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Therapeutic Value of Massage

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:06 am

Massage is an excellent form of passive exercise. The word is derived from the Greek word ‘massier’ which means to knead. It involves the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. If correctly done on a bare body, it can be highly stimulating and invigorating.

As far back as 400 B.C. , the great Hippocrates, the father of medicine, employed massage and manipulation in healing his patients. Since then it has been used as a mode of treatment for many ailments and it has restored many a sufferer to health and vigour.

Benefits

The general massage, dealing with all parts of the body, is highly beneficial in many ways. It tones up the nervous system, influences respiration and quickens the elimination of poisons and waste material from the body through the various eliminative organs such as the lungs, skin, kidneys and bowels. It also boosts blood circulation and metabolic processes. A massage removes facial wrinkles , helps to fill out hollow cheeks and neck and eases stiffness, sore muscles and numbness.

Various movements

There are five fundamental modes of manipulation in massage and these are : effleurage (stroking), friction ( rubbing), petrissage ( kneading), tapotment (percussion) and vibration (shaking or trembling).

1. Effleurage :

This involves sliding with the hands, using long even strokes over the surface of the body. Effleurage is performed in five ways, namely stroking with (I) palms of two hands; (ii) the palm of one hand; (iii) the knuckles; (iv) the ball of the thumb and (v) the finger tips. Effleurage increases blood circulation and soothes the nervous system. It also warms and relaxes. It is very helpful in atrophied condition of the skin.

2. Friction :

The movements, which are circular in nature are performed with the help of the thumb and tips of fingers or the palm of the hand towards the joints or around the joints. Friction limbers up joints, tendons, and muscles and facilitates the removal of deposits by breaking them. It also helps in reducing swelling after nerve inflammation.

3. Petrissage :

This is the process of kneading, pressing and rolling of the tissues and is performed with one or both hands, with two thumbs or with thumbs and fingers. One should apply heavy pressure for deep kneading and light pressure for superficial kneading. Petrissage is a treatment of the muscles. It increases nutrition, strengthens muscles, relieves intestinal congestion and helps elimination of the poisons. It boosts long activity and cellular respiration, eliminates fatigue poisons and tones up nerve endings.

4. Tapotement :

This involves hacking, tapping, clapping and beating and is achieved by striking the body rapidly.

Short and quick blows are generally given from the wrist. Tapotement helps in atrophied condition of the muscles. It increases blood supply, soothes nerves and strengthens muscles.

5. Vibrations :

This is achieved by rapidly shaking the pressing movements by use of the hand or fingers on the body. Vibrating hand should move constantly. This is beneficial in neuritis and neuralgia after the inflammatory stage is over. It stimulates circulation, glandular activity and nervous plexuses. It also helps in bowel movement.

Another form of massage helpful in most elements is the vibratory massage. This can be done by trained persons only. The vibratory muscles is more efficiently administered by a special, electrically operated machine.

Material for Massage

Cotton seed oil is most commonly used for massaging, but butter is used for filling out cheeks and the neck and also for breast enlargement. If the patient is averse to oil, talcum powder may be used. Oil should not be used by persons with excessive body hair. General body massage may be done for 40 to 45 minutes and local body massage for 10 to 15 minutes.

The oil should be washed off completely after massage.

Therapeutic Uses

Massage can be used with advantage as a method of treatment for many common ailments. The various forms of massage and their usefulness in various diseases are described here in brief.

Massage of the Joints :

Stiff and swollen joints can be cured by massage combined with mechanical movements.

Massage is, however, not recommended in serious inflammatory cases of the joints and in tubercular joints. It should also be avoided in infectious diseases like diphtheria and gonorrhoea which cause formation of pus as massage may spread the pus to the entire system. Sprains and bruises can be cured by massage. In these cases, affected parts should first be bathed with hot water for 15 to 30 minutes. Next the massage should be done for a few minutes. Gentle stroking and kneading is recommended on and around the injured tissues. Fractures can also be treated through massage.

This form of massage is of great help in atrophy of the muscles which usually follows if the muscles are not used for any length of time. This condition may also be brought about by injuries, diseases of the joints, inflammation of the muscles and nerves, and by too long use of cats, bandages and splints.

A human being carries one -half of the weight of his body in the form of muscular tissues. One-fourth of the blood supply circulates in the muscles. When one gets a good massage treatment, the muscles get regenerated and are then capable of holding half of the blood supply.

Massage thus provides additional nourishment to feed the muscular tissues, helping them to grow strong. Tapping, striking, and vibrating help the muscle to develop its contractile power.

Muscle massage is brought by first effleurage, kneading, followed by tapotement. Later, active and passive movements are given.

Massage is employed for eliminating muscle contraction and for breaking of adhesions. A little moderate kneading, and percussion cause muscles to contract and become stronger. Deep circular kneading and vibration loosens the muscles. Kneading under and round the muscles breaks up adhesions.

Massaging the nerves :

Massage benefits many nerve problems. In case of acute inflammation of the nerves, massage should be done carefully. Light and gentle stroking are recommended. Deep pressure should not be used on swollen nerves for it will increase the inflammation. All that is needed is just a gentle tapotement or beating of the nerve.

Nerve compression is recommended for soothing nerves. Grasp the limb with both hands, and create firm pressure around and down the arm. Start with the shoulder and proceed down to the wrist. As you leave the grip, bring the hands down a little and make another pressure. As a result, blood circulation will increase. Spinal nerve compression is extremely beneficial. It is done by the palm of the hand. Vibration of the fingers stimulate it. Sleeplessness can be cured by long slow and gentle stroking down the spine and entire back.

Abdominal Massage :

This form of massage is beneficial in constipation. It stimulates the peristalsis of the small intestines, tones up the muscles of the abdomen walls and mechanically eliminates the contents of both large and small intestines. Abdominal massage should not be done in general, femoral, inguinal and umbilical hernia, inflammation of the uterus, bladder, ovaries and fallopian tubes, kidney stones, bladder or gall bladder, ulcers of the stomach and intestines, and pregnancy.

Abdominal massage should not be done after a heavy meal, but after two hours or so. The bladder should be emptied before the massage. The patient is made to lie on his back with his knees drawn up. This enable the abdomen wall to relax. The masseur should stand at the right side of the patient and use his finger tips for friction round the umbilical region from right to left.

He should likewise alternatively knead the walls and roll with both hands, making deep and firm pressure. He should knead with the hand and finger tips and keep clear of any wound or tender places. He should later take up massaging of the larger intestines.

The manipulation of the large intestine should begin on the right side. Keep it going upwards and across the transverse colon and move right down on the left side to the signoid flexure and rectum. Circular kneading should be done with the help of the three middle fingers. At the same time press into the contents of the abdomen, following the course of the larger colon with a crawling motion. Keep kneading by means of a few circular movements in one spot with the help of finger tips. Keep moving the fingers a little further along. Knead repeatedly. Use knuckles of the hand to make deep pressure along the large colon, moving the hands along after each pressure.

Once the kneading of the abdomen isover, follow up by tapotement with both hands cupped or use the knuckles of the hand. Vibration may also be employed. The patient could also be asked to do some gymnastic exercises for strengthening the walls of the abdomen. Since blood pressure increases during abdominal manipulation, patients with hypertension should avoid abdominal massage. Massage should also be avoided in cases where there has been recent bleeding in the lungs, the stomach or the brain.

Chest Massage :

Chest massage is helpful in many ways. It strengthens the chest muscles, increases circulation and tones up the nervous system of chest, heart and lungs. It is especially recommended in weakness of the lungs,palpitation and organic heart disorders. Bust and mammary glands can be developed by proper massage.

The patient is made to lie on the back with the arms at the sides. The masseur starts manipulating the chest by means of strokes with both hands on each side of the breast bone. A circular motion is formed by the movement made up and down, moving down the chest. Next the muscle kneading is done by picking up the skin and muscles with both hands. Treatment is given to both sides of the chest likewise. Circular kneading is next done by placing one hand on each side of the breast bone and making the circular motion outward towards the side.

Tapotement follows by hacking and slapping.

Massage of Back :

The purpose of the massage of the back is to stimulate the nerves and circulation for treating backache, rheumatic afflictions of the back muscles, and for soothing the nervous system.

The patient is made to lie down with the arms at the sides. The masseur effleurages the back from the shoulders downwards using both hands on each side of the spine. Stroking is done from the sacrum upward. Friction follows with each hand at the sides of the spine going down slowly. Next, kneading by muscle picking is done with squeezing. Alternate rapid pushing and pulling movement of the hands sliding down the spine. Circular kneading should also be done.

The treatment should end by slapping, hacking and cupping on each side of the spine. Gentle stroking and light kneading of the back is relieving and soothing. Percussion and vibration result into stimulating experience. Vibration of the end of spine benefits the sacral nerves and pelvic organs. It is recommended in constipation, hemorrhoids, weakness and congestion of the bladder and sexual organs.

Massage of the Throat :

This helps to overcome headache, sore throat and catarrh of the throat. The patient is made to throw his head back. The masseur places palms of both hands on sides of neck with thumbs under the chin, and fingers under the ears. A downward stroke is next made towards the chest over the jugular veins. Do not exert heavily on the jugular veins.

Repeat several times.

Sleep : Restorative of Tired Body and Mind

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:03 am

Sleep is one of nature’s greatest inventions and blessings of life. It is a periodic rest of the body which is absolutely essential for its efficient functioning. It has been called ” most cheering restorative of tired bodies. “

Sleep is the indispensable condition to the recuperation of energy. We go to bed fatigued and get up refreshed. Sleep repairs the wear and tear of the body and mind incurred during waking hours. Nothing is so restorative to the nerves as sound and uninterrupted sleep. Sleep is thus a vital element in a total way of life. It is a basic need in man’s mental as well as physical life.

During sleep most of the functions of the body are carried on at the lowest level possible in health. Heat production is from 10 to 15 per cent below the basal level. The mechanism regulating the body temperature are less sensitive than in the waking state and are depressed by 0.5 to 1.0 degree F. The rate of the heart is reduced by 10 to 30 beats per minute and a decline in blood pressure of about 20 mm occurs in quiet restful sleep. The urine volume is considerably reduced, but its concentration in solids is increased. The tone of all the skeletal muscles is lessened. The eyes are usually rolled upward and the pupils constricted.

Loss of sleep exerts seriously detrimental effects upon the nervous system. Long periods of wakefulness may cause profound psychological changes such as loss of memory, irritability, hallucination and even schizophrenic manifestations. During the last World War, prisoners in Nazi concentration camps who kept awake for days by strong lights and blaring wireless sets, collapsed.

Sleep versus rest

For correct living, it is essential to differential between sleep and rest. At rest the body is disturbed by all exterior noises ; but in sleep it is screened from them by partial loss of consciousness and also by what is called ” dream protection. ” One useful purpose of the dream is to convert outside noises that might awake the sleeping person, into fantasies that do not disturb him.

During rest the limbs are normal, but in sleep they swell. Blood flows from the brain, distends the arteries, and makes the limbs bigger. IN sleep more muscles are relaxed than in rest, though the sleeping person changes his position about 35 times in one night, without knowing it. Many organs which work during rest suspend their activities in sleep. Thus the recouping value of sleep is much more than that of rest or simple lying down.

Theories of sleep                       

Many theories of sleep have been advanced to explain the temporary loss of consciousness which we know as sleep. The oldest theory is that sleep is induced by a reduction in the blood supply to the brain or at least to conscious centres. This is known as ischemic theory. Even the ancient Greek physicians were aware that the carotid artery was in a way concerned with the onset of sleep. The name itself expresses this belief. The Greek word ‘ Karotides’ for carotid arteries is derived from karoo which means ‘put to sleep.’ In modern times, the drowsiness after a meal, presumably due to the diversion of blood from the brain to the digestive organs, is cited in support of the ischemic theory.

Another important theory about sleep is the chemical theory. As a result of experiments in the metabolism of sleeping subjects, it is considered that the fatigue inducing sleep may be a mild form of blood poisoning or toxaemia. This ” poisoning” is believed to be brought on by the expenditure of energy during the waking hours. According to this theory, every contraction of a muscle and every impulse passing through the brain or the nerves breaks down a certain amount of tissue. The debris from broken down tissue is then thrown into the bloodstream. In the waking state, much of the waste from broken down tissue is got rid of through the natural eliminating processes of lungs, kidneys, bowels and skin. But there comes a saturation point when there is such an accumulation of waste that it cannot be disposed of by these processes and it then invades the grey matter of the brain. In such an eventuality, mental and physical altertness are impaired. It is nature’s warning that the waste product must be reduced to replenish the lost energy. So we get tired and the urge to get sleep becomes irresistible.

During sleep, the cells and tissues that break down to produce toxic waste become less active and the production of toxic waste is vastly reduced. Simultaneously, constructive activities take place within the body during sleep, which rebuild the broken down tissue.

Another theory places a sleeping centre in the hypothalamus. Many of the bodily changes in sleep such as constriction of pupils, reduced frequency of heart beat, increased gastric tone and secretion are manifestations of the activity of hypothalamus nuclei, especially parasympathetic centres. Perhaps some of the sleeping pills affect this centre in the brain.

Although the various theories have certain amount of experimental evidence to support them, none has really solved what is the most mysterious process in our lives. All we know is that sleep substitutes constructive measures for the destructive processes of our waking hours. We cannot live without sleep.

Duration

Another mystery about sleep is that no two persons need the same amount of sleep. Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, Associate Professor of Physiology at the University of Chicago, who conducted years of extensive experiments at the University’s “Sleeping Laboratory” says that there is no more a normal duration of sleep than there is normal height and weight. A study of 25 subjects spread over thousands of nights showed that the average amount of sleep needed to feel well rested is seven-and-a-half hours, though individuals varied from six to nine hours.

According to Dr. Demmis Williams, a noted authority on sleep, the amount of sleep needed for an individual’s well-being, is determined by what he feels he needs, not by what other people, including the doctor, think is reasonable.

On the whole, women sleep from 45 minutes to one hour more than men. The amount of sleep required varies at different ages as follows :

New Born : 18 to 20 hours

Growing children :10 to 12 hours

Adults : 6 to 9 hours

Aged persons : 5 to 7 hours

The depth of ordinary restful sleep fluctuates throughout the sleep. In most adults, sleep deepens through the first hour, after which it lightens rather sharply and then more gradually until morning or until the usual time of wakening. IN growing children, however , sleep deepens a second time for a little while. According to Dr. Lindlahr, a famous naturopath, two hours before and two hours after midnight are the most valuable for sleep of all the twenty-four hours of the day. In these four hours, mental and physical vigour are at their lowest ebb and sleep is soundest and most natural.

It is believed that three-quarters of our sleep consists of whatis called ‘ slow wave sleep.’ The restorative processes occur during this time. The remaining quarter is taken by what is called ‘rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.’ It is also called paradosical or dreaming sleep and it comes in episodes of about 20 minutes duration about five times in a night. It involves dreaming, irregular heart rates, raised blood pressure and erection of the penis. It is in this phase of sleep that normal healthy young men may have wet dreams. Both forms of sleep are considered equally important, being normal sleeping rhythms.

Sleeping positions

There are many theories about good and bad sleeping positions. Practically everyone changes positions several times during sleep. Hence how one starts out is of no consequence. It is a good thing we do turn about in our beds. If we did not, we would awake in the morning stiff, having maintained the same position all night. For proper sleep, however, one should not sleep on one’s back but on the side with one or both legs brought well up and the head and the shoulder slightly forward.

Sleeping pills are no remedy for sleeplessness. They are habit-forming and become less effective when taken continuously. They lower the I.Q. dull the brain and can prove fatal if taken in excess or before or after alcohol. The side-effect of sleeping pills include indigestion, skin rashes, lowered resistance to infection, circulatory and respiratory problems, poor appetite, high blood pressure, kidney and liver problems and mental confusion.

Sleeping well is an art. It needs a perfect blend of healthy habits and control of mind. A clean body and mind, relaxed mood, physical exercises, and perfect dietary control are some of the basic sleep-inducing methods.

Unpleasant situatins at bed time such as arguments, quarrels, watching a horror movie, listening to loud music which would create anxiety, fear, excitement and worries should be avoided. Such situations stimulate the cerebral cortex and tend to keep one awake.

The sleeping place should be well ventilated, with balanced temperature and free from noises.

The bed should be neither too hard nor too soft, but comfortable. The pillow should not be too hard or too high. The bed clothes should be loose-fitting and light coloured. Another important rule is not to have heavy food shortly before bed time.

Fasting – The Master Remedy

In Nature Cure and Natural Methods Of Treatment on December 6, 2007 at 5:02 am

Fasting refers to complete abstinence from food for a short or long period for a specific purpose. The word is derived from the old English, ‘feastan’ which means to fast, observe, be strict.

Fasting is nature’s oldest, most effective and yet least expensive method of treating disease. It is recognised as the cornerstone of natural healing. Dr. Arnold Eheret, the originator of the muscusless diet healing system, describes it as ” nature’s only universal and omnipotent remedy of healing” and “nature’s only fundamental law of all healing and curing. “

The practice of fasting is one of the most ancient customs. It is followed in almost every religion. The Mohammedan, the Buddhists, the Hindus and many others have their periods of strict fasting. The saints of medieval times laid great stress on this method.

Fasting indisease was advocated by the school of natural philosopher, Asclepiades, more than two thousand years ago. Throughout medical history, it has been regarded as one of the most dependable curative methods. Hippocrates, Galen, Paracelsus and many other great authorities on medicine prescribed it. Many noted modern physicians have successfully employed this system of healing in the treatment of numerous diseases.

The common cause of all diseases is the accumulation of waste and poisonous matter in the body which results from overeating. The majority of persons eat too much and follow sedentary occupations which do not permit sufficient and proper exercise for utilisation of this large quantity of food. This surplus overburdens the digestive and assimulative organs and clogs up the system with impurities or poisons. Digestion and elimination become slow and the functional activity of the whole system gets deranged.

The onset of disease is merely the process of ridding the system of these impurities. Every disease can be healed by only one remedy – by doing just the opposite of what causes it, that is, by reducing the food intake or fasting.

By depriving the body of food for a time ,the organs of elimination such as the bowels, kidneys, skin and lungs are given opportunity to expel, unhampered, the overload of accumulated waste from the system. Thus, fasting is merely the process of purification and an effective and quick method of cure. It assists nature in her continuous effort to expel foreign matter and disease producing waste from the body, thereby correcting the faults of improper diet and wrong living. It also leads to regeneration of the blood as well as the repair and regeneration of the various tissues of the body.

Duration 

The duration of the fast depends upon the age of the patient, the nature of the disease and the amount and type of drugs previously used. The duration is important, because long periods of fasting can be dangerous if undertaken without competent professional guidance. It is, therefore, advisable to undertake a series of short fasts of two to three days and gradually increase the duration of each succeeding fast by a day or so. The period, however, should not exceed a week of total fasting at a time. This will enable the chronically sick body to gradually and slowly eliminate toxic waste matter without seriously affecting the natural functioning of the body. A correct mode of living and a balanced diet after the fast will restore vigour and vitality to the individual.

Fasting is highly beneficial in practically all kinds of stomach and intestinal disorders and in serious conditions of the kidneys and liver. It is a miracle cure for eczema and other skin diseases and offers the only hope of permanent cure in many cases. The various nervous disorders also respond favourably to this mode of treatment.

Fasting should, however, not be restored to in every illness. In cases of diabetes, advanced stages of tuberculosis, and extreme cases of neurasthenia, long fasts will be harmful. IN most cases, however , no harm will accrue to fasting patients, provided they take rest, and are under proper professional care.

Methods

The best, safest and most effective method of fasting is juice fasting. Although the old classic form of fasting was a pure water fast, most ofthe leading authorities on fasting today agree that juice fasting is far superior to a water fast. According to Dr. Rangar Berg, the world –famous authority on nutrition, “During fasting the body burns up and excretes huge amounts of accumulated wastes. We can help this cleansing process by drinking alkaline juice instead of water while fasting … Elimina tion of uric acid and other inorganic acids will be accelerated. And sugars in juices will strengthen the heart … juice fasting is, therefore, the best form of fasting. “

Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace elements in fresh, raw vegetable and fruit juices are extremely beneficial in normalising all the body processes. They supply essential elements for the body’s own healing activity and cell renegeration and thus speeding the recovery. All juices should be prepared from fresh fruit immediately before drinking. Canned or frozen juices should not be used.

A precautionary measure which must be observed in all cases of fasting is the complete emptying of the bowels at the beginning of the fast by enema so that the patient is not bothered by gas or decomposing matter formed from the excrements remaining in the body. Enemas should be administered at least every alternate day during the fasting period. The patient should get as much fresh air as possible and should drink plain lukewarm water when thirsty. Fresh juices may be diluted with pure water. The total liquid intake should be approximately six to eight glasses.

A lot of energy is spent during the fast in the process of eliminating accumulated poisons and toxic waste materials. It is, therfore, of utmost importance that the patients gets as much physical rest and mental relaxation as possible during the fast. IN cases of fasts in which fruit juices are taken, especially when fresh grapes, oranges or grapefruit are used exclusively, the toxic wastes enter the blood -stream rapidly, resulting in an overload of toxic matter, which affects normal bodily functions. This often results in dizzy spells, followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. If this physical reaction persists, it is advisable to discontinue the fast and take cooked

vegetables containing adequate roughage such as spinach and beets until the body functioning returns to normal.

The overweight person finds it much easier to go without food. Loss of weight causes no fear and the patient’s attitude makes fasting almost a pleasure. The first day’s hunger pangs are perhaps the most difficult to bear. The craving for food will, however, gradually decrease as the fast progresses. Seriously sick persons have no desire for food and fasting comes naturally to them. The simples rule is to stop eating until the appetite returns or until one feels completely well.

Only very simple exercises like short walks may be undertaken during the fast. A warm water or neutral bath may be taken during the period. Cold baths are not advisable. Sun and air baths should be taken daily. Fasting sometimes produces a state of sleeplessness which can be overcome by a warm tub bath, hot water bottles at the feet and by drinking one or two glasses of hot water.

Benefits

There are several benefit of fasting. During a long fast, the body feeds upon its reserves. Being deprived of needed nutrients, particularly of protein and fats, it will burn and digest its own tissues by the process of autolysis or self-digestion. But it will not do so indistriminately. The body will first decompose and burn those cells and tissues which are diseased, damaged, aged or dead. The essential tissues and vital organs, the glands, the nervous system and the brain are not damaged or digested in fasting. Here lies the secret of the effectiveness of fasting as a curative and rejuvenative method. During fasting, the building of new and healthy cells are

speeded up by the amino acids released from the diseased cells. The capacity of the eliminative organs, that is, lungs, liver, kidneys and the skin is greatly increased as they are relieved of the usual burden of digesting food and eliminating the resultant wastes. They are, therefore, able to quickly expel old accumulated wastes and toxins.

Fasting affords a physiological rest to the digestive, assimilative and protective organs. As a result, the digestion of food and the utilisation of nutrients is greatly improved after fasting. The fast also exerts a normalising, stablising and rejuvenating effect on all the vital physiological, nervous and mental functions.

Breaking of Fast

The success of the fast depends largely on hos it is broken. This is the most significant phase. The main rules for breaking the fast are : do not overeat, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly ; and take several days for the gradual change to the normal diet. If the transition to eating solid foods is carefully planned, there will be no discomfort or damage. The patient should also continue to take rest during the transition period. The right food after a fast is as important and decisive for proper results as the fast itself.