Monthly Archives: March 2011

Massage reducing anxiety and improving alertness

Massage reducing anxiety and improving alertness

There are now a number of research papers demonstrating the beneficial effects of massage therapy in relation to the physiological and psycho-logical aspects of stress (see ALTERNATIVES in healthTM Vol 1;2 and Vol 1:5) and the latest controlled study conducted at the Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Florida, USA shows once again that massage therapy has an important role to play in the alleviation of stress and stress-induced illnesses.

In the study two times every week for five weeks, twenty-six adults were given a chair massage and twenty four adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes to be used as controls.

On the first and last days of the study all of the participants were monitored for EEG, before, during and after the sessions. In addition, before and after the sessions they performed math computations, they completed POMS Depression and State Anxiety Scales and they provided a saliva sample for cortisol.

At the beginning of the sessions they completed Life Events, Job Stress and Chronic POMS Depression Scales. The results revealed the following:

1. Frontal delta power increased for both groups, suggesting relaxation;

2. The massage group showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power (suggesting enhanced alertness); while the control group showed increased alpha and beta power;

3. The massage group showed in-creased speed and accuracy on math computations while the control group did not change;

4 Anxiety levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions, although mood state was less depressed following both the massage and control sessions;

5. Salivary cortisol levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions but only on the first day; and

6. At the end of the 5 week period, depression scores were lower for both groups but job stress score were lower only for the massage group.

This small-scale study suggests that massage therapy offers benefits in not just alleviating the physiological effects of anxiety, but also in improving mental alertness.

Field T; lronson G; Scafjdi F; Nawrocki T; Goncalves A; Burman I; Pickens J; Fox N; Schanberg 5; Kuhn C.Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. mi Neurosci (ENGLAND) Sep 1996,86 (3-4) p197-205.

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SENIORS & STRESS

Seniors are a growing but invisible group in society. More often than not do they come to the point of moving into a home where they can be properly looked after. This is an intensely stressful event. Some people choose to move into a home of their choice at the time of their choice, but they are few. Most seniors slide into a solitary life in their own homes until they can’t manage it anymore and then are moved to a senior home. At this point they often become confused, scared, depressed and angry.

From these negative feelings arise many problems; circulatory, emotional, sleep-disorders, appetite and digestion. Sometimes seniors deteriorate very quickly in a home; the older we get, the more loath we become to leave our familiar – and therefor safe – surroundings and when this safety is taken away the world falls apart. When there is also mental confusion, a move at this time in life can become a huge trauma.

AROMATHERAPY:

I have done some work in retirement homes using essential oils and the results are amazing! By using carefully blended oils in proper dosages a lot can be done. Together with massage they work wonders on stressed individuals. Massage can be as simple as stroking somebody’s hand, bringing peace to the person. There is no need for massage-training, all that is needed is care. Scents in diffusers also help with emotional balance and a stress-free environment.  Anxiety, fear, stress, confusion, depression, anger….all schoolbook examples on areas where essential oils are helpful.

  • Emotional disorders: Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Orange (Citrus sinensis), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), Petit grain (Citrus aurantium), Bergamott (Citrus bergamia), Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata). When severe: Neroli (Citrus aurantium ssp. amara var pumilla), Rose (Rosa damascena), Melissa (Melissa officinalis).  Massage, diffusion.
  • Sleeping disorders: Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata). Massage, diffusion.
  • Stimulating appetite: Lemon (Citrus limon), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Diffusion 20 min. before mealtimes.
  • Mental stimulation: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), Lemon (Citrus limon), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Seniors are frail in many ways, not least physically. Always contact a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils.

ANIMAL INGREDIENTS IN SKIN CARE

I have written earlier about pig-fat in skin-care, also about mineral oil. Nowadays ingredients should always be labeled on the package, but this is not always the case. Of course, cheap ingredients – such as animal fats and mineral oil – are attractive to manufacturers as they give a larger profit / keeps the price down.  Alternatively, some ingredients from the animal kingdom can increase the price as these are the “unique specials” in the product. Here are some materials that can be found in skin-care – especially for aging skin.

  • Bovine colostrum: This is the first milk produced by mammals during late pregnancy, it is high in antibodies and proteins to protect the newborn baby. Bovine colostrum comes from cows.  Most calves are separated from their mothers at birth and are then fed the colostrum by bottle, the rest is used for other purposes.
  • Placenta: Proteins from the placenta is used in skin care products for aging skin; it is and are supposed to hydrate and tone the skin.
  • Sperm: Crystals are extracted from sperm and is said to be more active than vit. E to keep the skin healthy.
  • Allantoin: Is found in the urine from cows and mammals. It increases smoothness in the skin, is cell-regenerating and wound-healing. Natural allantoin can be found in Comfrey root (Symphytum officinale).
  • Hyaluronic acid: Is found in the umbilical cord and fluids around the joints; it is a protein that is used as an anti-wrinkle agent. Hyaluronic acid is also used as an injectable filler (Restylane & Juvederm)
  • Mink oil: Comes from the thick, fatty layer under the skin of the mink. The fat is removed from the pelt and made into oil. It is high in palmitoleic acid. Palmitoleic acid is present in humans but diminishes with age. Natural palmitoleic acid is found in Macadamia oil (Macadamia ternifolia) and Sea Buckthorn oil (Hippophae rhamnoides).

Then, of course, there are all the “flashy” stuff in high-end, ridiculously expensive creams: Caviar, Snake venom peptide, Oyster… But I’m not going there today.

Massage therapy & stress and anxiety in children

Massage therapy and  stress and anxiety in children

A study conducted at University of Miami Medical School, Florida, USA, revealed that massage may offer considerable help for children suffering from stress-related disorders. A 30-minute back massage was given daily for a 5-day period to 52 children who were hospitalized as suffering from depression and adjustment disorders. Subjective assessments were made by the children themselves and by the nurses based upon perceived anxiety levels, sleep patterns and the willingness of the child to be co-operative. Objective analyses were also made by analysing stress hormone levels in the both the urine and saliva. The results were then compared to a control group who were shown relaxing videotapes for 30 minutes instead of massage therapy.

The results of the study revealed that the children receiving a 30 minute massage were less depressed or anxious and had lower saliva cortisol levels after the massage. In addition, nurses rated the massage group as being more co-operative on the last day of the study, and noted that the children were sleeping better than the children in the control group and that their night-time sleep had increased over the 5 day period. Massage therapy also had the effect of reducing urinary cortisol and norepinephrine levels in the children suffering from depression which was not observed in any of the children in the control group.

The researchers were left in no doubt that massage therapy offers real benefits for children suffering from stress and anxiety.

Field T; Morrow C; Valdeon C; Larson S; Kuhn C; Schanberg S. Massage reduces anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric patients. Journal of the American Acadamy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry (UNITED STATES) Jan 1992, 31 (1) p125-31

ORIGINAL CAUSE

Picture from http://www.hypnos-healing.co.uk

There is always an original cause for dis-ease, no matter how far in the past it might be. For any profound healing to take place, the original cause needs to be found and dealt with and no matter what the symptoms look like, it is not enough to make them “go away”. For each symptom that we make “go away” there will be another taking its place. Sometimes the symptoms mask the cause and hide it behind layers of problems and misunderstandings, shielding it from being reached.

Original cause is usually something painful, something we don’t want to remember or re-live, so we bury it, unconsciously, and as long as it is not resolved, it will cause dis-ease and imbalance within us. We will believe ourselves unlucky and unable to attain happiness, constantly being aware of the negative side of everything that happens to us. It becomes a state of mind and we feel exposed, vulnerable and victimized.

Original cause may be something that at the time was profoundly hurtful or scary, but in the light of today turns out to be very small and when it is revealed we are surprised at how deeply we were impacted. There are no measures for what is large or small trauma; the only measure is the impact it has on the person. Suffering is personal and can not be judged. Once original cause is found and dealt with, the symptoms are alleviated. Finding original cause is much like peeling an onion, the more it is buried, the more layers need to be gone through. During this time profound healing takes place – step by step.

Original cause is also present when there is disease or illness, sometimes subtle and sometimes dramatic. It might have been extreme stress, high pressure or an accident. A physical trauma may be resolved by intervention but the risk is that the emotional trauma stays. Over time the trauma deepens and one day there is distress or disease within the body system. We are entities made up of body, mind and emotion; when there is trauma to one part, all the others will feel the impact and any part might show symptoms of the trauma – there is no separation. All trauma creates fear and fear makes itself known in many different ways.