resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
Leaving Footprints on Capitol Hill: Tribute to Dr. Kenneth Luedtke (1930-2014)
It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Dr. Ken Luedtke.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
The CDC came out with a report in March 2013 that suggests 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum – significantly higher than the 1 in 86 figure that came out in 2007. What does this mean moving forward, particularly for children?
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
January, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 01
Dosage Affects Immune and Endocrine Response to Massage
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed By Derek R. Austin, MS CMT, Jolie Haun, PhD EdS LMT, Sandra K. Anderson, BA, LMT, ABT
If a weekly massage is helpful for stress relief and immune function, then two weekly massages must be twice as beneficial, right? The results might surprise you.The Massage Therapy Foundation's previous monthly research columns have reported research suggesting massage may reduce pain, stress, depression, anxiety and cortisol levels, and enhance certain immune function parameters. However, how massage produces these outcomes remains a largely unanswered question. In a new study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Dr. Mark Rapaport and his colleagues investigated the mechanisms of repeated massage.
The authors compared once and twice-weekly Swedish massage to two equivalent doses of light touch. Fifty-three participants were randomized to one of four intervention groups: five weeks of Swedish massage once-weekly or twice-weekly, or control light-touch once-weekly or twice-weekly. Eight of the 53 participants did not complete the five-week protocol for reasons unrelated to the study intervention, leaving 45 participants (22 male and 23 female). Therapy sessions of 45 minutes were performed by licensed massage therapists using a standardized, specified protocol with nonaromatic oils. The light-touch condition followed the same protocol as the Swedish massage except that the therapist used only light touch with the back of the hand. Blood neuroendocrine and immune samples and salivary cortisol samples were collected prior to and following the therapy sessions.
The twice-weekly massage group demonstrated greater changes in oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, ACTH, and cortisol than the twice-weekly touch group. Twice-weekly massage also increased mean pretreatment levels of CD56+ cells, but decreased all other circulating immune markers. Changes in pretreatment levels of cytokines in the once-weekly group were similar to the authors' previous study showing sustained decreases in many pro-inflammatory and other cytokines. Interestingly, these decreases in markers of inflammation were not observed in the twice-weekly intervention groups. The authors note that the weekly massages were separated by 7 to 8 days, while the twice-weekly sessions were separated by 3 to 4 days; therefore, observed differences may represent differences in length of time between sessions. Heart rate variability was also measured, but no differences were found between the groups. This is not surprising, since young, healthy (i.e. relatively unstressed) sample participants were studied.
Overall, the results can be summed up as follows: once-weekly massage demonstrated patterns of change in circulating lymphocyte markers and cytokines similar to what was observed after a single massage session. Once-weekly massage increased immune changes that were identified after a single session of massage, but had minimal effect on neuroendocrine function. By contrast, twice-weekly massage increased neuroendocrine changes with little effect on the immune markers studied.
These results are consistent with the authors' initial hypothesis that the positive effects of massage therapy might be mediated through oxytocin and arginine vasopressin. The authors conclude these may be sustained, cumulative, biologic effects caused by the massage and light touch interventions. As a whole, the current findings suggest that while these effects are sustained for several days, they were not merely additive; they effects are different depending on the dosage of the intervention. Another intriguing finding of this study is that the light touch condition, involving gentle, systematic, and comprehensive stroking of an individual for 45 minutes, does have impact on biologic activity. This finding calls into question the use of a light-touch group as a "placebo" for research.
These findings are compelling, but study limitations should be noted when interpreting results. The most pressing limitation of this study is the small sample size of the groups. However, this is often the nature of pilot studies. What is important is the results of this small sample warrant a larger follow-up study, which may provide findings that are more conclusive. The authors note that further investigation of dosage, length of treatment, and different massage techniques are needed. Another limitation is this study did not report measures of sympathetic and parasympathetic function, which could have been helpful for interpreting the findings.
These findings make a significant contribution to advancing the science of massage therapy research. Most therapists, and people in general, are aware that massage works but how it works and which dosages are optimal are questions that have remained largely unanswered and are continually being debated in the field. However, published data findings such as these are starting to provide some direction for finding answers to these massage therapy mysteries. These data provide a glimpse into the biological mechanisms of massage therapy and an indication of dosage response. Also notable from a research perspective, light touch does have a biological effect and is not the "placebo" it was believed to be in previously reported research. These findings can inform future studies use of biological outcomes measures, dosage protocols and the re-evaluation of what is an appropriate placebo.
So, what's the take home message? In general, these findings provide justification of repeated massage to promote sustained cumulative effects. However, it is important to be aware that different dosages of massage may result in different changes in biologic activity. Because of this, massage dosage may need to be adjusted based on the desired effect. For example, if immune function is a priority, once-weekly massage may be optimal for desired effect whereas, if neuroendocrine function is a priority, twice-weekly massage may be the best option. Massage therapists, and clinical providers who recommend repeated massage to their patients, can refer to research such as this article and other related research, to inform their dosage recommendations.
To learn more about previously reported research on the biological mechanisms and dosage effects of massage therapy, you can review the Massage Therapy Foundation website, read our previous articles in Massage Today, read accepted MTF Research Grant abstracts or search Pub Med for related massage therapy studies.
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