''Massage as a healing modality''

It would seem that we Americans have become fascinated with various forms of natural healing modalities. A third of all Americans last year spent money on some form of alternative medicine. We buy herbs and food supplements, go for chiropractic treatments, and a good number of you are now using massage as a tool to heal your body, relieve stress and maintain wellness.

The Office of Alternative Medicine at The National Institutes of Health thinks that massage is a healing modality and is out to prove it by granting research money to further investigate the benefits of massage for stubborn health problems. One such grant has been awarded to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N. H. A Clinical psychologist on the project notes that even though advanced technology had pushed hands-on therapies out of favor for a while, they are reemerging. ''We're following up on antidotal reports that it does help,'' says Denise Tope, clinical psychologist on the research team. She states that out of those receiving regular massage, she is seeing fewer complaints of pain, fatigue and depression in individuals suffering from various forms of chronic degenerative disease.

What the study also reveals, as have numerous other studies, is that massage has the ability to effect the sensory nervous system as well as blood circulation. This, along with numerous other positive effects such as improving digestion, accelerating the healing process and relieving chronic pain makes massage a powerful tool.

On a cellular level, increased circulation changes the micro-electrical and biochemical state of the cells. This process, in turn, mobilizes the body's own defenses systems in a more natural way than medications.

Therapeutic massage is gaining acceptance because it works when other modes of therapy have failed. Insurance carriers in many areas are slow to recognize these facts, yet a few are beginning to change their policies regarding reimbursement for massage.

As evidence mounts supporting the beneficial effects of massage and individuals return more quickly to optimal health, insurance companies are beginning to realize that the price is a bargain compared to other modes of therapy -- such as medications that can be long term and run into hundreds of dollars each month. In addition, the long term use of medication on the general health of the individual can lead to the use of more medication, other more serious health complications and even more cost to the insurance company.

The kinds of chronic ailments that plague us, migraine headache, low back pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue, chronic repetitive use injury, are the very things that can be incredibly costly to an individual in terms of lost health, vitality, work productivity and run into the thousands and drain the coffers of the insurance companies.

Therapeutic massage has been proven to be the best healing modality for these kinds of complaints -- possibly even the kind of ''cure'' (I use the term loosely) everyone is hoping for.

Curious if you have coverage? Check with your insurance company or at your place of employment. If you do not have coverage, many policies that now have ''flexible spending accounts'' will allow those funds to be used for therapeutic massage.

Till next time, Rebecca

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online October 4, 2000

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