Monday, October 13, 2008

Coming of Age for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

A recent St. Louis Dispatch article titled Athletes Get Massage Message addresses what will soon become the newest standard to effect complementary and alternative medicine. It is the use of dosing. In other words, how much, how long and how often massage should be used with athletes is being a center stage issue. With the increasing pressure to win these factors are now under the microscope.

According to a recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers at Ohio State University found that Swedish massage helped speed muscle recovery at the cellular level for rabbits who got mechanically intense exercise.

Athletes also use Swedish massage -- stroking, kneading and pressing soft tissue. Thomas Best, professor of family medicine at Ohio State University and senior author of the rabbit study, said it's too soon for clinical trials on humans. But he considers the rabbits a strong start toward confirming massage's benefits to athletes.

Best said he hopes further research "will dictate how much massage is needed, for how long and when it should be performed after exercise."

We just finished a very extensive survey of 168 studies and found that the most successful studies took into account the frequency of technique application. The Chinese for years have taken a very close look at frequency, duration and strength of signal when trying to produce results.

Could the failure of some studies to achieve results have to do with these factors rather than whether reflexology "works" or not? Could adjusting the dose of reflexology make the difference?

The Chinese reflexology researchers certainly think so. Working with people with serious illness the researchers adjust the dose to a rather high level of once a day ( a half an hour) for 6 days then taking a day off. They do this treatment regime for 2 weeks and then evaluate the disorder. If it needs further action they continue unto another 2 week series of sessions. The Chinese get remarkable results. They are very keen to make sure the frequency in particular is enough to cause change.

If we are to move from reflexology being a "treat" as one study put it to a "treatment" will we need to look closely at these three key factors? We think so. It is hard to come away from these evidence based studies without drawing that conclusion.

But if one has a serious illness and it could be helped by this level of intensity would that be an incentive enough to try a more intense treatment regime?

I would think so. But more research is needed to pin down the required factors.

Would you be willing to give it a try if you had a serious illness?

Kevin Kunz

No comments: