Dr. Stephen J. Kaufman
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Release Massage: An Effective Approach for Some Liver, Stomach,
Gall Bladder and Heart Problems, including Chronic Fatigue
c. Stephen J. Kaufman, D. C.
Fred is a 50 year old man who
had a coronary bypass two years ago. He has had a long unfortunate medical
history dating back thirty years to radiation treatment for Hodgkins disease.
Since his bypass, he has had a severe stomach problem allowing him to only eat a
few bites at a time. He had constant distress in his stomach and a feeling that
it wasn't in the right place. He is twenty to thirty pounds underweight as a
result. He also has had severe shortness of breath, becoming exhausted when he
exerts himself. He has constant
severe neck and back spasms. He runs a very successful business but has extreme
fatigue because of his physical condition.
His cardiac ejection fraction when I first treated him was 35% of normal,
indicating a very poorly functioning heart. He has been told by leading G.I. and
cardiac specialists that his conditions will never change for the better and he
will have to live with them. He drove six hours each way to my office.
I treated him four times with visceral release procedures, by relaxing
the diaphragm and repositioning the stomach. After the first few treatments, his
stomach felt completely normal to him. He was no longer short of breath, and his
energy level returned to high normal. His lung capacity normalized. He could eat
normally, and without discomfort . He had another cardiac ejection fraction test
done, and it was 81%! Both his family doctor and his cardiologist were
completely stunned ,as this dramatic an improvement is rarely seen with this
type of condition.
Apparently what happened in this case was that his stomach was pushed up
through the esophageal hiatus of the diaphragm after surgery, and remained
there. None of the physicians that he consulted ever actually felt or made
contact with his abdomen. All I did was to physically relax his diaphragm and
then pull the stomach down into it's normal position. This relieved the
discomfort on the stomach, allowed him to eat
normally, and allowed the diaphragm to descend properly during
inspiration. This relieved his respiratory problem. Evidently this was enough to
allow the heart to function normally , and the cardiac ejection fraction to
greatly improve . Incidentally the tremendous neck and back pain that he
had all cleared up, just as a result of the visceral manipulation. Nothing was
done on the spine itself.
I have seen many patients with similar problems after surgery. Who knows
how many people could be helped to feel better with this approach!
Tim is a 79 year old man who has had severe stomach pain since heart
valve surgery several years before. He was very fatigued and short of breath. He
could only eat a few bites at a time, and was
constantly tired. I treated him with
visceral release procedures to relax the diaphragm and pull the stomach
down out of the esophageal hiatus. After his second treatment all his stomach
pain ceased, he could eat normally , and his energy level gradually returned to
normal. In addition he had been having some dizzy spells and numbness in his
face. These all returned to normal.
Again with this patient, pulling the stomach down out of it's entrapment
in the esophageal hiatus resulted in a dramatic , rapid improvement in both
respiration and digestive function. Improvement of these two essential functions
allowed the rest of his body to regain it's equilibrium and heal itself.
Patti was a thirty year old woman who had been in massive auto accident
and almost died. She had severe back pain. Previous extensive chiropractic and
acupuncture care for nine months had relieved some of her symptoms but the
back pain remained. I examined her and judged that her right kidney was slightly
out of place. I repositioned the
kidney gently and she had almost immediate, lasting relief from her back pain.
I would estimate that 10-20% of the lower back problems that I see have a
dropped kidney/ psoas muscle involvement contributing to their pain. When this
is corrected there is often dramatic , lasting relief, and
the correction rarely needs to be repeated. Of course , I have no
definite evidence that it is actually a prolapsed organ that is being corrected,
but it is a hypothesis consistent with the evidence: lifting the kidney superior
does produce relief.
Rosco developed a lingering bronchitis which responded only slightly to
herbal and nutritional treatment, and lasted for more than a year. He had more
or less constant coughing and shortness of breath. After two treatments to
release the diaphragm he had a dramatic increase in lung capacity and
Tony was a 27 year old , unemployed worker, and bright yellow for the
past year after a bout of Hepatitis A. He
also suffered from extreme fatigue and frequent colds. His illness resolved
completely after a couple of weeks of treatments which included a lot of
nutritional support, so I can't say that the manipulation of his liver was the
only factor involved. My impression, however, is that the treatment would have
been much slower without the physical treatment of his liver.
Diane developed gall stones during the last month of her pregnancy. ( She
had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for six years before I treated her
originally. She became pregnant within two months of our treatment. That's a
story for another paper, however.) She was advised to have her gall bladder
removed. I treated some reflexes
for the gall bladder , loosened the diaphragm and "pumped" the liver
and gall bladder. During the third such treatment we both distinctly heard a
"pop", like the cork coming out of a wine bottle. The stone must have
moved out of the bile duct. She never had any further pain. This was fifteen
years ago; she still has her gall bladder. (and two teenagers.)
Arthur was a very attractive young man with the worst case of acne I had
a 30 year old housewife and mother of two, was brought to me in a state of
collapse after being exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning. She could barely
speak, and could not stand ; she was carried into my office by her husband. I
referred her to the emergency room,
but since she was already in my office, I gave her a treatment which consisted
principally of pumping her liver. I figured in a toxic state this would aid the
body's detoxification abilities. By the end of the session she had recovered her
normal sensorium and was able to
leave "at her own chosen speed". I saw her twice more and she had no
sequelae whatsoever from her accident.
Deb was a 50 year old woman
suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome for
a period of five years. She had previous unsuccessful chiropractic and
nutritional therapy. Although I did a number of structural corrections in her
case, the key intervention is treatment to trigger points in the rectus
abdominus muscles. Within several weeks she was completely asymptomatic. Her
energy level was normal and all her other chronic fatigue symptoms cleared up.
I got the idea for this approach in 1988 from the book , Hara
Diagnosis: Reflections on the Sea, by Matsumoto and Birch (5). I have found
that most patients with chronic fatigue are benefited by treatment to eliminate
these areas of tenderness. A future paper will describe this treatment in
detail. I have a very high success rate with chronic fatigue
thanks to this procedure. The problem as I see it is not just chemical
but structural as well. Areas of spasm in the abdominal muscles may interfere
with proper internal functioning, and may restrict the full excursion of the rib
cage when the person breathes in. The body must actually be physically treated
for a successful outcome, not just with nutrition. Most of the patients that I
treat with chronic fatigue regain normal functioning within several weeks!
Abdominal muscle spasm may also contribute to low back and neck pain,
headaches, shoulder pain, digestive problems, gynecological problems including
dysmenorhea, and urinary disorders.
One effective but very gentle approach to
visceral treatment is by neurovascular reflexes. These were developed by
Dr. Terence Bennett, a chiropractor, in the 1930's (3). They are treated by a
very light touch to multiple reflex areas, while at the same time the
practitioner's other hand stretches the upper trapezius area. Generally one
feels a gurgling under his fingers after 30 or 40 seconds. This feels like
peristalsis under your fingers, and seems to indicate that the intestinal tract
has quickened it's function. The positions of some of the more active
neurovascular reflexes are as follows;
1) The pyloric valve- divide the navel into four quadrants. Lightly hold
each quadrant with three fingers while stretching the upper trapezius.
2) The head of the pancreas- lightly hold and traction one inch below
xyphoid process and one inch to the right, directly against the rib cage.
3) The ileocecal valve point
is located where the ileac crest meets the rectus abdominus muscle. Many
patients have problems related to ileocecal valve dysfunction. Generally the are
will be tender to moderate pressure. Applied Kinesiologists have observed
that a wide variety of symptoms can be due to ICV involvement, including
headaches, constipation or especially diarrhea , gas, shoulder pain, skin
problems, menstrual cramps , allergies, etc.
These points are all very useful for acute or chronic digestive function.
They are each held for 30-40 seconds while stretching the upper trapezius muscle
with the other hand.
4) The liver point is one inch up from the area where the
mid nipple line intersects
the bottom of the right rib cage.
Bennett performed a lot of fluoroscopy and claimed to have
seen increased peristaltic movement of fluids when he would stimulate the
The following visceral techniques need to be seen in person to be
5)Diaphragm function is extremely important and influential,
for the abdominal organs as well as the lungs and heart. Apparently it
was primarily a dysfunction of the
diaphragm that caused much of the problem
with Fred's heart. When the diaphragm was released,
his ejection fraction increased substantially. Basically the practitioner
can run his fingers under the rib cage and very gently but steadily
applies pressure to effect a relaxation of the diaphragm. Any areas of
tenderness can be held until they abate somewhat. It is extremely important to
apply light pressure and not bruise the underlying flesh. Dr. Gaby wrote an
article on "respect for tissue " which I love; one should always be
mindful of the tissue's capacity to heal.
6) The esophagus passes
through the esophageal hiatus of the diaphragm to join the stomach. Mild
pressure around this area to free any restrictions and pull the stomach down is
often helpful. It is apparently common for the stomach to
slide up slightly into the diaphragm; gently pulling it down gives many
people relief from upper G.I. discomfort.
7) Further down the G.I. tract, between the last part of the small
intestine and the large intestine is the ileocecal valve. This lies
approximately at the level where the ileac crest meets the rectus abdominal
muscle. This is often tender on people, and can give rise to
a multitude of symptoms. Very light pressure, directed upward
towards the left shoulder , often gives people relief, from digestive problems
and even headaches, neck pain, or low back pain! Often there will be a loud
borborygmi or gurgle when pressure is applied here. Pressure must be
very light and gentle, as the appendix lives just next door.
8) The liver can be pumped or squeezed by simply massaging it, with the
left hand on the rib cage pressing inferiorly while the
right hand massages superior. This is often tender . A slightly deeper
pressure will milk the gall bladder and may help with sluggish bile
flow, and possibly gravel or stones. Neither this nor any of these other
9) The liver and gall bladder can also be helped by pulling and stroking
the right rib cage laterally . This is difficult to describe in writing.
10) Some patients have upper G.I. bloating and gas that seems to be due
to a spastic or "jammed" pyloric sphincter. This can be helped by
taking a contact one inch directly below the navel and firmly but gently pulling
down towards the feet.
Many practitioners use various reflex
or acupressure /acupuncture points to enhance visceral functioning. Less
known in recent times but still effective are techniques that aim to directly
massage and stimulate various internal organs. Practitioners of these techniques
feel that the internal organs are actually being repositioned in some cases.
This is hard to verify at present but could probably be done with current
imaging technology, if proper studies were designed. I have tried to show that
substantial improvement in patient's conditions can be obtained, at least
occasionally. Although nutritional management is certainly imperative, we must
not neglect the benefits of actually putting hands on the patient in selective
circumstances. Much can be done if our hands act in an educated, intelligent and
intentional manner to directly affect
body function. In all cases it is important to be gentle and not exceed the
patient's tolerance. As Alan Gaby, M. D. has said, "respect for
tissue" is paramount.
Stephen J. Kaufman, D. C. , is a practicing chiropractic physician in Denver, Colorado. He has practiced chiropractic, applied kinesiology, myofascial and trigger point therapies, acupuncture, acupressure, Thought Field Therapy, yoga, and cranial osteopathy since 1978. He has developed many new techniques in soft tissue therapy and has published over 75 professional papers. He can be reached at (303) 756-9567. 2693 South Niagara St., Denver, CO., 80224.
DeJarnette, M.B., D.C. Bloodless
Surgery. Privately published,1930.
DeJarnette, M.B., D.C. Chiropractic Manipulative Reflex Technique.
Privately published, 1960.
Martin Ralph. D.C. Dynamics of Correction of Abnormal Function. 1977.
Martin Ralph. D.C. Practice of
Correction of Abnormal Function. 1979.
Matsumoto, K. and Birch, S. Hara Diagnosis: Reflections On the Sea.
Paradigm Publications. 1988
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