Health Benefit: Combine Herbs and Massage

| May/June 2000

  • Reflexology uses pressure points in the foot soles to access energies throughout the body.
  • Manual Lymph Drainage is thought to improve the movement of lymphatic fluid, which cleanses toxins from the body.

It’s no secret that human touch is powerful. Babies need touch in order to live, and touch is reassuring, energizing, and—many believe—healing.

Michele Herling, a licensed massage therapist (LMT) for twenty-three years, is still amazed by the power of touch. During a recent trip to Bosnia, Herling was able to bring smiles to the faces of children being terrorized by war. She regards human touch as a “seed of humanity.” Through her private practice, Compassionate Touch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Herling focuses primarily on affecting the lives of people and children through the experience of “conscious, safe touch.”

“As a society we have a fear of hostile and sexual touch, so we have decided not to touch at all. By teaching gentle, safe touch, we can reconnect as human beings,” she says.

Psychologically, massage relaxes the mind along with the body. This mind-body connection can be further strengthened by the addition of herbal remedies. Many massage therapists use oils scented with plant essences. Others use herbs in traditionally medicinal ways, including teas, infused oils, and plasters. Ettia, a LMT and registered nurse with training in Asian medicine, feels that the various disciplines of massage need to be used in conjunction with internal and topically applied herbal remedies to suit the needs of each individual.

“Based on the dysfunction each person has, I perform an energy and diagnostic massage to correct the imbalance throughout the body,” says Ettia, who founded a massage clinic in New York City. “I act as a facilitator to clear the body of problems throughout. This method has effects that last for weeks because it involves treating the entire person. It is more in-depth than just Swedish or surface stimulation.”

Here are some herb and essential oil recipes to try at home. Share them with your massage therapist or use them to massage yourself or a loved one at home.

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