Tuina Massage Technique Found Helpful for Depression

By Chad Dupuis
Tagged in Bodywork and Research

As anyone who has been to my clinic or my teachers or other colleagues clinics around the world they will know we do a fair amount of deep tuina (Chinese Medical Massage).  While some people absolutely love the techniques, others only put up with it since it seems to help them.  We use it because it is a crucial part of our overall healing system.  It is hard to explain all the details of why, but the following study by researchers from Nanjing University in China helps to illustrate one aspect of why we perform these techniques.

Researchers used rats to study the effects of the pinching spine technique (a tuina massage technique) on the alleviation of depression symptoms.  In this study rats were "given" depression by the chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) techniques and then the tuina pinching spine technique was performed daily for one week.  During the study the rats had their body weight taken and their sucrose intake measured and at the end of the study a genome-wide microarray analysis of their hippocampus was undertaken.

They found that the spine pinching techniques improved behavioral activity and sucrose consumption (which were raised due to being put into stress responses).  They also found down-regulation of several genes related to energy metabolism, anti-oxidation, and olfactory receptor.  Several genes related to hemostasis, immunity-inflammation, and restriction of activities and ingestion were up regulated.  They concluded that the pinching spine techniques showed a "potential antidepressant like effect" most likely related to chemical changes in the hippocampus.  

To understand more about the role of the hippocampus in depression, this study is illuminating.

Tuina Massage Technique Found Helpful for Depression

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Authored by: Chad Dupuis on 26 March 2012

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