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Massage Message Issue 20a: Maya Abdominal Therapy, Aromatherapy, MLD for stress, Stress and fertitli
May 01, 2014

­What is new at Touching Well?

This is a bumper issue of the Massage Message. It contains most of the articles in the printed Massage Message, plus research on stress and fertility that was published just after I formated and printed the 20th Massage Message.

My “belly year” continues into 2014, I am at the Certification training for Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy™ as you receive this. I am trained by Rosita Arvigo. She was an apprentice of Maya traditional healers and was tasked by to keep this ancient and wonderful treatment alive.

Ix Chel is the Maya Goddess of Medicine, Weaving and Childbirth, here depicted through the three stages of a woman’s life – Maiden, Mother and Crone/Grandmother.

"Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but we've had good news. We discovered we were pregnant last week. I'm so sorry as I know you were using me as a case study....but I guess it worked! :-)

Thanks again for your time and help. I enjoyed our sessions and definitely think the massage along with my diet changes and acupuncture all contributed to our happy news last week."

Tanya had two sessions, one just before my Maya Massage training, the second as one of my first case studies afterwards. I did not hear anything from her for six weeks, and then she wrote the above email.

In March I had my left bunion operated upon (last September it was the right foot). This time I knew what was coming. The first two weeks elevating were necessary and a bit boring. Again I used Deep Oscillation as soon as the dressing came off to bring the swelling down further and promote healing. I have to report now that I have two beautifully shaped feet (as beautiful as they get). I promise I will not go for a bunion operation in time for the next newsletter.

Stress can lead to infertility

Recent studies (in Spring 2014) have found that stress can lead to infertility, both for women and for men . High levels of pre-conception stress more than double the chances of a woman failing to get pregnant after 12 months of trying. Scientists measured levels of alpha-amylase, and enzyme in saliva that proved a biological indicator for stress. Women with high levels of the biomarker were 29% less likely to get pregnant that those with low levels.


Aromatherapy can be applied in many different ways, as a massage, in a bath, a compress, or inhalation. The last method is very popular in clinical trials, as it does not require much input from a therapist and is therefore cheaper. In this Massage Message I'll list a number of these trials.

Aromatherapy and stress

Nurses carried small bottles of 3% lavender oil on their right chest for inhalation, a control group carried unscented oil. In the aromatherapy group nurses reported a significant reduction in stress symptoms for 3-4 days, while the control group reported slightly increased stress levels. (Int J Nurs Pract. 2013 Nov 15) How simple is that?

… and sleep

Patients in a hospital had a jar of lavender oil on their bedside table. It was found that these patients tended to sleep better and have lower blood pressure during the night. (Am J Crit Care. 2014 Jan;23(1):24-9.).

… and anxiety before surgery

In another study patients were given bergamot essential oil or water vapour to inhale prior to a daycare surgical procedure. The anxiety was reduced substantially in those people who inhaled bergamot oil prior to surgery. (Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:927419)

… for nausea after general anaesthetic

How does an inhaler containing Peppermint, Ginger, Spearmint and Lavender essential oil compare with a water inhaler for nausea and vomiting after a general anaesthetic? Very well, according to a recent study. People who used the aromatherapy inhaler reported less nausea and sickness than those with the water inhaler. (J Perianesth Nurs. 2014 Feb;29(1))

Food for thought from David Palmer, the “father” of chair massage:

Massage is sensational

“A recent article in The Atlantic about a phenomenon called ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) reminded me of how little we celebrate the purely sensational nature of massage.

ASMR is a subjective sensory experience that typically includes highly pleasurable tingling in the head triggered by external audio or visual stimuli such as whispering, tapping or watching certain videos. Possibly because someone early on began referring to this sensation as a “brain orgasm,” the ASMR idea went viral with articles appearing on Slate, Time, and Huffington Post as well as numerous podcasts and radio programs. YouTube already lists nearly 2 million videos on the subject.

I had two reactions when I first read about ASMR. The first was, “What’s the fuss about? Every time I get a massage, I tingle all over, including in my head and brain.” My second thought was, “How come massage doesn’t have 2 million videos on how good massage feels?”

Professional massage exists on a social acceptability spectrum that can be summarized into four major categories: Sexual, sensual, wellness, and therapy. For the past 30 years the goal of the mainstream massage industry has been to highlight the latter two categories while downplaying the first two in an attempt to create as much distance as possible between massage and any hint of prostitution. In the process, the fact that, first and foremost, massage feels good has got lost. That is unfortunate because, as science is now discovering, feeling good is probably one of the best things that we can do for our ongoing health and well being.

Learning how to stimulate a parasympathetic (relaxation) response, as massage does quickly and so effectively, is crucial to the daily health and renewal of virtually every physiological system in our bodies, not to mention the maintenance of a healthy psycho-social balance.

“Massage is not just pampering,” popular magazine headlines try to convince us. I say, what’s wrong with pampering if it boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases oxytocin and heightens heart rate variability, a marker of parasympathetic response? A simple, caring massage is also an unconditional validation of my existence that nurtures both internal and external empathy. What’s not to like?

All massage is sensational. It makes us feel more and it makes us feel better. What a gift is the massage that banishes the numbness with which we armour our bodies and our spirits. Let us celebrate the sensational essence of massage and start making those videos.”

MLD and Stress

I find MLD very relaxing, so do most of my clients. The movements are rhythmic and slow, rhythmic and slow, rhythmic and slow, … very relaxing and calming. This was tested on 26 stressed people. Half received 15 minutes MLD on the neck, the other half rested on a bed. Relaxation was measured with EEG (electroencephalography).

The EEGs in the MLD group showed a significant increase in relaxation, manifested as an increase in average absolute and relative delta and alpha activity. This suggests that MLD provides neural effects that relax stressed people. (J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Jan;26(1):127-9.)

MLD for venous disease

When I did my lymphoedema training nine years ago, I learnt that the same methods, MLD, compression, exercise and skin care, are effective in chronic venous disease (CVD), too. Only now studies confirm the positive effect of MLD on venous disease.

Seventy people scheduled for surgery were enrolled in a study. 38 received 10 daily 20 minute MLD sessions prior to surgery. All received an assessment of their CVD, including complications, and completed a quality of life questio and 4 weeks after the operation. MLD alone significantly reduced oedema in the foot. It also improved their quality of life. Furthermore, MLD prior to surgery resulted in a better surgical outcome: a reduced disease progression, less foot oedema and better quality of life. (Arch Med Sci. 2013 Jun 20;9(3):452-8.)

In another recent study compared the effect of MLD moves on the thigh on the venous blood flow on 18 healthy people and 23 with severe chronic venous disease. It was found that either of the MLD manoeuvres increased the venous blood flow in the legs for healthy individuals and those with venous insufficiency. “Therefore, manual lymphatic drainage may be an alternative strategy for the treatment and prevention of venous stasis complications in chronic venous disease.” (Phlebology. 2013 Aug 29.)

How heavy is a glass of water? It depends ...

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralysed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralysed – incapable of doing anything."

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down! -author unknown

I look forward to seeing you.

With warm regards,


Issue 20a of the Massage Message: 1st May 2014.
Regina Dengler
Touching Well
0115 8457113
regina @

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