Massage and Digestive Disorders

I reiterate that many digestive disorders are functional in origin (meaning the absence of inflammation, cancer, peptic ulcer or other tissue diseases). Massage therapists recognize issues such as the mind-body, body-mind phenomena and imbalance of the autonomic nervous system that is aggravated by stress. In the presence of stress, digestive functions become a secondary priority for the body. Perhaps the colon is taught to be “spastic” by the brain that is the seat of constant stress.

The absolute priority for a colon hydrotherapist is to make sure that serious digestive complaints are absent. In cases of all doubt, medical referral for appropriate investigation is mandatory. Massage can “dislodge” tissues and organs and it often has a profound effect on blood circulation. If any pattern of digestive symptoms persists for a week or two, medical advice is required. While “rules” vary somewhat, it is considered improper (actually illegal) for a colon hydrotherapist to “diagnose and treat” a patient’s disease. There is precedent to support this statement. In one instance, a visit from representatives of a State Licensing Board was made to an experienced and highly accomplished colon hydrotherapist, with a view to defining that the individual was not engaged in “diagnosis and treatment” recommendations.
Symptoms of serious digestive disorders can be sometimes the same as “benign” upsets. This means that digestive diseases are often not able to be defined without medical diagnostic tests. If a procedure, such as colon hydrotherapy or massage therapy is undertaken in a manner that results in delayed diagnosis or complications of undiagnosed disease (or unexplained symptoms), there is serious liability. I have stated that awareness of common digestive disease is mandatory for the practice of colon hydrotherapy.

Any beneficial outcome of massage therapy or “colonics” could mask underlying disease. Even short-term symptoms and signs cannot always be distinguished from serious illness in some circumstances.

At this juncture, a strong warning should be issued about delays in cancer diagnosis. It is known that early detection of colon cancer improves outcome. A reasonable rule is that anyone over the age of forty years who has a significant change of bowel habit should be tested for the presence of colon cancer. There are many conditions that can present with digestive symptoms as a result conditions that are in separate or adjacent organs (e.g. uterine, fibroids, cancer (especially pelvic cancers) and endometriosis…to name a few).

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