resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Connections Worth Making
"If most doctors are like me, [they are] isolated physically and professionally. I do not make the time to connect with other doctors and also a lot of doctors do not want to be connected for a lot of reasons. Dynamic Chiropractic keeps me grounded and connected.
Leg Length and Pelvic Fixations
A common component of low back pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Signs of SIJ dysfunction can include fixation with reduced range of motion, and localized pain or joint laxity and inflammation.
Adjusting the Occiput on the Atlas
You may never see a particular set of patients in your office – the ones who are either afraid of neck adjustments or have had a bad experience. A vast majority of those who had a bad experience did not have a life-threatening vascular event.
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.
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.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Joint Supplements for Athletes (Part 1)
Maintaining joint health should be a daily focus for athletes. Joint health is a complex issue for everyone, but for athletes it poses a greater concern.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
We Have Come a Long Way – But There's a Long Way to Go; Grounded and Connected.
Online Efforts That Convert Traffic Into Patients
Most chiropractors are using "dinner with the doc," "refer a friend," customer appreciation days, grand openings, health fairs, chamber of commerce meetings, and other networking events to get new patients.
What's Triggering That Point?
An orthopedic friend recently saw a patient of mine. He felt an injection of a trigger point (TP) at the upper trapezius and surrounding areas was necessary, since that was the patient's area of chief complaint and there was a tender, radiating nodule.
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!
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.
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?
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.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
The Easy Way to Learn How to Document ICD-10
The 2015 Work Plan for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) includes a focus on chiropractic services. This means chiropractors can expect to see more audits and reviews in the coming year because private payers pay attention to the OIG's focus as well.
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.
A New Era of Injury Awareness Means a New Focus on Prevention
Despite a dramatic Super Bowl last month, the National Football League has taken quite a few hits lately concerning player injuries, particularly concussions.
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.
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.
August, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 08
Massage Benefits Immune and Neuroendocrine Function
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by Beth Barberree, RMT, BA; Derek R. Austin, BS, MS, CMT; Sandra K. Anderson, BA, LMT, ABT
In April 2013, the Massage Therapy Foundation hosted the International Massage Therapy Research Conference in Boston.The author of this month's MTF article review, Dr. Mark Rapaport, was one of the keynote speakers and presented material further to this work, "A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individual."1
This initial study was achieved through collaboration between Dr. Rapaport and team members Pamela Schettler, PhD, and Catherine Bresee, MS. They investigated the response of various biomarkers to a single dose Swedish massage therapy session versus a light touch control group. What they found is that a single session of Swedish massage therapy had measurable effects on both the immune system and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) connection. Eventually, these may have implications for care of patients with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. An understanding of the biological effects that massage therapy has on the body can help us, as massage therapists, make the best treatment choices for our clients who experience inflammation or live with autoimmune disorders.
Despite it being popular with Americans, little is known about the effect of massage therapy on human physiology.2 Of the work that has been done, recent reviews have shown there to be challenges with some of the methodology. There is some lack of confidence in the validity of many of the past claims about the effect of massage therapy on stress response and immune function, along with an inability to generalize results of those studies.
The authors set out to tackle this gap. Based on what they had found leading up to the project, they theorized that Swedish massage therapy would increase oxytocin levels, mediating a decrease in activity of various hormones involved with the HPA connection and improve immune function.
Licensed massage therapists performed both the massage and the control light touch interventions on 53 healthy men and women. The subjects were randomized into one of the two groups and neither the participants nor the therapists were aware of the hypothesis that was being explored in the study. Efforts were made to maintain consistency wherever possible in delivering the 45-minute sessions, with a standardized protocol outlined for both groups. The massage consisted of effleurage, petrissage, kneading, tapotement and friction applied with the thumb. Light touch was performed with the back of the hand only.
Blood and saliva samples were collected before and at varying times after the treatments. Plasma and salivary cortisol levels were analyzed, as were plasma adrenal corticotropin hormone (ACTH), oxytocin, vasopressin, lymphocyte markers and cytokine levels. (The free full text article contains full detail of the process of collection and analysis of the biological samples.) The participants also completed three psychological self-report statements before and following the intervention in effort to exclude shift in emotional state as a contributing factor to the results.
So, what did the researchers discover? When compared to light touch, Swedish massage therapy caused a decrease in vasopressin and a lesser decrease in cortisol levels. Contrary to their hypothesis however, these findings were not mediated by changes in oxytocin levels. The massage group also showed improvement in the biomarkers for immune function.
Interestingly, none of the results varied by age, gender or self-reported race for the two study groups. Another remarkable point is the unique, repeated assessment of neuroendocrine hormones that was utilized in the study. Samples were taken 1, 5, 10, 15, 30 and 60 minutes after the end of the intervention session. This information may be helpful in design of other studies when determining optimum times to draw samples. With consistency in collection and analysis of biomarkers, there is potential to use those methods in comparative studies and as outlined by the study authors, individuals of differing ages and those presenting with various pathologies.
While this is a well-designed study that lays the groundwork for future research in this area, there are still some limitations to drawing inferences from these results. A single session of massage therapy seems to have depressant effects on vasopressin and cortisol for as long as 60-minutes after the intervention. It would be interesting to see future research vary the interventions and collect samples at longer time frames after the interventions occur. In particular, a longitudinal study to find the optimal dose of massage therapy could be done using the protocol of repeated assessment of neuroendocrine hormones seen here.
It would seem that the research on massage therapy and the endocrine system could be on its way to full circle. At one point, there was excitement over studies reporting that massage therapy decreases cortisol, but recent systematic reviews looking at the basic science of those studies questioned the validity of the results. Now, Dr. Rapaport and his colleagues have data to support the notion that a single session Swedish massage therapy may have fairly pronounced acute effects on the immune system.
New evidence has begun to show that massage therapy has positive effects on management of stress hormones and immune function. This is occurring despite the need for more exploration of the potential mechanisms involved. So, even if you only treat a client once, be assured that science is backing up what you likely already know – that massage therapy can have a profound effect for our clients.
To learn more about the effects of massage therapy, you can review the Massage Therapy Foundation article archives, read accepted MTF Research Grant abstracts, or search Pub Med for massage therapy studies.
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