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Pro Baseball Players Benefit From Cupping

Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey, recently started using cupping therapy, an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine.  Mets Relief pitcher, Vic Black, has been a proponent of cupping therapy for more than two years.  “It’s something I can feel immediate relief from,” said Harvey, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

The sudden proliferation of cupping within the Mets and other major-league teams illustrates the lengths to which professional athletes will go to try to stay in top physical shape.

baseball pitcher - the mets

“As an athlete, I want to play as long as possible,” said Matsuzaka, the 33-year-old right-hander who started cupping about two years ago. “In order to do that, I need to find ways to protect my body. I’m always looking for something that might be better.”

The millennia-old art of cupping traditionally involved using a flame to create a vacuum inside a glass bulb, which is then applied to the skin for as long as 15 minutes. Blood is pulled to the area, providing relief of tight, sore muscles.  Some believe that cupping can also help with arthritis, eczema and migraine headaches, among other ailments.  Massage cupping is a gentler form of cupping, using an electrical suction pump to create a consistent vacuum.

Nick Paparesta, the trainer for the Oakland Athletics, said in an interview that virtually the entire A’s roster has undergone

cupping therapy at some point this season. Paparesta called it a “twofold solution” because it can provide both immediate and long-term relief of lower back or oblique tightness, and can be done post-surgery to help reduce scarring.

Yuliya Chernyak, a Manhattan-based licensed acupuncturist who performs cupping therapy on athletes, said the therapy works to relieve muscle stiffness and pain, reduce swelling and even treat illness because it “loosens up the mucous, increases circulation, stimulates lungs and helps to fight the infection.”

When done correctly, cupping isn’t painful, though the patient may feel pressure and residual soreness afterward.

“We pull muscles out and increase circulation,” Chernyak said. “It removes toxins and brings all the stagnant blood and waste from deep within the tissue to the surface so that it will be easily eliminated.”

Several Mets have noticed the results, including decreased soreness after the games.

Not every Met has gotten on board. Injured reliever Bobby Parnell, for one, said he doesn’t expect to try it. But the players who have tried it seem unconcerned about the debate as to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the practice.  “I’ve had it done on myself, and I feel the difference,” Matsuzaka said. “I feel that it loosens up my muscles, and I feel that it’s effective.”

In other words, if the players think cupping works, then cupping works. For the most part, the Mets’ players echoed that sentiment. Though they insist that cupping does have a physical effect, they also recognize the mental aspect. Black, one of the team’s most ardent supporters of the treatment, said, “The placebo effect is a lot more powerful than people realize.”

Said Harvey, “If I went in and did it and just saw a bunch of circles on my back and it didn’t actually feel better after I did it, then I wouldn’t do it.”

Try it for yourself!  I can offer you a five minute demo of massage cupping with any treatment except raindrop.  If you like it, I’ll use it.  If you don’t, I won’t.  Every massage is your time on the table, so please help me tailor it so that you get the treatment you like.  Schedule at

Massage Improves Your Balance

As we age, a whole host of new health issues arise.  Massage helps with many of these concerns, but studies are finding even more benenfits.  Not surprisingly, research supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) showed that frequent massage reduces the pain associated with osteoarthritis.  Other studies have found massage maintains normal blood pressure, relieves sensations of pain, reduces fatigue, and decreases depression and anxiety.

What is surprising is that massage improves your balance which is of increasing concern as the years progress. Research published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork found that adults who receive massage therapy benefit from decreased blood pressure and improved stability.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your self-care between massages, visit

Gardening is Good for You

Getting your hands dirty and letting your cares fall away can be a meditative experience for the gardener, explains Charlie Nardozzi, horticulturist for the National Gardening Association (NGA) in Burlington, Vt.

“It’s a place to get lost in,” he says. “When people go out to garden, it’s often the first time that day they’ve slowed down and relaxed a little bit.”

On a physiological level, this calming effect lowers stress hormones that may ease a variety of conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders and insomnia. “I encourage people to visit their garden everyday, even if they’re not working on it,” Nardozzi says. “When you reconnect with the weather, temperature, butterflies and other animals, you get a better sense of the cycle and rhythm of life.”

Of course, many gardeners also welcome the physical workout. Planting, watering, weeding, raking, digging, spading, tilling and trimming increase flexibility, strengthen joints and work all the major muscle groups. “The key with gardening,” Nardozzi says, “is to vary the type of work you’re doing, for example doing three different activities for 10 minutes each.” As the summer heats up, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can contribute to headaches and muscle cramping.

“I repel insects in my garden without chemicals. In a standard size spray bottle, fill it almost full of water and then add enough Young Living Thieves cleaner to color the water. You will know you put enough Thieves cleaner in the bottle when the insects scatter when you spray your vegetables and such. I grow tomatoes in Florida with no worms, aphids, or grasshoppers. This spray also works on rose bushes and squash plants. Then use it to wipe down your kitchen countertops.” Karen VanSchenck

Happy Fourth of July!

Erma Bombeck says,

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

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Local Authors Read This Thursday

The Academy for Lifelong Learning, sponsored by SUNY Empire State College, presents readings from

The Apple Tree

This Thursday June 26 at 7 pm
Northshire Boookstore, 42 Broadway in Saratoga Springs, NY
For more information, visit

Essential Oils for Men

Essential oils are not just for smelling nice, and they certainly are not just for women.  Their therapeutic powers can help many issues specifically related to men, such as receding hairlines and prostate health.  They can also be used to cover a human scent while hunting and fishing.  Consider how they also help sore muscles, pain, fatigue, and mental strain and you will agree the benefits of essential oils are considerable.  With rich woodsy and mint scents, you may want to wear them daily instead of cologne. Call me today at (518) 421-6160 for your free consultation and find out how they can benefit you or visit to find out more.

Sit Up Straight. Your Mother Was Right.

Sit up straight!  How many times have you heard that?  It’s not just for better appearances or showing a more respectful posture, it’s also better for your health.

Naturally, it helps keep your bones in alignment, decreasing the chance of muscles being overstretched. Proper posture also allows for more room in your torso so digestive organs can function efficiently.  Your lungs are able to freely fill to capacity, bringing in plenty of oxygen which your blood carries to the cells.

So, as advice from this mom, sit up straight, it really is good for you. We’ll work on eating more vegetables on another day.

Nurturing Benefits of Massage

Anne Williams, education program director at Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, says. “Massage increases local circulation, improves the appearance and condition of skin, and tones muscle tissue.” She says massage not only promotes muscular health, but also corrects postural holding patterns. As a result, massage improves posture, which typically enhances our ability to breathe more freely and fully.

Pain can be present in our aging bodies, especially when it has been overused. Yet, it’s never too late to improve. “There is tons of evidence that massage decreases pain,” Williams says, “even if that pain is the symptom of a broader problem.” So, while massage doesn’t treat osteoarthritis, for example, it can decrease the symptoms of osteoarthritis and significantly reduce pain. Williams explains the process: “That passive movement in massage can keep joints more mobile. It stimulates the synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint and nourishes the articular cartilage.”

According to Sharon Puszko, director of Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute, the stimulation and circulation massage provides has direct benefit to the skin. With age and inactivity, circulation slows and skin becomes pale and cold. “Massage has a stimulating cellular function in the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis,” she says. “Touch nurtures, relaxes, and heals, as well as stimulates and activates. This is a special gift of massage for the aging population/client.”

Along with all the other benefits, massage can boost immune function, alleviate life-shortening stress, and create a greater sense of self. “What I like to look at are the proven psychological changes that occur when people receive massage,” Williams says. “One of the reasons massage feels so relaxing is that there is a literal psychological benefit as dopamine and serotonin become balanced in the system.” When massage produces oxytocin in the body, then there is a sense of being nurtured, she says. “In our society, being able to turn over that sense of responsibility, for even five minutes, is incredibly healing.”

Ultimately, Williams says, one of the greatest benefits of any type of bodywork is the ability it gives you to reconnect. “The thing that good massage gives you is it asks you to move your body sometimes in directions you’re not used to moving. You reconnect with the pleasure of movement. That’s what I think is amazing about massage. You reexperience your body. When you’re in your body, you own it in a different way. You care about it in a different way.”

Detox Diet May Relieve Your Symptoms

Detox diets may seem to be the latest trend, yet many of these eating plans actually parallel the natural patterns of the seasons. Traditionally, the end of long, cold winters meant diminishing food supplies, while the warmer weather brought fresh produce.

“Spring represents the best time of year for cleansing the body for many reasons,” says Brenna Hatami, a Denver naturopath. Lighter foods become available, milder weather entices more people outdoors, and your liver is at its most regenerative. All these conditions contribute to supporting a major lifestyle renovation.

“There are certainly many good reasons in our surroundings and routines to do a detoxification diet,” Hatami says. Additives in foods, pollution in the environment, and medications can stress your body.

“When we’re young, our bodies can keep up with many excesses,” says Elson M. Haas, M.D. and author of The Detox Diet. “Health problems often take 10, 20, or 30 years to develop.” So, the physical problems we begin to have in our 40s, 50s, and 60s are from habits we developed 20 or 30 years before. Most people eventually realize they can’t consume unlimited amounts of a highly-refined diet and continue to remain untouched by some medical repercussions.

Advocates of detox diets point to the many conditions cured or relieved by these plans. Conditions Haas treats successfully with detox regimens include allergies, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In addition, he says detox diets can strengthen fragile immune systems.

“People with headaches, premenstrual syndrome, low energy, sinus and nasal congestion, poor digestion, and bad breath often notice improvement with a detox diet,” says Cathy Wong of the alternative medicine guide at the website.

“Joint pain, constipation, and weak hair tend to clear up with detox menus,” Hatami says. Irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux disease, as well as skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, are also relieved.

“People with chronic diseases – for instance, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, and even Type 2 diabetes – will find that a detox diet is the least invasive and the most inexpensive way to correct these maladies,” says Stephen Harrod Buhner, master herbalist, psychotherapist, and author of The Fasting Path.

“We should be able to take a break from the common contaminants ‘SNACCs,'” Haas says. The acronym stands for sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals. Less than five percent of the population does not consume at least one of these substances daily, and he estimates that more than 50 percent of the population has a dependency on two or more. “The mirror side of this imbalance is deficiency. When the main food choices are bread and butter, meat and potatoes, candy and soda, you’re not getting nutrients – just calories. So, we have a plague of obesity and deficiency. It shouldn’t be surprising that our health becomes compromised.”

For the Wall Street Journal’s take on this issue, visit

Humidity Keeps You Healthy in the Winter

Cool weather can make you more vulnerable to viruses. To fight back, pump moisture into the air.  Viruses that cause colds and flu thrive when it’s cool and dry. Low humidity dries out your nasal passages, making it harder to trap and eliminate pathogens. You help moisten your passages by running a humidifier. You can add drops of oregano, eucalyptus, or peppermint oil to your humidifier’s reservoir to keep it clean, reduce germs, and freshen the air.

One way to get humidity in the air and help your body fast, is a steamy 15-minute shower. Put ten drops of essential oils on a washcloth placed on the shower floor. Breathe in deeply.

The best essential oils for winter illness prevention are:

Peppermint: Relieves headaches caused by congestion
Eucalyptus: Decongestant; soothes respiratory problems
Oregano: Proven antibacterial; fights sinus infections