Sure, it’s progress. But medical science’s myopia in the name of health and longevity has led to a number of casualties including natural plant medicines and folk remedies to an often overlooked potent healer: Touch. Massage’s role in healing dates back thousands of years as one of the most effective ways to treat and prevent maladies from the common cold to pain relief, treating depression and regulating blood pressure. So why do we still treat it as a luxury rather than an ingredient for vitality?
Mother and child and lovers experience the bonds of intimate contact and the resulting good feelings. But what about the rest of us? From our single person car-rides to an isolated cubicle to the hum of the lonely treadmill, it’s easy to go days—even weeks—without being touched by another human. And studies show that human touch releases a chemical in the brain called oxytocin in as few as fifteen minutes. This chemical is linked with feelings of love and happiness and is critical in increasing trust and reducing fear. And while NSAIDS are effective at relieving pain, massage has been one of the most effective tools in the realm of pain management without the use of drugs.
There are hundreds of types of massage including the more common: Deep tissue, shiatsu, reflexology, thai massage, trigger point therapy, lomi lomi and ayurvedic. The use of certain oils can also deliver healing powers from the plant world into our bodies to remove toxins and revitalize organs.
Decadent over-the-top luxury spas can seem counterintuitive to healing—almost as if we don’t deserve it unless we consider the rich and surpisingly famous like Donald Trump among our friends (we BFFs prefer to call him “Donny-T”). But don’t let that deter you. The massage industry has shaken off the oppressive last half-century dominated by doctors and clinics leading to the rise in spa-as-indulgence, and there are now thousands of therapists opening less flashy studios, working out of their homes or willing to travel to yours. Some insurance plans are now even covering massage treatments. Whether done by a professional or even an amateur shoulder or foot rub by a loved one, moving the energy and tension out of the body can happen on even the most subtle, and still quite therapeutic, levels.
We’re most definitely living in interesting times that also happen to be, on occasion, stressful. Perhaps the power of touch has never been more prudent.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: The Essex