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Parkinsons and Complementary Therapies.

Over the past few months I have had the privilege of working with a wonderful group of people who have Parkinson’s.  I have been delighted with the progress I have seen using Hypnotherapy and many of the other therapies I offer. 

Over the next year I will be taking an active role in fund raising for local people who live with Parkinson's and manage on a daily basis with pain, anxiety and isolation.  Money raised will go towards helping people have the much-needed care they require to have a more positive and active life doing the things they need to and hopefully enjoy doing too. 

Look out for the Mind Body and Soul event I am hosting with Parkinsons UK in Harrogate on the 24th of June 2018. 

This blog is a brief introduction to some of the therapies I offer and specifically how they might help someone who has Parkinson’s.

Let’s start with Hypnotherapy, I offer discounted rates to all clients who have Parkinson’s and benefit from hypnotherapy.  

Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy that uses hypnosis which is an artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible. This therapy has been reported to improve Parkinson's symptoms in some people. For example, pain, sleep difficulties, anxiety and depression. During hypnosis my clients don’t have involuntary shaking, so they find the sessions deeply restful and restorative.  Hypnotherapy can assist in many ways and sessions are bespoke however hypnotherapy can:

  • Improve your mental acuity and decision making

  • Help you to feel more passionate, joyous and motivated about your life.

  • Help you to move freely and easily with confidence, balance and comfort.

  • Help you to remember how to move the way you did before the onset of the disease.

  • Improve the depth and quality of your sleep.

  • Reduce and relax your muscles.

  • Balance and return your neurotransmitters to optimal levels.

  • Strengthen your immune system and improve its ability to differentiate between the body’s cells and viruses, bacteria and abnormal cells.

Acupressure Massage is a deeply relaxing massage that enables me the therapist to treat tender areas without applying pressure to those areas.  I can use trigger points or pressure points to reduce tenderness or pain.

A form of traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure involves applying a variety of different types of pressure to carefully chosen points on the body. It is commonly used to reduce pain and stiffness. It is also used to relieve digestive ailments, insomnia, depression and anxiety.

Energy flows around the body (Chi) through channels. These channels can get blocked because of physical and emotional factors (such as anxiety and stress, poor nutrition, infections or trauma) which results in ill health and imbalances. Stimulating the acupressure points is thought by many to stimulate nerves and muscles which in turn releases these blockages, restores energy flow and triggers healing.

A variety of evidence suggests acupressure massage can improve some Parkinson’s symptoms including tremor, walking difficulties, rigidity and pain. Many people find that acupressure increases energy levels, induces relaxation, improves appetite, mood and sleep, as well as an overall sense of wellbeing. There is also evidence that acupressure massage reduces stress levels through the release of endorphins in the brain.

Its effectiveness in relieving pain has been conclusively demonstrated and is now acknowledged worldwide.

Carers may also benefit from increased energy levels, improved appetite and sleep, enhanced relaxation, and an overall sense of wellbeing. An acupressure session can be an ideal time to switch off and relax or enjoy talking one-to-one with the therapist during treatment.

It is advisable to see a therapist who has experience of Parkinson’s so do ask about their experience of the condition as well as their qualifications. 

Your first consultation may take longer than subsequent appointments as I will first need to discuss your symptoms, take a medical history and assess your overall state of health.

I will then feel the six pulses points on each wrist. The quality and rhythm of each pulse indicates how energy (or ‘Chi’) is flowing in your body. 

Sessions usually are an hour to an hour and a half long.  A course of treatment, as opposed to a single session, is normally recommended and any improvements in your condition should become apparent after four to six treatments.

Aromatherapy. Aroma touch and Raindrop technique are all massage treatments that incorporate the use of essential oils.

Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that uses essential oils (essences from aromatic plants) to improve physical, psychological and emotional well-being.

Each essential oil has distinctive therapeutic properties that are used to treat body and mind. Specific oils are associated with common conditions such as fatigue, muscular aches and pain, joint stiffness, stress, headache, insomnia, depression and anxiety, as well as enhancing overall levels of relaxation and circulation.

Aromatherapy is a complementary medicine which treats the whole person, not just the symptoms. It is a holistic treatment which can promote health and well-being in many ways at the same time.

People with Parkinson’s often turn to aromatherapy to improve their quality of life.  Even though there is little scientific research into the benefits of aromatherapy in Parkinson’s, benefits in the general population have been studied. Many people say they find it helps them to relax and is uplifting.

If stress-related problems can be relieved so some Parkinson’s symptoms caused by stress may improve with aromatherapy.

There are two practical ways in which essential oils are administered:

  • through the skin using massage or simple skin application

  • through inhalation.

The molecules of the essential oils will travel into the bloodstream & metabolise in the body to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

The potential benefits of aromatherapy in Parkinson’s include:

Physical: muscular aches and pain, joint stiffness and pain, weakness of limbs, constipation, poor circulation and cramp can be treated through massage - either to the whole body or locally around the affected area.

Mental & emotional: depression, anxiety, insomnia, nausea and headache can be treated through massage and/or inhalation.

Before the treatment begins, I will ask you about your current health, medical history and lifestyle, I will also ask what medication you are taking to ensure that the oils I use don’t have any contraindications. Then I will create the correct treatment plan, specifically for you.

The duration of treatment can vary from 45 to 90 minutes depending on the specific treatment given. 

After your treatment, I may give you some home care recommendations as well as any further treatment that is required.

Massage alone is so very beneficial and all massage therapies begin with a consultation to ensure a safe massage is given.

Massage aims to stimulate the body through the skin, the body’s largest sensory organ. It is usually administered by hand (but it can also be given using the elbows and feet) and can be applied to any part of the body to heal injury, relieve psychological stress and tension, improve circulation, manage pain, relax muscle spasms and eliminate waste and toxins from the body.

There are many different massage techniques. Some are gentle, aiming to trigger the release of endorphins (the body's own painkillers) and promote a sense of relaxation and wellbeing. Other techniques are more vigorous to help stretch uncomfortable muscles, ease stiff joints and so improve mobility and flexibility.

Massage should not hurt, although you may experience some discomfort if pressure is applied. 

Research suggests that massage can help to relieve the muscle stiffness and rigidity that is often found in Parkinson’s. It can also help reduce stress, promote relaxation and enable you to identify tension in your body, and so find ways to minimise or reduce this. Tension can make symptoms worse so it is important to keep it under control.

Massage can also be invigorating and stimulating, both for the mind and body. It is important to decide what effect you want – relaxing or stimulating – before your massage session starts!

Massage can work in two ways:

A mechanical action in which the muscles and soft tissues of the body have pressure applied to them or are stretched using specific movements. This can help in breaking down tight fibrous tissue, keeping joints loose and connective tissue in good repair.

A reflex action in which massaging one part of the body has an effect on another part, for example massaging the neck can help with back pain, or massaging the lower back can help with leg pain.  This works because nerve pathways connect various parts of the body and so massage can have a ‘knock on’ effect.

Massage benefits may include:

  • reduced stress, anxiety and depression

  • reduced pain

  • reduced constipation

  • improved flexibility and mobility

  • improved circulation and elimination of waste and toxins

  • improved quality of sleep

  • greater sense of self-awareness and wellbeing

  • improved vitality.

These benefits can obviously be enjoyed by carers and family too.

You will generally lie on a special massage table or sit in a massage chair or lay on warm water cushions.  Usually you will need to be partially undressed or fully undressed, in which case towels or sheets are be provided for modesty.

The first session will usually be around an hour long, with follow up sessions between 30-60 minutes. The length of a course of treatment will depend on your individual needs and should be discussed with your massage therapist at the outset.

Reflexology is based on the principle that the anatomy of the body is reflected in miniature in reflex zones on the feet, hands and ears. A reflexologist will apply specific pressure to the reflex zone which matches the area of the body the therapy aims to treat. This pressure will then trigger the body’s healing process in the corresponding area of the body. Although a reflexologist works only on a small area of the body, the treatment works in a far wider way.

Reflexologists believe that the body is divided into ten energy zones running the entire length of the body, and that these may become blocked by congestion, disease or disorder. The trained hands of a reflexologist can detect tiny deposits of crystals and imbalances in the body, and by working the reflex points on patient’s feet, hands or ears they can release blockages and restore the free flow of energy (Chi) to prompt healing. 

There is very limited scientific evidence into the benefits of reflexology in Parkinson’s and more research is needed to draw reliable conclusions. The effects are unique to each person, but many believe it promotes relaxation, improves circulation, stimulates vital organs and encourages the body’s natural healing processes. It may also speed up the elimination of harmful toxins from the body, as well as boosting the production of natural chemicals in the brain. 

Reflexology can be helpful when used to support traditional Parkinson’s treatments. For example, it can stimulate the saliva glands and tear ducts which are often suppressed because of Parkinson’s medications, and can also help to relieve constipation.

The initial consultation will last roughly an hour as the therapist must first take your medical history. You would then receive a treatment of around 40 minutes as the therapist works on the energy lines and reflex zones that pass through your feet. Subsequent consultations may last around 45 minutes. The length of the course of treatment will depend on your individual needs.

Only footwear needs to be removed. Treatment is usually given on a special reclining couch.

Reiki, the ancient practice of channelling universal energy – or ‘Chi’ - to heal and harmonise the body. It is said to bring you back into equilibrium by balancing the seven major chakras (energy centres) in the body. It works on the connection between mind and body, in the belief that deepening the power of the mind can be one of our best healing tools.

There are many different types of Reiki - the more traditional forms are Usui.

There is little research into the benefits of Reiki in Parkinson’s although some limited studies in the general population have shown that it can help with pain relief, mood and depression.

Many believe that Reiki can trigger feelings of wellbeing, calm and a sense of being in control - which is of obvious benefit to family and carers too. Its healing energy addresses mind, body and soul:

  • Mind – Reiki calms the mind and relieves stress, harmonising and balancing your emotional state.

  • Body - Reiki energy helps to nourish and heal damaged tissue and encourages the body’s natural healing and detoxifying processes. It  can help to release any energy blockages.

  • Soul - Reiki channels ‘life force energy’ and engages with the soul, gently nourishing and healing deep within.

Some of the potential benefits in Parkinson’s cited by Reiki Masters are:

  • the channelling of Reiki energy to the part of the brain that regulates dopamine levels

  • improvements in the the function of the blood-brain barrier so that Parkinson’s medication can be delivered more efficiently to the brain

  • improving the body’s vitality and natural healing processes by channelling energy into the organs affected by Parkinson’s medications. 

Each person will respond differently to this treatment, but you may find that it helps with deep relaxation and improves your vitality.

I hope you have found this blog informative and helpful.  I look forward to seeing you at The Mind Body and Soul event on the 24th of June at the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate.