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When was the last time you had a great massage? Research is growing providing substantial evidence of the significant health benefits associated with therapeutic massage. Finding the right therapist and getting a great massage can seem like a daunting task at first, but not if you know the truth behind some of the most common massage myths that often lead to a less than stellar massage experience.
Many people, and even some massage therapists, think that in order to get your money’s worth, a massage should be painful. For a certain segment of therapist and clients this works, however, consider the following. Pain is an indication of inflammation and one of massage’s biggest goals is to decrease and alleviate inflammation. How can a massage be effective if it is causing inflammation? Granted, in many cases there are specific painful yet necessary measures that need to be taken in order to increase/restore range of motion or realign certain muscular structures. However, most often this kind of work should be performed by a physical therapist, not a massage therapist. A trained massage therapist will use a variety of techniques to address trouble areas and that process may be momentarily uncomfortable as tension and lactic acid are released, but ideally such discomfort should be minimal and momentary. The goal of massage therapy is to help the muscles repair after extensive use, injury or fatigue and relax the body by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. None of this can be effectively accomplished through pain.
Actually, we hope this one is true, but too often it is not the case. Which is why you should always ask a lot of questions, especially before your first session, but even after you have been working with a therapist for awhile. A well-trained therapist will welcome your questions with enthusiasm. A defensive response is a good sign that the therapist is not as comfortable as they should be explaining a protocol or why a particular muscle is acting the way it is. A client should never allow a therapist to perform a maneuver that has not been explained thoroughly and if a therapist cannot back up their advice with sources, then the client should be sure to research on their own any claims made. As a client you should not feel embarrassed to ask questions. Many times people can feel awkward and avoid this situation, as they do not want to seem like they are challenging the expertise of the therapist. Again, a well-trained and fully qualified therapist will be more than happy to share with you their knowledge and reasoning behind any modality, maneuver, or advice they offer because they take great pride in educating themselves as well as their clients.
This is perhaps the greatest myth I have encountered as a licensed massage therapist. A deep tissue massage is about addressing muscle tissue deep within the skeletal system as apposed to applying a lot of pressure. Depth has more to do with precision and intention than it does about strength or force. The deepest work I have ever received was by practitioners with smaller, more nimble and flexible digits. Not to mention that there are a variety of other anatomical tools that a therapist can use in order to work out the tension in lower layers of tissue. Never choose a therapist based on gender alone. There are several far more important qualifications to consider other than whether the therapist is male or female such as training, experience, philosophy and personality. If you enjoy deep work, be sure to ask for a therapist who specializes in and truly understands deep tissue massage. And do not be surprised when you are referred to a female.
This could not be further from the truth. I have received massages at expensive spas as well as free massages from students in clinic. There were great and horrible massages in both categories. It is not as much about the price of the massage as it is about the therapist. There are a lot of great therapists working at inexpensive massage mill institutions and unfortunately there are a lot of massage therapist located at high-end establishments that have lost their passion, been working too long or simply faked their way through the system. Just because you pay a whole lot of money doesn’t mean your money is buying expertise, talent and dedication. In fact, the inflated price you are paying is more likely going towards the rental, decoration and maintenance of the venue rather than the quality of therapist. In the same respect, If a massage is too cheap, then expect what you are paying for. Likely you will receive a therapist who is overworked and under paid and that will be evident in the bodywork. Remember to do your research, ask questions and then follow your instincts.
Therapeutic massage has been around for centuries and has been enjoyed by people of all walks of life and socio-economic levels. Touch is an important element of the human experience and is essential to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. More specifically, therapeutic massage has been proven to decrease cortisol levels, increase dopamine levels as well as prevent and rehabilitate injury. For these reasons, massage is necessary. It certainly can be luxurious when enjoyed at a spa with decadent perks like terry cloth robes and cucumber water, but it can be just as effective and enjoyable when experience in the comfort of your own home or a small inexpensive private studio. Either way, it is important to experience massage on some level at least a three to four times a year if not more. My personal recommendation is every 4 to 6 weeks unless there is a specific condition that calls for more frequent bodywork.
There are as many styles of massage as there are types of therapists who perform massage and places to receive massage. The most important thing to remember is that research is key. An informed client is essential for the best possible experience. Many people are turned off by their first massage experience for one reason or another and never come back to it. Finding a therapist client match is a process and requires due diligence on the part of the client to not only know what they need and know what they like but also to know where to find it. The good news is, with a little bit of research and patience; you can find a therapist who will help to alter your relationship with your body. Massage can and should be an incredible experience that you enjoy often and not feel at all guilty about!
Wishing you Health and Happiness!
This information is provided by Scott Sherven, LMT and your friends here at Aloe Wellness. Have questions? We invite you to call 202.966.ALOE (2563) to schedule a complementary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Mehta, Dr. Nguyen or Dr. Keats today.
Hormone imbalances can occur at any age and in both men or women. Common symptoms include hot flashes, fatigue, hair loss, decreased libido, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, insomnia, irritability and depression. A common link to all of these symptoms is often stress. Work deadlines, financial hardships, family arguments or commuting during rush hour are everyday sources of stress. Although the stressors themselves don’t make people ill, the body’s responses to them may, and this differs for each individual.
This information is provided by Dr. Arti Mehta and your friends here at Aloe Wellness. Have questions? We invite you to call 202.966.ALOE (2563) to schedule a complementary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Mehta, Dr. Nguyen or Dr. Keats today.
The topic is titled Cancer Prevention.
The location is Rockville Town Square.
Washington, DC is a very career oriented city. Meeting anyone in DC starts off smoothly with a “Hi” and then inevitably, the following two questions will be asked:
1 – What do you do?
2 – Where do you live?
Compared to today, practicing naturopathic medicine in Washington, DC ten years ago was not the easiest road to take. Easy answers to those questions would be a lawyer or executive director of a non-profit organization.
My answer to the first question was commonly met with, “A Naturo-WHAT? You mean, like a Homeopath?” Or worse, “A Voodoo doctor?”
In which case, I would take the opportunity to share my journey and passion in becoming a Naturopathic Doctor — Doctor of Natural Medicine. Words like “holistic” and “alternative medicine” had to be used in order for the idea to catch any interest. I would happily explain that, yes, I did go through a post-graduate medical school program, took board exams and became a licensed physician. The big difference was that the tools in my toolbox are non-toxic, safe, and effective. And oh yes, I focus on treating the underlying cause of a disease.
Inevitably, by the end of the conversation my newfound friend would want me to help optimize the health of their mother, next-door neighbor, and partner who snored incessantly.
Nowadays, with detox diets and kale chips becoming mainstream, the idea of naturopathic medicine is not so foreign. Focusing on the intention of wellness and prevention is catching speed. In fact, on September 19, 2014, Congress passed a resolution recognizing the second week of October as Naturopathic Medicine Week.
Naturopathic Medicine Week is happening NOW! What does this mean?
This week is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the benefits of naturopathic medicine with those you know and love. Share your health success stories with your friends, co-workers and neighbors.
Tonight, the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians (DCANP) is taking the opportunity to celebrate Naturopathic Medicine Week with the DC community through a screening of More Than Honey at West End Cinema. The documentary highlights the connection between nature, the environment, our food chain, and importance of a small but impactful creature: the bee.
Because after all, last time I checked we are not on this planet alone. We are indeed a global, holistic community. Our one action sets a rippling effect in a pond of energy that is connected to others.
I send off to those who are reading a wish for great health to be realized through the power of Naturopathic Medicine!
This information is provided by Dr. Rhodo Nguyen and your friends here at Aloe Wellness. Dr. Nguyen specializes in Naturopathic & Homeopathic Medicine as well as Craniosacral Therapy and Colon Hydrotherapy. Have questions? We invite you to call 202.966.ALOE (2563) to schedule a complementary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Nguyen today.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP – Between 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended for most people to operate best. This helps with energy during the day and optimal health as well. Sleep deprivation creates more hunger inducing hormone ghrelin and less appetite suppressing hormone leptin. This causes an inability to process glucose, more insulin resistance, a spike in afternoon cortisol levels causing increased heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose.
EAT BREAKFAST - Ideally one hour upon rising. Complex carbohydrate, some protein and some fat. Breakfast fires up our metabolism for the whole day! Eating breakfast may reduce your hunger later in the day, which may make it easier to avoid overeating. When you skip breakfast, you may feel ravenous later and be tempted to reach for a quick fix — such as vending machine candy or doughnuts at the office. In addition, the prolonged fasting that occurs when you skip breakfast can increase your body’s insulin response, which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain. In fact, skipping breakfast actually increases your risk of obesity. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply your muscles with immediate energy.
GET THE RIGHT MIX OF NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS - Consume healthy carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats with every meal and snack. An example for breakfast might be, cooked whole grains (complex carb), topped with walnuts (protein and healthy fats). For your mid morning snack, an apple (complex carb) with peanut butter (protein and healthy fat), at lunch a salad (complex carb) topped with chicken (protein) topped with a good quality olive oil (healthy fat). Getting the idea? Less processed foods. Less chemicals, additives, preservative to tax you system. Our bodies operate best on natural foods. Eat more balancing foods, less extreme foods. Raise the overall quality of the food going into your body.
KEEP YOURSELF FUELED, LITTLE MEALS GET BIG RESULTS - Don’t skip meals. Don’t go more than 3-4 hours between meals or snacks; blood sugar levels will drop too low and so will your energy. Eating large meals dumps huge amounts of fuel into your system all at once with the excess stored as fat whereas frequent smaller meals deliver manageable amounts of energy over the course of the day.
SLOW DOWN BREATHE & CHEW YOUR FOOD WELL – This creates ideal digestion and assimilation of food. It will also help get more oxygen into your blood for more energy. Prior to your meals or snacks, stop whatever you are doing and focus on your food prior to eating. Then take 3-5 deep belly breaths just prior to eating that will slow you down and create optimal metabolic and digestive efficiency.
This information is provided by Cheryl Mirabella, M.A., NHC and your friends here at Aloe Wellness. Cheryl is our resident nutritionist and lifestyle coach and is available every Monday from Noon to 5pm or by appointment during the rest of the week. Have questions? We invite you to call 202.966.ALOE (2563) to schedule a complementary 15 minute consultation with Cheryl, Dr. Keats, Dr. Nguyen or Dr. Mehta today!
This has been evidenced particularly when sleep is achieved between 10pm and 6am.
With the hustle and bustle of modern day American life most of us only sleep an average of
6 hours or less each night. Research studies have shown that consistently staying up until
midnight doubles the risk of several cancer types, particularly breast, prostate and colon cancers.
Inadequate sleep also increases the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Why is sleep so important? One major reason is because of our super sleep hormone, melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland of the brain, particularly at night. It helps
to regulate our sleep-wake cycles and is inhibited by light and stimulated by darkness. As
melatonin levels begin to rise at night we begin to feel sleepy and once we fall asleep, the levels
increase significantly. However, in order to ensure optimal secretion it is important to sleep for
at least 8 hours each night and establish a dark place of rest. Lighting from lamps, street lights,
computers, and television can potentially reduce the amount of melatonin released from the
Research studies have shown the following benefits from melatonin:
• Inhibition of cancer development and growth
• Enhancement of immune function
• Antioxidant effects that protect our cells from DNA damage
The tips below can help to promote adequate hours of sleep as well as improved sleep quality:
• Stick with the same bedtime and wake time each day. This helps to regulate the sleep-wake
• Avoid napping during the day. This can cause difficulty with falling asleep at night.
• Restrict stimulants such as caffeine.
• Exercise regularly to promote good quality sleep, preferably in the morning or early afternoon.
• Ensure that your bedroom is free of noise and light and that a comfortable temperature is
maintained. Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom, i.e. laptops, cell phones, etc. Consider
wearing an eye mask to ensure darkness.
• Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine, i.e. read a book, take a warm bath, listen to soothing
• Eat protein at dinner in order to balance blood sugar levels. Poor or disturbed sleep can result
from a drop in blood sugar
Obtaining adequate sleep is an important addition to maintaining optimal health. Proper length and
quality of sleep are equally important. Be sure to implement the suggestions above and communicate
with your naturopathic physician for further guidance in improving sleep cycles.
This information is provided by Dr. Aminah Keats and your friends here at Aloe Wellness. Dr. Keats is the newest member of our practice and specializes in cancer support.
Have questions? We invite you to call 202.966.ALOE (2563) to schedule a complementary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Keats, Dr. Nguyen or Dr. Mehta today.
Celebrate Naturopathic Medicine Week with this Special Movie Screening!
CLICK HERE for more information!
More than Honey
West End Cinema
2301 M St NW
Washington, DC 20037
October 9, 2014 at 7pm
Tickets can be purchased at
CLICK HERE for more information!
Click Here for Special Aloe Wellness Updates!
“Stress Less” Program Click here for more info!
This year’s flu season has hit early and hard. Turn on the TV or radio, and it’s likely you’ll be scared from going outside. Hiding can be an option if you work from home, but for the rest of us, the best we can do is to be ahead of the game by putting a little energy and focus into strengthening our immune system.
We’ve put together a list of ten easy things you can do (which might bring back old memories of your mother – and sometimes moms do know best).
In the unfortunate event that you do fall ill to the flu, keep in mind that a visit to the doctors at Aloe Wellness will help you feel better sooner.
- Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Mehta
Summer time is easy…or is it? Yes, many of us are on vacation, and visions of long days sipping lemonade on the porch while the kids chase fireflies in the yard sound nice. However, summer can be a time of health challenges as well.
Travel stress, dehydration, sunburn, insect bites, allergies, and insomnia all increase during the hot weather months. As the temperature and humidity climb, our desire to exercise often plummets and spending time outside in the heat can be draining. Who really wants to go for a run when the air feels like a wet sponge and it’s hard to breathe?
When you add high humidity to high air temperatures, heat indices climb, making it feel much hotter than it really is, since perspiration doesn’t evaporate as readily in humid, hot air. Hydration is key. That means drinking water, and plenty of it. A good rule of thumb is to divide the body weight in half and that is how many ounces the typical person should drink daily (obviously, if it is hot outside and you are sweating a lot, you will need more). So if a 150 pound woman wants to calculate her water intake needs, she would require 75 ounces of water per day at a minimum (that’s about 9 cups, or a little more than half a gallon of water per day). Keep in mind more water is needed if you are more active, or spend more time outdoors where you sweat more. Excess sugar intake and coffee consumption also further contribute to dehydration.
Adding lemon, cucumber, mint, or other cooling flavors to water makes it more enjoyable to drink. We typically recommend drinking cool water, not iced (unless it is so hot outside that ice is too good to pass up).
If you hydrate well, the rest of the summer doldrums are more manageable. Sunburn is a particular worry during the summer, and nothing can ruin a vacation faster than a nasty burn from too much UV exposure. Sunburn is a sign of inflammation. Eating foods that have natural anti-inflammatories will help prevent sunburn. These foods contain carotenoids such as lycopene (tomatoes, watermelons) and beta-carotene (carrots) and consuming them during high sun-exposure months is effective and protecting the skin from UV damage. Obviously, staying out of the sun or using a good SPF is crucial, but fruits and veggies are a natural and internal aid to protect us from sun damage.
Summer should be a fun season, with plenty of leisure time for most people. Making sure you drink plenty of water and protecting yourself from sun damage are important strategies to enjoying the summer and staying well.
–John Moore, LAc