When a headache strikes, many of us head for the medicine cabinet. Whether it’s an over-the-counter remedy or the stronger drugs prescribed for chronic sufferers, the “magic pill” seems a simple solution.
When Cynthia Bialek could no longer practice yoga on land, she decided to try it in water. After several years of suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, this 38-year-old woman was determined to move beyond the limitations of her symptoms and regain her active lifestyle. Water helped her do just that. Bialek found that the supportive buoyancy and slight pressure of the water enabled her to once again enter yoga poses that brought strength and stability to her body.
Much of what we have learned over the past decade about the physiological and psychological effects of massage therapy has been generated by researchers at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Fla. Their investigations cover a wide range of medical conditions, subjects, and ages, in a variety of applications. We know from these studies, for instance, that massage appears to reduce anxiety and depression, positively alter biochemical markers, and stimulate growth in preterm infants.
Prior to European colonization of the Americas, diabetes was virtually unknown in indigenous peoples. It is now epidemic, having taken a firm hold in this population over the past century and increasing at an alarming rate. It is estimated approximately 15 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives under care by Indian Health Services (IHS) are diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes, type 2, more than twice the national average. Statistics are higher in some groups, with a 50 percent incidence for adults between ages 30 and 64 in one Arizona tribe.1
Once associated primarily with Indian gurus and counterculture enthusiasts, yoga has grown in popularity and is embraced by Americans from all walks of life. In a recent issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (March/April 2004), researchers from Harvard Medical School reported statistics gleaned from David Eisenberg’s well-known 1998 survey on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States.
Diagnosed with breast cancer, Mary Ellen Havard of St. Louis, Mo., was facing the known (a regimen of necessary, but painful and debilitating medical treatment), and the unknown (the outcome). “The doctors told me when they outlined my treatment that it was going to be rigorous,” she says. “I knew I needed to do something to help myself feel better as much as I could while I was having chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
Practitioners and clients espouse the strengths of massage therapy. But what happens when massage studies are subjected to a rigorous meta-analysis? Are the benefits confirmed?
You walk on them all day, but did you know your feet do more than carry you from one place to the next? They also have a unique connection to balanced health and well-being. In a form of bodywork known as reflexology, the feet are said to contain reflex areas that mirror and connect to all parts of the body — and pressure on these points can actually influence your state of health.
Pain is an individual experience and, as pain expert Margo McCafferey notes, exists whenever the individual says it does.1 The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the governing body of safety and quality in medical care, agrees and has now designated pain as a fifth vital sign, along with heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature. Recognizing the patient’s right to effective pain management, the JCAHO issued a mandate, beginning Jan.
One of the most devastating and frustrating diseases of our time, multiple sclerosis (MS) generally targets those in the prime of youth, between ages 20 and 40, wreaking havoc on their bodies and their lives. As yet, there is no cure. Nor is the cause clearly understood, although researchers suspect multiple contributing factors. MS is a chronic neurological disorder in which the immune system apparently and inexplicably attacks the protective myelin sheaths surrounding nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.