Sunday, July 13, 2014

Massage for Aging, Geriatric Massage

Aging is a natural process, but in our culture it is treated as a disease. Medicines are prescribed and marketed as anti-aging and it is dreaded among younger generations. Things like graying or thinning hair, weakening of bones, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction are included in the symptoms of this form of pathology. Many other diseases are thought to coincide with aging such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Osteoporosis.  Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treat aging differently but both agree that the symptoms can be postponed.
            In Western medicine aging is controversial. It is not recognized as a disease but in many cases treated as one, with the increase of average life expectancy being a win for modern medicine. Some indications are attributed to the aging process rather than the result of poor health habits. As with many diseases western medicine tries to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of the symptoms. Prescribing hormone replacement treatments, high blood pressure medications, and eye surgeries, not to mention the cosmetic surgeries to make elders look younger. They see aging as the risk factor for certain health concerns. 'Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, says “one way of trying to face down this enormous burden of disease is to look at the biggest risk factor common to all of them -- aging.”
Traditional Chinese medicine views aging as a disharmony between Qi and Xue. Most symptoms point to a deficiency in Kidney Jing, or essence. People are born with this Essence and it is nurtured through life by having a healthy lifestyle, such as getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, etc. Unhealthy lifestyles, such as ones with a lot of emotional or spiritual distress deplete this essence causing the symptoms of aging. The disharmony of the Qi and Xue weakens the body and allows it to be susceptible to disease.
Massage in general can help relieve aging symptoms or even help postpone the aging process. Massage can help relieve stress, depression and other mental ailments by releasing endorphins, releasing aches and pains, and protecting the Kidney Jing. It helps improve circulation, which can help remove toxins, and move fluids to and from parts of the body that may need nourishment. Massage can help tighten the skin and improve posture by loosening tight muscles, keeping a person looking youthful.  There is also a specific type of massage for the elderly called geriatric massage.  A geriatric massage session usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes because the client may be more fragile or sensitive. The massage is light and uses gentle hand motions as well as passive stretching which can help enhance blood circulation, combat depression, improve balance and flexibility, reduce the pain of arthritis, increase joint mobility/prevent stiffness, improve posture, and encourage overall well being.

Both Western and Eastern medicine recognize that aging is inevitable but also that life can be extended by using techniques to prevent age related diseases and afflictions. The views on what causes aging and how to have a healthier happier life are, however, different. Western medicine tries to find the best new technology to remove symptoms of aging as they appear and points to aging itself as the cause of age related pathology. Eastern medicine sees aging as a process of depletion throughout a person’s life and if you want a long healthy life you must take care of yourself along the entirety of your life span.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Essential Oils & Asthma

There are 2 areas to discuss here:

  •      General precautions for using all essential oils for someone with asthma or wheezing.
  • 2      Specific oils and methods to assist in opening the lungs for someone with asthma or wheezing.

General Precautions for Using All Essential Oils for Someone with Asthma or Wheezing

Strong smells can sometimes be a trigger for wheezing or asthma.  Because of this it’s very important to always test for sensitivity first.  Guidelines:
  1.       I strongly suggest using a high quality organic oil.  Perfumes, chemicals, and adulterants commonly added to low quality essential oils are of concern to triggering an attack.
  2.         Place 1 drop of essential oil on a tissue and have the person gently smell it.  If they get any reaction to it, don’t use it.  Once a reaction has started, you may need to wait 30-60 minutes before trying another oil.  If there is no reaction go to step #3.
  3.       Always start at a very light dosage so their body can gently get used to the oil and be comfortable with not having any reaction to it.  The best places to apply an essential oil topically are on the ankles and wrists – always diluted into carrier oil.  If there is any reaction, stop using it.  If there is no reaction continue to step #4.
  4.         If both smelling a drop of the oil and using it on ankles and wrists is totally fine the essential oil should be fine to use in a diluted blend for back massage or a very light blend for full body massage.  The oil should also be fine diffused into the air for short periods of time (like 5-10 minutes).

What about children?
Essential oils can be of great value when used appropriately for someone experiencing asthma in their life, including children over the age of 7.  I’m hesitant to recommend this for smaller children less than 7 years old because the essential oils might be too strong for them, which could create even more constriction in the lungs trying to keep them out. 

If you do have a child under 7, try placing 1 drop of essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball and leaving it near them for 20-30 minutes.  Watch for any adverse reaction and remove it immediately.  If the child relaxes and breaths easier, it is fine to use this 1 drop method about every 1-2 hours as needed.

5 Best essential oils to use:
You’ll notice that Khella, Blue Tansy, Inula, and Grindelia are heavy, strong oils.  Because of this you only use a very small amount.  These first 4 oils all combine beautifully with Hyssop decumbens, however they are too heavy to combine well with each other.

Khella, Ammi visnaga

Blue Tansy, Tannacetum annuum

Inula, Inula graveolens

Grindelia, Grindelia squarrosa
is a nice choice, especially if any coughing is involved. This is the plant that the main western medication for whooping cough is made from.  Its effect on the lungs is very direct.

Hyssop, Decumbens
variety.  Note that Hyssop Officinalis (non-decumbens variety) does have mild toxic properties and should only be used by an experienced aromatherapist.  The decumbens variety is not toxic and is safe to use with children.  This oil works best in combination with one of the above 4 oils.

Essential Oil Nebulizer

How to use them:
NEBULIZER: The best method is using an essential oil nebulizer. These are usually a little on the pricey side (I’ve seen them anywhere from $75 - $400) however they are worth it when you need something strong and fast.  Place 6-10 drops of the essential oil(s) above in the nebulizer, turn on for short periods of time, refresh the oil(s) as needed.
You must watch to see when the person starts to relax and breathe easier.  Once this happens, you can turn the nebulizer off.

·         For children, usually 5-10 minutes is long enough.
·         For adults, 5-20 minutes should work great.

Use the nebulizer as needed, usually once every 1-2 hours at the most.

You can also place 1-3 drops of oil(s) on a cotton ball and place it near the person.  This works great for small children or even adults to improve sleep.  It’s especially nice if you either can’t be concerned with needing to unplug the nebulizer, or if there are other people/animals in the area that are bothered by the essential oils.

Generally, the air diffusion method is preferred, however applying a well diluted blend to the sternum (chest bone) can be used.  Be sure to watch for signs that it is too strong, as the essential oils are heavy and lingering. 

A small diluted amount can also be worked into any or several of the following acupressure points:  Lung 1, Lung 2, Lung 6, Lung 7, Lung 9, Pericardium 6, Conception Vessel 13, Stomach 36, Bladder 13, Bladder 14, Bladder 23.  Acupressure combined with the Nebulizer is very effective.

What to expect:
When you have the right oil(s) that the person responds really well to, you should notice a very quick improvement in breathing and overall relaxation. This will often be 30 seconds up to 2-5 minutes.  This naturally allows the person to rest quietly and comfortably so their body can kick in its own healing resources.

If for any reason symptoms worsen, immediately remove the essential oils from the area and provide fresh air.

What if symptoms don’t improve?
If symptoms do not improve or worsen, see your Medical Doctor.  When the lungs are constricted to the point that oxygen absorption is not adequate, this is a very serious condition.  There are conventional treatments that are fast and highly effective.  It’s much better to use them and accept side effects, if any, than not to when the situation warrants it.

Additional Therapies: 
Chinese medicine works with the whole person.  There are excellent methods of identifying the underlying cause, often damp or phlegm related, and working to re-balance the body so the interior environment is no longer conducive to the symptoms.  Acupuncture is highly recommended, and there are also specific QiGong exercises that internally massage and strengthen the lungs.

Learn tons of great information from my On-Line Essential Oils Course series. You can study here at our school in Alaska from anywhere in the world!