Archive for September, 2014

Chi Nei Tsang –Why it is so beneficial for stress and anxiety

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Chi Nei Tsang works specifically on the abdomen using techniques derived from Chinese massage techniques and theory. The theory around this technique focuses largely on the detoxification of toxic energies or ‘winds’, by massaging the abdomen with specific techniques. But what does this mean and how does it help us? While this is a hard definition to understand, we certainly see wonderful benefits in people receiving this treatment. So how can we understand this in physiological terms?

What a large number of our clients find when receiving this treatment is generally two main effects; in the short term, relaxation and stress relief, and in the longer term, greatly improved digestive function. A lot of our clients also experience greater body awareness, such as better and more aware breathing patterns, and better understanding how certain foods and stresses impact their digestive function. These are invaluable tools on the path to self care. This is our ultimate goal – to help others find the tools they need to take charge of their own health. That’s why we love Chi Nei Tsang!

As a practitioner of this technique I have been searching for the ‘why’ of this – these benefits, what is actually happening in the body when they occur? Why is this seemingly simple technique so beneficial? Through further reading and clinical practice, this is what I come to understand:

Chi Nei Tsang is working on the enteric nervous system, or the so-called ‘second brain’ or ‘gut brain’. This system is becoming increasingly recognised as closely linked to the actual brain, and that the two systems interact and influence each other. It’s also working on the diaphragm, reducing tension in this important muscle.

The Second Brain

While the enteric nervous system cannot think or process the way our actual brain can, it is responsible for a large portion of our neurotransmitter production, including about 95% of the body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is involved in the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning, and is generally considered our ‘feel good’ hormone. Many anti-depressant or anti-anxiety hormones work by sparing the amount of serotonin that is broken down by the body. The main two factors that affect the production of neurotransmitters in the gut are stress and nutrition. Simply put, if we eat poorly and don’t relax, both our gut and our brain suffer. With Nutritional guidance and Chi Nei Tsang, we can change our brain chemistry for the better.  

The diaphragm and breathing

The diaphragm is a key muscle for the function of breathing, and needs to be used properly for deep breathing to occur. When the diaphragm is tense or not used effectively, shallow chest breathing results. This is an issue for us because our breathing pattern predisposes us to either relaxation or to the stress response, depending on how it is that we breathe and how we use the diaphragm.

Deep, abdominal diaphragmatic breathing puts the nervous system in parasympathetic mode, which could be called our ‘tend and befriend’ mode – where the body is calms, regulates its functions better and heals better. When we breathe in the chest and use the diaphragm poorly, we increase the sympathetic response, the stress response. Chest breathing predisposes us towards anxiety and stress. For susceptible people, proper breathing can make a huge difference to quality of life in terms of managing anxiety and stress. Chi Nei Tsang helps to release tension in the diaphragm and in the process of the treatment we teach proper breathing patterns.  It is however not easy to breathe deeply when the digestive system is in distress. This is why Chi Nei Tsang helps so much – by working on both the diaphragm and on releasing tension from the digestive system, we optimise breathing and calm the ‘second brain’.

When treating our clients with Chi Nei Tsang, we learn a lot about how the body manifests and unravels the effects of stress and improper breathing. We’ve seen severe menstrual pain disappear, and chronic back pain resolve. Of course, digestive issues improve significantly with this treatment, as well as anxiety, energy levels and overall sense of wellbeing.

For further questions or to book an appointment, please contact us!

 New Leaf Natural Therapies

3348 6098