Gill Stannard

Monday, July 16, 2007

realm of the senses - touch

Most of us know about the benefits of touch. A hand being held, a full body massage, a hug after a hard day or an intimate encounter will usually give us an increased sense in wellbeing. On a deeper level, it tells us that we are accepted, lovable and safe.

Actual “evidence based medicine” affirming the therapeutic benefits of touch or more formally, massage are mixed. This is largely due to having sufficient numbers of studies meeting the criteria for meta-analysis (such as the number of participants and studies being ‘double blinded’ – it is very difficult to have a touch placebo).

To date scientific studies do tend to acknowledge the benefits of massage, which is the most ‘medical’ form of touch and most suited for this kind of analysis. Paul Ingraham sites studies showing massage benefits hypertension, post-operative recovery and even help patients with insomnia in stressful hospital environments.

Further studies suggest that massage may decrease pain and anxiety in cancer patients, decrease anxiety and boost the immune system in students who were massaged just before stressful exam and even increase alertness, while decreasing stress in office workers.

Some people don’t like to be touched. Often this is due to psychological or neurological disorders. In an otherwise healthy person who is episodically finding touch unpleasant it is possible that nutritional disorders can uncomfortably heighten your sensitivity to touch. Both a deficiency in vitamin B6 and an overdose of the same vitamin can give you a temporary loss of sensation or cause numbness, tingling or general nerve irritability. A Vitamin A deficiency is also known to disorder our senses.

It has been noted that people with Attention Deficiency Disorders are likely to be over sensitive to touch most likely this is due to how the brain processes this sense.

Winter dry skin

The commonest cause of dry skin in the cool months is more to do with what is going on inside, rather than out. As the thermometer drops, most people crank up the heating, which tends to be dry, hot air – not like the humidity in a tropical climate.

What can you do?

If possible, drop the heating down a degree or 2. At home 19c is plenty warm enough.

If it is practical to do so, place bowls of water near heating ducts or fixed heaters. A drop or 2 of essential oil is nice too, if there are not pets or small children who are likely to drink the water.

Moisturise – expensive is not always best. Use some testers to do some road testing to find what suits your skin best.

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