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Massage Therapy: Riddled with Quackery, 19/2/2015
Massage Therapy: Riddled with Quackery

Massage Therapy: Riddled with Quackery

Massage is customarily defined as manual (by hand) manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for therapeutic purposes, using strokes that include gliding, kneading, pressing, tapping, and/or vibrating. Massage therapists may also cause movement within the joints, apply heat or cold, use holding techniques, and/or advise clients on exercises to improve muscle tone and range of motion.

The best known forms are sports massage, which focuses on muscle systems relevant to a particular sport; and Swedish massage which uses long strokes, kneading, and friction techniques on muscles, plus active and passive movements of the joints. The term "bodywork" encompasses traditional massage, other touch therapies, and some methods that involve manipulation of imaginary forces to maintain or restore "balance."

Ordinary massage and the legitimate practice of massage therapy should not be categorized as quackery. Massage can help people relax, relieve aching muscles, and temporarily lift a person's mood. However, many therapists make claims that go far beyond what massage can accomplish. And even worse, massage therapy schools, publications, and professional groups are an integral part of the deception.

There is no evidence-based reason to believe that massage can influence the course of any disease. Yet the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Web site has claimed that that therapeutic massage can help with allergies, asthma, bronchitis, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea, and sinusitis . The site also suggests that "massage is to the human body what a tune-up is to a car" and that "therapeutic massage can be part of your regular healthcare maintenance." And a 1997 AMTA booklet falsely states that massage can promote easier breathing, assist with removal of metabolic wastes, strengthen the immune system, and help prevent disease .

The following methods are an integral part of the massage therapy marketplace. None has a scientifically plausible rationale or has been shown to favorably influence the course of any physical ailment. Several are claimed to detect and manipulate subtle "energies" that have not been scientifically demonstrated. And none (except perhaps for the use of aromatic oils if clients enjoy their odor) has any rational place in the practice of massage therapy.

The oils are administered in small quantities through inhalation, massage, or other applications to the skin. Aromatherapy products include diffusers, lamps, pottery, candles, pendants, earrings, shampoos, skin creams, lotions, bath salts, and shower gels.

Reflexology (also called zone therapy) practitioners claim that each body part is represented on the hands and feet and that pressing these areas can have therapeutic effects throughout the body. Proponents claim that the body is divided into ten zones that begin or end in the hands and feet, and that each organ or body part is "represented" on the hands feet. They also claim that abnormalities can be diagnosed by feeling the feet and that pressing each area can stimulate the flow of energy, blood, nutrients, and nerve impulses to the corresponding body zone. Many practitioners claim foot reflexology can cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation, assist in weight loss, and improve the health of organs throughout the body. Some claim that reflexology is effective against a large number of serious diseases. The pathways postulated by reflexologists have no anatomic basis; and no well designed study has demonstrated that reflexology is effective against any disease. Done gently, reflexology is a form of foot massage that may help people relax temporarily. Whether that is worth $35 to $100 per session or is more effective than ordinary (noncommercial) foot massage is a matter of individual choice .

The main standard-setting organization for massage therapists is the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), which was founded in 1943 and represents about 47,000 massage therapists in 30 countries .

AMTA's official publication, Massage Therapy Journal, has four issues per year. Most issues contain articles that advocate quack treatments, and all issues contain ads for dubious courses and products. The second largest professional group, the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), has about 37,000 members and publishes an equally low-quality magazine called Massage & Bodywork. A 2001 survey of ABMP members found that 44.6% of respondents said they used reflexology, 37.9% said they used "energy healing," and 30.4% said they used shiatsu .

In 1982, AMTA formed its Council on Schools to provide a forum for member schools to discuss the development of the field and to participate in workshops and seminars for massage educators.

In 1989, AMTA established the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) which accredits massage therapy training programs . COMTA's accreditation standards do not required that teachings be scientifically valid or that quack assertions be accompanied by disclaimers. In other words, if a school wants to teach that nonmaterial "energies" exert therapeutic effects, it is not required to inform students that no such forces have ever been scientifically demonstrated.

But even worse, if a school elects to offer a program in "Body Therapies of Asia," it is required to teach a long list of notions that do not correspond to scientific knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, health, and disease . And new competency standards scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2003, endorse these notions in even greater detail, as well as the use of sound and color therapies . According to a COMTA spokesperson, these standards were requested by the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), which represents practitioners of various therapies that were rooted in ancient China. As of May 7, 2002, 19 schools were participating members of AOBTA's Council of Schools and Programs (COSP). The AOBTA Web site describes 13 methods which it says are "based upon traditional Asian medical principles for assessing and evaluating the energetic system and use of traditional Asian techniques and treatment strategies to primarily affect and balance the energetic system for the purpose of treating the human body, emotions, mind, energy field and spirit for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health." In line with this, a 2001 COMTA memorandum included "balanced energy flow" in a list of general benefits of massage

About 65 schools now have COMTA accreditation. COMTA is not recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education but in December 2001 was recommended for approval by the department's advisory committee. Since the Secretary has granted approval to an astrology school, there is no reason to believe that the unscientific teachings of massage therapy schools will prevent COMTA from being approved.

In 1992, AMTA initiated creation of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), more than 40,000 massage therapists are now certified . NCBTMB is recognized by an interdisciplinary organization called the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA). However, NCCA accreditation is limited to a review of the structure of the certification program and the process used to measure competency. It does not imply endorsement of a profession's core beliefs or examination contents .

As of December 2005, 36 states and the District of Columbia regulate the practice of massage therapy. Most have an independent massage therapy licensing board, but some use the state health department or another professional board for this purpose. All require at least 500 hours of instruction at an accredited school, but a few require as many as 1,000 hours . (A 500-hour course usually takes six months to complete.) In most states, NCBTMB's National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork is the standard for licensure. Yet NCBTMB appears to have endorsed many quack concepts! Its candidate handbook, for example, indicates that certification candidates are expected to answer approximately 15 questions about metaphysical concepts of traditional Chinese medicine, palpation to assess "craniosacral pulses" and "energy blockages," therapeutic touch, "energetic effects of nutrition," "manual contact and manual manipulation to affect . . . the energy system," and several other practices based on quack concepts .

Several years ago, a very bright young woman sent me a vivid report of her recent experience as a student. The dubious practices she encountered included acupressure, craniosacral therapy, ear candling, reflexology, muscle-testing for allergies, reiki, lymphatic massage "to remove toxins," and various other practices claimed to detoxify the body. Although she did not wish to provoke her colleagues, she did give me permission to post her account anonymously .

Using the Internet, I have examined the course offerings of dozens of massage therapy schools and found that nearly every one of them advocates and teaches one or more of the quack practices mentioned in this article. It would be interesting to know whether any of the accredited schools are entirely free of unscientific teachings.

Ordinary massage and the legitimate practice of massage therapy can help people feel better. However, many practitioners falsely claim to do much more, and the agencies that oversee the educational and licensing systems display no evidence of concern about this.

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A Massage School Experience, 9/11/2015
A Massage School Experience

A Massage School Experience

In 1996, I started a one-year program consisting of over 500 hours in massage training. Overall, I had a good learning experience, but many of the modalities I learned had questionable validity.

Keep in mind, no two massage schools are alike and this report is merely one student's experience. However, the different areas I describe have become fairly mainstream in the massage community.

This article is not intended to discourage anyone from receiving a massage. It is to bring an awareness of some recent trends in the field of massage and give a recognition of suspicious practices.

From the first week of school, I noticed quite a few medical claims being made about massage. Our massage textbook offered little physiological explanation to back up the claims. For instance, the textbook claimed massage improves digestion. When I asked an instructor how this claim could be objectively measured, I was told, "People report that they have to go to the bathroom after a massage." That was the only explanation I was given.

"Toxin" removal by massage was a concept I not only heard in school, but read in articles and heard from practicing massage therapists. However, no toxins were clearly defined. Our instructors stated toxins were "things like caffeine," but offered no further explanation of how massage presumably removes these toxins. They also claimed that massage also helps eliminate the body's natural waste products, which some people also refer to as toxins. That statement suggests that the body somehow needs outside help to become cleansed. Some therapists advise their clients to drink large amounts of water following the massage to help them rid their body of toxins released during the massage.

The client's need to urinate then supposedly proves that toxins are being removed. Of course, drinking lots of water increases urination whether a massage is given or not.

Lymphatic Massage

Since massage causes lymph to flow, it is assumed to be removing toxins. There is even a procedure called lymphatic massage that is purported to significantly improve the detoxifying functions of the lymphatic system. Lymphatic massage is supposed to strengthen the performance of the immune system, benefit internal organs, and again, help get rid of these vaguely described toxins. "Pumping" the lymphatic system by pressing forcefully, up and down on the chest is a technique used to stimulate lymph movement. Again, I don't know how one could objectively measure all the claims made about this particular massage modality or how this "pumping" is proven to do what they say it does. In whatever form I found it, I could not get a consistent explanation of how massage removes toxins. is a legitimate massage treatment for lymphedema, a condition in which arm or leg swelling occurs because fluid accumulates in the lymphatic system. It is performed to reduce swelling, not to "remove toxins."]

Touch for Health also includes "meridian" massage.

The class studied and practiced reiki, a Japanese energy (described as Universal Life Force) healing technique that involves the laying on of hands. Massage magazines and journals are inundated with information on reiki. It is similar to the Chinese "chi" or Indian "prana." Reiki is promoted as a gift that is passed from one practitioner to another. The therapist is supposed to direct their energy into the client to promote the body's self healing. I never understood how this energy is transferred from one to another. Interestingly, they claim you can never give too much or too little reiki, alleging your body knows what you need and will take what it wants. Students were supposed to be able to feel the energy rise and fall at different times, but many students outside of class stated that they didn't notice any changes.

One had a massage by a therapist who laid hands on her during the massage and foretold her future. Another claimed someone had put a curse on her table that caused all of her clients to go away. I know of two massage therapists who see or work with angels during their sessions and another who advertises "healing" on his business cards. Unfortunately, situations like this are not rare. For some practitioners, massage has become a spiritual journey.

Another bandwagon some therapists have jumped on is the area of body/mind integration—working with a person in the context of counseling. The goal is said to be facilitating "inner peace." For example, we experimented in class with having a client discuss feelings that come up during a massage. I saw women breaking down and crying during their massages. I do not feel it is wise for a massage therapist to probe and try to manipulate situations like this. I do not believe that this is within the appropriate scope of massage therapy.

Massage tends to attract mostly people interested in holistic or alternative health. In an effort to diversify and increase income, you may find massage therapists also practicing herbology, aromatherapy, iridology, homeopathy, colonic cleansing, ear candling, light therapy, selling dietary supplements, or other holistic methods. Massage therapists are self proclaiming themselves to be "health care professionals." More medically sounding titles are also popping up. I was discussing massage with a lady who told me proudly that she received her massages from a "myotherapist." I think she was disappointed to learn a myotherapist is no different from a massage therapist. Other trendy terms are massotherapist, physiotherapist, physiologist and bodyworker. Few continue to use the more traditional terms of "masseuse" or "masseur."

There is currently disagreement between massage professionals who see massage as an "art" and those who see it more as a "science." Those who see it as a "science" are pushing to have national standards set that all must comply with. Part of this struggle for recognition is to earn the right to use medical billing codes and obtain third-party reimbursement.

Those who view massage as an "art" do not want outside interference and are fighting regulation. At this time, there are no national requirements for practicing massage. Mandates for licensing and certification vary from state to state.

Massage provides an effective way to control pain for some people and may also be an excellent medium to aid in relaxation or stress reduction. For those interested in receiving massage, be aware that technique varies widely from therapist to therapist.

It is advisable to shop around to find someone you are comfortable with. I am frequently asked how one finds a good massage therapist.

I believe that word-of-mouth is preferable to using advertisements or massage organization referrals. Even those who are licensed or certified often engage in questionable practices. Be wary of any massage therapist who makes specific medical claims or claims to "heal" people.

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Unnaturalistic Methods: A, 25/3/2007
abhyanga: Ayurvedic "rejuvenating cure" that is a secondary part of panchakarma. Abhyanga is a "very complete massage" with a medicated ("herbalized") oil. Practitioners supposedly gear the medicated oil to one's "constitutional type" (see "Ayurvedic nutrition").

acro-sage: A "combination of massage, yoga, and gymnastics," according to an edition of the TV magazine Strange Universe UPN broadcast on November 29, 1996. Former circus performer Benjamin Marantz created the method. Apparently, it is a purported way to "reverse aging."

acupressure massage: Acupressure in the form of a massage (An Mo). Apparently, it is the equivalent of amma. Acupressure massage purportedly is usable to promote the flow of Qi (chi) through the "meridian system."

African holistic health (African holistics, African holistic science, African medicine): Subject of African Holistic Health, whose fourth edition was published in 1993. The paperback's author, herbalist and massage therapist Dr. Llaila O. Afrika, developed this ethnic variation of naturopathy. Its purported design is to treat the physical, mental, and spiritual causes of "dis-ease."

Agartha Personal Life Balancing Program (Agartha Program): Thirty-five-day audiotape program created by author Meredith Lady Young. Its purported design is to reduce stress and promote "complete health." Each of the seven "harmonic" tapes combines sounds reportedly "developed" to alter "energy currents" within specific chakras. These sounds supposedly "massage" chakras and thereby improve the flow of life force through the body.

amma (anma, General Massage, Pu Tong An Mo): General form of Chinese Qigong massage. Its theory posits 361 "energy points" (tsubos). An means press, mo means rub, and an mo means massage. The purported goals of amma include relaxation, improvement of blood circulation, and prevention of illness.

AMMA Therapy(R): A derivative of amma and the alleged "grandparent of massage." Korean-born Tina Sohn developed AMMA Therapy in the 1960s. It involves bodywork, diet, vitamin supplements, and herbs. Supposedly, AMMA Therapy: uses "powerful energetic points" discovered by Sohn; treats the "physical body," "bio-energy," and the emotions; and frees the mind and spirit.

aroma-spa therapy: Subject of a textbook of the same name (Anessence Inc., 1996), by massage therapist Anne Roebuck, of Toronto, Canada. Apparently, aroma-spa therapy is the practice of aromatherapy as a part of spa therapy, which Roebuck describes in the introduction as "therapeutic face and body treatments at a spa location."

Manners of use of such oils include sniffing, ingestion, addition to bathwater, and application to the skin (typically with massage).

auric massage technique: Manual adjunct to angelic healing that is a form of aura cleansing (aura balancing). Its apparent postulate is that health accompanies bodily "harmony," which results from the restoration of "harmony" to the "higher bodies" that allegedly surround the body.

auricular massage: Component of Chinese auricular therapy that involves digitally pinching, pressing, or rotating all or part of the ear.

Ayurvedic Facial: Purportedly, a "therapeutic skin care experience" that involves the use of "dosha-specific" products and a facial massage focusing on "marma points."

is a "very complete massage" with a medicated ("herbalized") oil. Practitioners supposedly gear the medicated oil to one's "constitutional type" (see "Ayurvedic nutrition").

acro-sage: A "combination of massage, yoga, and gymnastics," according to an edition of the TV magazine Strange Universe aired on UPN on November 29, 1996. Former circus performer Benjamin Marantz created the method. Apparently, it is a purported way to "reverse aging."

acupressure massage: Acupressure in the form of a massage (An Mo). Apparently, it is the equivalent of amma. Acupressure massage purportedly is usable to promote the flow of Qi

African holistic health (African holistics, African holistic science, African medicine): Subject of African Holistic Health, whose fourth edition was published in 1993. The paperback's author, herbalist and massage therapist Dr. Llaila O. Afrika, developed this ethnic variation of naturopathy. Its purported design is to treat the physical, mental, and spiritual causes of "dis-ease."

Agartha Personal Life Balancing Program (Agartha Program): Thirty-five-day audiotape program created by author Meredith Lady Young. Its purported design is to reduce stress and promote "complete health." Each of the seven "harmonic" tapes combines sounds reportedly "developed" to alter "energy currents" within specific chakras. These sounds supposedly "massage" chakras and thereby improve the flow of life force through the body.

amma (anma, General Massage, Pu Tong An Mo): General form of Chinese Qigong massage. Its theory posits 361 "energy points" (tsubos). An means press, mo means rub, and an mo means massage. The purported goals of amma include relaxation, improvement of blood circulation, and prevention of illness.

AMMA Therapy®: A derivative of amma and the alleged "grandparent of massage." Korean-born Tina Sohn developed AMMA Therapy in the 1960s. It involves bodywork, diet, vitamin supplements, and herbs. Supposedly, AMMA Therapy: uses "powerful energetic points" discovered by Sohn; treats the "physical body," "bio-energy," and the emotions; and frees the mind and spirit.

aroma-spa therapy: Subject of a textbook of the same name (Anessence Inc., 1996), by massage therapist Anne Roebuck, of Toronto, Canada. Apparently, aroma-spa therapy is the practice of aromatherapy as a part of spa therapy, which Roebuck describes in the introduction as "therapeutic face and body treatments at a spa location."

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Reflexology: A Close Look, 28/3/2015
During the 1990s, I observed at least seven foot reflexologists at work during health expositions. In most cases, the process appeared to be an ordinary prolonged foot massage with little communication between the practitioners and their clients. But at one exhibit, the practitioners claimed that they could reduce stress, cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation, assist in weight loss, and improve the health of organs throughout the body. On another occasion, I underwent a 15-minute session in which the practitioner felt my foot for diagnostic purposes and then massaged it for "therapeutic" purposes. During the previous year, I had had severe shoulder pain caused by an inflamed tendon that was rubbing against a bony surface inside my left shoulder joint. Thorough medical evaluation had determined that the appropriate treatment was arthroscopic surgery in which a drill is used to shave the bony area that was impinging on the tendon. The reflexologist claimed that he could detect the shoulder problem by feeling my left foot, that it was caused by stress, and that pressing on my foot—perhaps for a few sessions—could solve the problem. His "treatment," which lasted about 10 minutes, consisted of massaging the foot and from time to time, pressing hard on the ball of my foot, a procedure that was quite painful. The "treatment," of course, did absolutely nothing to help my shoulder. A few months later, I had the surgery, which cured the problem immediately and permanently.

Since reflexology is not recognized by law, no formal training is required to practice reflexology or call oneself a reflexologist. However, some nurses and massage therapists offer reflexology as part of their licensed practice. Some courses are accredited for continuing education for nurses and massage therapists. The most widely publicized training source is probably the International Institute of Reflexology, of St. Petersburg, Florida, which claims to have 25,000 members worldwide . Its seminar on the "Original Ingham Method of Foot Reflexology" are taught by Ingham's nephew, Dwight Byers. Its "Certified Member" status requires 200 hours of instruction plus passage of written and practical tests. As far as I know, this certification process has neither legal nor medical recognition. The Institute's Web site states:

Reflexology is a unique modality in the health field. Its purpose is not to treat or diagnose for any specific medical disorder, but to promote better health and well being in the same way as an exercise or diet program. Its practice should not be compared to massage or any other kind of manipulative procedure.

Diagnosing or treating disease would constitute the practice of medicine and would be illegal for anyone who does not have a professional license to do these things. Although many diagnose and treat disease, I am not aware of any prosecutions. In some states that license massage therapists, unlicensed reflexologists might also be prosecutable for practicing massage therapy without a license .

Sandals, shoe inserts, foot-massage devices and a steering wheel cover based on reflexology theory are being marketed. As far as I know, no such product has a plausible rationale or been scientifically tested. Any medical claims made for such devices would make them "medical devices" under the law and therefore illegal to market without FDA approval.

In another study, 35 women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) were randomly assigned to ear, hand, and foot reflexology or to placebo therapy done on sham reflex points. The women kept a daily record of 38 possible symptoms selected from previous PMS research questionnaires. The treatment group reported significantly fewer symptoms than the placebo group, and these improvement persisted for 2 months after treatment. Many women in this group fell asleep during the 30-minute sessions and reported feeling more energetic during the next day. The placebo group reported that they thought they were receiving genuine reflexology, The authors note, however, that it was very difficult to develop a credible placebo control group, which may have been the study's flaw. Normally, reflexology is soothing, but the placebo treatment was described as "either overly light or very rough." Thus the differences could have been differences in the quality of the massage being administered. The study suggests that massage may relieve PMS symptoms, but it does not validate the alleged connection between reflex points and body organs

Another study compared the effects of foot reflexology, simple massage, and conversation on 130 patients who had undergone abdominal gynecologic surgery under full anesthesia. The patients were asked how they felt, and data were recorded on general condition, pain intensity, movement of the bowels, urination, and sleep, from the day before the operation until until the tenth day afterward. Simple massage turned out to be a relaxing, positive experience, whereas foot reflexology had various effects, some of which were negative. The researchers concluded that foot reflexology is not effective in acute, abdominal postsurgical situations in gynecology and can occasionally trigger abdominal pain .

Reflexology is based on an absurd theory and has not been demonstrated to influence the course of any illness. Done gently, reflexology is a form of foot massage that may help people relax temporarily. Whether that is worth $35 to $100 per session or is more effective than ordinary (noncommercial) foot massage is a matter of individual choice. Claims that reflexology is effective for diagnosing or treating disease should be ignored. Such claims could lead to delay of necessary medical care or to unnecessary medical testing of people who are worried about reflexology findings.

Benjamin. Eunice D. Ingham and the development of foot reflexology in the U.S. Massage Therapy Journal, Winter, 1989.

Walsh K. The regulatory net. Massage Magazine, March 30, 2001.

Kesselring A. Foot reflexology massage: A clinical study. Forsch Komplementarmed 6 Suppl 1:38-40, 1999.

Unnaturalistic Methods: C, 3/7/2009
Cayce/Reilly massage (Cayce/Reilly approach to massage, Cayce/Reilly method, Cayce/Reilly technique): "Holistic" form of massage named after "psychic" Edgar Cayce (see "The Cayce Approach to Health and Healing") and physiotherapist Dr. Harold J. Reilly, coauthor of The Edgar Cayce Handbook for Health Through Drugless Therapy (A.R.E.® Press, 1975). It includes energy balancing.

Chakra Energy Massage: Blend of chakra healing and Foot Reflexology Massage. Its theory posits areas on the feet that correspond to chakras ("subtle energy centers"), such as the "inner eye chakra."

Chi Nei Tsang (CNT, healing light massage, Internal Organ Chi Massage, Organ Chi Transformation Massage, Taoist Chi Nei Tsang, Taoist healing light technique): Component of the Healing Tao. CNT is a system of "Chinese deep healing" that involves massaging points in the navel area, a purported "storehouse" for cosmic, earthly, prenatal, and universal forces.

Its apparent postulate is that several areas and more than a hundred acupoints on the auricle (the outer portion of the ear) interactively relate to other areas or to diseases. The fetuslike contour of the auricle inspired the distribution of points thereon. Chinese auricular therapy, which differs from auriculotherapy, includes: auricular analgesia, auricular diagnosis, auricular magnetic therapy, auricular massage, auricular moxibustion, auricular point injection, the auricular point laser-stimulating method, bleeding manipulation, and the seed-pressure method.

Chinese Qigong massage (An Mo, Chinese massage, Qigong massage): Component of TCM that emphasizes the "proper level," quality of "circulation," and alleged preventive uses of Qi. The categories of Chinese Qigong massage are amma, Tuina, dian xue, and Qigong therapy.

Chi Self-Massage (Tao Rejuvenation, Tao Rejuvenation-Chi Self-Massage): Component of the Healing Tao System that purportedly uses chi ("internal energy") to rejuvenate teeth, sense organs, and inner organs.

Unnaturalistic Methods: QR, 4/6/1997
Qigong therapy (buqi, buqi therapy, external qigong, external Qigong healing, external Qi healing, medical Qigong, Qi An Mo, Qigong healing, Qi healing, Qi Massage, wai Qi liao fa, Wai Qi Zhi Liao): 1. Purported medical application of short-distance psychokinesis. Qigong therapy is comparable to Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch.

At most, it includes light touching. Its theory posits "healing Qi" and "diseased Qi." ("Buqi" means "spreading the Qi." "Wai Qi" means "external Qi" and refers to an alleged "shield" of chi at the surface of the body. "Wai Qi liao fa" means "curing with external Qi.") 2. Subject of Qigong Therapy and How to Use It (East & West Publications, Ltd.), by Linhai; a combination of "acupointing," "chiro practics," massage, physical therapy, Tuina, and "qi transmission."

Radiant Healing Massage Method® (Radiant Healing Massage): Combination of massage "techniques" that purportedly was developed because all modes of massage are not equally able to "unlock" one's "healing potential."

Reflexology Workout: Form of reflexology that is the subject of The Reflexology Workout: Hand and Foot Massage for Super Health and Rejuvenation, by Stephanie Rick. Purportedly, it is the equivalent of an internal massage and enables push-button control of hormone release.

Reichian Therapy (psychiatric orgone therapy, Reichian bodywork therapy, Reichian massage; called "vegetal therapy" in Europe): Psychoanalytic form of bodywork developed by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), the "discoverer" of orgone (see "orgone therapy"). According to Reichian theory, blockages to orgone cause neuroses and most physical disorders. Muscular contractions ("body armor") in various parts of the body supposedly manifest such "blockages." The Reichian "therapist" intuitively decides where the greatest "body armor" is and supposedly seeks to "dissolve" or "dismantle" it. Approaches to "dissolving" this "armor" include massage and having the patient breathe deeply, cry, gag, kick, make faces, scream, and roll his or her eyes. Apparently, Reichian Therapy is also called "Reichian vegetotherapy."

Rhythmical Massage: "Approach to massage" developed by physician and anthroposophist Ita Wegman. Its theory holds that effleurage

Rolfing® (Rolfing Method of Structural Integration, structural integration, structural processing): Form of myofascial massage developed in the 1930s in New York by Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. (1896-1979), an organic chemist who had studied yoga and chiropractic. The Rolf Institute, in Boulder, Colorado, founded in 1971, quoted her in a pamphlet: "Rolfers make a life study of relating bodies and their fields to the earth and its gravity field, and we so organize the body that the gravity field can reinforce the body's energy field." Rolfing theory posits "muscle memory": recollection of an incident "held" or "recorded" in a particular part of the body. Rolfers adjust the massage when they supposedly detect areas of "energy imbalance" within the body. Proponents claim that one's posture reveals past traumatic experiences, that Rolfing effects emotional and "energetic" release, and that this alleged release restores the flow of "vital energy" and integrates mind and body.

The Eisenberg Data: Flawed and Deceptive, 20/6/2004

Or do these inconsistencies suggest another form of massage?

Chiropractic, massage

Massage, Relaxation techniques

But just what are "relaxation techniques?" Medical school graduates, as well as professionals in hospitals would agree that the idea of physical, mental, and emotional rest are components of good medical care. What is "massage?" It is a universal practice, when people injure themselves reflexively resort to "massage" the area. It would be difficult, given this, to find anyone who does not utilize "unconventional medicine." The authors recognized this problem, saying: "Some of the unconventional therapies studied warrant further clarification.

For example, 'massage therapy' or 'relaxation therapy' may mean different things to different people." But, again, this was stated only in the small print, not to be found in interpretation and discussion of results.

The authors go on with their finding that "fewer than 3 in 10 users of unconventional therapy mention its use to their medical doctors," ignoring the fact that some of this "unconventional medicine" may even have been supplied by or at the recommendation of medical doctors. Moreover, the importance of visits to "unconventionals" is variable. A physician may not attach much importance to whether a patient had a massage, attended a Weight Watchers' meeting, or even seen a chiropractor in the previous 12 months. No one study is expected to answer all questions about an investigated matter. But what would be useful to know is how many people, given a serious diagnosis by a physician, seek out acupuncture, homeopathy, or a brown rice diet in lieu of appropriate medical or surgical treatment, or use substances that interfere with prescribed drugs? How many unnecessarily use ineffective methods for disorders that are self-limited?

"Roughly half of those who use unconventional medicine for their principal medical conditions have no supervision of this treatment by either a medical doctor or a provider of unconventional therapy." But, again, what is the significance of someone's using "relaxation techniques" or imagery in an unsupervised setting? "The use of unconventional therapy," they warned, "especially if it is totally unsupervised, may be harmful." But what is this harm? Are the 30% of people who use chiropractic on their own more liable to injure themselves than are chiropractors to injure the other 70% of those who use this form of "unconventional medicine?" Would it be safer for people having a massage, or attending a self-help group? What may truly be harmful where these methods are concerned, is their substitution for proved measures in the setting of serious or potentially serious medical conditions.

Dr. Eisenberg was the keynote speaker, and he used his time to review his 1990 data. He admitted that much of the "unconventional medicine" considered in the survey was essentially "extended self-care." He then, without further explanation, began referring to "alternative medicine" and focused on herbs, acupuncture, and homeopathy. There was no discussion of "relaxation techniques," which accounted for the largest use of "unconventional medicine" in his 1993 article. There was no consideration of chiropractic, massage, imagery, or "spiritual healing" or of commercial weight-loss programs. Dr. Eisenberg, at this same conference in 1997, ridiculed critics of homeopathy as having taken the position that, "it can't work, so it doesn't work?"


Many of the same problems of the 1993 article apply to this updated survey. For example, relaxation therapy and massage have still not been clarified, although this was said to be warranted five years previously in the 1993 paper.

Fibromyalgia: Practical Tips, 11/2/2001
6. Massage therapy

Many excellent massage therapists are now familiar with fibromyalgia.

For some, massage provides a real, if only temporary, relief from muscle pain. Unfortunately massage therapy tends to be quite pricey.

If you can afford to have regular appointments, it may be well worth the expense. There are several ways to try to cut down on the cost of massage. Some doctor's offices have massage therapists on staff--in this case their services are often covered by insurance.

Check your phone book for a massage therapy school in your area.

Students are often required to have so many massage hours to graduate and in most cases are not allowed to accept payment. You may have a friend who you can barter with for massage. As you get to know your body more and what feels good, you are better able to instruct another pair of hands. When reachable, self massage can help.

Try rubbing oil on your muscles after a hot shower or bath. Massage devices can also be quite helpful. My favorite is a machine with two rotating balls that I use to deactivate trigger points and spasm. Before purchasing any device, check on the return policy.

Unnaturalistic Methods: S, 4/6/1997
The methods fall into four categories: gentle movements and postures (e.g., tai chi); self-massage (e.g., auricular reflexology); breathing exercises; and (d) relaxation practices.

Sexual Energy Massage: The "primary practice" of Bone Marrow Nei Kung. It involves simultaneous digital massage of one's genitals and "meditative breathing." The purported purpose of Sexual Energy Massage is to release "Ching Chi" from the genitals for dissemination in the body and absorption by the bones. "Ching Chi" is an alleged combination of sex hormones and "sexual energy" that can regenerate bone marrow.

shiatsu (acupressure, schiatsu, shiatsu massage therapy, shiatsu therapy, shiatzu): "Healing art" whose major types are acupressure, shiatsu massage, and Zen Shiatsu. Its theory posits ki ("vital energy"), meridians ("energy pathways"), and tsubos: "vital" points or "holes" on the body that are sus ceptible to healthful stimulation. "Shiatsu" is the abbreviation of a Japanese word that literally means "finger-pressure treatment" (shi

shiatsu massage: Type of shiatsu based largely on amma.

Swedish-Esalen (Swedish/Esalen massage): "Nurturing" form of massage that borrows from Esalen massage and Swedish massage. It requires unconditional love on the part of the practitioner, and it allegedly reintegrates the body and soul.

Unnaturalistic Methods: B, 4/6/1997
barefoot shiatsu massage: Variation of shiatsu practiced by Viola M. Timbers, R.N., B.A., of New York City. It features pressing on "meridians" with hands, elbows, knees, and feet.

Bindegewebsmassage (bindegewebsmassage system, connective tissue massage): Form of bodywork developed in Germany in the 1930s by Elisabeth Dicke. Its theory resembles that of traditional acupuncture, positing a "powerful association" between particular areas of connective tissue (e.g., cartilage) and specific "paths" of the nervous system and internal organs.

biodynamic massage: Form of bodywork originated by Gerda Boyesen.

BodyMind Massage: Component of BodyMind Therapy. BodyMind Massage includes shiatsu. Its postulate is that touch is sacred and has "healing power," and its purported goal is synergy.

BodyMind Therapy: System taught by The BodyMind Academy, in Bellevue, Washington. It includes BodyMind Breathwork, BodyMind Counseling Hypnotherapy, BodyMind Massage, BodyMind Shiatsu, Gestalt (see "Gestalt therapy"), and "inner family work."

bodywork (Bodywork Therapy, bodywork therapies): A potpourri of methods typified by exercising, manipulating, and/or manually (especially digitally) touching the body. It overlaps with energy field work. The expression "bodywork" is generally interchangeable with "hands-on healing" and "hands-on health." The major categories of bodywork are: (a) massage therapy, (b) body-centered psychotherapy, and (c) touch therapy. Its major foci are: (a) body structure (e.g., chiropractic), (b) "body armor" (e.g., Reichian Therapy), (c) chi or "vital energy" (e.g., acupressure massage, acupuncture, and jin shinn), (d) relaxation (e.g., lomi-lomi and Swedish massage), and (e) the alleged "subtle body" (e.g., Reiki and Therapeutic Touch). The word "bodyworkers" apparently refers to practitioners of any form of bodywork that is not categorizable as acupuncture, chiropractic "adjustments," osteopathy, body-centered psychotherapy, touch therapy, or energy field work.

Unnaturalistic Methods: H, 26/1/2005
hand-mediated energetic healing (HMEH, HMEH approaches, HMEH traditions, hand-mediated healing modalities): Group of "healing" methods characterized by the belief that the practitioner's hands are agents of the transfer or interchange of something that feels like "energy." HMEH encompasses acupressure, external qigong (Qigong therapy), Healing Touch, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Polarity (Polarity Therapy), reflexology, Reiki, shiatsu massage, Therapeutic Touch, and Touch for Health.

Hawaiian bodywork: Mode of massage originally practiced only by kahunas (see "kahuna healing"). It purportedly releases "old patterns" at the cellular level." Apparently, Hawaiian bodywork is a variation of, or identical to, lomi-lomi.

head reflex massage: Form of reflexology characterized by purported stimulation of "reflex points" on the head, for example, by pulling hair or by lightly "pounding" the entire head with fists.

Heartwood massage: "Holistic" form of bodywork taught by the Heartwood Institute, in Garberville, California.

It apparently encompasses breathwork, energy balancing, hypnotherapy, guided imagery, neo-Reichian massage, Polarity Energy Balancing, Swedish/Esalen massage, Swedish massage, and Zen Shiatsu.

Hellerwork: Combination of massage, "movement education," and dialogue invented in 1978 by aerospace engineer Joseph Heller, the first president of the Rolf Institute (see "Rolfing").

holistic nursing (wholistic nursing): Form of nursing that exalts intuition and may include AMMA Therapy, biofeedback, guided imagery, Healing Touch, homeopathy, iridology, massage therapy, Oriental medicine (especially acupuncture), psychic healing, tai chi, and/or Therapeutic Touch. Its purported goal is integration of body, mind, and spirit.

Huna Kane Temple Massage: Purported ancient, sacred, and "omnidimensional" form of bodywork based on kahuna healing and Tantra. Apparently, its theory posits a "God/Goddess within."

Analysis of the Final WHCCAMP Report: Chapter 2, 28/3/2002
Therapeutic Massage,

Somatic Movement Therapies Massage

The late 1970s saw the emergence of the holistic health care movement in this country. Holistic practice (holism comes from the Greek word "holos" or "whole") emphasized an attention to the whole person, including the physical, spiritual, psychological, and ecological dimensions of healing. Holistic health care incorporates practices and concepts of Eastern philosophy and diverse cultural traditions, including acupuncture and the use of herbs, massage, and relaxation techniques as well as conventional medical practices . It gained its greatest following among nurses . However, many physicians, particularly those in the new specialty of family medicine, also became interested in this movement. The American Holistic Medical and Nurses Associations were formed, large professional and public conferences held, and a number of holistic medical clinics and holistic health centers opened.

The late 1970s and early 1980s also was a time when a variety of self-care movements emerged; they offered programs or sponsored events to help individuals and families increase wellness or reduce their risk of onset of illness through diet or lifestyle changes . The years since then have been a particularly active time for the personal fitness movement, which increasingly is making use of the techniques of other systems of healing, such as yoga, tai chi, and massage .

Another survey of almost 2,000 tumor registry patients selected at random found that 75 percent had used at least one CAM modality.38 The most frequently used therapies among this group of cancer patients were nutritional approaches (63 percent), massage (53 percent), and herbs (44 percent). The most common reason patients gave for using CAM was to "stimulate an immune response" (73 percent). Breast cancer patients were significantly more likely to be consistent users of CAM therapies compared to patients with tumors in other sites areas of the body (84 percent versus 66 percent, respectively).

Surveys of rheumatology patients have found similarly high CAM utilization rates, ranging between 19 and 63 percent, depending on the type and severity of their condition . Other studies have documented that people with painful chronic conditions, including arthritis and headache, and psychological problems (insomnia, depression, and anxiety) are frequent users of CAM therapies, particularly massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture .

A recent study of 1,675 HIV-positive men and women using CAM (usually in addition to conventional medication) found that the most frequently reported CAM substances were high doses of vitamin C (63 percent), multiple vitamin and mineral supplements (54 percent), vitamin E (53 percent), and garlic (53 percent).46 The health practitioners most commonly consulted were massage therapists (49 percent), acupuncturists (45 percent), and nutritionists (37 percent). The CAM activities most commonly used were aerobic exercise (63 percent), prayer (58 percent), massage (53 percent), and meditation (46 percent). The majority of this group of HIV-infected individuals consulted with both conventional and CAM providers and used both conventional and CAM medications simultaneously, yet few reported that their conventional and CAM providers worked as a team.

Although Astin's survey found that only a small percentage (4.4 percent) of people used CAM therapies as alternatives to conventional practitioners and treatments, there is some evidence that they used CAM because they believed it is more effective than conventional medicine. For example, in the survey of rheumatology clinic patients mentioned above , 50 percent of respondents reported turning to CAM because they perceived their conventional treatment (drugs) as ineffective. Similarly, when researchers interviewed 113 patients at a family practice, the top reason given for to seeking CAM therapies was that patients believed they would work . A similar study of primary care patients found that: 1) recommendations from friends or coworkers, 2) a desire to avoid the side effects of conventional treatments, and 3) failure of conventional treatments to cure a problem were the most frequently cited reasons for using CAM therapies . In this study, use of practitioner-based CAM therapies was significantly and independently associated with patients' perceived poor health status and emotional functioning and a musculoskeletal disorder, usually low back pain. Patients who used CAM most commonly visited chiropractic (35 percent), used herbal remedies and supplements (27 percent), and sought massage therapy (17 percent). Use of self-care-based therapies was associated with high education and poor perceived general health compared to the previous year. Use of traditional folk remedies was associated with Hispanic ethnicity.

Evidence suggests that a growing number of physicians already use some CAM practices and consider them safe and effective in offering them to their patients. A comprehensive review of 25 surveys of physician practices and beliefs regarding five commonly used CAM practices -- acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and massage -- found that about half of the surveyed physicians believed in the efficacy of these five CAM practices . This study found that a significant proportion of conventional physicians were both referring patients to CAM practitioners and/or offering some of these CAM treatments in their practice.

Unnaturalistic Methods: J-K, 4/6/1997
Jin Shin Jyutsu® (jin shin jitsu): Non-massage form of shiatsu developed by Jiro Murai in Japan. It uses only 26 "pressure points," termed "energy locks." Its theory holds that fatigue, tension, or illness can trap "energy" in these "safety energy locks." The purported design of Jin Shin Jyutsu is to "harmonize" the flow of "energy" through the body. Jin Shin Jyutsu involves either: (a) prolonged, gentle, manual pressing of these points; or (b) movements of the practitioner's hands over such areas without contact. The practitioner's hands supposedly function like booster cables. "Jin shin jyutsu" literally means "the creator's art through knowing and compassionate man."

Josephing: Mode of massage christened, developed, and practiced by Spencer Burke in the 1980s. Regarding its development, Burke stated that one's body does the work of one's spirit, and that bodies in pain cannot do God's work. Circa 1989, he and his wife, Dawn Brunet, were the only "Josephers." Josephing apparently became defunct in or before 1993.

Ki breathing: Combination of breathwork, massage, and an exercise series termed "Ki Ren" or "Ki training." It includes Tanden breathing. Its theory holds that the breath embodies "vital life spirit" and that the quality of one's breathing determines the quality of one's life.

Kobayashi Technique (Applied Kobayashi Techniques, Kobayashi Techniques): Allegedly rejuvenescent system promoted by "Master Healer" Ken Kobayashi. It reportedly encompasses acupuncture, Do-In, shiatsu massage, special diets, and the use of herbal tea preparations and "the" Shintsu-Riki® ("Healing Ki energy").

Kripalu Bodywork: Derivative of Kripalu Yoga. It involves breathwork and massage and draws from Polarity Therapy and Swedish massage. Its purported design is to promote relaxation and assist reconnection of "recipients" and the "healing wisdom" of their bodies.

Kriya Massage (Kriya Bodywork): Form of massage that allegedly uses "universal, life-affirming energy." The DoveStar Alchemian Institute, in Hooksett, New Hampshire, defines "kriya" as "spontaneous energy movement."

It encompasses massage therapy, mesmerism, pranayama, psychotherapy, sunbathing, and yogic exercises and postures. Its principles include the following. (a) Use of contraceptives for birth control is a "great offense" against the "Laws of Nature." (b) Masturbation ("self abuse") is a "suicidal habit" and the worst offense against "Nature." (c) "Perpetrators" of sodomy ultimately either go mad or become impotent. (d) Sugar is an unnatural and "objectionable" food.

Kum Nye (Kum Nye relaxation, Kum Nye relaxation system of self healing): "Holistic" mode of self-healing developed by Tarthang Tulku and based on Tibetan medicine and Buddhist "mind-body disciplines." It involves breathing exercises, self-massage, slow movements, and visualization.

Unnaturalistic Methods: T, 4/6/1997
Thai Massage: Millennia-old, "sacred" form of bodywork that resembles shiatsu and is related to Nadi Sutra Kriya. It draws from acupressure, "passive yoga therapy," and reflexology.

Thai Massage-Reflex Yoga with MettaTouch: Purported powerful synthesis of acupressure massage, reflexology, and yoga. Allegedly, it stimulates meridians ("energy lines"), vitalizes bodies, and clears "energy blocks" that cause fatigue and illness. The Thai word "metta" means "loving kind ness."

Therapeutic Shiatsu: Shiatsu in the form of a gentle massage. It purportedly conduces to the removal of blockages in the body's "energy paths" (meridians).

Touch for Health (TFH): Form or variation of energy balancing developed by chiropractor John F. Thie, author of Touch for Health: A New Approach to Restoring Our Natural Energies (T.H. Enterprises). TFH is a combination of acupressure touch, applied kinesiology, and massage.

transformation-oriented bodywork (transformational bodywork): Combination of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual "processes" related to "energetic balancing" (see "energy balancing"), psychotherapy, spiritual counseling, and touch therapy. Transformation-oriented bodywork descends from bioenergetics, massage, the "personal/spiritual growth" movement, and Reichian Therapy. Apparently, its fundamental postulates include the following. (a) Constricted muscles block "energy" in the body.

Tuina (Chinese Massage Therapy, Push Grab Massage, Tuei-Na, Tui Na An Mo, tuina therapy): Ancient Chinese form of "remedial" massage that supposedly regulates the circulation of chi and restores the balance of yin and yang (cosmic poles).

Marijah McCain Sued by Arkansas Atorney General, 15/7/2003

The State of Arkansas (the Plaintiff or the State), by and through Mark Pryor, Attorney General, and the undersigned Senior Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General, for Plaintiff's Original Complaint for Permanent Injunctive Relief and Civil Penalties against Southern College of Naturopathy d/b/a Southern College of Naturopathic Medicine, Gary Axley, D.O.M., Herbal Healer Academy, Inc., Marijah McCain, N.D., The Natural Path Massage Clinic, and Robert Maki, LMT does hereby allege the following:

11. Defendant The Natural Path Massage and Pain Clinic (Natural Path) is a for-profit business that provides certain services to its patrons. The principal place of business for Defendant The Natural Path Massage and Pain Clinic is 177 Huntsville Road (23S), Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

12. Defendant Robert "Bob" Maki, LMT (Maki) is the owner and proprietor of the Natural Path Massage and Pain Clinic.

34. HHA offers home study courses in herbology, nutrition and chemistry, anatomy and physiology, reflexology, acupuncture and acupressure, homeopathy, massage therapy, and chronic diseases, plagues, death, and dying.

E. Defendant The Natural Path Massage Clinic

Unnaturalistic Methods: F-G, 4/6/1997
Facial Rejuvenation®: "Deep" form of contact healing that combines energy work (see "vibrational medicine"), "head reflexology," and massage. It includes aromatherapy.

Five Minute Massage (Five Minute Massages): Form of massage advanced by author Robert Thé. It purportedly can "take years off" one and improve the flow of "energy" through the body. Its theory posits "Power Points": points on the skin whereby one can (a) stimulate "energy" that flows in channels (meridians) and (b) alleviate specific common ailments, such as asthma, chest pain, earache, and hearing problems.

Foot Reflexology Massage: Foot Reflexology in the form of a massage.

Gentle Bioenergetics: Apparently, a variation of Reichian Therapy that allegedly prevents neurosis in infants. It involves massage.

Unnaturalistic Methods: O, 10/1/2007
Oriental Bodywork: Apparently, a group of methods, including acupressure massage and Jin Shin Acupressure, used to stimulate "natural self-curative" abilities. Its theory posits a spirit and bodily "pathways of energy."

oriental massage (amma massage): Form of massage that emphasizes alleged acupuncture meridians, through which the body's "vital energy force" is channeled. Oriental massage and amma probably are identical.

Original Ingham Method (Ingham method, Ingham method of foot reflexology, Ingham technique, Original Ingham Method of Reflexology): Brand of reflexology promoted by the International Institute of Reflexology®, in St. Petersburg, Florida. The institute defines "reflexology" as "a science which deals with the principle that there are reflexes in the feet relative to each and every organ and all parts of the body." The Ingham method emerged from the work of Eunice D. Ingham Stopfel (1879-1974), author of Stories the Feet Can Tell (1938), and her nephew Dwight C. Byer, author of Better Health with Foot Reflexology. Ingham developed a style of Foot Reflexology she called the "Ingham Reflex Method of Compression Massage." In the 1930s, she "refined" zone theory (see "zone therapy") by mapping the feet with "organ reflexes" (e.g., the "heart reflex"). Allegedly, each of these areas is a conduit to a corresponding part of the body.

Unnaturalistic Methods Glossary, 4/6/1997
body-centered psychotherapy (body-oriented psychotherapy, body psychotherapy, direct body-contact psychotherapy, humanistic body psychotherapy): Any combination of: (a) psychotherapy (see below), and (b) massage therapy, touch therapy, or "movement techniques." Body-centered psychotherapy may include breathwork.

L.M.T.: Licensed Massage Therapist.

massage therapy (massotherapy, somatotherapy): Any method that involves pressing or similarly manipulating a person's soft tissues to promote the person's well-being.

Swedish massage: The most common form of bodywork in Western countries.

S.W. Mitchell introduced Swedish massage in the United States. It is based on scientific anatomy and often vigorous. The purported aim of Swedish massage is to improve circulation of blood and lymph.

Unnaturalistic Methods: M, 26/1/2005
marma therapy (Ayurvedic lymphatic massage, Ayurvedic massage, marma technique): Form of massage that supposedly stimulates marmas

Metta Touch: Apparently, a blend of techniques from acupressure, reflexology, shiatsu, Swedish massage, Thai massage, and yoga.

Cheers and Jeers from Quackwatch Visitors, 5/12/2013
From a massage therapist in Texas whose web site claims that massage can increase red and white blood cells; help restore the contours of the body by reducing fat deposits; improve immune system functioning; "normalize blocked energy flow"; "combat the negative effects of aging"; and help stabilize the spine and increase the benefits of chiropractic adjustments.

I read the jeers section and found myself laughing out loud a number of times. I especially enjoyed the pharmacist who dispenses "drugs that kill millions people," but still doesn't quit; the "chiropractor who specializes in treating animals," who gives you a very informative psychoanalysis, and the "massage therapist in Texas whose web site claims that massage can increase red and white blood cells," who spells maybe "mabey" twice. I searched through the jeers thoroughly, and the closest I came to a reasonable response was the woman who admonished the other jeerers for resorting to impassioned attacks rather than indisputable facts. Each message was simply a personal attack . . . wrapped in indignant, self-righteous comments. Perhaps you can dispel some of these critics with a huge, flashing message reminding them that quackery and malpractice are not the same thing and that while the medical profession deals in percentages in terms of success rates, many homeopathic healers blame the patient for their negative energy if the "cure" is unsuccessful.

Chiropractic: Does the Bad Outweigh the Good?, 6/8/2010
A survey of Consumer Reports readers published in May 2000 found that 35% of 46,860 respondents had used alternative therapies for a variety of problems, 40% of whom had chiropractic treatment for back pain . The back-pain patients rated deep-tissue massage, chiropractic treatment, exercise, and physical therapy (in that order) as more effective than prescription drugs, acupuncture, over-the-counter drugs, and other forms of treatment.

A good chiropractor who specializes in the care of neuromusculoskeletal problems does not use instruments and machines to diagnose and treat subluxations. And his treatment is not limited to the spinal adjustment. Physical therapy, massage, exercise, rest, home treatment with hot or cold packs -or no treatment at all-are sometimes more appropriate than spinal manipulation.

Chiropractors commonly manipulate the upper cervical spine as a treatment for head and neck pain. But since such pain in itself can be a symptom of vertebral or carotid artery dissection, especially following injury, it may be wise to forego neck manipulation for sudden onset of head or neck pain until risk factors can be better identified. Informed consent should always be obtained from patients about to undergo cervical manipulation. In many cases, massage, traction, and other forms of therapy can be substituted for prescribed cervical manipulation. Tension headache, for example, is commonly treated with chiropractic neck manipulation. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that spinal manipulation was no more effective than massage in relieving episodic or recurring tension headache . So be cautious.

Alternative Medicine: A Public Health Perspective, 25/1/2009
Many reports have misrepresented both the nature of alternative medicine and its popularity. In 1993, Eisenberg and others reported that 34% of Americans used "unconventional" medicine . They did not use the term "alternative." The authors actually said that "unconventional therapies are generally used as adjuncts to conventional therapy rather than as a replacement for it." Their survey found that 13% used unspecified "relaxation techniques" for insomnia, headache, high blood pressure, digestive problems, anxiety, and depression; 10% used "chiropractic" for back problems and arthritis; and 7% used "massage" for back problems, sprains or strains. These three categories accounted for 30 of the 34% utilization, and only 36% of the users "saw a provider," reducing the percentage who used providers to 12%. Among the remainder were commercial weight-loss programs (e.g., Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, NutriSystem), health spa methods, and self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous). These data did not support the authors' conclusion that the frequency of use of unconventional medicine in the United States was "far higher than previously reported."

A recent study has confirmed that Eisenberg's figures were inflated. Using data from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, researchers from Yale University concluded that only 8.3% of Americans used the services of an "alternative" provider, with chiropractic use most common (used by 3.3% of the survey population), followed by massage (2%), herbal remedies (1.8%), spritual healing (1.8%), nutritional advice (1.1%), acupuncture (0.6%), meditation (0.5%), and homeopathic remedies (0.4%). This survey was more significant because it covered more than twelve times as many people as the Eisenberg study and interviewed a more representative population sample .

Acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, and some types of massage therapy are rooted in vitalism, the theory that biological activities are directed by a supernatural force. Supernaturalism is the opposite of the naturalism upon which evidence-based medicine is based. Although most of the alt-care systems named claim to be "holistic," vitalism represents dualism, not holism. Vitalists believe in a Life Force that can exist apart from the physical body. Acupuncturists call the alleged force "chi," chiropractors call it "The Innate," homeopaths call it "vital energy," and naturopaths call it "vis medicatrix naturae." Some vitalists even interpret herb-induced hallucinations as "out of body" experiences. Some have said that the failure of a patient to respond to treatment meant that "the spirit has decided it is time to leave the body." Modern science is truly holistic because it holds that the "mind" is a functioning brain that is inseparable from its anatomy, not a metaphysical entity.

employ "feel good" methods (herbal uppers & downers, "pep talks, and hands-on procedures such as massage and manipulation that increase suggestibility .

Analysis of the Final WHCCAMP Report: Chapter 7, 25/3/2002
In the last several years, a number of health plans have begun to cover certain CAM services, although the prevalence of this coverage is relatively low, compared to coverage of conventional therapies. Information on this trend is available from an annual survey of employer-sponsored health plans that recently began to include questions regarding a few specific CAM services offered in benefit packages. In 1998, 49 percent of survey respondents indicated that chiropractic was covered; by 2000, the number had risen to 70 per cent. Over the same time period, coverage of acupuncture rose from 12 per cent to 17 percent, and coverage of massage therapy increased from 10 percent to 12 percent. The survey also found that large employers (those with more than 20,000 employees) were more likely to offer CAM benefits than medium and smaller employers. PPOs and indemnity insurers were more likely than HMOs to offer health plans that include CAM benefits .

At the operational level, government agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), insurers, and managed care organizations invest significant time and resources to determine which benefits are covered, for how long, which practitioners are authorized to perform the services, and how payment will be made. Except for chiropractic and, increasingly, acupuncture and massage therapy, much of CAM is not covered. The services that are covered are often accompanied by limitations, such as global visit limits that are unrelated to individual patient needs or course of treatment.

There is growing evidence of cost-savings from CAM interventions, such as massage therapy and the use of mind-body medicine in a variety of clinical situations . For example, researchers in two randomized trials found that pre-term babies who received massage and comforting touch had greater weight gain and were discharged earlier than babies who did not receive this care.

Inside View of a Chiropractic Office, 5/8/1998
I never worked at the reception desk or managed the office. Instead, after some four hours of training, I began administering treatments. The most common treatment was "trigger point" massage, a sort of free-form acupressure using a small, T-shaped bar with a rubber tip. I was instructed about a few acupressure points, but was told to feel for "knots" in the muscles, and to apply pressure to them as well, using the bar and the weight of my body. I doubt that this felt good. I was clumsy and inexperienced, but the doctors didn't seem to care about this. Each "trigger point" massage was to last ten minutes (or less, if we could get away with it).

As part of its marketing strategy, the office placed boxes at local business establishments, advertising a "contest" for a free massage and spinal exam -- a "$150 value." In return, the businesses would receive books containing coupon ads for themselves and other participating businesses. I assembled these books, using an archaic equipment and a primitive software program. The resulting quality of these "coupon books" reflected this. Each participating business would get about five "books" with my cheesy designs. I once asked about the poor quality of the books, and was told: "what do they expect? It's free." Questions I asked about chiropractic itself were usually met with indifference, as if I were too stupid to understand.

They also employed a young woman, part time, who telephoned people and told them they had won the contest. Actually, everyone who entered "won." Those who came to the office had a brief trigger-point massage, a spinal x-ray, and a brief consultation with either Dr. Smith or Dr. Jones.

Questionable Organizations: An Overview, 3/9/2016
Lack of accreditation of a health-related school should be considered a very bad sign. I have never encountered a nonaccredited school that issued health credentials that did not promote misinformation. Of course, neither accreditation nor affiliation with an otherwise reputable university provides any guarantee of reliability. The U.S. Secretary of Education has recognized agencies that accredit schools of chiropractic, astrology, acupuncture/oriental medicine, massage, and naturopathy with little regard to the validity of what they teach. Moreover, many universities promote health-related nonsense in addition to sound science. Temple University's Center for Frontier Sciences and Columbia University's Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine are examples of bad components of basically good institutions.

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)

Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP)

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