Category Archives: therapy info


The earliest that acupuncture can be traced back in human history was approximately 5,000 years ago. In the Ne Jing Su Wen, otherwise known as the Yellow Emperor Classic, it is clearly stated in this ancient text that acupuncture was at that time already considered very old, surely making it one of the great mysteries of the ancient world.

So what do we know about it? Firstly the places on the body that acupuncture needles are traditionally applied have a slightly hollow feeling due to the reduced skin surface tension directly on top of these acupuncture points (tsub’s). These same points also exhibit greater electrical conductivity than the surrounding skin- this is scientifically verifiable and detectable with instruments such as Kirlian cameras and skin galvanometers.

The Yellow Emperor’s  physician Chi Po when asked, explained that acupuncture came from a time when people lived more than a hundred years, lived in accordance with nature and could see acupuncture points with the naked eye. So how did these electrically anomalous skin spots become a therapy? just why would a bunch of early humans go jabbing themselves with sharp things to see what would happen and eventually discover it was good for them?

It is a question we may never know the answer to but  develop it did, into the most frequently used therapy in the world today. It is even recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation) for dozens of applications and not just as pain relief; bronchitis, constipation, indigestion and nausea are other WHO endorsed uses of acupuncture. Even IVF clinics are now recommending acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for female infertility.

All this from an industry without lots of money to research and advertise, even in it’s native country China, acupuncture was almost completely eradicated in the mid 1950’s by chairman Mao. Mao was then forced to bring it back because nothing worked as well and as cheaply, perhaps the only thing he ever backed down from. I discovered it like a lot of Westerners do- when other things didn’t work.

Most acupuncture points are said to be joined by 14 invisible lines (meridians) that are not so easy to scientifically validate as tsubo’s are. It has been speculated that the meridians are really major veins and arteries which is interesting because students are taught NOT to needle over large blood vessels.

Whatever the case acupuncture has survived and is still quite effectively used today and not just for the physical, acupuncture can help relax people too and calm them down. Doctor Leon Hammer a psychiatrist, uses it with his psychiatric patients and wrote a fascinating book about it called “Dragon Rises Red Bird Flies” Hammer even states in his book that he finds acupuncture quite compatible with psycho therapy.

Many chiropractors and osteopaths use acupuncture too and kinesiology is based on it also and many doctors of medicine use it too. Acupuncture was in a large part first taken to the rest of the world by Jesuit missionaries in China who were so impressed with what they saw they wanted to tell everyone else about it.

If you are a bit scared of needles you can always try shiatsu or acupressure which work the same way but without the needles.


Cellulite is a cosmetic problem not one that affects your physical health. Cellulite affects women much more than men, is more obvious on fair skinned than dark skinned people, mainly is seen in the thighs and buttocks (but also occurs on upper arms and the abdomen) and becomes more obvious with weight gain.

Cellulite is caused by fat cells pressing against the connective tissue between your skin and most superficial layer of fat. It is often hereditary and affects up to 90% of women at some stage in their life. Dehydration can worsen cellulite, as can poor diet, hormonal imbalances and failure to exercise enough but unfortunately for some no matter what they do, they cannot completely get rid of it. Women who are not overweight can get cellulite too.

Doctors do not usually endorse over-the-counter creams to treat cellulite and unfortunately liposuction doesn’t reduce it either because lipo only works on deeper layers of fat that do not cause cellulite.

Cellulite motivates many women to get fitter and healthier but if it doesn’t work as hoped your health in general will benefit so it please don’t give up on exercise and sensible dieting.

Poor circulation is suspected in contributing to cellulite, sedentary jobs do not help. Dermal brushing is recommended by some. Massage is probably worth a try if administered by a qualified therapist, if it doesn’t reduce your cellulite at least your legs will feel better. Unfortunately women who suffer from cellulite may be a bit reticent to try massage because they are self conscious about having their cellulite affected areas looked at, touched and talked about.

Stress has been implicated with cellulite, stress hormones such adrenaline and noradrenaline have been found to have worsening effects on cellulite. Meditation, like massage will be of general benefit to your health and sense of well being, so even if it fails to work on your cellulite it will not be a waste of time.

Men rarely suffer from cellulite, those who do will almost always have a male hormone imbalance.


Morton’s neuroma

A neuroma is a thickened, benign segment of nerve and can be found in numerous places in the body. The most common neuroma that effects the feet is a Morton’s neuroma. Sometimes called an “intermetarsel neuroma”, because they are found in between the 3rd and 4th metatarsel bones (connecting the ankle bones to your toes). This condition was actually first discovered and described by a chiropodist called Durlacher.

Morton’s neuromas are caused by wearing shoes with tapered (pointy) toes, high heels, high impact exercises and sports like road running, tennis, squash, cricket, fencing and even walking a lot on hard surfaces. These neuromas may also be accompanied by other foot problems like bunions, plantar fasceitis, hammer toes and foot deformities because these things alter the way  we walk.

The symptoms of Morton’s neuroma include pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations and a feeling that you have something pressing against the sole of your foot like a pebble or a bunched up sock  inside your shoe. You may feel like there is something uncomfortably pinching inside your foot as you walk and feel like your foot is swelling up when it actually isn’t.

If a Morton’s neuroma gets serious enough it can be immobilising and may even require surgery. The good news is that there are many other, less invasive therapies that can bring relief to this condition.

A frozen drink bottle (with ice in it) can be rolled under your sore feet, Self Massage, stretching, analgesia, anti inflammatories and simple elevation of your feet after a hard day can all be effective in bringing relief to Morton’s neuroma symptoms.

Doctor’s usually prefer to avoid cutting out the offending neuroma out because it can leave you with a numb foot and the resultant scar tissue may create new foot and walking problems. So it is important to get something done about before it gets serious.

I have found toe and foot stretching exercises to be helpful with Morton’s neuromas (see Self Massage book in the ‘Feet and legs’ chapter), if you can keep your foot muscles flexible and supple it can lessen the physical pressure on your neuroma. When your neuroma is feeling sensitive you will need to tie your shoe laces a bit less tightly.

Walking downhill and descending stairs can irritate Morton’s neuroma symptoms too.

Rather than slapping your feet down hard as you walk, roll through your stride from your heel to the ball of your foot, this will stretch your foot fascia as you walk and reduce the impact felt. Walking on grass rather than on pavement can help you too.

Whatever treament you opt for wearing practical rather than impractical footwear is quite important in managing this problem, for women inparticular.




Massage Tools

Hands that are not accustomed to kneading tight muscles can tire long before the muscles they are working on soften, whether they are your own or someone else’s. This is why we use massage tools.

There are plenty of hand held massage tools that are commercially available, from cheap plastic moulded dolphins  to expensive vibrating electrical  massage tables.

Then their are improvised massage tools such as tennis balls that you can roll your body against on the floor or walls.

Massage tools are good way to protect finger and thumb joints from repetitive strain. If you have never received professional massage training it is easy to make the mistake of over using your thumbs in particular.

Thumbsavers are a moulded plastic massage aid that costs less than $20 and are available online. I mainly use my thumbsaver on my own neck but they are useful for Self Massaging your hands and feet too.

If you have some experience and training in therapuetic massage, you will  recognize a hand-held massage tool as an extension of your own body. If you have never learned to massage nor  have ever even received one start out using Self massage gently and as instructed.

Massage over only your muscles never over your windpipe, breast tissue, on top of a bone or firmly over internal organs in your abdomen. The correct pressure to apply has a relaxing effect on the muscle. If you cannot relax into the pressure  you are going too hard.

Nothing beats a pair of skilled strong hands but massaging yourself costs you nothing and is way better than going without. It is good to know how to make yourself feel better in a healthy way, knowledge is power.

Massage tools do not have the be hard objects pressed firmly into tight muscles. A soothing, soft caressing massage can be given and received with a dermal brush or even a fur glove to relax you.

Massage tools are more effective for massaging yourself than massaging others because you cant really be sure how much pressure you are applying when using it on someone else. Using a massage tool on your own body lets you know straight away if you need to go firmer or softer.

If you have any numbness in your body from disease or injury make sure you are not chafing your skin by rubbing too hard or too long.


Reiter’s Syndrome/ Reactive arthritis.

Reiter’s Syndrome and Reactive Arthritis are often considered to be the same disease. Reiter’s 3 classic symptoms are arthritis, urinary tract infection and inflamed eyes although Reactive Arthritis can result from a gastro-intestinal illness or food poisoning too.

RS (Reiter’s Syndrome) or RA (Reactive Arthritis) in either case are auto-immune diseases, an inappropriate response of one’s own immune system to a disease or food poisoning in a completely different part of the body. The symptoms can form quickly or develop over weeks. Usually it is over by 6 months but in a third of cases it can last for years, RS/RA mainly affects men in the 20-50 age group.

The joints of the legs and feet (particularly the achilles tendon) are usually the worst affected but arthritis of the upper body joints can occur too. Skin rashes are common and your joints can get very painful and swollen. Men are thought to be more susceptible to RS/RA because they are more commonly affected by Urinary Tract infections (UTI’s) and sexually transmitted diseases (SDI’s) than women are. Of these UTI’s, chlamydia is thought to be the most common.

In the UK one in 14 people are thought to possess the HLA-B17 gene, with 75% of all RS/RA sufferers in the UK possessing this gene a hereditary link is strongly suspected. Some reference sources claim that RS/RA is rare but others state that up to 1/100 UTI’s and 1/100 Gastro Intestinal Infections go onto develop arthritic symptoms.

Treatments include drugs such as methatrexate, voltarin and analgesia. Alkaline and non-nightshade diets are sometimes helpful. Acupuncture, physio, chiropractic, osteopathy, traction, stretching and massage are all mentioned as useful interventions in the RS/RA chat-rooms online too.

RS/RA sufferers often report that keeping their joints warm and not sitting too still for too long helps ease their pain levels. Eating well, adequate hydration, meditating, good stress management and sufficient sleep are all highly recommended strategies from experienced sufferers of RS/RA.

Despite the fact that a UTI or dysentry may be easily treated with an antibiotic, Reactive Arthritis can still persist long after the bug that precipitated it passes. One in 10 cases of  RS/RA are said to result from an unknown bacteria or virus which raises the question how such cases can even be considered to be RS/RA given there is no definitive test for it (just a positve ESR which may also be indicative of PMR or Haemachromatosis).

You may need to try combinations of different treatment in order to manage your own symptoms. Do whatever exercise you can but approach with caution because inflamed cartilage does not respond well to sudden move or even moderate impact, stretching can be tricky too.

Remain posture conscious and use Self Massage in the places your muscles are stiff.