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Tuina Massage and Multiple Schlerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. It has many symptoms which might include fatigue, vision problems and difficulties with walking, but MS is different for everyone. In the central nervous system a substance called myelin protects the nerve fibres. In MS, the immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibres, either partially or completely, leaving scars which are called lesions or plaque.

Tuina is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which says that mind, body and spirit should be in a “small balanced universe”. Once this is broken – whether because of a distressing experience, negative emotions and behaviour or poor diet or climate - people start to suffer from disease. TCM aims to make changes to lifestyle, thoughts and behaviour and also involves energy bodywork like Tuina Massage.

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, human beings are qi (pronounced "chee")* being energy which flows around the body affecting our emotions and intelligence, blood and body fluids, muscles and bones. The primary characteristic of qi is that it should always be moving and circulating without stopping or slowing.

Each organ has its own meridian in the body along which the energy moves like a network. If there is a blockage along a particular meridian then the organ will weaken and sickness will result. Therefore, broken or stagnated qi is a pathogenic factor which affects the balance of' body, spirit and mind. MS can be described as one of the severest diseases caused by disturbed qi.

How Does Tuina Work?

The aim of Tuina is to prevent and treat disease by applying therapeutic manipulation to certain parts of the body in order to regulate physiology and resolve pathological conditions. However, Tuina practitioners will work at the spiritual level of a patient before they begin to address the physical level.

Tuina practitioners focus on those acupressure points collectively known as the 'Window of the Sky' points, drawn from the oldest ancient Chinese medicine book' Ling Shu'. Only a very few top Chinese medicine masters use these particular technical points when they treat certain diseases such as MS, Parkinson's and brain tumours.

The aim of stimulating these points is to improve the flow of energy between the head and the rest of the body and ensure that the brain is properly nourished since, when it isn’t, body functions suffer. Characteristically, Tuina works on the upper cervical area down through the spine so messages to and from the brain reach their desired destinations.

The damage that MS patients suffer to their nervous system and brain cells affects their minds, emotions, and their movement. MS patients typically experience depression and anxiety together with low energy and fatigue. Tuina helps MS patients to feel more energetic and positive during and after the treatment which is how many have described their condition later during feedback response.

Unlike Western medicine, which explains MS by viral, genetic, auto-immune, environmental and other complex factors, TCM practitioners believe that human experience is the cause.

The trigger for MS may be an episode of feverish - usually infectious - illness. The weakening of and loss of control over the muscles may come about because the critical energizing, regulating function of the internal organs have become disturbed, perhaps because of a disturbing or distressing experience of the type which has "scattered one's soul from its resting place".

The illness consumes vital fluids that are essential to nourishing the body whilst providing a relaxing medium for the spirit. Without spiritual relaxation, there is ongoing agitation, and destruction of bodily harmony.

TCM practitioners always consider emotion to be a very important pathogenic factor affecting health. There is a very strong relationship between specific emotions and disturbances to particular organs. For example, there is a link between fear and the kidney, grief and the lung. When a negative emotional state is prolonged or intense, other organs also suffer.

Demyelination - a loss of fatty substance surrounding the nerve fibres and the eventual schlerosis roughly corresponds to the description by Chinese doctors of the loss of a vital fluid essence. The autoimmune process whose antibodies that attack the body instead of attacking a pathological organism, corresponds roughly to the Oriental description of dysfunction and disharmony of the internal organs.

The majority of MS patients often have three main pathogenic factors in common: liver blood deficiency, kidney chi deficiency and spleen qi deficiency. According to TCM, MS symptoms such as visual disturbances, dizziness, muscle twitches and pain are often due to liver blood deficiency. Memory loss, insomnia, lower back pain, incontinence and erectile dysfunction are believed to be caused by kidney qi and essence deficiency. Muscle weakness and atrophy, fatigue, indigestion, lack of mental clarity and bruising easily are thought to indicate spleen qi deficiency.

* Yin and Yang and the Nature of Qi.

The nature of qi is categorised as Yin and Yang. Yin qualities include cold, stillness and physiologic processes involved in nutritional support, while Yang qualities include heat, moving and physiologic processes involved in function. In the normal state of health, Yin and Yang are in balance with each other

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