Monday, July 30, 2012
Cancer and the Healing Benefits of Massage
I wrote a blog about the power of touch in this article and a reader of my blog, Melanie Bowen, contacted me regarding an article she wrote on the healing benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients.
I will share the article she wrote below as it makes all kinds of sense. In a class for my Natural Hygiene degree, we studied work that Norman Cousens did on psychoimmunoneurology, better known as the mind/body connection on how stress affects our immune system.
Powerful healing chemicals are released when we are calm and feel safe and serene. Massage is one proven way of relaxing and as we learned via previous posts I did on the electro-magnetic energy field of the heart, one person's heart waves can be transmitted to another person via touch and we can affect the brain and heart waves of another. We've all seen the calming effects a mother's caress can have on a crying child.
I do believe healing of cancer is a total solution of a plant-based diet (please read The China Study), preferrably raw, and stress management techniques such as breathing, support groups and other healing therapies such as massage. See the blog post I did interviewing Chad Venucci, who healed his stage 4 brain cancer with a raw plant based diet.
Please share this article as you see fit, and even incorporate massage into your life even if you don't have cancer now, as a treat to yourself and a preventative measure:
Massage Therapy Increases Quality of Life During Cancer Treatment
Massage as a therapeutic form of touch appears in nearly every culture and dates
back to prehistoric times. Western medicine has been slow to validate the claims of
benefits resulting from massage therapy, but these benefits are routinely showed in
peer-reviewed studies. Researchers reviewed 37 studies of massage therapy and
found the greatest effects were on depression and anxiety. Specifically the results of
massage therapy for these conditions were on par with results from psychotherapy.
A diagnosis of cancer often occurs before the person manifests symptoms. The
diagnosis is the trigger for symptoms of anxiety and depression, both of which are
made worse by the damaging effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and/or hormone
therapy. Emotional stability is a critical factor in quality of life making it a central
consideration in cancer treatment.
Cascading Effects of Emotional Well-being
Mental status was once thought separate from physical health concerns, but this
conception has changed radically in the past 30 years. Meditation studies
consistently show dramatic changes in brain function and other benefits down to the
chromosomal level. Mood and outlook on life are tightly interwoven with all
The best example uncovered by research so far is the effect of anxiety on hormone
production. Anxiety is a chronic expression of the fight-or-flight response, and it
triggers the same inflammatory hormone pathways. With corresponding activity, the
fight or flight that is comparable to exercise, there is no anti-inflammatory counter-
production. This causes problems with healing, toxin removal, and damage to the
Emotional stability on the other hand increases an individual's ability to tolerate
stress of all kinds. Massage therapy supports stability and hence the production of
anti-inflammatory hormones. This extends to the experience of pain. In the study
cited above, researchers found consistent evidence that pain assessments were
lower among massage groups versus the controls.
Specific Cancer Applications
The benefits make massage therapy exceptionally well-suited to cancer treatment.
One of the newest complimentary treatments supported by every leading research
organization is exercise. Whether the cancer is mesothelioma or childhood
leukemia, experts recommend exercise be used under the care of a licensed
physical therapist. The trouble is that many patients drop out of exercise programs
due to pain and fatigue. Massage therapy is a good choice in conjunction with an
Side Effects of Massage Therapy
Few side effects are noted, but they are important. The doctor often delays patients
from participation in massage therapy after the initial diagnosis. An initial diagnosis
is often incomplete, and the doctor needs to know where the cancer is, the size of
tumors, and the likelihood of damage from touch. This information must be relayed
to the massage therapist to prevent side effects.
Massage therapy offers a unique way for every patient to maintain mental health
and physical well-being. Some studies suggest it is even more effective when used
with breath meditation. Alternative treatments are becoming more mainstream, but
it is still crucial for patients to consult with their doctor before engaging in alternative
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