Alternative medicine massage describes health products, practices, and approaches that are not part of conventional medicine. The list of once alternative medicine healing practices accepted by conventional medicine changes often, as new therapies and treatments are found to be effective. This makes alternative medicine massage an expanding, changing field of health care, as well as a booming business.
During the past decade, the American public's interest in alternative medicine massage has skyrocketed. The evidence for this trend is everywhere -- in the media, in the growing number of popular books on "wellness" and "alternative medicine massage" and nontraditional therapies for illness, and in booming sales of supplements and herbs.
Massage is believed to positively affect everything from circulation to
the body's metabolism. Swedish alternative medicine massage in particular
has been shown to relieve muscle pain, reduce stress, and improve immune
function. It can also enhance respiratory function; reduce edema (swelling)
due to blocked lymphatic vessels, and aid in the healing of soft-tissue
A vast array of approaches falls under the heading of complementary medicine. Some, such as acupuncture and Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India), are ancient traditions used by millions of people over thousands of years. Most cultures have also developed herbal traditions based upon the local medicinal plants. Other approaches, such as macrobiotics or Anthroposophy are branches of wider philosophical systems applied to alternative medicine. Chiropractic and homeopathy are examples of systems that arose alongside orthodox medicine -- which view disease processes much differently than mainstream medicine. Mind-body therapies (e.g., stress reduction techniques, biofeedback, and meditation) comprise a large class of approaches that owe a great deal to the spiritual traditions of the East.
These alternative medicine techniques, which are not founded in traditional Chinese medicine, are intended to affect the energy field that is believed to surround and infuse the human body. This is accomplished either by applying pressure and/or manipulation to the physical body, or by the passage or placement of the hands in or through the energy field likely known as a form of alternative medicine massage. Examples of other alternative medicine including energy methods are polarity therapy, therapeutic touch, and Reiki.