Homeopathy: A Gateway to Health

I decided to write this blog post because many of you that get on our table are looking for alternative treatments to what ails you, also known as Complimentary Alternative Medicine. Maybe you don't want to take painkillers, so you've opted for massage. Maybe you've read that massage helps reduce cortisol levels and can help with anxiety and depression (it does), so you've booked a session.  Maybe you've heard that massage helps alleviate scar tissue (also true), and now we get to work with you on that old injury or surgical site.  That's great! We love that you're taking good care of yourself! But there is something more you can add that works with your body and has no harmful side effects. It's called homeopathy.

Homeopathy can be a great addition to your wellness journey, providing relief for all that I've listed above and more.  It is natural medicine, but not all natural medicine is homeopathy.  Receiving a homeopathic treatment involves taking a homeopathic remedy or remedies. These remedies are medicines that seek to correct the underlying imbalances that are causing your symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are made by taking a particle of a substance and diluting it down until it becomes curative. Boiron is the most easily accessible brand of homeopathic remedies, being sold in health food stores like The Health Spot in Snohomish and supermarkets like PCC, and Wholefoods. You can also order them online at places like Amazon and Vitacost. American companies are highly regulated by the FDA, so it's better to buy remedies made in the United States.

Unfortunately, I am not a homeopath. I am merely a homeopathic hobbyist/student at best with a strong desire to treat my family and friend's various illnesses in the most natural way possible. Even though my knowledge has grown considerably since I first got serious about homeopathy around 22 months ago, it is not in my scope of practice as a massage therapist to recommend remedies for the specific ailments my clients present. I can, however, point them in the direction of someone who can. Joette Calabrese.

Most people come in for massage because they are in pain, so the two blog posts of Joette I refer people to most often are for knee pain and back/joint pain. There is also a post on fibromyalgia that may benefit you. The second most common thing people seek out massage to relieve (at least in my practice) is stress and anxiety. Massage can be very effective in reducing both physical and mental afflictions, but it's nice to be able to add another modality to assist you in healing. That's where homeopathy comes in.

Many of my long-time clients know that I suffered deeply from anxiety in 2016. I had to take months off of work and thought I would have to close the practice. It was all because of an adverse reaction to the birth control pills my OBGYN put me on to control the ovarian cysts I kept getting. During my battle with anxiety it felt like I was going through the worst thing I had ever experienced, but now I consider it one of the best. It's what got me on board with homeopathy. I now have many tools (massage being one of them) in my toolbox to combat anxiety, and homeopathy is the top player. I like to share what's worked for me in hopes to help others lead a happier, healthier life. 

I have been following Joette's blog for almost two years now, employing her practical approach to homeopathy with great success. I've helped friends, family, and myself heal many ailments including, sore/strained muscles, UTIs, anxiety, depression, ganglion cysts, insomnia, food poisoning, strep throat, yeast infections and more.  It's even effective on my dog; she gets panic attacks when she hears loud noises like thunder or gun shots. I am so grateful to be able to ease her suffering. Like most people, I too came crawling to homeopathy after conventional medicine completely failed me. It is my hope that you find your way there while you're still walking on your own two feet.

Homeopathy can be slower acting than conventional medicine, so it often requires patience, but it's worth it to me. Especially considering it's something that works with your body and has no harmful side effects. There are the occasional aggravations and provings, which you should read up on before taking the remedy of your choice, but I'll take that any day over the disastrous side effects caused by so many conventional medicines on the market today. So the next time you're in pain, schedule that massage, but consider some complimentary homeopathy too. 

Don't just take my word for it, do some studying on your own. Read Joette's entire blog and then read some more. Check out the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation. The Banerjis are the medical doctors in India Joette now studies under every year and are why she switched from classical to practical homeopathy. Also, I urge you to look into Americans for Homeopathy Choice, a grassroots organization working on keeping homeopathy legal in the United States. That's right, the FDA has proposed legislation that could ban entire categories of homeopathic medicines. It would be nice to keep these healing remedies available to ourselves and our children. I donate monthly to this organization and have written many letters to various legislators in my attempt to help us keep this freedom of choice. I urge you, no...I beg you to do the same.

By the way, I haven't had any ovarian cysts in over a year nor any debilitating anxiety. Thank you, homeopathy!

 

Sexual Misconduct in the Massage Room: Learn to Protect Yourself

 Massage safety and ethics

There has been a lot of coverage on sexual misconduct in the media lately with the #metoo movement and the Massage Envy scandal. I feel it’s important that we’re bringing to light how much sexual abuse goes on in the world so that we can hopefully reduce its occurence. I too have been a victim of sexual misconduct. I feel like this wouldn’t have happened to me had I known the laws and ethics of massage therapy. That is why I’m sharing this with you today. I want you to read this, become familiar with it, and pass it along so that others are able to better identify when they are being taken advantage of and/or abused by their massage therapist. 

There are laws regarding ethical boundaries that massage therapists are required to obey. These laws vary from state to state, but many are very similar. We study them to get our license and in Washington State, we have to include these classes in our license renewal every two years in order to keep the rules fresh in our minds as we continue in our healing profession. Because of my experience with abuse, I realize that sometimes the client is not aware of what is right and what is wrong in the massage room. These guidelines and laws are taught to massage therapists, but they’re not usually posted for the clients to see. This is one of the reasons why it’s such a gross abuse of power when a therapist enters into a sexual relationship with a client. The therapist absolutely knows better, but the client might not. I have decided to take my negative experience and turn it into something positive by giving you an example of what can happen and what you can do if it does.  
 
It doesn’t always start out as some obscene sexual assault as reported in many of the accounts made by clients of James Deiter of Massage Envy. Sometimes it starts off as something that seems sweet and loving. My offender was a 41 year old massage therapist that had been in practice for many years. I was 22 and well-versed in abuse. My youth, naivety, and behavioral patterns made me especially vulnerable to predators. 

During our first session he began to ask me questions about my personal life. I openly answered them, thinking nothing of it. He started telling me how beautiful I was and that I was a goddess and should be treated with respect. I was so flattered. I thought, “Wow! Here’s someone being so nice to me. I really like this!” I didn’t realize he was baiting me.

I went back for more sessions. Each session got more personal. He would “accidentally” undrape my breasts or my butt, he continued to inflate my ego, etc. When I told him I had feelings for him, he said he wasn’t really supposed to date clients but could make an exception. I still remember the sentence he said to me when he was trying to make sure I wouldn’t tell anyone about the relationship: “Everyone wants to be the victim, Rhonda.” I assured him that I didn’t and that I wasn’t a victim, and we soon entered into a sexual relationship. But I was the victim and he knew it. He knew exactly what he was doing and it was completely unethical. He asked me very personal questions, flirted with me, and once I developed feelings for him (which is what he wanted), he allowed the relationship to go further instead of terminating it.

I started massage school shortly after I began seeing him, so he offered to mentor me and have me work for him, which I also now know is wrong. You’re not suppose to date your clients or your employees. I didn’t understand that power differential then, so I was excited. I kept thinking how lucky I was. It wasn’t until I got to the ethics part of my massage program that I became absolutely horrified. It was like a shock to my system. I suddenly realized how wrong everything he had done really was. I was embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated. I couldn’t even talk to him. I left a message on his voicemail saying that I’d made other plans for a mentor and that I wouldn’t be stopping by anymore. I never addressed the sexual abuse with him. I just ran away. I felt like such a fool. To make matters even worse, I later found out that he was married and had children. No wonder he would only see me at his office. I felt like an even bigger idiot. This all happened almost 17 years ago, and it’s still embarrassing to me.

I’ve been working in the massage field for about 15 years now, and every two years I have to take an ethics refresher, and every two years I get angry all over again. Mostly I get angry at myself for never coming forward and reporting him. I often wonder how many other women he did the same thing to. It wasn’t until this year that I was ready to pursue filing a complaint that might get his license revoked, but when I looked him up I found that he was not in practice anymore. This was such a relief for me on so many levels. I understand the shame involved in sexual abuse and why it’s so hard for people to talk about it. Until now, I had only shared this with a few friends, a couple relatives, and my counselor. 

I hope that sharing my experience will help prevent you or your loved ones from having the same thing happen. Some predators are not outlandish; some are very manipulative and patient. The psychological trauma that comes from dealing with someone like that can run deep.  Here are some less obvious unethical things that you really need to watch out for. Had I known these things, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into that uncomfortable situation.

It is not okay for your massage therapist to:
-Make statements regarding your body, appearance, sexual history, or sexual orientation other than for legitimate health care purposes.
-Terminate a professional relationship for the purpose of dating or pursuing a romantic or sexual relationship.
-Solicit a date with a client.
-Kiss a client.
-Hug, touch, fondle or caress a client in a romantic or sexual nature.
-Demonstrate behaviors, gestures, or expressions that may reasonably be interpreted as seductive or sexual.
-Photograph or film the body or any body part or pose of a client other than for health care purposes.

All of the above guidelines are listed under the sexual misconduct section of WAC 246-16-100. The more obvious ones are also listed, such as no sexual intercourse, no sexual favors in exchange for services, etc. If your massage therapist demonstrates any of these behaviors, you have the right to terminate the session and report the therapist for unethical behavior and/or contact the police.

Massage therapists also have limitations in our practice that you need to know about. It is not in our standards of practice to touch the gluteal cleft below the coccyx, anus, rectum, genitals, breasts, or inside the mouth. However, there are some massage therapists that have received specialized training and can perform breast massage, and/or touch the inside of the mouth. You need to make sure your therapist has taken the appropriate courses and has the additional certifications before you receive treatment in these special circumstances. For example, I can work inside the mouth because I have taken 16 additional hours of intra-oral massage classes and added this certification to my massage license. 

There are also specific coverage and draping rules we must adhere to. When I first opened practice in WA State I had a client ask me if it was okay for a massage therapist to undrape her butt. She had gone to a male massage therapist that had completely undraped her butt while he was working on her, exposing her gluteal cleft. That is not okay. That is considered sexual misconduct. A client must be allowed privacy to dress and undress and be provided draping. The drape must cover the genitals, gluteal cleft distal to the coccyx, anus, rectum, and breasts. Only with prior written, verbal, and signed informed consent of the client, may the gluteal and breast drapes be temporarily moved in order to perform therapeutic treatment of the area. Let me repeat that: Only with prior written, verbal, and signed consent, meaning you have to give permission in three different ways before you ever even get on the table for such treatment. One of the reasons we have this rule is because being on the table puts people in a more vulnerable position and may make them more likely to agree to something they may have otherwise said no to. The therapist must also maintain evidence of training in the specific modalities that would require such variations in draping. 

A Massage therapist is the client’s caregiver when that person is on the table. There is an imbalance of power in this situation. The therapist is usually standing up, fully dressed, while the client is lying down, fully or partially undressed and covered by only a sheet, towel, and/or blanket. This puts the client in a vulnerable position. Every licensed massage therapist has received training on respecting this dynamic, having healthy boundaries, and providing a safe and relaxing atmosphere for healing to take place. Unfortunately, some therapists do not take this training seriously. It is time to weed them out. I am so grateful for the women that have had the courage to step forward and make the effort to stop this abuse of power.

It is heartbreaking to me every time I hear a story of another person who was sexually abused by a massage therapist. I think about what I went through. I think about how I wish I would have said something, reported him. Who knows how many other women he harassed. What I can do with my experience now is educate you so that you are prepared should anything like that ever come up for you or someone you know. 

If something does occur, I hope you have the courage to file a complaint and/or contact your local police department. Sharing your story can make difference. This is how we stop the abuse. Thank you for taking the time to read about my experience and educate yourself on the ethical side of things regarding massage therapy. I hope that the information provided here helps make your journey in life a safer one.
 

Four Ways You Can Master Chronic Pain

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Today's blog post is from guest writer, Jackie Waters.

Jackie is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com.

Four Ways You Can Master Chronic Pain

If you have recently been diagnosed with some form of chronic pain, you may still be dealing with the shock or disbelief that comes with the diagnosis. Whether you suspected a condition or did not see the diagnosis coming, you may feel alone and vulnerable right now, but you aren't. There are many others out there who have been facing this issue, people who can teach you how they've managed and offer support to you. However, if you need time to adjust before reaching out, here are some things you can do yourself to begin your journey with chronic pain.

Create a Peaceful Home

It may seem simple, but having a peaceful space at home is going to be such a blessing. If you're having a bad day, being able to come home and know that it is entirely your sanctuary may help make a difference. Keeping your home decluttered will not only make your life easier overall, it will make it easier to clean, even on days when you just want to curl up in bed. On those days, if your home is filled with fabrics and textures that feel soft and comforting against your skin, you may find it more relaxing. In addition, you can bring in a diffuser with 100 percent pure essential oils or essential oil candles that can fill your home with an aroma you love.

Discover Relaxation Techniques

Finding ways to relax, especially when feeling stressed or harried, can seem next to impossible. That's why it is important to practice relaxation techniques each and every day. Once you have built a routine, it will be easier to rely on when your pain is particularly demanding, or even just when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious. There are breathing techniques to help you focus and methods to help ground and center yourself. It is important to find something that works for you, rather than forcing something you think should work.

Maintain Gentle Exercise

When the pain is active, you may not want to exercise. It may seem to make it worse at first. But, if you do not make yourself push through the initial discomfort, there can be no room for growth or improvement. You'll need to ease into it and take your time. Talk to your doctors about a regimen that will be best for you and work with them as you go. They will know what is safest and best for long-term pain management.

Acceptance

This may be the trickiest of all. It may feel like you have no control over your situation, or that you are at the mercy of your body. You have to find a way to convince yourself that this is not the case. There will be difficult days, but they do not need to define you. You are not your chronic pain. You are an individual who lives with a condition and does the best you can do. It's understandable that you may feel depressed about your diagnosis, but it is imperative you pull yourself out of any lingering victimhood mentality. You're not a victim. This condition does not and will not own you. Part of overcoming this may be reaching out to others for help, having open conversations with your doctor, and learning not to ignore or downplay what pain you're in. If you are honest about your pain, your doctor can more accurately assist you in management.

The first part of any recovery is going to be letting go of blame or a sense of misfortune. It is important to always remember that you are so much more than your condition, and that there are people out there who will be happy to help you on your journey to living your best life. With support, by creating the healthiest environment for yourself, and by taking excellent care of your body and mind, you may be able to master your chronic pain.

 

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Cupping: A Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

CAM is a popular term for health and wellness therapies that are not a part of conventional medicine (conventional typically meaning going to the medical doctor to be prescribed medication for various ailments and/or having surgery.) Complementary means treatment is used along with conventional medicine, and alternative means treatment is used instead of conventional medicine.

Cupping is a type of CAM that we’ve recently added to our list of services thanks to Lindsey, our newly certified ACE Massage Cupping practitioner. A small amount of cupping creates a lot of change in the tissues, therefore, this is being offered as an add-on service in which it will be incorporated into 10-20 minutes of your massage session should you choose to add it. Cupping therapy achieves powerful results in pain reduction, scar reduction, joint mobilization, releasing tight, contracted muscle tissue, pre- and post- operative therapy, lymph drainage, detoxification, and athletic performance enhancement.

Cupping is a skin-surface treatment that has been used for many centuries in Asia and Europe. The goal is to move stagnant fluids in the body. Each treatment involves placing several cups on the patient’s skin and creating a vacuum or suction. According to Young Ki Park, DO “This vacuum causes the skin under the cups to rise, which causes skin pores to expand and discharge accumulated toxins and waste products from under the skin” (Braun and Simonson, p.505), thus moving blood and lymph fluid. Dr. Park also states that, “The healing principle of cupping is the cleansing of the blood” (Braun and Simonson, p.505), which improves circulation and assists the body in healing. Another benefit to this process is that after a cupping treatment, aromatherapy (another CAM) can be much more effective when applied to the skin, as the oils are more easily absorbed by the expanded pores and dispersed quickly throughout the body because of the increase in circulation.

The types of cups that can be used for this therapy are glass, bamboo, earthenware, and silicone. Silicone cups are what you will be treated with at our facility. Silicone cups are pliable, creating their own suction and easily moving over the body. Their transparency also allows the therapist to monitor the condition of the skin. The skin color is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the treatment so the therapist can make adjustments accordingly.

The uniqueness of this modality lies in the fact that instead of exerting pressure on the different points of the body for healing, suction is used to tug the skin, tissues, and muscles upwards. The cups are used in a variety of strokes and stationary positions to loosen tissue, remove adhesions, relieve inflammation, and detoxify and tone the body. This can help accelerate change in your body if you have scar tissue, restricted range of motion, acute or chronic pain from inflammation or injury, poor circulation, toxicity build up, cellulite, or general stuck tension.

Cupping is also used in acupuncture as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique, so it is within the scope of practice of acupuncturists as well. The cupping technique applied by massage therapists is more for working with the fascia and does not involve TCM.  Acupuncturists receive more in-depth training in cupping and are able to offer a wider variety of cupping methods than a massage therapist. Acupuncture is another great CAM that can be added to your wellness routine, and it compliments massage nicely.

Massage cupping is the mildest form of cupping but can sometimes leave a mark due to the suction action of the cups on the skin, which is what pulls up stagnant blood, metabolic wastes,  toxins, inflammatory compounds, etc. out of the tissues. This depends on the condition of the person’s tissues being treated, so cupping marks may or may not happen. The compounds released are then reabsorbed from the interstitial fluids and processed out of the body over the next 2-5 days and the marks, if any, disappear.

Whether you are trying it for the first time, getting back into the swing of things, or continuing your healing journey, cupping can be a very effective tool in regaining balance in your body.

Lindsey applies the most mild form of cupping, so it is a great place to start.

May this new year be full of health and vitality for you.


Authors: Rhonda Hancock & Lindsey Foster

References:

Braun, Mary Beth & Simonson, Stephanie (with Park, Young Ki DO) (2008). Introduction to Massage Therapy (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

What Is The Difference Between Therapeutic, Relaxation, And Deep Tissue Massage?

(An Excerpt From our FAQ page)

There are two basic types of massage when you strip out all the fancy names and special techniques. Many of the techniques utilized in each style can be the same, yet many are exclusive to a style. It is the intent, strategy, and the application of a technique that changes its purpose. It is important to clarify your goals for a massage with the therapist so that there is a clear understanding of the overall outcome desired.


Relaxation massage is mostly used for reducing stress.

The goal is to feel good right now, or “in the moment”, and to detach the mind from the worries of daily life for a while. Finding a bit of “peace” is the goal, and it is helpful to have a reminder of what that feels like in our fast paced lives. This does not mean it cannot be therapeutic however. For those with psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, or for those in addiction recovery, it can be very therapeutic. The techniques utilized are generally flowing and rhythmic, and of a lighter pressure. Also, techniques requiring client participation, such as stretching and active release techniques, are usually avoided.


Therapeutic massage is used primarily for addressing physical problems and pain.

The techniques used can be uncomfortable, or even painful, depending upon the severity of the problem. The payoff however, is that one will possibly be feeling better for days, weeks, or until the next injury. This is not to say that treatment oriented work will be painful, but that it can be. Some treatment techniques are actually very gentle, but may require more time, such as myofascial release. Many times a client may need some therapeutic work before relaxation work can have any lasting impact. It is hard to relax if the shoulder is painful, thus there is a close relationship between the two. Therapeutic techniques can vary wildly from deep focused work, stretching and range of motion, or extremely gentle and slow myofascial release. Much attention is payed to the patterns of dysfunction within the structure, and many times the source of the problem is not the area that hurts.


Deep tissue massage is a widely used, but very subjective term, and its meaning can vary among therapists and clients.

Some therapists think of deep tissue as just a heavy handed relaxation massage. In other words they do the same thing as a relaxation massage, but they use a lot more pressure without focusing on problem areas. Other therapists view deep tissue as treatment/therapeutic work, and will focus solely on the problems a client describes. Again, be sure to clarify your ultimate goal for any session so that there is no confusion, and to ensure that you and the therapist are on the same page.


We kept Deep Tissue Massage on our menu simply because many people know the term regardless of their personal definition. When new clients request this, we simply seek more clarification of their goals and proceed from there.

The reality is that many clients want something somewhere in between relaxation and therapeutic. Using a description of what you want such as “effective, but not painful” can be helpful for the therapist to dial into just what you want.

 

  Josh