Massage is in the news again – on the cover of Life Magazine, "The Healing Power of Touch." For those of us, including myself once so steeped in traditional medicine it’s hard to believe that something so simple could benefit so many, possibly even heal.

I first started using massage regularly about six or seven years ago after a severe bout with Lyme disease. The antibiotic therapy had helped me dramatically, but I was left with a body that was somewhat wobbly and unbalanced, stooped and fatigued, this was not a body that would carry me through long days of nursing.

I was working with my diet; I’d done chiropractic and other modalities that were proving to be helpful but I still had a long way to go. After my first massage I was very sore, but my body felt more energized and I felt more balanced externally and internally. I slept better everything seemed a little better. I knew I was on to something. From that time forward I received massage weekly for about a year at which time I was able to lengthen the time between sessions and continue to make progress.

Mine is just one of many stories of individuals – from the very young to the elderly, sick in body, heart, or soul – that have used massage as a tool for healing. When the illness is chronic, massage is a must for healing.

Let’s look at some facts. We all know that we cannot survive without food, clothing and shelter, but can we survive without touch? Life magazine reports on one of the more compelling well known stories about lack of touch. The German emperor Frederick II, curious to know what language children would speak if they were raised without hearing any words at all, conducted some brutal research. After seizing a number of newborns, he gave them to nurses who fed the infants but were forbidden to cuddle or talk to them. The babies never learned language because they all died before they could talk. The historian Salimbene wrote of Frederick’s research subjects in 1248, "They could not live without petting." Another more recent story, one most of us are familiar with came out of Romania, where infants were left alone in their cribs for up to two years. Most were found to be severely impaired.

Massage has been written about and used for over 3,000 years. All the great early physicians including Galaen and Hippocrates used massage for healing. It was only in this country that massage fell out of favor following the technological advances in medicine. A system that for all its wonders and advances in saving lives still falls short of the mark in treating and caring for chronic degenerative disease.

Modern studies prove scientifically that massage increases circulation and oxygenation of the tissues, stimulates digestion, increases T cell count, increases red blood cell count, lowers blood pressure and stimulates endorphin production giving us a sense of well being. Lack of touch has been shown to suppress immunity, stunt development in children, lead to addictive behavior and cause feelings of poor self-image and body image.

Doctors are beginning to recommend massage in this country again. They will many times recommend massage in the treatment of arthritis, migraine headache and other kinds of headache, fibromyalgia, chronic pain including back pain, and other kinds of chronic degenerative diseases that do not respond well to medication.

Therapeutic massage is now accepted as the single most valuable alternative therapy as reported by the Office For Alternative Medicine in Washington DC. The article states that Americans can look forward to continued trends toward self-care, more responsibility for that care, and should use more therapies aimed at prevention such as massage.

So whether you’re looking to just relax, or conquer a chronic ailment, try massage, it maybe be just what you need.

Till next time, Rebecca