To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Expand Your Abilities & Grow Your Practice with Asian Bodywork,” by Deb Davies, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, in the September 2011 issue. Article summary: Incorporating Asian massage modalities into your practice will give you a more rounded approach to client concerns. Instead of addressing one problem, for example, you can determine what pattern of disharmony may be at the root of that problem. This article looks at acupressure, shiatsu, chi nei tsang, Thai massage and tui na, and at how these Asian massage modalities can help your clients—and your practice.

by Jenelle Kim

We are entering a renaissance in the spa industry, where wellness is once again becoming the focus of massage-and-spa clients. Following the economic heyday of the early 2000s, when the concepts of excess and pampering reigned supreme, the concept of wellness in the spa arena is now regaining its rightful place as the top reason people will opt for a spa treatment.

As a licensed acupuncturist, I could not be happier to see more people are turning to natural healing methods to improve their overall health and well-being. These methods include enlisting the natural healing powers of massage therapists, acupuncturists and specialists in other natural, healing modalities.

While there is no doubt the power of these natural treatment methods alone has the ability to positively affect health, there are formulas and product ingredients that can not only dramatically enhance the effectiveness of treatments for your clients, but also for you, the therapist. These ingredients are known as rejuvenating herbs or adaptogens. In Asia, these herbs are commonly used in combination with acupuncture, tui na massage and reflexology, among other practices.

Adaptogens are unique from other substances. They help your body adapt to adverse conditions that affect homeostasis and they help to balance the body’s immune and endocrine systems, thus helping your body systems to work in harmony with one another.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbs such as ginseng, stephaniae and astragulus have been used for centuries; however, it was not until after World War II that top Russian scientist N.V. Lazarev coined the term adaptogen to classify these specific herbs that help to increase health and the body’s natural resistance.

One of Lazarev’s students, Israel Brekhman, M.D., recognized these rare botanical herbs with adaptogenic characteristics survived through the ice ages by flourishing and adapting in even the most severe living conditions. Based on this principle, Brekhman believed these herbs might possess qualities that could help our bodies adapt to the changes and stresses of modern day life.

According to research, adaptogens are unique from other substances in that they have the ability to balance the body’s immune and endocrine systems while helping the body maintain optimal homeostasis.

With a team of 1,200 biologists and physicians, Brekhman investigated and analyzed adaptogens and paved the way for more than 3,000 experimental studies and clinical trials. These studies revealed the extraordinary immunity-building and stress-protective capacity of adaptogens.

Their research showed adaptogens are nontoxic to cells, boost cells to a healthier state, help the body adapt to stress, and improve physical performance.

While adaptogens are well-suited for the doctor’s office, they also translate exceptionally well to the wellness practitioner’s office or spa. In massage therapy and other healing modalities, adaptogenic herbs can be used in product formulations and treatments, providing benefits that enhance the power of the healing touch.

By incorporating these natural gifts of nature into your practice, your clients will notice a difference in the way they feel, and you will also notice a difference in your own level of fatigue and soreness at the end of the day.

Jenelle Kim, , L.Ac., holds a master’s of science in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She is a cofounder of the Jadience Herbal Formulas line of adaptogenic massage-and-spa products and treatments, which are rooted in the wisdom of Traditional Oriental Medicine and handed down through her family line of practitioners for generations. For more information, visit