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According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Consumer Survey, 67 percent of people surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was 41% medical or 26% stress related.

A growing body of research supports the health benefits of massage therapy for conditions such as stress, fibromyalgia, low-back pain and more.

25 Reasons to Get a Massage

  1. Relieve stress
  2. Relieve postoperative pain
  3. Reduce anxiety
  4. Manage low-back pain
  5. Help fibromyalgia pain
  6. Reduce muscle tension
  7. Enhance exercise performance
  8. Relieve tension headaches
  9. Sleep better
  10. Ease symptoms of depression
  11. Improve cardiovascular health
  12. Reduce pain of osteoarthritis
  13. Decrease stress in cancer patients
  14. Improve balance in older adults
  15. Decrease rheumatoid arthritis pain
  16. Temper effects of dementia
  17. Promote relaxation
  18. Lower blood pressure
  19. Decrease symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  20. Help chronic neck pain
  21. Lower joint replacement pain
  22. Increase range of motion
  23. Decrease migraine frequency
  24. Improve quality of life in hospice care
  25. Reduce chemotherapy-related nausea

Stress is prevalent in today’s fast-paced world which can negatively impact your life. Stress can be reduced significantly on physical and psychological levels with a massage. While massage therapists know from experience that massage reduces stress, there is considerable research that validates this.

In a study on the effect of trigger point therapy, there was a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure. Measures of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels were all lower after a 10 to 15 minute chair massage in controlled studies. Changes in psychological states have been measured by physiological responses, the Perceived Stress Scale, the POMS Depression Scale, and the Anxiety State Scale.

Postoperative pain medications can have side effects.  Research indicates that massage can decrease postoperative pain, decrease postoperative pain intensity, decrease postoperative pain unpleasantness/distress, decrease sympathetic responses to postoperative pain, accelerate the rate of decline in the intensity of postoperative pain, accelerate the rate of decline of the unpleasantness of postoperative pain, decrease doses of analgesics and increase levels of calmness/feelings of well-being.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.  Anxiety and its disorders shape the quality of life and the health of those  individuals affected.

  • Reduce anxiety –
    • in psychiatric patients
    • in those with chronic pain
    • for cancer patients
    • for patients undergoing bone marrow transplants
    • in children with illnesses
    • in nurses 
    • associated with lower back pain
    • in those with headaches
    • in patients awaiting invasive cardiovascular procedures
    • in healthy adults
    • in patients with generalized anxiety disorder
    • in patients under local anesthesia
    • in stroke patients
    • in the elderly
    • in children and adolescent psychiatric patients
    • in those at the end of life
    • in adults with hand pain
    • in patients with fibromyalgia
    • in patients withdrawing from psychoactive drugs
    • in burned patients
    • in patients with congestive heart failure
    • in women in labor
  • Increase a sense of calm/reduce anxiety after surgery
  • Reduce anxiety pre-surgery
  • Reduce trait anxiety with a course of treatment providing benefits similar to psychotherapy
  • Reduce the psychological and physiological anxiety levels in patients having cataract surgery
  • Increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety
  • Decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety

There are different types of massage. Swedish (relaxation, stroking) massage can be better therapy for anxiety, deep tissue (more pressure) massage can be better for pain or fatigue, and Thai (stretching) massage can be better for stiffness.

Robert Kern, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Psychology at Yale University, believes that the opioid crisis could have been prevented if massage, exercise, yoga, progressive relaxation, and other forms of drug therapy were used for treatment of pain. Opioid drugs can be beneficial for short term pain relief but have not proven beneficial for chronic pain. Common side effects of opioids include constipation, nausea, and excessive sleepiness.

Massage can be of benefit for pain without side effects.

Helene Langevin, MD, the Director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, has studied the cause and treatment of inflamed fascia – the connective tissue surrounding organs – for people experiencing chronic pain. Fascia can be infiltrated with nerves that contribute to the sensation of pain. Dr. Langevin has studied lower back pain where there is often additional connective tissue. She believes that stretching this tissue with massage or yoga, may reduce the inflammation.

Dr. Langevin believes a similar kind of inflammation is seen in repetitive-strain injury. A combination of massage and trigger-point therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome (a repetitive-strain injury of the wrist).

People with repetitive-strain injuries usually seek help after developing symptoms, but massage therapy to the affected tissues may prevent repetitive strain injury before it happens.

Jeanne Massingill, LMT and owner of the Oaks Medical Massage Clinic has used massage therapy to treat breast caner survivors. Massage has been shown to relieve pain, anxiety, and improve the over-all well-being of women whose breast has been removed due to cancer. She works on manual therapy to reduce fascial tightness and improve blood circulation. Stiffness of the fascia has been associated with cancer growth.

Up to 60% of breast cancer surgery survivors experience chronic pain. Massingill conducted a clinical trail of myofascial massage on patients complaining of chronic pain following breast cancer surgery. Compared to Swedish massage or light touch, patients receiving myofascial massage had less pain, better mobility, and improved general health.

Til Luchau is the lead instructor and Director of Advanced Tainings in Lafayette, Colorado. He works to relieve cervicogenic headaches, those resulting from neck pain, with massage therapy and neck exercises. An estimated 15-20% of headaches are cervicogenic and women have these kind of headaches more frequently than men. Luchau reports that manual therapy on trigger points of the muscles running from the back of the skull to the center of the chest is helpful.

Julie Goodwin, LMT, and instructor at the Massage Therapy Program of Pima Community College in Tucson, specializes in massage therapy for patients with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, which often leads to sleep difficulties and general fatigue. She believes females might be three times more likely to the this condition than males. All massage techniques showed improvement for her patients.

Judy Stahl, MA and founder of Prescott Center for Massage Therapy in Prescott, Arizona uses a massage known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). Lymph is a watery fluid containing waste products that flows through the body tissues to lymph nodes, to the heart. It is independent of the blood circulatory system. Lymph is weakly propelled by muscle contraction, so it moves much more slowly than blood. Lymph nodes break down debris in the lymph before the lymph is returned to the circulatory system. The brain has an independent lymphatic system known as the lymphatic system. This system is most active during sleep.

MLD massage is used to compensate for insufficient fluid flow in the lymphatic system. Orthopedic injuries often result in impaired lymph flow. MLD improves healing. It is beneficial prior to surgery for varicose veins and to reduce cellulite. Breast cancer surgery often removes lymph nodes and damages the lymphatic system. For the 49% of women who experience lymphatic swelling after breast removal, MLD has been shown to reduce swelling.

Triathlon athletes who receive massage therapy after a competition report better recovery from pain and fatigue.  Massage can relieve travel fatigue.

Massage is not a self-indulgence. It is valuable for many conditions.

Mustard Greens

The mustard plant is most well known for its tiny, yellowish seeds that produce one of the most popular condiments on Earth, mustard. But for centuries, a range of cultures have used the plant’s green leaves for food and health purposes,

  • antiseptic and disinfectant to heal wounds
  • diuretic to support kidney function
  • detoxifying agent to purify and strengthen the blood
  • treatment for cough and sore throats

Recent research shows that mustard greens have got more vitamin A than spinach and more vitamin C than oranges.

Mustard greens are peppery-tasting greens that come from the mustard plant (Brassica junceaL.) Also known as brown mustard, vegetable mustard, Indian mustard, and Chinese mustard, mustard greens are members of the Brassica genus of vegetables. This genus also includes kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower.

There are several varieties, which are usually green and have a strong bitter, spicy flavor.

One cup of chopped raw mustard greens provides:

  • Calories: 15
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: less than 1 gram
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Vitamin A: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 6% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 44% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 8% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 120% of the DV
  • Copper: 10% of the DV

Additionally, mustard greens contain 4-5% of the DV for calcium, iron, potassium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, and thiamine (vitamin B1), as well as small amounts of zinc, selenium, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3), and folate.

Compared with raw mustard greens, one cup of cooked mustard greens has much higher levels of vitamin A (96% of the DV), vitamin K (690% of the DV), and copper (22.7% of the DV).

Pickled mustard greens, often referred to as takana in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, are similar in calories, carbs, and fiber as raw mustard greens.

Antioxidants vary between the different varieties of mustard greens, but these leafy greens in general are a rich source of antioxidants like flavonoids, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins C and E.

Red varieties are rich in anthocyanins, which are red-purple pigments found in fruits and vegetables that have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Both raw and cooked mustard greens are a phenomenal source of vitamin K, providing 120% and 690% of the DV per one cup, respectively. Vitamin K is best known for its role in helping with blood clotting. It’s also been shown to be essential for heart and bone health. Inadequate vitamin K has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, a condition that results in reduced bone strength and an increased risk of fractures.

Recent studies have also suggested a link between vitamin K deficiency and brain health. Inadequate vitamin K may be associated with an increased risk of impaired brain functioning, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Mustard greens may also be good for your immune system. Just one cup provides more than a third of your daily vitamin C needs and 9% of vitamin A. It does this by promoting the growth and distribution of T cells, which are a type of white blood cell needed to help fight off potential infections.

Mustard greens may also be good for your heart because of the antioxidants like flavonoids and beta carotene. One review of eight studies found that a high intake of leafy green Brassica vegetables is associated with a significant 15% reduced risk of heart disease.

As with other Brassica vegetables, mustard greens contain compounds that help bind bile acids in your digestive system. This is important, as preventing the reabsorption of bile acids leads to lowered cholesterol levels. According to one test-tube study, steaming mustard greens significantly increases their bile acid binding effect. This suggests that steamed mustard greens may have greater cholesterol-lowering potential, compared with eating them raw.

Among the antioxidants in mustard greens are lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown to benefit eye health. Specifically, these two compounds help protect your retina from oxidative damage, as well as filter out potentially harmful blue light.

In addition to powerful antioxidants, which may have anticancer effects, mustard greens are high in a group of beneficial plant compounds called glucosinolates. In test-tube studies, glucosinolates have been shown to help protect cells against DNA damage and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. A test-tube study of mustard leaf extract found protective effects against colon and lung cancers.

Because vitamin K helps regulate blood clotting, people who take certain blood thinners need to consume consistent amounts of vitamin-K rich foods, such as mustard greens and other dark, leafy greens. The right amount of dietary vitamin K intake varies from person to person, so if you are taking blood thinners, discuss your diet with your doctor.


How to Buy

Look for mustard greens with green leaves that have fresh cut stems that are not thick. Avoid mustard greens that are yellowing and have blemishes.

Mustard greens can be found in your stores fresh in the spring, summer and fall.

How to Store

Store mustard greens in the refrigerator the same way that you would store other fresh greens. You can wash your greens immediately when you bring them home from the market. Some experts recommend that you store them in the refrigerator in a large covered bowl or in a reusable silicone bag with paper towels.

Mustard greens are prone to dryness so set the crisper to high humidity.

The paper towel helps to absorb and reduce moisture from the leaves so your mustard greens stay fresh and crunchy. Your greens may stay fresh for three to five days. Since greens can be contaminated with bacteria, it’s important to wash them thoroughly. Cooking also helps kill bacteria.

How to Cook

Rinse mustard greens under cold running water before use.

To make them more palatable, greens mustard are typically enjoyed boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or pickled.


Grits Smothered with Mustard Greens

Sharon Palmer/ The Plant-Powdered Dietitian - Photo credit to Sharon Palmer

8 Servings (1/2 cup of grits and 3/4 of greens)


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked corn grits (polenta) – Look for whole grain grits (such as Bob’s Red Mill) made from whole corn, rather than de-germinated corn. Some brands of grits call for different amounts of water; adjust the water as necessary according to package directions.
    Increase the amount of cayenne pepper if you like spice.
  • 1 reduced sodium vegetable bouillon cube, gluten-free
  • ¾ cup unsweetened plain plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 bunches mustard greens coarsely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted


  1. In a small covered pot over high heat, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the grits and vegetable bouillon, and stir with a whisk until smooth. Cover the pot and cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently with a whisk to prevent sticking or lumping. Stir in the plant-based milk, cook for approximately 2 minutes, cover, and remove the pot from the heat. Set aside.
  2. While the grits are cooking, heat the olive oil in a very large skillet or sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, celery salt, and mustard, and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Pile the sliced mustard greens into the pan and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until the greens are just wilted, tender, but bright green. Allow the greens to reduce in volume before you start stirring.
  3. Pour the hot grits into a large casserole dish or serving dish. Cover with the cooked greens and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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