Monthly Archives: July 2016

Treating Trauma and PTSD with Massage Therapy

In my practice as a massage therapist, I’m drawn to working with clients whose experiences include PTSD, trauma, and anxiety—as well as a range of others in need of support through their own journey of emotional healing.

What the above have in common is a heightened Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). You may know this as your “fight or flight” response. The SNS stimulates the adrenal glands to release hormones that increase your heart and breath rate, slow digestion and elimination, and release extra glucose to sustain energy. When the situation is resolved, the sympathetic functions return to its resting state, allowing your heart rate to go back to normal, your breathing to slow down, and your other body functions to return to a balanced state.

When someone is dealing with trauma, PTSD, or anxiety, their SNS is working overtime and so is their body. Massage has wonderful benefits specifically helpful for these challenging symptoms, as it can relax the SNS and ease clients back into a parasympatheic state of balance and function. Whatever you are dealing with on your journey, as a new client you will feel heard and respected as we develop a holistic treatment plan relevant to your specific needs and expectations.

Communication before, during, and after the session is prioritized for all clients, but I aim to go above and beyond for clients who experience PTSD and anxiety. We can discuss your triggers and a plan of action for how I can help hold a safe space for any emotional release or anxiety that should arise during the session.

Our physical bodies store trauma in our tissues and organs, creating discomfort and other uncomfortable physical sensations. Massage can absolutely facilitate their release and help free you physically from painful experiences your body has been holding onto.

As a member of this diverse Central District community and a Queer-identified human, I also make it a priority to create an informed, educated, safe space for all bodies—including trans and non-binary. Know that I am comfortable with your body, and that I respect your pronouns and your process.

Conversations with the non-binary people in my life have helped me understand the physical and emotional transitions and impacts they experience, including heightened stress, anxiety, and emotionality. These symptoms elevate the Sympathetic Nervous System and make it even more difficult for the body to find balance. Regular massage helps break the stress and anxiety cycle.

At the Union Center for Healing, we believe educated practitioners in a safe and inclusive environment provides our patients and clients the necessary level of comfort to receive all of the benefits of bodywork.

If you are transitioning, have transitioned, are uncomfortable in your body or dealing with trauma and anxiety—please come see me. Together we can facilitate healing in a safe space.

Author: Jennifer Singer, LMP

Treating Headaches

I see a lot of people who suffer from headaches in my practice. I also see a lot of people who find great relief from their headaches with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Headaches are one of my favorite ailments to treat because it is very satisfying to witness someone’s headaches improve and even disappear completely during one appointment. Anyone who has ever suffered from migraines or any type of headache knows that your quality of life improves when your headaches go away.

In Western medicine, there are different categories of headaches, such as tension headaches, migraines, or cluster headaches.

In Chinese medicine, we pay attention to these diagnoses, but also have our own assessment of headaches based on where the energy is blocked, and to what severity. We look at which acupuncture channels are affected.

For example, headaches located in the:

  • temporal region, or side of the head, correspond to the Gallbladder or Triple Burner channel.
  • frontal area, or frontal sinus, corresponds to the Stomach or Large Intestine channel as this channel runs through that area.
  • occipital area or base of the skull and upper neck, correspond to the Urinary Bladder channel.

It is helpful to think about which organ systems or channels run through the areas where there is pain, as often this pain can be alleviated by unblocking stuck energy in these areas.

When treating headaches, I listen to my patients’ experience to get a sense of what triggers their headaches. Some triggers include menstruation, or other hormonal fluctuations, and factors related to the weather. For some patients, headaches started with a concussion years prior or some other sort of trauma or blockage. For headaches triggered by stress, there are many ways acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to decrease stress and assist the body’s natural ability to rest and repair itself.

I am interested in the full spectrum of care from treating the headache itself to getting to the root of what is causing those headaches and then working on a plan to help prevent them from recurring in the future. Different treatments work for different people. Sometimes I’ll insert acupuncture needles at the location of the headache itself and at other times at points far from that area. I enjoy the detective work involved with being an acupuncturist.

If you or someone you know suffers from headaches, consider trying acupuncture to alleviate pain and more deeply understand your headache triggers.

Author: Samara White, LAc, EAMP, LMP