Magic of Massage
Julian Whitaker, MD
Our five senses are sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Of all of these, touch is the one sense we’ve most “lost touch” with—to the detriment of our health and well-being. Let me explain.
Your skin is far more than a covering that holds you together and protects against the environment. It is the body’s largest organ, derived from the same embryonic tissue as the brain and central nervous system. To a great extent, the skin is the external continuation of the brain. In his book, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, Ashley Montagu writes, “The nervous system is, then, a buried part of the skin, or alternatively, the skin may be regarded as an exposed portion of the nervous system.”
Far more brain tissue is directed to receiving sensory input from the skin than from the other four senses combined. You know that emotional distress can cause skin problems such as acne, hives, and eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. However, you may not know that mind-skin connections are a two-way street. Touch can be used to alter behavior, enhance mood, and improve personal relationships. Indeed, it is absolutely essential for optimal well-being.
That we write off our sense of touch is true folly because touch is the only sense that is absolutely essential for survival. In the animal kingdom, virtually every mammal licks its newborn right after birth. This instinctive behavior provides the stimulation necessary for the pup, kitten, or calf’s survival. And the more licking and body contact puppies receive the healthier and more relaxed they are. The same is true for humans. Infants deprived of physical contact fail to thrive, even if they receive adequate food and other necessities of life.
How do we fulfill this biological need for close body contact? Cultivate your physical relationship with your spouse. Hug your friends and family often. Shake hands with people you meet. Give and receive massages with someone you care about. And if you really want a treat, get a professional massage.
At the Whitaker Wellness Institute, we treat massage as a serious therapy. Our doctors prescribe it just as they would prescribe nutritional supplements, IV therapies, and EECP. It relieves pain and stiffness and improves range of motion. It provides deep relaxation and helps lower blood pressure. It turns off an anxious, overactive mind and relieves anxiety and depression. But as important as any of these therapeutic benefits is massage’s ability to satisfy the basic human need for touch. As a result, it enhances every aspect of health and well-being.
- To schedule an appointment with a massage therapist at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (800) 488-1500 or click here.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.