Research Exclusive: Acupressure and Meridian Massage Boost Weight in Premature Infants

Research Exclusive: Acupressure and Meridian Massage Boost Weight in Premature Infants

Research Exclusive:
Acupressure and Meridian Massage Boost Weight in Premature Infants

Acupressure and meridian massage applied three times per day for 10 days resulted in significant weight gain among premature infants, according to recent research.
In the study, “Acupressure and meridian massage: combined effects on increasing body weight in premature infants,” 40 premature infants were randomly assigned to receive either standard care, along with acupressure and meridian massage, or standard care alone.
In order to be eligible for participation, the infants had to have a gestation age of less than 34 weeks, a birth age greater than seven days and a weight range of 1,400 to 1,800 grams, among other criteria.
The standard care for both groups included close observation of vital signs, daily bathing and weight evaluation, feeding every three hours and other routine methods of care for premature infants.
For those subjects assigned to the acupressure and meridian massage group, the hands-on intervention was performed three times per day for 15 minutes per session. The sessions were conducted one hour before feeding.
Each session involved acupressure at Zhongwan (RN-12), Zusanli (ST-36) and Yongquan (KI-1) points, as well as abdominal rubbing, spleen and stomach
meridian massage, and kneading at the points along the spine of the bladder meridian. According to researchers, the massage did not cause distress to the infants and was focused on these particular acupoints to promote gastrointestinal and physical development.
Outcome measures for this study included each infant’s body weight and the volume of milk ingested, both of which were measured and recorded daily.
Results of the research revealed no significant difference in the amount of breast milk or formula consumed between the massage and standard-care groups. However, the average daily weight gain of the massage group was significantly higher than that of the control group.
“As a result of our findings, we concluded that acupressure and meridian massage have a significant effect on body weight gain in premature infants,” said the study’s authors.
Authors: Li-Li Chen, Yi-Chang Su, Chia-Hsien Su, Hung-Chih Lin and Hsien-Wen Kuo.
Sources: School of Nursing, School of Chinese Medicine, Department of Nursing, Department of Pediatrics and Institute of Environmental Health, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan. Originally published in Journal of Clinical Nursing (2008) 17, 1174-1181.

Integrating Shiatsu and Massage for Holistic Maternity Care

Integrating Shiatsu and Massage for Holistic Maternity Care, by Suzanne Yates – Shiatsu and Massage for Pregnancy

 Shiatsu offers holistic wellness care and support throughout your pregnancy and beyond

Integrating Shiatsu and Massage for Holistic Maternity Care

by Suzanne Yates

This article first appeared in Massage & Bodywork April/May 2003

Shiatsu may sound exotic, but it has a long tradition in Western massage. Indeed one of the first books which influenced the growth of the modern massage movement in 19th century Europe was the translation of an ancient Chinese massage text, The Cong Fu of Lao-Tse. Shiatsu evolved over thousands of years, influenced by massage in China. More recent developments include muscle energy techniques correlated with acupuncture points.   Now many massage books include a chapter on Eastern methodologies or at least refer to shiatsu and/or acupuncture points.  Within the literature on massage and pregnancy, massage therapists Elaine Stillerman  and Carole Osborne-Sheets write about the use of the acupuncture points during pregnancy and in labor, and refer to certain points which may be contraindicated.

However, shiatsu is often simplified in the form of “press this or that point for this amount of time.” This implies a lack of understanding of how this fabulous system works. It has a far greater application than simply being used for specific symptomatic conditions, although this can also be very effective. Through its practical applications, shiatsu includes not only the use of specific points but also numerous ways of applying pressure, working on meridian pathways, stretching and stroking. Through its theory, shiatsu offers practitioners a way of understanding the energetic changes that happen in a body.

As we all know, pregnancy is a time of great change. In the first trimester these changes are mainly hormonal, rather than visibly physical, culminating in the establishment of the support systems for the baby – namely the placenta and amniotic sac. The baby develops at an incredible rate during these first 12 weeks and all the main organ systems are established, although the baby is still only 2 inches long. We are aware of the anatomical and physiological explanations for these changes and adapt our massage work accordingly. The mother may be feeling extremely nauseous and you need to be careful not to trigger the nausea.

You may have learned some acupuncture points, most notably PC6, which you include in your massage. This point has been quite well researched in its effectiveness in treating nausea.  However, have you ever worked with a woman in the first trimester whose energy levels are so low that she’s too tired to move her body? You may feel confident doing some breathing and relaxation techniques with her. You may want to just hold her, resting at various points on her body. Yet do you sometimes still wish there was something else you could offer that didn’t necessarily involve working with physical structures? There is a way of enabling the mother to connect with her body and her baby – and begin to come to terms with the changes inherent in pregnancy.

Understanding Shiatsu

An understanding of the mother’s and baby’s energy systems can add an extra dimension to your work. Using the Eastern concepts of meridians, especially the core body systems of the conception vessel and the governing vessel, can help us to understand how to work with the mother and baby in safe and effective ways throughout the pregnancy.

You may already be familiar with the concept of meridians – these are the pathways which transmit energy from the organs throughout the body. Common meridians include the heart protector or pericardium, lung, stomach or spleen. These form a portion of the 12 meridians which move qi pronounced “chee” (or energy) through the body. This is where you get the qi of reiki, tai chi or qigong. This is our daily energy – which we get mainly from breathing (air Qi) and eating (food qi), and flows in our body in 24-hour cycles.

The main regulator of this daily energy is the circuit of the governing vessel (GV) and conception vessel (CV), also known as the du mai and ren mai. These meridians form the two halves of the cell and are the first meridians to form in the fetus. The conception vessel runs up the front midline of the body – from CV 1 in the center of the perineum, right up through the center of the symphysis pubis, right through the midline of the abdomen and chest ending in CV 24 below the mouth where it enters the body. In women, it has an internal pathway that flows down to the kidneys and the uterus. The other half of this circuit is the governing vessel which begins at GV 1 midway between the tip of the anus, and flows up the midline of the spine, through the center of the sacrum, the lumbar, thoracic and cervical vertebrae, rising up the center of the skull, to the top of the head to GV 20 and then over the center of the forehead, over the tip of the nose to GV 28 above the lip where it then follows the same internal pathway as the conception vessel. There is in fact another branch to this circuit that is called the penetrating vessel which links the two, flowing to each of the conception vessel at the front and flowing up to lumbar 3 along with the GV.

These meridians regulate the flow or qi in the main meridian system, especially in times of change or shock. The governing vessel is the ultimate regulator of the yang energy of the body and the conception vessel the main regulator of yin energy. The Chinese characters for yin and yang represent the shady and sunny sides of the mountain. These two concepts represent a movement of energy from day to night as opposed to two opposite forces – one cannot exist without the other. They relate to both physical and emotional qualities within the body. Yin relates to the inside of the body and to slower changes. Yang relates to the outside of the body and faster reactions like nervous system responses. At conception, yin is the egg and yang is the sperm. Emotionally, yin is the inward reflective space – the ultimate yin is expressed through the element of water. Water can be the energy behind will power and ambition, driving us forward like a river breaking through its banks. It can also get stuck in a negative, depressive state like a stagnant pond. Pregnancy is the ultimate state of yin – hidden growth in a watery environment. In our culture we are encouraged to be more yang, to be outwardly active. To do so we need to support the yin qualities of pregnancy. Birth is the movement from yin to yang, from the inside to the outside – new life and growth represented by the energy of wood. Learning to tune into these different energies in pregnancy helps the mother process the emotional and physical challenges of pregnancy and labor.

Ancient Energy

The CV and GV vessels have another important function. They circulate the essence or jing – our ancestral energy. We inherit essence from our parents at the time of conception – and the quality of our essence, our constitutional/genetic inheritance is influenced by the energy of our parents’ parents and their parents too. It is this energy that underlines organic change and growth and governs the reproductive system. In women it is said to represent in energetic terms the hypothalamus, pituitary (governed by the governing vessel) and ovarian (regulated by the CV) axis. It flows in seven year cycles for women and eight year cycles for men.

During pregnancy there are many demands made on this circuit, especially with the conception vessel, which has a close relationship with the reproductive organs and the recti muscles. The linea negra, the skin darkening on the abdominal midline common in pregnancy, is indicative of these changes. Physical changes in the spine due to the adaptations the mother has to make as the baby grows and her body shape changes are regulated by the governing vessel.

This system provides the ultimate support for the pregnancy. If this system is not operating smoothly, the pregnancy may be inhibited through infertility or miscarriage. There may be problems with the pubic bone (symphysis pubis diastasis), extreme separation of the recti muscles (abdomini recti diastasis), backaches, exhaustion or lack of connection to the baby, to name but a few. By considering this system in our work we have a route intro these core changes for both mother and baby during pregnancy.

Much of this type of work involves holding points along the pathways of the meridians, soft palming and deep tissue techniques, the use of breathing and visualization. There are techniques for working with the kidneys and the uterus – which include the placenta and the baby. These don’t feel invasive for mother or baby. Indeed it often helps them to switch into a space of deep relaxation. From this space, many “problems” dissolve.

You may know of techniques for turning breech or posterior babies, (notably, the use of BL 7, BL 60 and sacral work).  Combining these techniques with the core meridian work increases their effectiveness. Sometimes I think the baby turns because it feels reassured by this energetic connection. Sometimes mother or baby has to make an emotional shift at a profound level. I know of babies that have turned into a breech position at the same time the mother experienced a sudden shock (like her mother or partner dying or maybe she is simply afraid of giving birth). The baby senses this stress and also feels afraid and turns away from the birth canal. The Chinese say that a breech baby is holding on to the mother’s heart. Working the bladder channel helps address the fear; fear and shock are often processed by the governing and conception vessels which link closely with the kidneys.

Using Pressure

Much of shiatsu’s focus is the use of pressure – sometimes this can involve deep pressure, as in the use of deep sacral work in the first trimester for alleviating backaches, shifting the baby’s position or for pain relief during labor. Sometimes this pressure is physically light, but energetically deep. It is very much about making connections in the right kind of way – which is why simply finding points, counting and holding is not the most effective use of this tool. Individual bodies respond very differently – for one person, 10 seconds of holding may be too long and for another half an hour may not be long enough. There are many different styles of shiatsu that emphasize slightly different aspects. In the tradition in which I work, it is important to follow the principle of using two hands – a mother hand (yin balancing hand) and working hand (yang balancing hand). The practitioner needs to work from a connection within their center, their hara (abdomen), in order to make energetic connections with their pregnant clients. This involves focusing with the breath and connecting deeply to the internal organs.

Shiatsu is traditionally done on a clothed client, but it doesn’t have to be. With the application of the correct principles, it can be done as effectively directly on the skin using oils. Practiced in this way, it blends in well with massage and the practitioner can employ shiatsu as part of a massage session. However, sometimes working through the clothes or towels can be useful for women who feel vulnerable. It can sometimes be useful during certain stages of labor.

Traditionally, shiatsu is done on the floor or on a cotton futon. Again this need not be the case – it can be done equally well on a table. However, working on the floor can be a useful practical technique with pregnant clients. Have you ever worked with a heavily pregnant mom who finds it difficult to get up on the table, who keeps wanting to shift around and never seems comfortable? Lying on the floor offers her another option. You can also work with her sitting in a chair, but she can’t relax as much as if she was lying down. Using the futon, all massage techniques can be done on the floor and you can integrate some great passive movements for legs, back and arms. This also gives the therapist an opportunity to work with the mother in the all-fours position, which is excellent for backaches and helping encourage the baby to settle in the anterior position. You can even integrate some simple exercises, such as pelvic tilting, as part of the massage session when the mother gets restless.

An added benefit of working on the floor and through the clothes is the client’s partner and/or the baby’s father can support the mother and be part of this circuit of energy. After the baby arrives, it allows the mother to cuddle up with the baby, even breast feed, while the therapist works.
The Way Forward

I would argue that all forms of bodywork have a common tradition, evolving from societies where people lived intimately influenced by the forces of nature and in which touch played a crucial role, not only in healing, but in how people related to each other. Over the centuries different ways of explaining and codifying these systems of touch evolved. Today, we are more aware of these different traditions and how each one has developed its own rules and practice and training. I feel the way forward is to re-integrate the traditions, especially when it concerns integrating Eastern energy systems with Western anatomy and physiology. There is so much that shiatsu can offer the massage practitioner, particularly in pregnancy when many of our more physical techniques are less appropriate and when we do need ways of being able to work with the baby as well as the mother to address the emotional aspects.

The challenge as a therapist is to see the pregnant body as a marvellous integration of the physical and emotional whole which includes the baby. We need to work with a holistic understanding of the body, appreciating how all systems are interlinked and work not with fear, but a marvel of the wisdom of the body, helping women to be more in touch with themselves and their babies.


(1) Travell, J.G., and Sminons, D., Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Volume 2 Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1992, 5.
Weinntraub, M. Shiatsu, Swedish massage and trigger point suppression in spinal pain syndrome. American Journal of Pain Management 1992 April; 2 (2): 74-78.

(2) Cash, M., and Greetham, A.N., Sport and Remedial Massage. Ebury Press; 1996. 226-243.

(3) Stillerman, E., Mother Massage, Dell Publishing Co.; 1992.

(4) Osborne-Sheets, C., Pre- and perinatal massage therapy. Body Therapy Associates; 1999.

(5) Steele, N.M., French, J., Gatherer-Boyles, J., et al., Effect of acupressure by Sea-Bands on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and NeoNatal Nursing 2001; 30 (1): 61-70.

(6) Cardini, F., Weixin, H., Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 1998 Nov. 11; 280 (18): 1580-4.

Contact Well Mother. Copyright © Well Mother 1990-2011. All rights reserved.

Alternative fertility tx to help you conceive:

Four alternative fertility treatments to help you conceive

Advice on non-IVF methods, plus five fertility tricks you can try at home

  • By Diane Peters Wed Sep 14 2011
Alternative fertility treatments to help you conceive
Photo credit: Getty Images

Shortly after getting married, Sharon Cambridge had a miscarriage. The 33-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., was devastated — and became obsessed with motherhood. “My whole focus turned to getting pregnant,” she says. “And every month that it didn’t happen, my obsession got worse.” After losing another baby at 10 weeks, Sharon was desperate. A trip to a fertility clinic with her husband, Derek, revealed she had high levels of follicle-stimulating hormones. It meant she was less likely to get, and stay, pregnant and would need in-vitro fertilization (IVF). But the $6,000 price tag was too much for the couple, who were already struggling to manage a mortgage. So Sharon took a friend’s advice and made an appointment with an acupuncturist. After four sessions, she was rewarded with a positive pregnancy test. Her acupuncturist immediately put her on a “miscarriage prevention” program that included needles and Chinese herbs designed to strengthen her uterus. And although she constantly worried about losing the baby, Sharon found the treatments painless and soothing. “Acupuncture was just so healing for me, emotionally and physically,” she says. In March, her daughter, Mackenzie, was born — and Sharon plans to resume the treatment when she tries for baby number two.While Canadian fertility clinics help about 3,000 people a year become parents, many couples find conventional treatments like IVF, intrauterine insemination (IUI) and ovulatory drugs too invasive, too stressful or way too expensive. Like Sharon and Derek, some are seeking alternatives, whether it’s acupuncture or exercise, to boost their baby-making odds. “I think acupuncture, exercise therapy, counselling and yoga are all very positive,” says Seang Lin Tan, the doctor who launched the Montreal Reproductive Centre last year. In response to requests from patients, his offerings include acupuncture, yoga, nutrition counselling and other alternative approaches to fertility. “Anything that can reduce stress will improve success rates,” he says. So if you’ve had to put your nursery planning on hold because of fertility issues or simply want to increase your pregnancy odds, here are four alternative treatments that have successfully helped other people become parents.

Fertility booster 1: Diet and supplements

Lisa Brown* knew getting pregnant was going to be tough. The 38-year-old from Toronto has polycystic-ovary syndrome (PCOS) — a condition that leads to unbalanced hormones, ovarian cysts and fertility problems — and she gets her period only a few times a year. Before two frustrating years of trying to get pregnant on her own, she got a prescription for the ovulation-stimulation drug clomiphene. She tried it for a month but didn’t get the results she’d hoped for and was bothered by the side effects. “I had horrible cramps, I was emotional — it was awful,” she says. Lisa ditched the drug and told her troubles to Judith Fiore, a Toronto-based naturopath who devotes her practice to couples trying to conceive. Fiore put Lisa on a gluten-free diet (explaining that gluten could be triggering inflammation in her body and affecting her ovaries), as well as supplements containing healthy oils high in omega-3s, such as flax seed and sesame, to help balance her hormones. Right away, Lisa started feeling strong and energized. “I felt great,” Lisa recalls. After eight months, she became pregnant with her son, Anthony, who’s now two.

So how does what you eat affect fertility? In an attempt to find out, Harvard researchers looked at data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed over 18,000 U.S. nurses for eight years. Researchers discovered those who ate a diet high in whole grains, plant-based proteins and full-fat dairy products and low in trans fats had fewer fertility problems. The authors think this healthy diet (with regular exercise) lowers insulin levels, which in turn helps balance hormones to ensure regular ovulation. The study inspired the book The Fertility Diet, which offers suggestions on how to eat better for a future baby, such as cutting down on red meats by ditching beef for beans, checking for trans fats on labels and keeping your body mass index (BMI) in the “fertility zone” of between 20 and 24.

To give a fertility-friendly diet a further boost, Fiore has her clients over age 35 take a daily dose of the co-enzyme Q10. This antioxidant works on the cellular level to improve egg quality, which is often a problem for older moms-to-be. Many naturopaths also recommend supplements with royal jelly — a liquid secreted by bees that enables a bee to transform into a healthy queen. (As a bonus, animal studies link the supplements to longevity, lower blood pressure and better energy levels.) Meanwhile, there’s some evidence for the fertility-enhancing powers of the natural hormone DHEA (which you can buy in supplement form) in boosting egg production. Tan recommends it to many of his patients. “There isn’t enough data yet to prove its usefulness, but it appears to be helpful and cause no harm, except for some minor side effects like acne, hair loss or stomach upset in a small proportion of women,” he says. The general rule of thumb is the higher the dose, the greater the chance for side effects, so make sure you take it while under the supervision of a medical professional.

Because getting pregnant is a two-person job, men also benefit from paying attention to what they put in their bodies. Fiore uses an IV drip to give guys a vitamin cocktail of C, B6 and B12, zinc and other nutrients once a week for 10 weeks — all to enhance sperm health. Also on the supplement shelf for would-be dads are omega-3 fatty acids, which one study from the University of Illinois shows can help male fertility, and the amino acid L-arginine, which boosts sperm count and quality.

Fertility booster 2: Acupuncture and Shiatsu

Like Sharon in Alberta, Quebec pop superstar Celine Dion was struggling to get pregnant. At age 41, she’d undergone five rounds of IVF and had just had a miscarriage when she heard about Montreal acupuncturist Aina Zhang and her work with women undergoing fertility treatments. Dion flew Zhang down to Florida (where her eggs were retrieved) and then to New York (where she had her egg transfer) for daily acupuncture sessions. Zhang then continued to treat her weekly for the next few months to help protect the pregnancy. We all know the end of that well-publicized story: Healthy twin boys Nelson and Eddy were born that October.

Acupuncture has had more than anecdotal success: A 2007 review of seven trials found it improved IVF success rates. But, as with many alternative fertility treatments, the research tends to be contradictory. (Another review in 2010 by the British Fertility Society concluded acupuncture didn’t change pregnancy rates.)

Albert Yuzpe, doctor and co-director of the Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver, often refers IVF patients for acupuncture — not necessarily because they’re more likely to end up with a baby, though. “The patients who do it feel better, and that’s good,” he says. Despite contradictory evidence on the science side, and skepticism from some mainstream medical professionals, Zhang estimates she’s helped more than 400 women get pregnant over the last three years using acupuncture on its own or in combination with IVF. “Even when doctors can’t find a problem and someone has unexplained infertility, using traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture can often help improve the chance of pregnancy,” says Zhang. She uses the practice to work on energy channels in the body and harmonize those that are weak with those that are working too hard. “We try to balance out the organs so they cooperate better to help get you pregnant,” she says. According to Zhang, acupuncture also increases blood flow to the uterus (making it a more hospitable home for a fertilized egg) and can help men with sperm quality and quantity. A study of 28 patients in China found five weeks of treatment led to more (and better) sperm in men with diagnosed fertility problems.

Fertility booster 3: Therapy

When you’ve decided you want a baby and suddenly find yourself faced with the prospect that it may not happen, it can be highly stressful and emotionally devastating. That stress often triggers a physical chain reaction in your body that may make having a baby even harder. “Chronic stress depletes your body of nutrients,” says Fiore. “It can really compromise a woman’s fertility.” In 2009, Swiss researchers analyzed 21 previous studies and concluded that treatment for mental-health problems, such as depression and anxiety, increased pregnancy rates for couples. Toronto fertility counsellor Cecile Barington is so convinced that a healthy state of mind is a prerequisite to procreation that she works almost exclusively with couples trying to conceive. Barington’s therapy combines talking, exercise and meditation. “The focus of the program is to help women regain a sense of control over their lives and to get happy,” she says. “When we do that, things start to work better.” Barington sees only women who’ve been trying to have a baby for years, and yet she charts a 65-percent pregnancy rate. She attributes the success of her program to the fact that it makes her clients healthier by relieving their stress and giving them power to take better care of themselves. Plus, she says, women tend to have more sex when they feel good.

Fertility booster 4: Qigong

Sischa Maharaj had painful periods her whole life, but it wasn’t until she struggled to get pregnant at the age of 28 that she learned she had endometriosis. A fertility doctor in Toronto adjusted her diet, put her on medication, booked her for laser surgery to reduce her endometriosis — and had her enrol in Jean Lie’s Qigong (pronounced chee-KUNG) fertility program. Qigong is a form of exercise that resembles tai chi, but with fewer movements. “The idea is to get the body moving so you can clear out whatever your blockages are,” says Lie. When you lift a blockage — just as in acupuncture — you restore health. Lie starts classes with simple movements like lifting the arms overhead in an arc. Students repeat the moves many times with eyes closed. When it comes to targeting fertility, this very simple practice is done daily for five to 10 minutes at a time. Lie says she cured her own pelvic-health problems with the exercise, so she draws women with similar health concerns to her classes. About a quarter of her clients have fertility problems — and about 25 percent of them get pregnant following the program.

“One thing that happens to these women is they do the practice and they feel better,” Lie says. “They also have more energy and start making changes that are effective, such as eating better and going to bed earlier — and that helps too,” she says. Sischa started attending Lie’s Qigong fertility class in August 2008 — and she had her reservations. Sometimes she’d open her eyes to see the other women making strange movements and wonder if she was doing it wrong. Then, one day, she was suddenly struck with a terrible pain — the kind she got during her period. “You will get pregnant, I feel it,” Lie told her as she helped her work through the pain. Sischa began to love the practice — it made her feel calm and she started doing it at home every day to help her relax after a hectic day. Then, 12 weeks into the classes, right when she was about to undergo another insemination and just weeks before her scheduled endometriosis surgery, Sischa discovered she was pregnant. Shyla is now two and Sischa and her husband, Raymond, had a second baby, Kaila, who’s six months old. “For me, doing qigong taught me that getting pregnant is a lot more than just the physical parts of semen and uterus and tubes,” says Sischa. “It has a lot to do with your energy, having a positive attitude and a healthy approach to preparing yourself for pregnancy.”

Five fertility tricks you can try at home

1. Cut out the vices: Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine reduce male and female fertility — and they’re not healthy for a fetus either. Even second-hand smoke is linked to fertility problems and miscarriage.

2. Have sex: No, really. Many clients who have had fertility treatments for years find “sex isn’t on the radar anymore,” says Cecile Barington, a Toronto-based fertility counsellor. Regular sex doesn’t just increase your chances of getting pregnant; one study found men who ejaculate regularly have healthier sperm.

3. Make it hot: Research shows men may ejaculate 50 percent more sperm when they are having a good time — and when women orgasm during sex, it puts sperm closer to the cervix, increasing the chance of conception. If your libido is lagging, pick up some racy videos or sex toys or consult a couples therapist for help.

4. Check your juices:
Some fertility experts discourage women from charting their body temperatures to find out when they’re ovulating: It’s a time-consuming process that isn’t always accurate. Instead, check the discharge in your vagina every day. (When it’s clear and slippery and looks like an egg white, you’re fertile, and it’s time for sex.)

5. Prioritize sleep: Your reproductive system is on a cycle linked to your circadian rhythm, so logging more hours between the sheets is important. (One study found shift workers have a higher miscarriage rate due in part to their disrupted sleep patterns.) To ensure longer, better sleep, keep your bedroom totally dark, turn off the CrackBerry and go to bed at the same time every day.

Do you know someone who has had success with alternative fertility treatments? Please share your stories here.

5 Little Known Benefits of Shiatsu Massage

5 Little Known Benefits of Shiatsu Massage

by James Calvin

Shiatsu massage, also known as acupressure, is a point-pressure massage using the fingers. It is designed to help regulate the flow of energy within the body. During a shiatsu massage, thumb, fingers, palms or feet to the body apply pressure. This type of massage helps produce deep relaxation increases energy levels and brings balance to the body.

The history of shiatsu massage lies with the ancient Chinese. They used the principles of shiatsu in both their medical philosophy and practice. It was developed around 530 B.C. Later, shiatsu massage was exported into Japan, Southeast Asia, and Korea where it was widely practiced. In the 20th century, this therapy was used for treating simple muscular tension and providers were licensed. Shiatsu became popular in the United States, Europe and Australia in the 1970s.

Shiatsu massages last anywhere from forty minutes to one hour. It usually takes place on a padded mat on the floor. This type of massage begins with gentle stretching and manipulation of the skin to allow the stimulation of energy and relax the muscles. Depending on the need of the person receiving the massage, it can be very gentle and calming or used with high pressure, but should never hurt or feel painful. Acupressure massages are usually given using a rapid circular motion with medium pressure. The massages can last from five to fifteen minutes and include techniques such as rubbing, kneading, percussion, and vibration.

Today, shiatsu massages are performed not only for relaxation, but to aid a wide variety of ailments and symptoms. The following are five benefits of shiatsu massage.


Shiatsu massages, or acupressure, help stimulate circulation in the capillaries of the skin’s soft tissues. The massage also serves to stimulate the secretion of the sebaceous glands and keeps skin moist and smooth. This helps give skin resilience and helps prevent wrinkling. A shiatsu massage will help improve the look and glow of the skin with improved blood circulation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Muscle Pain:

Shiatsu and acupressure massages can help alleviate the symptoms caused by arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the body’s tissue and it attacks the linings of the joints. This disease affects one percent of the world’s population. Shiatsu applied to the hands and feet are most effective when suffering from arthritis. Pressure from the massage can also be applied directly to any area affected by Rheumatoid arthritis. Shiatsu can also be used to improve the overall health of muscles throughout the body. Shiatsu helps limber muscles and gives muscles nutrition by improved circulation. It also helps reduce muscular pain.

Migraine Headaches:

Migraines are usually caused by a rapid widening and narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain or head, causing irritation and pain. Common symptoms of migraine headaches include nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, weakness, numbness and vision problems. Migraines are thought to be cause by changes in weather, stress, hunger, foods containing nitrates and sometimes caffeine. Shiatsu massages helps aid migraines by relaxing the body and increasing blood flow and circulation throughout the body.


Shiatsu massages have been used for thousands of years to aid women during monthly cycles to alleviate symptoms such as menstrual cramps and depression. This kind of massage has also been used for years for also for pregnancy as well. Shiatsu has been known to help women in labor and help babies turn in the womb. It can induce labor in women who are overdue and help ease morning sickness and swelling often caused by pregnancy.

Circulatory and Digestive System:

Shiatsu massages are also found to help aid the circulatory and digestive system. A gently massage helps improve circulation and cellular nutrition throughout the body. A massage also benefits the digestive system allowing food to digest more easily and aids in the elimination of waste products. A shiatsu massage also increases stamina by storing energy reserves and assists in fat metabolism and removal.

Learning basic shiatsu techniques at home is easy with a book or video. It can also reap huge benefits to practice basic techniques at home. When looking for a practitioner experienced with shiatsu, look for one that has at least three years worth of experience. Feeling comfortable with the provider is also important. A session of shiatsu massages generally last from thirty to ninety minutes and can cost anywhere from $30 to $80 for a more experienced practitioner.

Copyright James Calvin