Archive for tag: integrative medicine

Research on Massage and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Recent findings from the Touch Research Institutes of the University of Miami School of Medicine show marked improvement in those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis after massage therapy.

Specifically, after moderate pressure massage therapy, those with rheumatoid arthritis had less pain, greater grip strength and improved range of motion in their upper limbs. (Read a summary of this latest research.)

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In fact, the Arthritis Foundation has great things to say about massage therapy as a pain relief option for those living with arthritis. Research has shown that massage can lower the body's production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, which, in turn, can improve mood. Additionally, massage can lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often linked to pain, improving sleep as a result. (Read the three-page report on massage therapy and arthritis.)

When you train as a massage therapist in a clinical environment, you'll have more exposure to clients seeking massage for medical conditions, such as arthritis. A key advantage in earning your massage therapy certification at National University of Health Sciences is its internship in the on-campus integrative medical clinic. Here, you will not only practice massage geared toward relaxation and wellness, but also have the chance to work with clients referred by physicians from a variety of medical specialties. Your massage will be part of an over all treatment plan managed by the client's physician.

Integrative Medicine

Deb -lrgRecently I had the opportunity to attend a symposium of integrative medicine professionals in New Mexico. Since I was there representing National as an exhibitor, I did not attend the many exciting and innovative workshops, but I did speak to many exciting and innovative health care practitioners who are inspired to bring their practices to another level in patient care. Making the adventure even more interesting was the diversity of the participants. In attendance and conducting workshops were MDs, PhDs, RNs, dietitians, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, oriental medicine practitioners, acupuncturists, and yes, massage therapists.

Of most interest to me was the fact that a good portion of the workshops were lead or assisted by MDs. I think that I have unfairly grouped MDs together as practitioners who prefer to work with other MDs and shun complementary and alternative care providers. Nothing could have been further from the truth in this setting. If I were from Mars and came to earth for the first time landing smack dab in the middle of this group I would feel their unity, their deep and abiding desire to help and nurture. and be very impressed with the quality of care offered to earthlings.

The only things that resembled any other conference or symposium that I've ever attended were a continental breakfast, refreshment breaks and lunch on your own! Seriously, this was so far off the beaten path and so intense in its purity and energy that I felt privileged to rub elbows with these forward thinking professionals.

The first day started with a keynote presentation on the future of integrative medicine. Workshops included: Integrative Pain Management; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Native American Healing Practices; and Mexican Folk Healing. The afternoon sessions concentrated on cardiology with an Integrative Cardiology; Yoga Therapy for Cardiovascular Health; and Prayer, Healing and the Soul. Day two covered oncology and pediatrics and these sessions included: Chinese Herbal Medicine in Integrative Oncology; Restorative Qualities of Oncology Massage, Yoga for Breast Cancer; Chiropractic Medicine in Adults and Children; Homeopathy in Daily Practice; Healing with Hypnotherapy in Children; and Indigenous Healing Traditions.

Day three addressed women's health issues including nutrition, osteoporosis, chronic stress, and core strength. The symposium concluded with a look at integrative pharmacy with workshops that included The Herbal Kitchen, Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and a Botanicals Panel.

Being a huge supporter of complementary and alternative care, I was in awe of the amount of information that was exchanged by these leaders in integrative medicine. There was an outpouring of support for one another, an eagerness to learn from each other, and a yearning to create a new model of health care together.

Some of the additional benefits offered at this conference were sunrise yoga and meditation at 6:30 am. Our continental breakfast had background music from a harpist one day and a flutist another - and there wasn't a sweet roll or donut in sight. Complementary chair massages were offered by students of the massage program at the University of New Mexico. One evening there was a community ritual for healing offered offsite at the Dragonfly Sanctuary and participants were asked to fast for the day for optimal success. There was much buzz the next morning about how extraordinary the experience had been.

The best part for me was meeting massage therapists who use their practices to improve the health of their clients and, in this setting, were accepted and respected for their part in integrative care. As groups like this one take up the challenge to engage their patients in a wide variety of holistic care, massage therapy will be elevated to its proper position in the health care system. 

So get on board and explore the possibilities of this profession - the sky is the limit! Join the growing list of professionals who call themselves massage therapists and use touch as their healing art. We make it easy for you with our Intro to Massage mini course where you can be a student for two weeks, fall in love with the profession and unleash your inner healer.

Heart Touch Massage

Shawnee Isaac Smith had a very good friend and fellow body worker who was dying of AIDS. As you may assume, many friends and family members were uncomfortable visiting or touching him. Shawnee decided to offer a weekly massage session to him, and just to be touched, he told her, made him feel human again. Shawnee, through massage, found a way to comfort her friend in the biggest struggle of his life.

Spawned by that experience, the Heart Touch Project was formulated. The Heart Touch Project is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the training and delivery of compassionate and healing touch to homebound or hospitalized men, women and children. The organization uses professional volunteers to bring comfort to seriously ill patients in California.

Heart Touch is also expanding its outreach services across the United States through its Heart Touch Training Program, a three-day course designed to teach bodywork practitioners how to work with clients with difficult medical needs.

For more information, visit http://www.hearttouch.org.

Massage Therapy's Expanding Role in Health Care

If you thought massage therapy is just for self-pampering at resorts and spas, think again! Massage therapists are now part of many integrative health care clinics, nursing and rehabilitation centers, hospitals and other health care venues.

Why? Massage therapy has profound health benefits that continue to be documented by solid clinical research. Massage can lower blood pressure, increase circulation, reduce stress, provide pain relief, and much more. That's why many physicians are now referring patients to massage therapists as part of their overall plan for care.

MassageThis spells good news for those working in the field of massage therapy. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that jobs in the heath care sector will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. This is because the baby boomer generation is aging and will continue to need and demand more care. As massage therapists become a more valued part of the health care delivery system, their employment prospects are certain to expand as well.

However, to take advantage of massage therapy jobs in medical or therapeutic settings, a massage therapist must be able to function as a professional in a medical environment. That's why National University of Health Sciences offers a Massage Therapy Certification Program anchored in basic sciences and training in the skills a therapist needs to be part of a medical team.

At National, massage students don't just study anatomy from books; they work in a real cadaver lab and examine human musculature and body systems first hand. In other programs, students might "get by" massaging friends and family to earn the internship credits needed for certification. But at NUHS, students spend six months in a real integrative medical clinic, where they work on clients with a variety of health conditions, create charts for each client and work in conjunction with clinical physicians. When massage students graduate from NUHS, they understand medical terminology and clinical protocol in a way that allows them to be valued professionals on an integrative health care team.

The great part about the massage certification program at National is that it only requires a high school diploma or GED to start and can be completed in one year of convenient evening classes. This makes massage therapy a very accessible career option for those seeking an entry into the health care field.