Palliative care I Fear

Rhythmical massage

Physical complaints due to an anxiety disorder can have a variety of manifestations and they have a great influence on the quality of life of patients in palliative care. Rhythmical massage therapy according to Ita Wegman is a particularly effective form of therapy in Anthroposophic Medicine for this indication.

Fear leads to psychological tension. This can cause muscular tension and pain. An awake, tense sentient organization (astral organization) often leads to cool extremities. This rigidifying tension is opposite to agitated fear, which is accompanied by vegetative symptoms such as sweating and motor agitation. The rhythmic system is hampered by these different forms of anxiety and cannot develop its mediating function. Rhythmical disturbances and cardiovascular complaints arise. Many patients also report disturbances in the rhythm of waking and sleeping. The rhythmic system loses its balancing quality, its ability to mediate between the polar systems (neurosensory system, motor-metabolic system) of the threefold human constitution. This is where Rhythmical massage therapy comes in: this manual therapy with special grip qualities (gestures) strengthens the patient’s rhythmic system. Its effectiveness is determined by the patient’s ability to respond to such rhythmic impulses. If his condition does not allow this, we can treat him with Rhythmical Einreibung according to Wegman/Hauschka.

Therapeutic approach

In cases of musculoskeletal pain (e.g., painful tension in the shoulder-neck area), it has proven effective to provide:

  • loosening treatments of the upper abdomen above and below the rib arch (for relief and deepening of breathing),
  • estful swobbing of the solar plexus with Oxalis e planta tota 10%, oleum WALA,
  • descending calf and foot treatments. (They draw the sentient organization that rises upwards in fear back down into the limb system.)

Subsequently, the treatment can be supported by:

  • a warming application to the feet
  • a warm beeswax application to the shoulder-neck area
  • or a neck compress with Arnica Essence WALA.

If the complaints are eased, follow with:

  • efferent upper arm massages (warm, deep and sucking hand movements to relieve muscular cramps) and end with a neck/back treatment.

In addition to the massage, it can be helpful to treat the organs with Rhythmical Einreibung using a suitable metal ointment: Rhythmical Einreibung treatment of the spleen with Plumbum metallicum 0.4% Salbe WELEDA (promoting rhythmic activity), Rhythmical Einreibung treatment of the liver with Stannum metallicum 0.4% ointment WELEDA (the center of warmth generation in the metabolism, strengthening) or a Rhythmical Einreibung treatment of the heart with Aurum metallicum praeparatum D4 ointment WELEDA (balancing), in cases of a weakened state also with Aurum comp. ointment WALA (stronger balancing, inclusion of the spiritual level). Rhythmical Einreibung treatment of the organs requires professional training.

When patients are bedridden, it has proven useful to integrate the feet into the respective treatment (arm, back), e.g., foot swabs at the end of the treatment, to strengthen the patient’s body image disturbed by horizontal positioning.

The patient gets quick relief from treatment with Rhythmical massage therapy or Rhythmical Einreibung. Their cramped posture is loosened, they once again perceive themselves more in their wholeness.

1 Batschko EM, Dengler S. Praxisbuch der Rhythmischen Massage nach Ita Wegman. Frankfurt: Mayer im Info 3-Verlag; 2011.

2 Layer M. Handbook for Rhythmical Einreibungen according to Hauschka/Wegman. Forest Row: Temple Lodge; 2006.

3 Weidtke A. Rhythmische Massage nach Ita Wegman in der Onkologie. Der Merkurstab 2009;62(4):344-351.