is crafted with each student’s goals and intentions in mind. For those who are passionate about massage and are interested in becoming licensed massage therapists, learning more about the therapeutic herbal poultice treatment is potentially useful information.

These steamed pouches are then stamped, rocked, and kneaded along the body utilizing a specialized technique that is designed to optimize the therapeutic benefits of the practice.

The ingredients that fill these poultice sacks can vary from region to region and are dependent upon where the treatment is conducted, but it is common for lemongrass, turmeric, camphor, ginger, and Kaffir lime to be a part of the mix. In some places, rice or sand are also added for additional stimulation and further impact.

In reality, however, a number of herbal combinations can be utilized to fill up these poultice pouches. Aside from the ingredients we just mentioned, ground peppercorns, dried rosemary, crushed bay leaves, sage, sandalwood, coriander, cloves, and a variety of essential oils are often selected.

This large variety of herbs can produce effects such as the stimulation of the lymphatic system, the regeneration of connective tissue, the toning of the skin, the easing of muscle spasms and aches, the aiding of the reduction of inflammation, the boosting of the immune system, and the stimulation of the central nervous system.

Who Can Benefit from Therapeutic Herbal Poultice Treatments?

While traditional massage practices do work their way deep into the body’s muscles and tissues, therapeutic herbal poultice treatments allow for an even more intense level of stimulation which supports lymphatic drainage and encourages better circulation.

While there is limited medical, peer-reviewed evidence as to the actual benefits of therapeutic herbal poultice treatments, those who regularly receive the technique comment on its abilities to improve a number of aspects.

Practitioners of herbal poultice treatments typically recommend this practice to those who are hoping to better manage muscle pain or hormonal imbalances, along with those recovering from illness or suspect they will soon be ill. Finally, this treatment is said to be especially beneficial for those experiencing feelings of lethargy and jet lag, for it has a naturally rejuvenating ability.

Final Thoughts: Therapeutic Herbal Poultice Treatments

When it comes to massage and bodywork, there are many techniques and practices available that can complement this therapy and improve wellness. It is vital to know your options and to select what you think might be best for you.

If you are unsure of where to start, get in touch with a licensed massage therapist who can advise you on what they believe may be best for your own unique needs. As bodywork professionals, massage therapists are happy to work closely with their clients and devise a system or program that is ideal for each person.

While herbal poultice treatments are certainly a preferred option by some, they are not suited to everyone. For this reason, the information above offers some core knowledge about this technique so that one can create an informed decision.

If you are interested in becoming a professional massage therapist and are located in the San Diego area, ICOHS College is a non-profit vocational college offering a program for this exact career path. We offer a comprehensive Professional Massage Therapist program that is crafted with each student’s goals and intentions in mind. For those who are passionate about massage and are interested in becoming licensed massage therapists, learning more about the therapeutic herbal poultice treatment is potentially useful information.

The courses we offer in our Professional Massage Therapist program includes:

● Energy Channels & Acupoints – Tui Na
● Shiatsu – Zen Touch
● Kinesiology
● Client Assessment
● Physiology/Pathology
● Business Practices
● Special Populations
● Communications, Ethics and Career Prep
● MBLEx Preparation
● Practicum – Clinic & Community Outreach
● Fundamentals of Holistic Health
● Anatomy and Massage
● Strategies for Success
● Touch Anatomy
● Circulatory Massage
● Deep Tissue Massage
● Passive Joint Mobilization
● Anatomy with Manikins
● Eastern Perspectives
● Chi Integrated Exercises

Studying professional massage therapy can actually prepare you for a budding career in a number of different environments including spas and resorts, nursing homes, chiropractic offices, hospitals, doctor’s offices, entrepreneurship opportunities, cruise ships, holistic health clinics, health clubs and fitness centers, and massage therapy clinics. Depending on the desired environment, additional training may be required as per an employer’s request, but our program offers the foundational and most vital first step in this education path.

Our Professional Massage Therapist program far exceeds the California Massage Therapy Council’s standards for massage therapists in the state of California, and both hands-on training and advanced education are offered to students so that they can also gain practical experience.

With so many options to choose from and the support of our passionate team of educators, ICOHS College gets you prepared for a fruitful career path in professional massage therapy. Reach out to us today to start your path to a new career.

How can massage help depression

Massage Therapy and Depression

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Massage Therapy and Depression

By: Jessi Wiley
9/17/2019

What is depression?

Depression is both a brain disorder and a state of mind.  It is a common, serious illness that leads to a persistent sad, anxious or “empty mood.”  Affecting almost 300 million people worldwide, it can happen to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group.  It is never a “normal” part of life.  Depression, which is treatable, can come from chemical imbalances in the brain, hormonal changes, medications or life events.  Though it can be treated by methods like anti-depressants and talk therapy, massage therapy is a great addition to the treatment of depression.

How can massage help with depression?

Whether a person suffers from persistent anxiety and depression or experiences stress from time to time, massage therapy can help.  More than 500 men, women, and children with a history of depression and anxiety had their cortisol, a stress hormone in the body, measured before and after a massage. After a series of studies, researchers found that massage therapy helped participants lower their levels of cortisol by more than 53 percent.  Basically, if your cortisol levels are lowered, that allows your body to produce more serotonin and boosts your ability to fight depression and anxiety.

The science behind massage and how it can help with depression

Human touch is very powerful and can help us to heal.  It is a comforting gift that is present from infancy into adulthood and takes on many forms.  For example, infants long the touch of their mother after birth and throughout adolescence, while children seek reassuring gestures from their parents.  Touch is vital for the growth and development of a child, giving them a sense of belonging and security.  Into adulthood, even a simple pat on the back can turn a bad day around.
When we come into physical contact with someone, we can experience an increase of dopamine and serotonin levels in the body.  These two neurotransmitters help to regulate our mood. With that being said, massage doesn’t just relieve aches and pains, it can literally adjust the chemicals in your brain to improve your mood, making you feel refreshed and happier.
Anything that connects your mind and body like massage can be helpful for depression. By increasing serotonin levels, connecting your mind and body, and bringing a sense of safety and comfort, regular massages can be extremely beneficial for somebody suffering from depression.
Bibliography
https://www.myotherapycollege.com/can-massage-therapy-really-help-depression-anxiety/
https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/massage-therapy
https://dynamicphysiotherapy.ca/blog/massage-therapy/how-massage-therapy-helps-with-depression/
https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/cortisol/
https://www.lifealth.com/wellness/healthy-living/why-human-touch-is-important-for-an-individual-mj/57304/

Epigenetics, Meditation and Massage – by Norriah Mease

By Health No Comments

For one moment, close your eyes. Go into the dream space, allow yourself an opportunity to imagine. What does your perfect life look like?
What does vibrant health feel like to you? Invite yourself a few moments to simply bask in this radiance pouring out from within.
Now, I invite you to come back into your body, back into this room. How did that feeling differ from your state of normal?
Is this state in another world or is it part of your everyday experience? If this seems foreign and unfamiliar, and is not a part of
your daily living, admit that to yourself. You may have negative associations with this truth, however, not all hope is lost. What if I told you,
that new research has proven, there is an affordable way to get there, it starts with your desire to do so. Before you allow that wave of discouragement,
or hopelessness wash over you, thinking to yourself, “I’ll never get there” take a few moments to absorb this information.

Invite the overwhelm to turn into open space for learning. That part is simple, it is a one-word answer: Epigenetics. Let’s begin with
understanding what exactly Epigenetics is.​Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological traits, or the external and environmental factors,
that turn our genes on and off, and in turn, define how our cells actually read those genes. It works to see the true potential of the human mind,
and the cells in our body​.

[1] In other words, within each one of our cells, we have a genetic blueprint of our complete make-up. From the color of our eyes, to the height of our bones, the sound of our voice. Our cells carry our entire DNA strand in every single one of those nuclei. Every tiny cell in our body carries the exact information of who we are. The only differing factor for these cells instructions lies in gene activation or gene silencing. ​Gene silencing refers to a mechanism by which cells shut down large sections of chromosomal DNA. It is generally used to describe the “switching off” of a gene by amechanism other than genetic modification. That is, a gene which would be expressed (turned on) under normal circumstances is switched off by machinery in the cell. Gene silencing is done by incorporating the DNA to be silenced into a form of DNA called heterochromatin that is already silent.

[2]. New research is now pointing to the ability humans carry to silence predisposed genes (such as cancer) and even reverse the effects of these
genes through self-care and meditative practices. Science is just now discovering what we have known all along and this is that we are ​truly​ in charge of our health and happiness. Unfortunately, with this understanding it is now more clear that this is not how the average american, or even the average human is living their life. The environment of cells cannot thrive in high pollution. Pollution is beyond filling our lungs with CO2 emissions and fossil fuels. It delves into all aspects of pollution, to include toxic chemicals in our water systems, processed foods, and even in our soil. In order to achieve max potential on a cellular level,we must first start with cleansing its environment. Detoxing our bodies through organic healthy eating, drinking pure water, and exercise can be your step one. The body has a natural healing capability, but it needs help in order to achieve this. Without deep restful sleep the body cannot function properly, and without a healthy lifestyle and routine, the body will not rest. It is working overtime to rid itself of toxins. The cycle will continue to feed itself until something breaks the chain.

There are several gateways to implement mindfulness into your life. Some common practices include, but are not limited to, yoga,
dance, meditation, cooking, and even singing. Among the most popular are yoga and meditation. The potential health benefits of yoga include: ​Stress reduction.​ A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. ​Improved fitness.​ Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. ​Management of chronic conditions.​ Yoga can help reduce risk factorsfor chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

[3] Meditation benefits and types are extremely varied and vast. There are loving and kindness meditations used to align the heart and the mind taught by the heart math institute. Guided meditations which are similar to vision quests led by teachers. Kundalini yoga which uses a combination of breathwork, chanting, and postures to bring one into a meditative state. Zen meditations where the student allows their mind to become empty, returning themselves to a state of “nothingness”. Of course our favorite, meditations to provoke epigenetics, which allow the power of meditation to reverse disease, anxiety, and any “dis-ease” in the body.

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author​ ​Richard J. Davidson​, founder of the​ ​Center for Investigating Healthy Minds​ and the William Jamesand Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where themolecular analyses were conducted. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

There are many leading scientists all fascinated by this work. If meditation truly is our key to success, how CAN we teach ourselves to get
out of this over-stressed, over-stimulated reality we are in now. We can take a look on how to connect all of these beautiful practices and
teach ourselves to enter the world of stillness and unlimited potential waiting in the quantum field. The most effortless segway into inducing the
parasympathetic state and implementing a solid self-care plan I can offer you is receiving regular massages. Massage is widely used in all cultures
to evoke feelings of deep relaxation and reduced anxiety. The anxiety-reducing and mood enhancing benefits of massage are probably related
to changes in EEG activity, decreased levels of cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which acts automatically
to calm the body and brain during​ ​stress​. Numerous studies show that moderate pressure massage is more effective than light pressure massage for reducing pain associated with different medical problems including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Moderate pressure massage also improves​ ​attention​ and enhances the body’s immune response by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Functional brain imaging studies show that changes take place in many areas of the brain involved in regulating emotions and stress response including the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

[5] Receiving regular massages can train your nervous system how to release and relax. Paired with a movement class you can relax your way into a meditation practice that ultimately leads to unlocking your true potential, living your healthiest life.

In conclusion, your potential lies in your hands alone. There are various tools such as nutrition, mindful movement, breathwork, yoga,
and regular massages that can lead you into a consistent meditation practice. Once you learn the techniques of stillness and mindfulness,
your hard work and consistency will be the key to telling your DNA which genes to silence and which ones to express. You can choose to live a full
life of radiant health and unlimited joy. This entire journey can begin with one tiny step as simple as booking your first massage, and wouldn’t that
be a fun chapter to write.

Reference Page

[1] Lipton, Bruce (2019) What is Epigenetics? Retrieved from https://www.brucelipton.com/what-epigenetics

[2] Zhang Y. (2013) Gene Silencing. In: Dubitzky W., Wolkenhauer O., Cho KH., Yokota H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Systems Biology. Springer, New York, N

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff (2018, October 04) Yoga: fight stress and find serenity. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-2004 4733

[4] Sakai, J. (2014, December 04). Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation. Retrieved from https://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/

[5] Lake, J. MD (2018, October 19). Massage therapy for anxiety and stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201810/massa ge-therapy-anxiety-and-stress

Craniosacral Therapy for Better Health – by Amber Dambacher

By Health No Comments

Imagine for a moment a scene unfolding: an idyllic landscape of infinite beauty ranging as far as the eye can see–a broad canopy of trees interspersed with bountiful bushes and greenery, a lush jungle full of vibrant hues, fresh scents and exotic creatures, where nature thrives independently. A natural lake lies within this serenity, drawing to it all walks of life to hydrate and bask in its sun-kissed glory. Among these is a young monkey, at ease in his leisure, playfully enjoying some space from the others. All seems peaceful when suddenly a leopard appears from the perimeter, poised to attack. BOOM! A fast-paced chase ensues, the monkeys running all out full throttle toward safety, adrenaline pumping. The adolescent one, slower than the others and lagging behind, barely escapes the danger alive.

This high intensity, stress induced situation is our current reality in today’s society. With traffic jams, work/school pressure, partnership/family issues, financial expectations, environmental factors (e.g. EMF radiation), social media and constant advertisements, anxiety is rampant among Americans. Abundant overstimulation wreaks havoc on the function of our nervous system, deteriorating both physical and emotional health. When we view an ordinary event as traumatic, the body perceives it to be a real threat and responds accordingly as a defense mechanism. According to Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), stress manifests in three stages—alarm, resistance and exhaustion. The first reaction occurs as the “fight-or-flight” response kicks into gear and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to mobilize resources needed to meet the danger. Next, the parasympathetic nervous system attempts to return most physiological functions to normal levels while simultaneously remaining alert. Finally, the potential for disease is heightened when the stressor pushes the body beyond its capacity. [1] Due to the interconnected web that is the bodymind and the fact that our muscles house feelings, it is imperative to maintain emotional balance as part of an integrated system of overall health.

The key to regaining homeostasis is allowing the body’s instinctual intelligence to take control and naturally reset. This is achieved when we can reach a dynamic state of stillness and live from it. One of the most effective ways of activating the parasympathetic nervous system is through craniosacral therapy, a modality of massage that involves holding specific areas along the spine and cranium with a light touch. Occupational therapist Susan Kratz explains the craniosacral system well: “The three layers of membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges) plus the volume of cerebral spinal fluid constitute the craniosacral system. The tissues extend through the bones of the skull, face, and mouth (the cranium), and then down to the tailbone (the sacrum). Not only does this system protect the brain and spinal cord as a shock absorber, but it also serves to facilitate the electro-chemical conduction of nerve signals. As cerebral spinal fluid is produced within the brain itself, it swells the cranial cavity. The fluid is reabsorbed once reaching a certain pressure gradient and the brain narrows and contracts. This cycle creates the craniosacral rhythm…” [2] The intention of the practitioner is to connect in with this rhythm and be present. As Cara Holland describes, “Not many of us have been given time and space where we are listened to and heard. Where we are offered a connection to a witness who has no agenda, no judgment and who is grounded, present with us as we take this journey into craniosacral therapy. Holding and allowing, waiting, neutral space requires that the practitioner be grounded, centered, present, mindful, physically and energetically connected. From that place, each craniosacral practitioner simply holds the intention to allow time and space to provide the client and their body to heal, find structural, emotional balance and center, in whatever way they need to.” [3] Though it is one of the more subtle therapies existing in the bodywork field, the results in alleviating symptoms such as pain (physical and emotional), anxiety, depression, insomnia, appetite, inflammation, aggression, sensory processing, social engagement/behaviors and overall quality of life have been astounding.

The explanation to how so many benefits can be achieved from a singular modality lies in the complex matrix that is the brain: “There are three cranial meninges, or layers, that surround the brain: pia mater, arachnoid mater and dura mater. The pia mater membrane is adhered to the surface of the brain. The arachnoid membrane is adhered to the dura mater membrane. The dura mater membrane is formed of two layers: The periosteal layer is adhered to the inner surface of the skull bones, and the meningeal layer is adhered to the periosteal layer. Strands of collagen, or trabeculae, span the subarachnoid space and are attached to both the arachnoid membrane and the pia mater membrane. All three meningeal layers encase the brain. The dura mater’s meningeal layer separates from the periosteal layer in a few places to form membrane sheets that fold inward into the brain tissue. These sheets are arranged vertically between left and right hemispheres of the cerebrum and cerebellum, and horizontally between the cerebellum and the cerebrum. The arachnoid membrane follows the dural meningeal layer, and the pia mater membrane remains adhered to the brain surface.” [4]

When any part of this system becomes blocked or ground substance flow is restricted through pathways, problems begin to arise. “These substances are not only vital, nourishing and cleansing substances; they are also molecules that create extracellular communication among cells. Extracellular communication helps regulate and integrate cell processes, and in the brain extracellular communication also helps modulate neural signaling.” [4]

A double-blind study performed in Spain clearly shows evidence of significantly improved levels of pain and anxiety in those with fibromyalgia directly following craniosacral therapy treatment, which we can assume would also be true of healthy individuals. This group also showed positive influence on factors such as physical function, general health, vitality and social function. What’s more, these participants maintained that improvement one year post-study. [5] In another study done by Upledger Institute International, both practitioners and parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder were asked to evaluate the clients after having received between 1-5 sessions of craniosacral therapy. Twenty characteristic behavioral or functional features of ASD were rated to measure the experiences gained with CST. Huge behavioral advancements were reported by almost all clients in categories including general behavior, cognitive function, communication, sensory reaction, social skills and emotional stability. [6] Due to the intricate network of cranial anatomy, all body systems stand to benefit from CST. Since there are no contraindications for this modality, it is safe to employ for everyone. When we find our home in a restorative and rejuvenating parasympathetic state of being, we are able to maintain the alignment and balance needed to both heal and obtain optimal vitality so we may truly thrive.


References

1. Lucille, H. (2016, August 31.) General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) Stages. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.integrativepro.com/Resources/Integrative-Blog/2016/General-Adaptation-Syndrome-Stages
2. Kratz, S. (2009.) Craniosacral Therapy: Helping Improve Brain Function. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/Brain.pdf
3. Holland, C. (2019, January.) Craniosacral Therapy: Finding Your Way to Neutral.
4. Wanveer, T. (2014, September.) How Craniosacral Therapy May Contribute to Brain Health. Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/Article_-_How_Cranio_Sacral_Therapy_May_Contribute_to_Brain_Health.pdf
5. Matarán-Peñarrocha, G; Castro-Sánchez, A; García, G; Moreno-Lorenzo, C; Carreño, T; Zafra, M. (2011, June 15.) Influence of Craniosacral Therapy on Anxiety, Depression and Quality of Life in Patients with Fibromyalgia. Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135864/
6. Kratz, S; Kerr, J; Porter, L. (2016, June 1.) The use of CranioSacral therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Benefits from the viewpoints of parents, clients, and therapists. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/final-publication-cst-for-asd-feb-2017.pdf

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