Body Therapy (Rhythmical Massage Therapy, Pressel Massage)

Matthias Girke, Regine Uhlenhoff, Regine Göbels

Last update: 27.11.2018

Anthroposophic body therapy includes rhythmical massage therapy according to Wegman/Hauschka and Pressel massage according to Simeon Pressel. Understanding the fourfold nature of the human constitution leads to essential orientations for providing body therapy. After all, the human body is not only to be touched physically, it also has therapeutic needs for its life organization. Standard classical massage emphasizes treatment of the physical organization of the patient; rhythmical massage therapy addresses the life organization by means of its different qualities of manipulation, leading to an intensification of upbuilding life processes. The patient feels invigorated and refreshed after the treatment. Pre-existing pain symptoms are often significantly improved. In some studies, it was possible to document the efficacy of rhythmical massage therapy based on multiple parameters (see, e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4).

Due to its special qualities of grip and touch, rhythmical massage therapy treats people on all levels of their existence—body, soul and spirit—whereby it stimulates rhythmic processes in the organism in a differentiated, dialogical way as the source of all regeneration and healing. Thus, for example, tendencies to solidification can be dissolved, deposits and congestion can be loosened, and any cool, “inanimate” body areas can be warmed up and vitalized. 

In this way, rhythmical massage therapy has a regulating and ordering effect on the body’s flowing fluid processes, on its rhythmically alternating breathing processes, and on all the body’s warming processes. 

An essential principle of rhythmical massage therapy is the law of polarity:
This concerns the effect on the interaction between the body’s nerve-sense orientation and its metabolic activity (5). When correctly applied, a healthy balance between these polarities can be achieved in cases of pathological one-sidedness. The heart forms the center of the organism and is a kind of mirror organ for the effect of rhythmical massage therapy. The further one descends from the heart with the massage into the areas of the body below, the more one acts on organs located above. For example, abdominal massage can stimulate breathing, whereas foot massage has a relieving effect in the head area.

This harmonizes the interrelationship between soul and body, which is disturbed in many illnesses: On the one hand, the soul can connect better with the body and at the same time it becomes freer and more receptive, e.g., for artistic activities or for coming to terms with the individual’s biography.

These aspects make it possible to extend beyond conventional indications for massage. For example, rhythmical massage therapy can be used to treat asthma, angina pectoris, arterial circulatory disorders, venous diseases, sleep disorders, degenerative diseases of the nervous system, tumor diseases, as well as diseases addressed by psychiatry and education for special needs.

Research news

Mistletoe therapy in addition to standard immunotherapy in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer indicates improved survival rates 
Immunotherapy with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors has significantly improved the survival rates of patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Results of a real-world data study (RWD) investigating the addition of Viscum album L. (VA) to chemotherapy have shown an association with improved survival in patients with NSCLC - regardless of age, degree of metastasis, performance status, lifestyle or oncological treatment. The mechanisms may include synergistic modulations of the immune response by PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors and VA. However, the results should be taken with caution due to the observational and non-randomised study design. The study has been published open access in Cancers

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