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Karen Maleck-Whiteley: Studies show massage and Reiki work

Live Well Stress Less

Posted: March 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Most of us love an occasional massage. Maybe you get one to treat yourself after a difficult week at work, or to help you prepare or recover from a race. Maybe you received a gift certificate, and have been saving it for when you have time.

Well, wait no more. It’s now been proven that massage is likely to enhance your immune and endocrine system responses and help you be healthier.

According to a recent study conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, people who have massage experience measurable changes in the immune and endocrine systems.

The study involved healthy people who received 45 minutes of Swedish massage or 45 minutes of light touch massage. Blood samples were taken at intervals after their massages, in order to measure changes in blood chemistry. Results cited on included:

* People receiving Swedish massage experienced significant changes in lymphocyte numbers and percentages (blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease).

* Swedish massage caused a large decrease in arginine vasopressin, a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior and linked to helping cause increases in the stress hormone cortical.

* Swedish massage also caused a decrease in the stress hormone cortical.

“This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you — more research is ahead of us, but it appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit,” said Mark Rapaport, M.D., chairman of the department conducting the study.

In addition, regular massage can help relieve muscle discomfort associated with work stresses, muscular overuse and many chronic pain syndromes.

It can also greatly reduce the development of painful muscular patterning after injury.

Massage improves circulation and assists in removal of metabolic waste from the muscles. Flexibility is increased, and many people report other important benefits such as better sleep, mental clarity and feelings of well-being.

Massage does this in several ways. Through techniques which manipulate the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, fascia), changes can be achieved in body functioning.

Massage also works at the more intangible level of energy. Whenever we receive massage, or any other touch therapy, there is an energy exchange. This energy is sometimes even more important to our healing process than the mechanics of a treatment. Think about how a parent calms a baby by stroking or how your hand instinctively presses on the pain when you bruise yourself. We all use touch to transmit healing energy. This aspect of massage can be especially beneficial when we are feeling energy-depleted or negative.

Another touch modality that you may want to consider is Reiki. Reiki is done by gently laying hands on the body of the person receiving it. Through this touch, healing energy is directed to where it is needed. Reiki has existed for more than 90 years and is now finding much more general acceptance in the medical community.

According to, “A study done in 2007 by the National Health Interview Survey indicates that 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children received one or more sessions of energy healing therapy such as Reiki in the previous year. According to the American Hospital Association, in 2007, 15 percent — or over 800 American hospitals — offered Reiki as part of hospital services.”

In April 1999, the Journal of Nursing Care Quality published an article by Patricia and Kristen Alandydy on the effects of Reiki on surgical patients. Eight hundred and seventy patients at the Columbia/HCA Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire were asked to participate.

All the participants were given 15 minutes pre- and post-surgery Reiki treatments. As a result of the Reiki treatments, there was less use of pain medication, shorter length of hospital confinement and increased patient satisfaction. 
Reiki has been incorporated into many nursing programs and in hospice and elder-care facilities. People using Reiki have reported many benefits beyond those that are physical. It also seems to work to improve mental and spiritual health.

We see amazing results in the clients who receive both Reiki and Swedish massage at Balance Point. I encourage you to try these treatments for yourself.

There are many wonderful practitioners in our valley, so there’s no excuse for not giving yourself the best health you can.

Karen Maleck-Whiteley is a certified hypnotherapist, coach, speaker, and author. Maleck-Whiteley is also the co-owner of Balance Point Spa in Canyon Country, which provides Reiki and massage, and is available for individual coaching and hypnotherapy sessions. Visit or call (661) 252-0650.


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