This is the final edition of the massage and herbal medicine news for 2018. In this edition I discuss:
Increasing energy and decreasing stress over the Xmas period
Surgery the ultimate placebo, a very interesting talk by a surgeon at our massage conference this year.
Xmas gift ideas
Also, to advise that the clinic will be open between Xmas and New Year except for the public holidays and close on New Years Eve at 5pm.
Decreasing Stress and Increasing energy levels over the Xmas Period
LOOKING ATER YOURSELF IN THE XMAS RUSH
Xmas is fast approaching and life is getting more hectic with function and planning going on. So how can you look after yourself whilst still enjoying family and friends?
So, First Things First.
1. Energy levels and stress
Here are six points to increase your energy levels and decrease your stress
a) Take time to exercise and be in the sunshine. This will increase your endorphines and strengthen the immune system through the Vit D3 and help to decrease stress.Or take time out to do yoga, Tai Chi ,meditate or have a massage
b) Drink at least 2L of water a day to hydrate your system and flush out any accumulation of toxins out through your kidneys.
c) Limit alcohol to no more than 2 a day with one free day.
d) Eating healthy food is hard but if you have to indulge take some liver herbs discussed below to help your liver cope!
e) Useful herbs and supplements
i) Liver herbs such as St Mary's Thistle, dandelion root and Globe artichoke all help to detox and tone the liver and cause the liver to produce more bile to break down all those extra fats that have been eaten!
ii) Magnesium to increase energy and reduce cramps in muscles - Taurine in the magnesium helps to ,lower blood pressure whilst Tyrosine added to magnesium helps to increase energy. So depending on what you want there are different magnesiums for different situations.
iii) B vitamins - A good B multivitamin is best. In particular Vit B1 and B5 helps to improve energy production whilst Vit B6 helps the nervous system. and maintains normal blood sugar levels. So depending on what you you want there are different magnesiums for different situations.
f) More herbs to relax the body
If you are slightly stressed and anxious herbs like Siberian ginseng, skullcap, licorice and rehmania help to strengthen the nervous system or tone the adrenals.
Echinaceae as you probably know is an immune strengthening herb but is now known to develop resilience against stress , anxiety and depression.
So, if you would like any advice about surviving the Xmas rush, let me know.
Xmas Gift Ideas
If you are trying to work out what to give a family member or friend for Xmas here are a few ideas.
1. Fisiocreme - A very useful creme to have in the first aid kit. Specifically for bruising, inflammation and muscular aches and pains it contains Arnica, marigold, St John's Wort, and T tree oil. $15 a tube.
2. Back rest - Great for the theatre, cinema, long car or plane trips where you are sitting for long periods of time. Portable and you can loop it round a seat. $25.
3. Bottle of massage oil - Relaxation or sports aromas.100 mL $9.
4. Massage or herbal medicine gift vouchers - $80 for an hour of massage or $90 for an initial herbal medicine consultation.
Surgery the ultimate placebo!
I attended our massage conference in October this year. The keynote speaker was Ian Harris a surgeon at Liverpool hospital, Professor of orthopaedic surgery at UNSW and Honary Professor of The School of Public Health at The University of Sydney. He discussed in a nutshell that the evidence for having surgery is very lacking and that experiments comparing surgery to no surgery were not significantly different. The following examples given were quite amazing:
1. Re arthroscopy for the knee
Sham surgery was done where no arthroscopy occurred vs a true arthroscopy. There was no difference in outcome.
2. Taking out a knee meniscus vs pretending to take out the meniscus. No difference in outcome.
3. Parkinson's disease - This disease is due to a lack of dopamine being produced by the brain. So they transplanted cells into the brain to release dopamine and Parkinsons reduced. They then compared this to putting cells in the brain with no dopamine in them. There was no difference in results.
4. Spinal fusion of the lumbar spine - This is a very common procedure. In the US 300-400,000 of these procedures are done per year. Results have shown that the surgery is no better than alternative therapies. And risks and costs are very high.
5. injection of corticosteroids for various musculo skeletal pain. There has been a 7x increase in the US in 10 years. And a similar increase in Australia. There was no benefit over placebo ( having no injection).
However, there was a percieved effectiveness by the patient and surgeon. The patient perceives a 44% improvement, whilst the surgeon perceives a 66% improvement.
In general the clinicians overestimate the benefits and underestimate the harm!
So why do surgeons still operate?
a) They believe in the effectiveness of the surgery
b) There is a patient demand
c) The failure of non-operative treatment
d) Lack of alternatives e.g. knee replacement
e) 2/3rds of patients get better with arthroscopy
And, physicians will not discard therapies validated by their training and their own experience on account of someone else's numbers in a placebo trial.
There are double standards in clinical practice ethics. That is:
In practice surgeons do not need ethics for a new procedure. In research need to get ethics approved!
For example in back surgery the procedure is based on plausability tests and observations. And, there is uncertainty regarding the true effectiveness/harm done by the procedure!
And currently, the perceived effectiveness is greater than the true effectiveness.
So, as a massage therapist what do we say to a patient who is thinking of having a knee arthroscopy?
a) Get 2 or 3 opinions to make a decision.
b) What is the difference to me if I have or do not have surgery?
c) What is the risk to me to get the benefit?
d) What are the survival rates of having or not having an operation e.g. cancer or PSA levels?
Mostly we do not ask any of these questions or get answers from different surgeons. We need to, to make an informed choice.
Quote of the quarter
'Everything I do and say with anyone makes a difference - by Gita Bellin
Wishing you all a very happy Xmas and New Year. Safe travelling wherever you go. And I look forward to seeing you in 2019.
Massage Therapist and herbalist