Respiratory and digestive disorders can sometimes be difficult to treat. Other than the symptoms that appear as a result of these disorders, patients often have to deal with stress and fatigue caused by their illness. Many patients dealing with multiple symptoms associated with respiratory and digestive disorders often turn to alternative methods to complement their treatment and seek relief. One of these methods is called tui na, a form of Chinese bodywork that uses massage techniques that are similar to those used with shiatsu.
Tui na (pronounced twee-nah) is a type of manipulative therapy that was developed in ancient China. Translated roughly, ‘tui’ means to press while ‘na’ means to grasp. It involves the use of hands to manipulate and stimulate muscles, joints and acupressure points, in order to treat certain ailments and conditions. It developed from an earlier technique known as anwu or anmo, a form of massage that was also widely used in China.
In traditional Oriental medicine, good health can only be achieved by creating a balanced state in the body. In Eastern philosophy, energy consists of two forces ‚ yin and yang. As long as these forces are balanced, the flow of energy throughout the body is kept smooth and unhindered. As a result, the person maintains good health. Any loss, interruption or blockage of this balance can lead to chronic diseases, illnesses and other ailments caused by stress, such as respiratory and digestive disorders. These health issues can include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, sinus problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. The therapist begins a session by assessing the patient’s specific health issues and then applying specific protocols for treatment. Massages are applied at specific acupressure points, joints and muscles.
To correct problems associated with digestive and respiratory functions, tui na practitioners massage specific points in the body that correspond to the functions of the organs involved for healthier respiratory and digestive systems. Massage techniques often involve pressing, kneading and tapping.
In principle, tui na uses the theory of gate control in neurophysiology. By manipulating certain points in the body, the therapist is able to encourage the proper circulation of blood, along with lymph-vascular fluids. This in turn prevents the blockage of blood, alleviates pain and inflammation and promotes relaxation. The massage also reduces any hyper function of the internal organs and wake up a sluggish system. Because it helps boost the immune system and fight stress and depression, tui na helps prevent digestive problems and respiratory issues.
There have been numerous, yet small studies regarding the use of tui na in treating certain conditions. One of the most recent was presented by the Massachusetts-based Chi Wellness Clinic. They had conducted a study regarding the use of tui na in the management of stress and treatment of pain due to an illness, specifically neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
There is also a study published in 2003 with the American Journal of Chinese Medicine regarding the use of acupressure techniques in improving gastrointestinal motility among postoperative women. The study is small, involving only 41 patients but the study group that received regular acupressure massages in three specific meridian points indicated significant improvement in GI motility. This prompted the researchers to recommend the incorporation of acupressure in clinical and technical curriculum for nursing courses.