Aromatherapy Massage for Diabetic Patients - by admin@mcb on July 06 2017

Aromatherapy Massage for Diabetic Patients

Aromatherapy Massage for Diabetic Patients

Aromatherapy massage was recently shown to have a measurable improvement on neuropathic pain in diabetic patients. A study, published in the June 2017 Journal of Nursing Scholarship, sought to determine if massage with essential oils could lessen neuropathic pain in diabetic patients. The researchers found that diabetic patients who had been suffering with painful diabetic neuropathy realized a significant decrease of pain. Patients also experienced a significant increase of quality of life by adding aromatherapy massage to their care routines.

Research Results

The study, performed in Turkey, compared 21 patients who received the aromatherapy massage with 25 control patients who did not. The essential oils used in the study were rosemary, geranium, lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile. The massage was given three times per week for a total of four weeks. The control group received only routine care, with no aromatherapy or massage of any kind. Data was compiled with the use of two different patient questionnaires (one targeting pain, the other targeting quality of life), along with a visual analog scale.

Based on the significant decrease of pain among the patients in the study group, as well as the reported increase in quality of life, researchers concluded that aromatherapy massage is a simple, effective, drug-free method to reduce pain and improve quality of life in patients with diabetic neuropathic pain.

The complete citation for the study is as follows: Gok Metin, Z., Arikan Donmez, A., Izgu, N., Ozdemir, L. and Arslan, I. E. (2017), Aromatherapy Massage for Neuropathic Pain and Quality of Life in Diabetic Patients. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. doi:10.1111/jnu.12300

The full article can be downloaded at

Aromatherapy Massage Certification

To learn more about the benefits of aromatherapy for conditions routinely experienced in a massage setting, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a course in Aromatherapy for Massage. Some of the conditions covered in the course include arthritis, circulation problems, edema, headaches, inflammation, joint pain, muscle soreness, sports massage, sprains, stress, and more.

There are 32 essential oils covered in the course. They are: Basil, Bergamot, Birch, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Jasmine, Juniper, Lavender, Lemongrass, Orange, Patchouli, Pepper, Peppermint, Pine, Rose, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Tangerine, Tea Tree, Thyme, Vetiver, and Ylang Ylang. Students have the option to submit internship paperwork to become certified in aromatherapy massage.


Postpartum Anxiety Relieved by Massage - by admin@mcb on June 09 2017

Postpartum Anxiety Relieved by Massage

Postpartum anxiety is one of the most common complaints in the postpartum period, and has several negative consequences. It can delay or prevent the release of oxytocin, potentially interfering with breastfeeding. Anxiety may negatively influence the emotional bond between the mother and infant, leading lead to potential psychological problems in children. Additionally, postpartum anxiety is a very strong predictor of postpartum depression. Early treatment of postpartum anxiety may help reduce postpartum depression disorder.

Research on Massage in Postpartum Anxiety

Iranian researchers conducted a controlled clinical trial to test the efficacy of massage therapy on postpartum anxiety. The study consisted of 100 primiparous (first time) mothers with normal deliveries. Women were divided into two groups – a massage group and a control group. Members of both groups were similar in age, education, and the use of medication during labor. (Citation: Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 Aug; 18(8): e34270. )

Massage was chosen as a treatment due to its ability to decrease levels of cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenalin. Massage also has other beneficial physiological effects, especially muscle relaxation. Relaxation in the postpartum period decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This can prevent postpartum depression, and it can also increase effective mother-infant attachment.

Postpartum Massage

In the experimental group, slow-stroke back massage was performed for 20 minutes. The massage was described as follows:

“The mother was seated on the edge of the bed. Then, the researcher grasped the top of the mother’s shoulders with both hands and placed the thumbs of each hand just below the base of the skull, making tiny circular movements on the upper neck. In the next stage, the researcher placed the palm of one hand at the base of the skull and made a long and smooth stroke all the way down the patient’s spine to her waist. The second hand followed the first at the base of the skull and stroked down the spine as the first hand returned to the base of the skull. Next, the researcher placed her hands on either side of the mother’s neck under the mother’s ears and stroked down and over the mother’s collarbones with her thumbs just over the shoulder blades and repeated the motion several times. Then, she placed the thumb of each of her hands beside the spine, beginning with the shoulders, and moved the thumbs down the spine to the waist and repeated this movement several times. Finally, she completed the procedure by placing her palms on each side of the mother’s neck and making continuous, long, sweeping strokes down the neck, across each shoulder, and down the back near the spine and repeated the entire process several times.”

Research Results

In the control group, a researcher sat with the mother for 20 minutes but performed no massage. Twenty minutes later, and again the following morning, the mothers completed anxiety questionnaires.

Prior to the massage, both groups had similar anxiety levels as shown in questionnaires. Immediately after the massage and the next morning, there was a significant difference in the anxiety scores. After receiving the massage, the anxiety level of the experimental group was significantly reduced. Research on mothers on the first day after labor, third day after labor, and second day after birth reported similar results. The level of anxiety in the control group did not change.

As a result of this study, it is recommended that midwives, nurses, or other caregivers use massage in the early days after labor to help the mother achieve relaxation.

Learning Prenatal and Postpartum Massage

To learn more about prenatal and postpartum massage, Institute of Somatic Therapy offers a certification in prenatal massage. We also offer related courses in doula support and infant massage.

Massage and Reflexology for Autism - by admin@mcb on May 30 2017

Massage and Reflexology for Autism

Is there any evidence to suggest that massage therapy and/or reflexology is beneficial for children affected with austism? One case study says “yes”.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.”

Children who have been diagnosed with autism commonly display anxiety and repressed motor skills. The impairment of motor skills is often linked to an underdeveloped or dysfunctional proprioceptive system. Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and joint position. It is important in all everyday movements but especially so in complicated sporting movements, where precise coordination is essential.

Case Study – Massage and Reflexology for Autism

As of now, there is very little clinical research on the ability of massage therapy to have a positive effect on proprioceptive dysfunction in autism. However, one short case study does give promise.

In the case study, a moderately functional 5-year-old autistic girl was given a series of eight 40-minute massage therapy sessions over a four-week period. At the onset of the case study, she had some proprioceptive dysfunction that impaired her ability to plan and perform gross motor skills. This dysfunction was delaying her physical developmental abilities. The bodywork sessions included Swedish massage, and foot reflexology targeting the reflex points relating to the nervous system.

Functional testing were given before and after the series of massages. These included balancing on one foot, jumping rope, back-and-forth ball bouncing, and ball dribbling. The effect of the bodywork was that she experienced a faster-than-normal rate of learning motor skills. She also displayed greater control over her posture, coordination, and use of force.

Because this study involved only one moderately-functioning subject, larger studies are needed to confirm a positive correlation between massage and reflexology in autistic children. Until then, if you are close to any autistic children or adults, massage and bodywork, including reflexology, may be worth pursuing.

(Based on a case study presented by Rachel Benbow, LMT, BA, MLIS at the 2016 International Massage Therapy Research Conference.)

Continuing Education Courses Available

The Institute of Somatic Therapy offers several massage therapy continuing education courses that might be beneficial for autistic children. We offer certification in infant massage, and continuing education in reflexology. We also offer courses on infant massage research and reflexology research. Institute of Somatic Therapy is approved by the NCBTMB as a continuing education approved provider. Our courses are valid for CEs in most states.


A Day in the Life of a Massage Doula - by admin@mcb on April 25 2017

A Day in the Life of a Massage Doula

Ring…Ring. Yawn. Shake off the sleep. Ring…Ring. “My phone! Mary (pseudonym) must be having her baby. Time to kick into action as a massage doula. What time is it?” 4:15 a.m. Good, I think, I’ve gotten most of a full night’s sleep. I jump out of bed, throw some cold water on my face, brush my teeth, put on the carefully laid out clothes that have been waiting for just this moment, and off to the hospital I go. Such starts my favorite kind of day as a massage doula.

Make no mistake, getting up at 4:15 is not high on my list of things to do, but there is something calming and quieting about the wee morning hours when I know within a few hours, I will be witnessing the miracle of birth.

My interest in prenatal massage began early in my massage career. I earned my initial massage certification in 1991, and in early 1993, I became certified as a prenatal massage therapist. I immediately dove in, started working on pregnant women, and started attending labors, although at that time, I had only learned four strategies in my labor support repertoire, one of which I quickly abandoned because everyone told me to stop because it hurt.

Within in a few years, I started hearing about doulas. I had no idea what they were doing that I was not, but I thought if I only learned one new thing, it would be worth it. I got certified with Doulas of North America, and also took advanced doula training from Penny Simkin. It was after this training that I coined the term “massage doula” to refer to a certified prenatal massage therapist who is also certified as a massage doula support person.

Armed with a wide range of new techniques, I assisted over eighty births before retiring my private practice a few years ago to focus on teaching and to take on the role of Director of Education with the Institute of Somatic Therapy. With all of those births, my moms averaged under five hours of labor, only two needed C-Sections, and the vast majority birthed entirely drug free. My star client had three babies, with the total labor time from all three births only 4.5 hours (2.5 hours the first baby, 1.5 hours the second, and only 30 minutes the third).

As a doula, I could share many stories, some funny, some harrowing. I know that I will treasure my doula years forever. Not having any children of my own, I feel lucky to have been able to have so many through the experiences with my clients. I have said many times how grateful I was to have been able to watch miracles happen for a living.

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Judith Koch is the Director of Education at the Institute of Somatic Therapy, an online continuing education provider. To earn your massage doula certification, click here.

Varicose Veins - by admin@mcb on July 05 2016

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins which has become enlarged. Veins become enlarged is due to failure of backflow valves, or as a result of veins walls losing their elasticity. When the blood doesn’t flow back to the heart as efficiently as it should, blood pools in the vein. The pooling then puts even greater pressure on the vein walls and distal backflow values. This pooling blood causes the distal veins to become enlarged. As more blood pools, the valves will take on a bulging, ropelike, blue appearance.

Primary varicose veins are due to valves that are weak from pregnancy or birth. They often occur during pregnancy, due to the weight of the uterus on the vena cava, coupled with the increased blood volume that occurs in the last two trimesters.

Secondary varicose veins are those that occur due to other causes, of which there are many. Veins can become weakened from overuse, such as standing for long periods of time, which can cause blood to pool in the veins when there is not sufficient muscle action to assist the venous blood return. Chronic high blood pressure can dilate veins so that the valves no longer form a proper seal. Tight clothing, obesity, poor diet, aging, blood clots, and lack of exercise can all be contributing factors.

Considerations for Massage

With severe cases, massage therapists should avoid the veins and all areas distal to them, with the possible exception of performing foot reflexology/foot massage. The foot work should be modified to ensure that there is no vigorous flexing or rotation of the feet which would impact on the veins.

With mild to moderate varicose veins, the therapist should adhere to touch that will be in the direction of lymphatic and venous blood flow. Additionally, the touch should be lighter and slower, so as not to overwhelm the already overtaxed veins. This applies not only to the area of the veins, but all areas distal to those veins as well. Gentle stretching of the muscles surrounding the veins can help naturally pump the blood. For example, if the lower leg has varicose veins, the foot can be alternately dorsiflexed and plantar flexed, or gently rotated through the full range of motion, to promote blood flow in the lower leg.

Avoid any vigorous techniques such as cross-fiber friction, tapotement or wringing type motions in the area of, or distal to, varicosities.

Continuing Education on Varicose Veins

Institute of Somatic Therapy offers two massage therapy continuing education courses that may be of interest to massage therapists working with clients with varicose veins:
Pathology – Varicose Veins is a 2 CE cognitive course that teaches about the condition in general.
Prenatal Massage – Since varicose veins are common in pregnant women, our prenatal massage certification series addresses how to handle mild, moderate, and severe cases in your pregnant clients.