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The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
June, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 06
Contemplating Thai Massage Regulation
By Nephyr Jacobsen, LMT
I've done deep-tissue Swedish massage for 17 years. I mean really deep; no fluff-and-buff stuff here. But it doesn't come close to Thai massage, and nothing I've seen does. It's yoga and Rolfing and acupressure and tapotment and chiropractic and reiki and deep compression work and myofacial release and hydrotherapy with herbs and the power of spirit, all rolled into one.At the same time, it's none of those things because those aren't Thai and the truth is, Thai massage really is Thai. It's not a new brand of ayurvedic medicine or a twist on Chinese meridians, it's seriously Thai and it's serious medicine.
And here in the U.S., you can practice it after watching a do-it-yourself video, taking a two-day workshop or reading a book. And you can teach it after going to Thailand and taking a five-week course, a two-week course or a one-week course, never having actually had a working practice of it in your life. And people do. So long as you meet the regulatory professional massage laws of your state (which are all written with Swedish massage in mind), you can practice and teach Thai massage without a day of training if you so choose. And in some states, you don't even have to be a licensed massage therapist because you can claim this extremely physically intensive bodywork modality is technically energy work.
There is no regulation of Thai massage outside of the Swedish massage laws in the U.S., and I'm not even sure if there should be. Regulation is a sticky subject and with Thai massage, it gets complicated very quickly. At this time, the majority of states have some sort of regulatory agency that establishes the specific requirements to practice bodywork professionally and governs all massage modalities. A few states have no massage oversight at all and little to no requirements concerning practice. In those states with explicit oversight, all massage modalities are grouped together and have the same requirements. There are no specific laws for specific modalities. At this time, no organization in the U.S. has the authority to specifically regulate, certify, register or accredit Thai massage practitioners, therapists, bodyworkers, instructors or schools.
A Case for Thai Massage Regulation
Thai massage has the potential to cause injury if not done correctly. This applies both to the therapist and the receiver. Thai massage is a far more dangerous modality than Swedish massage could ever be. With proper training, it's amazingly therapeutic. And knowing effleurage, petrissage, cross-fiber friction and the diaper drape doesn't prepare anyone for practicing Thai massage. That's like saying if you're a highly trained golfer, it follows that you are qualified to play professional basketball. It's apples and oranges.
What this means is that states requiring that Thai massage practitioners be licensed massage therapists have really not done anything to protect the public safety in regard to Thai techniques. Because none of the required massage training (I'm not talking about the sciences of anatomy/physiology here) has anything to do with what you must know to practice Thai massage. It is left up to the practitioner to voluntarily seek out quality instruction.
This is why the regulation of Thai massage by a body of professional practitioners can be seen as necessary. In this case, oversight must come from within the community of Thai massage practitioners, because these are the individuals who truly understand the techniques and the proper methods of training. Of course, these individuals also would have to be professional licensed massage therapists, in order to comply with state laws.
A Case Against Regulation
And here is where I start to sound a bit inconsistent, because a part of me believes the way one trains should be voluntary. I have always felt that massage, as with herbalism and midwifery, belongs in the layperson's hands, where some of the best teachers are quietly hidden and carry no state-governed credentials. I am deeply suspicious of massage regulation, with its pandering to large corporate schools and its focus on written exams for a field that involves the unmeasurable ability to touch and feel with intuition and competence.
In the world of Thai massage, regulation is nearly impossible. While schools and practitioners have begun to be regulated by the Ministries of Education and Public Health in Thailand, it remains a fact that some of the most proficient therapists in Thailand are unlicensed, unrecognized and unofficial. Some of these practitioners are masters of hereditary methods; some live in the far-out villages where licensure is not possible.
Maintaining the Status Quo
There are some who suggest Thai massage practitioners should not have to be licensed massage therapists at all, meaning they should not have to meet any existing state requirements in order to practice their profession. This position holds that Thai massage is not the same as other bodywork modalities and should have either no requirements or only those of our own regulatory agencies. They propose that we should not even call it Thai massage, suggesting instead names such as Thai Yoga Therapy or Thai Intensive Stretching. It's as if a change in semantics will change the fact we are "manipulating soft tissue," the common definition of massage in most states. While I agree Swedish massage licensure does not qualify one to practice Thai massage, I do not think it hurts.
Another factor in this issue of creating regulatory agencies specifically for Thai massage is the need to be wary of self-absorption - to the point of forgetting the public we serve. So, how do we regulate Thai massage? We set the standards not by creating more regulatory agencies and attempting to separate ourselves from the rest of the massage world, but by creating classes and schools with a high bar and by being practitioners who don't balk at training. What if, instead of using our energies to fight the existing system and create new regulating agencies, we were to work together within the system? This could be the best of both worlds. Thai massage does not become regulated unto itself (hopefully avoiding homogenization), and by following state requirements of licensure, at least in states that have requirements, the people who can practice will by default be those who are willing to put in a little extra work.
I have looked through both lenses and agreed with what I saw. In the end, I have come to a place at which I accept things the way they are. It's not perfect, but I know the things that bother me most about the present and likely future of Thai massage are not actually going to be fixed by less or more regulation. They are not being fixed by the states that don't require Thai massage therapists be licensed in massage and they are not being fixed in Thailand, where there is very specific government regulation of Thai massage. What bothers me are things like gaps in integrity and the need for better understanding. Things like the tendency to call Thai medicine ayurvedic or Chinese because we don't understand it enough or respect it enough to grant it its own standing. Things like infighting among practitioners and teachers. More importantly, I am bothered by the actual danger of an ancient art becoming watered down and distorted until it no longer exists in its true form.
Luckily, these are things we can change without having to restructure the system. These are things we change through personal commitment. As we teach our students and teach each other, we set the bar higher and encourage quality in the Thai massage community. I believe it's up to us as individuals, not laws, to keep Thai massage safe and authentic. Those who do will shine brightly.
Nephyr Jacobsen is the founder and director of The Naga Center School of Traditional Thai Medicine in Portland Ore. She has been a massage therapist for 17 years and has spent extensive time studying Thai massage, both domestically and in Thailand.
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