Just to welcome October around the corner, we are open 9:30am on Sunday 9/30! Reserved tonight;)
Benefits of Oncology Massage
No one looks forward to hearing that they have a cancer diagnosis. It can be a traumatic time for people of all ages who receive this news; however, hope is in sight. Massage therapy can help patients relax mind, body and spirit during these trying times and can allow those affect really seek peace. Oncology massage involves many of the same manipulation and kneading techniques as other types of massage, for example, Swedish style or deep tissue, but with a few modifications to make the massage safe and useful for cancer patients.
While oncology massage cannot treat or cure cancer it still can have a plethora of benefits that are worth exploring. Massage therapy can feel wholesome and can help reduce the stress and anxiety not just of everyday life, but those coping with a cancer diagnosis. Massage is designed to relax tense muscles, and may increase the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemical.
Massage therapy can also improve circulation and sleep habits. For patients with aggressive forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma, this relaxation can really assist the patient to cope with the intensity of cancer treatments that may be required. Oncology massage may also help reduce the perception of pain related to cancer and cancer treatments. However, it is key to consult a doctor about finding the right treatment for you and your cancer because massage therapy may not be the answer for everyone.
Oncology patients should choose a massage therapist with extreme care. In addition to being trained and licensed, in states where this is applicable, it is also important that the therapist be trained in oncology massage. Some massage schools offer continuing education courses, or entire areas of study, in this topic. Cancer patients do have slightly different needs than the general population and any massage therapists working with cancer patients need to be aware of the needs and restrictions of those with cancer.
For example, if a client has radiation dermatitis or open wounds, these areas must be avoided due to the risk of infection and lowered immunity of those going through cancer treatments. Also, certain medications, like blood thinners, can cause patients to bruise and bleed more easily. If cancer has metastasized to bone, this area needs to be avoided, not only because of the risk of massaging over tumors, but because the bone itself is weaker and easily fractured.
Many cancers centers offer massage therapy as one of their services; some private therapists, spas or general physician offices also have facilities.
One of the most important aspects of oncology massage, in addition to having a therapist who is properly educated and trained, is frank discussion between massage therapist and client. It’s important that therapists make clients feel comfortable and able to speak freely, and that the therapist is clear on the client’s situation. For instance, what kind of cancer it is, where, what type of treatments or medications are being used, if any, as well as any other alternative modalities being utilized, like acupuncture.
Research is being done into the benefits of massage therapy, in general and in particular for patients with cancer. Studies done in the United States, Canada and the UK have shown conflicting results about the effectiveness of massage therapy in reducing long-term stress and anxiety while undergoing cancer treatments, but it appears that at least in the short term, massage therapy does provide a significant increase in relaxation immediately following massage. And let’s be honest, during a difficult time like while fighting cancer, isn’t any relief something to try for?
Patients should speak to their doctor about the risks versus benefits of getting oncology massage, and then take the time to find a massage therapist with the proper training to work with. If there are potential benefits in a safe and natural alternative to cancer treatments than why not give it a shot? Indulge yourself in a massage today and gain that needed peace of mind!
A fantastic article of detoxification guidelines applicable for both genders but geared more to women. Amazing results of 65% reduction in PCB in post 9/11 workers via Sauna therapy makes me want to run to my local Russian Baths!!!
I’m alway glad someone in the scientific work is proving, in the difficult clinical trials, the effectiveness of massage. This study basically supports the belief that massage helps reduce post workout soreness aka inflammation!
I read this post on NYTimes today and thought for sure I’d better do better than working and walking in NYC!
As you may well know and heard of me tooting about Vitacost.com’s readily available and discounted supplements. Here is a great newsletter from the founder Dr. Stephen Holt about supplements and teas to ensure proper wellness just for women… I strongly believe in taking Evening Primrose and Omega 3/6/9 oils. Please read!
Dr. Holt Health News: Nutrients for Women’s Wellness, Part 1
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Thu. November 3rd, 2011
Vol. 1, Issue 17
Nutrients for Women’s Wellness, Part 1
There are many areas of health that are important to women, including hormonal balance, skin health, breast health, libido and more. This newsletter is Part 1 of a two-part series covering specific nutrients that may be helpful for these critical areas of women’s wellness.
Antioxidants for Anti-Aging
While most women have heard of antioxidants, many are still unaware of how they work or how to take them. Basically, antioxidants work against the unwanted oxidation of body tissues. While oxygen can be the body’s best friend, it can occur in a reactive form that damages tissues through the process of oxidation. Reactive forms of oxygen are called free radicals.
I believe that antioxidant usage is a key anti-aging tactic. Oxidative damage to tissues has been associated with almost every known chronic disease. Moreover, oxidative damage to genetic material and other cell structures is believed to be a principal cause of abnormal tissue changes that may lead to poor health and premature aging.
There are two specific antioxidants that may be especially beneficial for women. The first is green tea, which is brimming with antioxidant polyphenols, and offers versatile, well-documented health benefits. Second, I am impressed with scientific data showing the powerful effects of ellagic acid, found in raspberries and pomegranates.
Many skin care products today contain antioxidants intended to produce anti-aging effects on the skin, yet the topical application of antioxidants may be only marginally effective at improving skin health and appearance. Instead, I recommend women take antioxidants orally.
L-Theanine: Relaxation from Green Tea
While many of green tea’s benefits have been attributed to its antioxidant polyphenol and related catechin (e.g., epigallocatechingallate, EGCG) content, the use of green tea and other herbal teas, such as German chamomile, can also cause feelings of relaxation.
The compound in green tea believed to be responsible for its soothing properties is the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid has shown an ability to cause muscle relaxation and contribute to restful sleep, without a direct sedative or hypnotic effect. It’s believed that L-theanine may support the balance of various brain chemicals that serve as messenger molecules (neurotransmitters). Following the oral ingestion of L-theanine, brain activity shows measurable changes toward relaxation.
The frequent presence of anxiety or stress in PMS and perimenopause makes L-theanine an ideal addition to supplement formulas for women. In addition, L-theanine may help support healthy blood pressure.
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus castus) for PMS, Menopause & Libido
Vitex agnus castus (Chasteberry) is an herb that has been grossly underestimated as valuable for women’s health. Laboratory studies show that extracts of chasteberry can both bind to estrogen receptors in the body and may stimulate progesterone receptors. In other words, chasteberry is a hormonal biological response modifier with several potential actions (Table 1).
Multiple hormonal actions
May raise progesterone levels in blood
May increase levels of luteinizing hormone
May help correct consequences of progesterone deficiency
Inhibits the stress hormone prolactin
Has an antiandrogenic hormone effect
Approved by German E commission for management of menstrual irregularities and mastodynia (breast pain)
Table 1. Vitex (chasteberry): Characteristics and actions of an underestimated herb for menopause and PMS.
It has been argued that the major benefit of chasteberry is related to its ability to enhance the actions of progesterone. When taken in low doses, Chasteberry may decrease follicle-stimulating hormone and increase lutenizing hormone levels in the blood. These changes in the blood levels of pituitary hormones can result in increases in blood levels of progesterone. This helps to explain why chasteberry may reduce hot flashes, help with vaginal dryness and contribute to better mood.
Chasteberry has also been used to promote libido in women, and it seems to have a clear effect on inhibiting the actions of the stress hormone, prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. These actions on prolactin make the use of chasteberry unwise in pregnancy and for people taking medications that promote dopamine responses (e.g. L-Dopa).
It could be noted that chasteberry is an herb that acts quite slowly in the body, and it may take as long as three months of continuous use before it exerts its beneficial effects for menopause and PMS.
Evening Primrose Oil for Breast Health, PMS & Menopause
It’s believed that evening primrose oil is beneficial for breast health, PMS, breast pain (mastalgia) and menopausal discomforts. Its beneficial effects may be due to its gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content. This fatty acid is a precursor of a group of molecules called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are considered, in simple terms, to be friendly types of hormones or messengers that support the body’s inflammatory response. GLA is known to be a precursor of prostaglandin E1.
Some studies have indicated that women with PMS may be unable to readily convert precursor molecules into GLA. It’s proposed that a deficiency of GLA may aggravate PMS.
Some of the desirable effects of GLA can also be achieved by omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid). Omega-3 fatty acids offer benefits for breast health, cardiovascular health, brain function and immunity. Every woman should consider taking a fish oil or other omega-3 supplement containing DHA and EPA, in enteric coated or targeted delivery forms, for health.
Stephen Holt, MD
Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter, which will cover additional nutrients for women’s wellness, including ginkgo biloba, ginseng, flaxseed and more.
Stephen Holt, MD is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Emerite) and a medical practitioner in New York State. He has published many peer-review papers in medicine and he is a best-selling author with more than twenty books in national and international distribution. He has received many awards for teaching and research. Dr. Holt is a frequent lecturer at scientific meetings and healthcare facilities throughout the world. He is the founder of the Holt Institute of Medicine (www.hiom.org) and http://www.stephenholtmd.com
Many top orthopedic surgeons and professors agree.. many joint surgeries are hastely diagnosed by doctor and directed to MRI which in turn becomes a “serious” condition.