About Me

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I have actively practiced as a Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) and massage therapist since 1993 with special interest and training in the Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) technique. My experience is with lymphedema disease, edema in general, pre- and post-surgery massage, cosmetic surgery edema  and more.   My search for a low or non impact movement modality led me to become a certified trainer in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® I have found it to be a helpful movement modality to stimulate the Lymphatic system and other stagnation out of the body. The Gyrotonic method is the base for movement sessions used at the office. Palliative care is another direction of great interest, as many of my clients are in disease states.  My mission is to provide compassionate care and resources for my clients.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Medical Massage

Medical massage techniques are no different than the massage techniques used to give a relaxing massage. What is different is the reason for the massage. Massage therapists give massage to basically healthy people for the purpose of relaxation or to energize, before and after sporting events, during athletic training, for basic aches and pains and so forth. Medical massage therapists use the same techniques to treat a medical condition, such as chronic pain or an injury. They also give palliative massage to relieve stress and pain, help the patient sleep and to reduce anxiety. Usually massage therapists who do medical massage seek advanced training not only in massage techniques, but also in anatomy and physiology as well as the application of massage techniques for specific conditions.

There is no specific license for medical massage. If you are looking for someone to help you with your medical condition, ask your doctor or other health care givers for a referral. You can also ask your local massage school for referrals to experienced therapists. Make sure the therapist is licensed, and ask how many hours of training the therapist has had. Serious massage therapists often have 1000 hours or more of training.

By the way, one of the most-researched types of medical massage is lymph drainage massage, used to reduce swelling and stimulate the immune system. If you have any questions about lymph drainage massage, contact me and I'll be happy to help you. I have nearly 2000 hours of training and nearly 20 years of experience in massage.

Monday, March 26, 2012

12 Important Steps For A Longer, Healthier Life

We all know what we need to do in order to have a long healthy life. However we don't always make the effort. Now and then each of us needs a reminder, so here is a list of the top dozen things to do to have a healthy, long life.

Protect Your Heart
According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease and cancer are the leading killers every year.  So, protecting your heart and avoiding things known to cause cancer can keep you healthy longer.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of a heart attack, because it raises blood pressure, reduces good cholesterol and damages your blood vessels.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Excessive alcohol consumption increases your weight, itself a risk factor, and increases your blood pressure. Drink no more than one drink a day, which means one ounce of spirits, four ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer.
  • Maintain normal weight. Excessive weight, especially around the middle, increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes, which leads to heart disease.
  • Reduce the amount of red meat, animal fat, fried foods, and refined foods like sugar and flour that you eat.
  • Eat more vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and peas.
  • Exercise. Start with at least 30 minutes three days a week of moderate exercise, and work up to 30 minutes every day. Try to exercise out of doors. Sunlight affects mood, helps your body create vitamin D and it helps your brain produce melatonin which helps you sleep well.
Be pro-active about your health.
  • Have a regular physical exam so that you know the important numbers: your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight.  Your doctor may recommend other important tests, such as a colonoscopy, breast exam, cervical exam, or bone density test.  Get your family immunized against life-threatening illnesses.
  • Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure often leads to heart disease and stroke. Your doctor may recommend medications to control your blood pressure if you aren’t able to do so with diet and exercise. It’s important to take the medication regularly, as high blood pressure is a killer.
  • Prevent diabetes. Diabetes leads to heart disease and other risks, such as serious infections, blindness and amputations. It’s very important to monitor your diet and your blood sugar, to prevent diabetes. If you develop metabolic syndrome – pre-diabetes – it’s even more important to control your diet and monitor your blood sugar.
  • Protect yourself from the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Skin cancers can be fatal, and it’s better to be pro-active and prevent skin cancer as much as possible. Wear long sleeves and a hat in direct sun, and use sun-screen, between 15 and 30 SPF.
  • Cultivate a hobby, make friends, reduce stress, get enough sleep, have some fun every day. Have some alone time. Family and friends can be supportive, can help you develop healthier habits and improve your mood.  Stress saps your immune system, reducing your protection against harmful microorganisms, and it stresses important organs including your heart.
  • Get an education. Lower education levels are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes as well as obesity, and it is also connected with a higher risk of dementia in later years.
Use smoke detectors in your house, learn to swim, always wear your seatbelt, wear protective gear in sports or on a motorcycle. Avoid dangerous situations and violent people as much as possible.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Bottom Line For Pink Slime

Lean, finely-textured beef, LFTB, or "pink slime" has caught the public's attention and caused concern among consumers. It is small remnants of beef still attached to fat that has been trimmed from beef cuts. It is warmed to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and then is centrifuged to remove the fat, leaving behind tiny pieces of beef that otherwise would be wasted.

It doesn't have to be specifically labeled because it is all beef, so it's hard to know whether your grocery store ground beef contains it or not. While it sounds revolting, the real concerns are appearance -- which is like pink baby food -- and microorganisms. Untreated LFTB is ideal for the growth of microorganisms, and often contains E. coli. Therefore, the USDA has approved the use of ammonia gas to destroy the microorganisms. To some, this is beneficial because it makes the beef safer. To others it just makes the product more revolting.

It's an example of choices we have to make in order to be healthier. Pink slime -- LFTB -- is no more dangerous than ordinary ground beef you buy from the grocery store or consume in fast-food burgers. The bottom line is how much does this affect your health? The truth is that eating red meat regularly -- any red meat, not just "pink slime" -- is associated with an increased risk of heart disease over time. It isn't just the pink slime that should concern you, but whether or not you should eat beef at all.

If you do eat beef, know your sources. Spend a little more to buy organic beef, untreated with hormones and antibiotics, and fed natural food without pesticides. If you like and want to eat hamburgers, your best bet is to buy lean beef and grind it yourself, which can be easily done in your food processor. To add moisture, add a little healthy oil, such as olive or walnut oil, to the lean ground beef.

Unlike fruits and vegetables, which are necessary for health, the bottom line is that meat isn't really necessary to sustain your health. Eating less meat -- smaller portions, less often -- is a healthy choice. As for fruits and vegetables, eat organic produce if you can. If you can't find organic produce at a reasonable price, eat the regular produce available in your area, as the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables outweigh the risks of contaminants.

'Pink slime' may be unappetizing, but it's safe, genuine beef

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stress, Cortisol and Massage

What is stress? It is anything which challenges your mental and physical ability to adapt. Stress isn't always bad - for instance when you stress your muscles by going beyond your usual workout, they adapt during rest by growing stronger and larger. Stress helps your body and mind learn how to adapt to the demands of life. However, prolonged stress with no chance to rest and recover is dangerous. 

Under stress, your brain responds by activating the so-called fight, flight and defeat hormones. Fight or flight hormones make your heart and lungs work harder and increase the level of fatty acids in your blood, giving you more energy to deal with the stress. The defeat reaction occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It suppresses your immune system and triggers the release of cortisol, a steroid that helps release fat into the bloodstream for more energy. It can move fat around the body according to need, into your bloodstream for more energy and into new storage areas, especially into the abdomen. 

If stress is unremitting, the fight or flight reaction causes your organs to race, using up energy and causing damage over time. When you feel you can’t cope with the stress in your life, the long-term exposure to cortisol -- because you feel overwhelmed -- can cause obesity, especially in the abdomen, as well as high blood pressure and elevated glucose, leading to diabetes.

It’s important to learn how to deal with stress, to turn off stress hormones, so that you can remain healthy. Research shows that massage can help reduce those stress hormones, turning off the fight/flight/defeat reactions and switching your nervous system to the relax and heal state. For instance, Russian scientists in 2011 reported that a stimulating sports massage increases hormones necessary for a stress situation such as a competition, while a relaxing massage actually decreases those hormones and switches the nervous system into a relaxed state where healing takes place.

Another 2011 study, published in the journal “Nature Communications,” showed that the tactile stimulation of massage lowers stress in fish. A study reported in the "Yonsei Medical Journal" in 2011 reported that heat and massage both significantly lower blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine.
For over a decade the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami has done research on the effect of massage on stress. Their studies show that massage can reduce the markers of stress, including high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, anger and blood levels of cortisol in people with stress.

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, try putting yourself in your massage therapist's hands for a relaxing massage as often as practical in your life. You'll definitely feel more relaxed and able to cope than you would without massage. In addition to massage, learn how to meditate, learn a soothing exercise regimen such as yoga or Tai Chi, and ask your massage therapist to teach you some breathing exercises.

  1. Field, T., Morrow, C., Valdeon, C., Larson, S., Kuhn, C. & Schanberg, S. (1992). Massage reduces anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric patients. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 125-131.
  2. Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Massage and relaxation therapies' effects on depressed adolescent mothers. Adolescence, 31, 903-911.
  3. Field, T., Deeds, O., Diego, M., Gualer, A., Sullivan, S., Wilson, D. & Nearing, G. (2009). Benefits of combining massage therapy with group interpersonal psychotherapy in prenatally depressed women. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 13, 297-303.
  4.  Hou, W.H., Chiang, P.T., Hsu, T.Y., Chiu, S.Y., & Yen. Y.C. (2010). Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71, 894-901.
  5. Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Goncalves, A., Burman, I., Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.
  6. Cady, S. H., & Jones, G. E. (1997). Massage therapy as a workplace intervention for reduction of stress. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 84, 157-158.
  7. Shulman, K.R. & Jones, G.E. (1996). The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the work place. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32, 160-173.
  8. Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J. & Theakston, H. (2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31-38.
  9. Field, T., Seligman, S., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Alleviating post-traumatic stress in children following Hurricane Andrew. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 17, 37-50.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Modern Evidence-Based Cellulite Treatment

For a long time it was thought that cellulite was due to toxic fat cells, as well as weight gain, and that to a degree it was hereditary.  Treatments were developed based on this understanding, involving diet, exercise, herbs and body wraps. Mostly they weren’t effective, although it is true that maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help. 

More recent research gives us a surprising new understanding of the physiology of cellulite. It is due to a malformation of connective tissue, not the fat cells at all. The connective tissue under your skin is a mesh of random fibers that contain fat cells and support the skin. In most people, the layer of connective tissue under the skin is laid down in a very random pattern, with fibers going in many different directions like the fibers in a sponge. In areas with cellulite, however, the fibers are perpendicular to the skin rather than random. The fibers pull the skin inward and the fat cells bulge outward between the fibers, creating a dimpled appearance on the surface.

Cellulite is due to this basic malformation of connective tissue, but is also aggravated by inflammation caused by weight gain, exposure to extreme heat and cold, over-exercise as well as lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. With this understanding of the cause of cellulite, scientists in the beauty industry have developed a process using a machine which therapists can roll over your skin to break up cellulite. It works by mechanically rolling the skin, pulling it outward and breaking down the perpendicular fibers of connective tissue. The connective tissue then heals with a smoother look. There is no pain involved, only a slight burning sensation. The process is expensive, however, and has to be repeated several times to produce the best results.

Fortunately, your massage therapist already has the tools to produce the same result: her hands. Skin rolling is a traditional massage technique that breaks down the connective tissue by pulling the skin away from deeper structures, just as the machine does. Additionally, your therapist can use specific deep tissue massage techniques to stretch each layer of connective tissue from that right under the skin to much deeper layers around your muscles. Your skin will be smoother and more supple, and your muscles more relaxed and pain-free. Your massage therapist can include cellulite work along with your regular massage, so that not only will your skin be smoother, but you will also be relaxed and refreshed.

Finally, improving cellulite requires maintaining a healthy weight with good nutrition and exercise. We talked about good nutrition in a recent post about a healthy way to detoxify. As for exercise, vary your workouts so that you include cardiovascular, strengthening, stretching, endurance and balance exercises. Focusing too much on only one kind of exercise is more likely to cause injury, creating inflammation and making the cellulite worse.
Cellulite: A Review of Its Physiology and Treatment
Anatomy and Physiology of Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue by In Vivo Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy