Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Exciting Ecuador

Just back from 18 days in Ecuador. A much needed break from school and the Tucson heat where we are losing patience waiting for our monsoons. Lots of rain in Ecuador. Wonderful people and climate. It must be the fruit capital of the world too; avocado and banana trees everywhere; not too mention the sugar cane, papaya, kiwi, and mango's. Obesity is not an issue in Ecuador; neither is smoking. I also noticed a public health campaign targeting litter awareness. Garbage cans with clown faces, garbage trucks with what sounded like Christmas carols resonating from within, and little "no littering" logos on all the food packaging.

I learned as much about their traditional healing as I could while in Ecuador. The first week I was given Guayusa leaves, to drink as tea, for some menstrual irregularity I was experiencing; fixed me right up. Looking it up online I find it is used by the Amazonian Jivaro Indians for a number of issues; including to promote dreams during healing rituals. It supposedly contains caffeine and acts as a stimulant. It had the opposite effect on me and settled me down.

The following week my partner and I got really sick after eating in a local cafe and recovered from a blend of boiled onion mixed with fresh orange juice and honey. It soothed my stomach and opened up my sinuses. The Amazon rain forest has so many medicinal plants, orchids, and other flowers, fruits, and vegetables. What a wonderful place to explore the culture and learn from the Ecuadorian indigenous tribes.

Massage therapy is readily available in many towns and cities in Ecuador. They have skilled therapists, many of whom are certified from other countries. I do not know about Ecuador's MT regulation or requirements. Massage therapy does seem to be appreciated and acknowledged in Ecuador as part of a health maintenance routine. I've noticed that same awareness when in Mexico too; much more than in the US. Just my observations...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Indigenous Healing Practices

Last week was incredible; thrilled to spend so much time in the northern AZ tribal communities. Traditional healing approaches with the Navajo and Hopi are similar to CIM practices; holistic and client centered. I found them to be respectful, gentle, and unassuming people who honor their heritage, are spiritually dialed in, and speak simply and with meaning. I met two massage therapists (Navajo and Hopi), worked on one elderly Navajo women who had recently suffered a fall injury, and found people receptive to massage therapy in general.

At the swap meet in Gallup, New Mexico (which is held every Saturday) I spoke with Pueblo Indians, Ute', and Paiute'; all from Utah. There I found pow wow music, various medicinal plants and herbs, fresh green chilies, and juicy red cherries.

I also got to see some incredible country including the Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Ship Rock, the Hopi Terrace Gardens, Window Rock, and Canyon de Chelly. I learned to sheer sheep too!

Check out the Peach, the Hualapai kids radio station sponsored by Kidstar; they rock! Also, here's a video I made of our trip; complete with peyote songs from a couple navajo locals in the area. Their personal statement on the back of the CD I purchased says "through these songs, we learn to live strong, support one another and have faith thru the Native American Church ways."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

CIM Therapies and LBP

Check out this study that considers the unanticipated benefits of CIM therapies on lower back pain. It seems, our work gives people hope and hope knew that already but it's nice the science guys think so too.

Speaking of healing...I'm spending next week in northern Arizona tribal country on a service learning field project. I hope to observe traditional healing and learn about their use of herbs and other medicinal plants. Details later.

Glad my friends are having fun at the CIM conference in Seattle; go Jan, Jolie, and Rosemary!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two Year Pass

I was awarded the pre-doc fellowship from the Department of Family and Community Medicine!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Time Flys.............

My internship is over although I will continue working with the CIM Reach team as a paid research associate for the summer; woo hew! We've started recruiting our first wave of practitioners for the study; chiropractors. If you are a DC in the Tucson Metropolitan area and want to be a part of a University of Arizona Study; let me know. You will get free evidence based training, to include approved industry CEU's, and will contribute to making a significant impact on the health of the public by decreasing tobacco use.

Oh yea, I'm graduating from the masters in public health program too! The convocation is May 14th; who'd have thunk!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Massage Therapy Radio

Check out Massage Therapy Radio, if you haven't already. They bill themselves as "the voice of the massage profession." A couple weeks ago, I listened to Diana Thompson and Ruth Werner as they talked about the upcoming CIM Conference in Seattle; Highlighting Massage Therapy (MT) in Research. Great discussion from the past and current presidents of the Massage Therapy Foundation.

Last week they had Tracy Walton on who specializes in MT for cancer clients. Tracy writes, teaches, and has completed research in her speciality area. Tonight they have Whitney Lowe discussing creative clinical applications of MT research. After their evening broadcast the MT Radio keeps the recordings available for you to listen to at your leisure. There's quite a list already, on other pretty interesting topics, including business, techniques, treatments, and technology.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Last week I went to a breakfast meeting with the AZ Integrative Wellness Coalition. Great group of different complimentary and integrative practitioners (CIM; my new word for us instead of CAM). They have recently merged with the Holistic Chamber of Commerce so there were other business owners there selling their alternative products as well; for example supplements, dietary aides, etc.

A presentation was given by an MD and his wife who told us about their research trip to Cuba. They have a national health care system that includes CIM in a system that is based on egalitarian methods. Doctors make about $15 a month and citizens have their choice of medical approaches. The doc to patient ratio is better than ours, people are living longer, education is free (even to US students as long as they go back to their homes to practice afterwards) and they haven't the health care crisis we have in the US.

The fact is, we are out of control here for two main reasons; cost of hospitalization and physician referral for procedures (profit driven). No one with adequate insurance wants to hear this because it's our right. For example, the AMA came out with new guidelines this year about prevention testing that is a 180 from what we've come to know. Women are now told to start our baseline mammograms at age 50 with subsequent testings once every 3 years or so thereafter (instead of baseline at 40 and yearly testing). The creator of the PSA test recently told the NY Times his test has been abused as well. It was meant as a guideline but has been used to refer untold unnecessary procedures. The fact is the body most often will self regulate fibroid and prostate issues given the chance; a cautionary, watchful approach should take place, not a jump to medications and surgery. Yes, the mammogram and the PSA test have saved millions, however, twice that many have had unnecessary tests, procedures, and the associated trauma of fear and tissue invasion.

Integrative health care is happening folks; MT's, Ac's, DC's, MD's. It's all good.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Somatic Research

Great article in the current Massage and Bodywork March/April issue. It's by Diana Thompson on Somatic Research and she does an excellent job of explaining research in our field; much like I've been promoting whole system research methods to investigate MT and other CIM (complimentary and integrative medicine).

I have to admit to becoming somewhat disillusioned by the recent discussion threads in Massage Professionals online and the Science Based Massage Therapy group on Ning. There are a few researchers who are narrowly focused on RCT's only for MT and ignore the value of qualitative research, pilot studies, and whole systems research. If we want MT's to become research literate and the public to appreciate the benefits of MT we have to give equal value to ALL research methods; many of which do an excellent job in TRANSLATING research.

The effectiveness of MT is realized in the whole experience of the session including it's context, the client/practitioner relationship, the values and beliefs each bring to the table, and the experience of the treatment by the client. A MT session is client centered and collaborative, so our research methods should not only reflect this but be inclusive as well.

Thanks Diana, for your hard work, AND for being a leader in our industry who's not afraid to say RCT's are not all that. Move over guys, think outside the box; don't be so attached to your own theories that you're not leaving room for the possibilities that could more fully capture our work as MT's.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'M IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last week I was admitted into the DrPH program at the University of Arizona; yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Now to get the pre-doc fellowship that allows me to learn whole systems research in order to properly investigate massage therapy and CIM (complimentary and integrative medicine); fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Client Intake

I was asked today, by another massage therapist, what I felt was the value of separating subjective and objective information from a client during the treatment assessment. My response to her question was subjective information is vital to the treatment assessment. The information gained from the client at the beginning of a treatment evaluation not only allows them to be heard it ensures we are listening and sets in motion the healing process. The client knows what their needs are (either consciously or subconsciously) and we help them best when they become aware of the message their body is sending and of their own innate healing potential. We further facilitate their wellness process through the use of our objective knowledge which is based on our education and experience. By taking their history, hearing their goals, and collaborating in a plan for their successful experience of massage therapy we guide them in a partnership towards better health.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

MT Students Rock!

I had the privilege of guest lecturing at Cortiva Institute of Massage Therapy a few weeks back, and enjoyed the experience immensely. The Research Applications class, part of an optional additional 4th quarter, invited me to share the current state of massage therapy research and to offer them guidance as they prepare for their required case report submissions.

I was prepared to present a power point of a recent literature review I'd completed and answer questions for an hour or so, but ended up staying three. It was wonderful to hear their bios, future plans, and to help them connect their interests to ongoing research; make it relateable, if you will.

Lots of interest in energy work; although we stayed on massage therapy and pain reduction for their case reports, for the most part. Many great questions and contributions to the discussion from students with a wide range of age, experience, and background.

Tucson Cortiva has impressed me with their leadership, direction, efforts to address research literacy in their curriculum, and support of their students. I look forward to addressing another class in the future.