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A tired body and aching limbs crave for attention at the end of a day’s hard work or after a long journey. At such times a hot or cold bath depending upon the weather conditions bring great relief to them. But there is also another way to relieve such aches and pains. It is through massage and pressure. In some households grandparents get their limbs and body massaged by children who in turn demand interesting stories from them. In villages as well as in some big cities roadside barbers give body massage to their customers as a part of their profession. Massage is also popular in health clubs and beauty parlours for fitness ad glowing skin. Massage is a mode of treatment useful to relieve discomfort and cure for many diseases. It is an excellent way of rubbing the skin with or without any oil.

The effect of massage on the body

Massage assists healing and regeneration process in the tissues of the body. Properly performed it will promote the supply of blood to various areas treated and assists in venous drainage and lymphatic circulation. It also relaxes the patient and allows tension to reduce and congestion to clear. In inflamed parts where the nerves hurt, a mild massage or gentle rubbing of any oil or ointment gives soothing comfort. The oil or ointment relieves the inflammation, pain and congestion on and around the area.

On larger areas of the body like back, thighs and abdomen a vigorous massage encourages the brisk circulation of the blood. This enables the waste matter from the blood to reach the waste eliminating organs faster. More oxygenated blood then reaches the organs and brings a cure to the diseased organs.

Massage in other modes of treatment

Electrical massage is popular in physiotherapy and health clubs to relive aches and pains and toning up the muscles. Massage is to relieve aches and pains and toning up the muscles. Massage is also used in Aroma therapy which is the art and practice using essential oils derived from plants to treat skin disorders and other ailments. The oil is massaged into the face and body, inhaled or taken orally.

Ayurveda is the oldest system of Indian medicine. The heart of this medicine is the famous Panchakarma (the five methods of diposal of waste from the body) by vomit, by purging, by steaming, by fasting and by massage. They are known as vaman, virechan, swedan, langhan and snehan respectively. Ayurveda lays great emphasise in oil massage in almost every disease.

What to massage with?

Dry massage with the hands like pressing, rubbing, pinching and kneading the skin before bath is what any one can do easily. Regular habit of this simple massage will help keep the body fit. But oil is a valuable medium for massaging the body. A variety of oils are available to suit the needs and nature of the disease. Oils made of different herbs are readily available in the market. But if one wants to prepare their own oil at home, it is not only cheaper but also can be prepared easily with ingredients available at home itself. Many a time plain seasame oil (til oil), mustard oil, olive oil and coconut oil have good effect on the body.

Oil bath is the traditional Indian custom common in many families. In famous temples of south India idols of various gods and goddesses get the ritual and ceremonial oil baths on specific occasions. The oil thus collected is given to devotees and patients suffering from a variety of illnesses. Since the idols are carved out of different metals and stones, they impart the goodness of the minerals and chemicals to the oil poured on them. This oil when used for treating diseases are said to be very effective. Added to this, faith factor also has the psychological effect to bring relief to the sufferer.

Oil, ointment or whatever the medium for massage, the method of application counts most. When the massage is done scientifically a few minutes of rubbing is sufficient for relief though chronic diseases like arthiritis needs more time for massage and for prolonged periods.

Do it scientifically

The correct and accurate technique of giving massage is essential for better result in the treatment. This cannot be expected from unskilled persons who give massage. But all the same, if a very simple yet very important principle is followed, massage will prove to be very easy and rewarding in treating oneself or other family members. To understand this principle, try to remember the function of circulation of blood in the human body.

The heart first receives improve blood from all parts of the body and then sends the same to the lungs to get oxygenated or purified. The heart receives pure blood from the lungs and distributes the same to the whole body through numerous blood vessels. When the impure blood is being carried to the heart it can be aided by giving massage in such a way that the strokes are directed towards the heart. If on the other hand the strokes are applied in the direction away from the heart the congested impure blood does not get the opportunity to be purified instead it lingers in the blood vessles itself and the disease does not get cured. See fig.41 to 49 for message on specific parts of the body.

Which oil to use?

Oils and herbs that are found handy at home are effective for preparing massage oil and are sufficient in most diseases. They cost very little when compared to commercial preparations. They include mustard oil, til oil, eucalyptus oil, camphor oil, almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and some of the kitchen herbs.

For respiratory disorders

Add camphor powder to coconut oil and heat it slightly.
Useful for –common cold, rattling phlegm in the chest and cough.
For common cold rub on the nose. See fig.38.
For throat cough(not dry cough) on the throat (see fig.39) and for chest cough on the chest (seefig.40)
For blocked nose-massage with two to three drops mustard oil on the nose (see fig.38).

For asthma, bronchitis

Extract garlic juice(two spoon) add to half a cup of til oil. Heat the oil. Till the juice evaporates. Removes from fire. Cool and store in a bottle. Heat it slightly before use. Massage in the chest (see fig.40)

For skin diseases

Add dried curry leaves to coconut oil and keep it in the sun for 15 days. Massage this oil on the skin and leave it for one to two hours before bath. This prevents any type of itching, eruption and good for healthy glow of skin.

For dry skin and cracks on the skin: Massage the affected part with olive oil.

For rheumatism and arthritis

Massage mustard oil on the affected parts for mild and tolerable pain.
In four tablespoons of til oil add ten to twelve cloves of garlic and heat. When the garlic gets charred, remove and add one spoon camphor powder. Massage with this oil two to three times a day.
Powder bishop weed and extract oil from it. Massage the painful joints with this oil.
For chronic pain with stiffness and inflammation: Prepare the following oil:

1 spoon of bishopweed (Ajwain)
1 spoon of cloves(Lavang)
6 to 8 garlic pieces peeled and crushed
2 spoons mustard seeds.
200 grams til oil.

Powder bishopweed and cloves. Heat oil and add mustard to splutter. Add all the ingredients and stir well. Let the crushed garlic turn black. Remove from fire, cool and store in a bottle. Massage this oil in the affected joints.(See fig.41 to 49)

For digestive disorders
Stomach cramps and pain and constipation use castor oil slightly heated.

Flatulence and fullness:
Add a pinch of Asafoetida powder in til oil or mustard oil. Heat a little and rub on the abdomen.

Spinal massages

Massage can be given on either side of the spine for treating the organs on the front side of the body with good effect. Divide the back into upper and lower divisions. Give massage on either side of the spine on the upper division to treat disorders of the organs lungs, heart, stomach, liver and other digestive organs. (See fig.51).

Give massage on either side of the spine on the lower division for the disorders of the kidneys, intestines, urinary, and menstrual problems. See fig. 52. Follow the direction correctly. Massage must not be given on the bones of the spine but two inches from the centre.

There are more than a dozen techniques to give massage scientifically. But the above said methods are more than sufficient to practice at home for self and other members of the family.

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  • About The Author


    Gopakumar Nair belongs to a Hereditary Ayurvedic family of Kerala who were Practising Ayurveda and traditional Medicine for 200 Years . They can be traced back to over six generations. His experience under the guidance of his guru Valiya thampuraan has earned lot of trust and popularity.

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