Joy Livery

Month: October, 2012

Understanding Massage with Sean Pamphile, LMT

Sean Pamphile is a very talented Licensed Massage Therapist that I have the honor of receiving treatments from.  His touch and massage are always purpose driven and intentional.  I love it!  Here is an email conversation from Sean and myself where Sean discusses “what it happening” when one receives a massage physiologically within the body.  Thank you Sean!

(Not too sure why my text won’t change to a larger font.  Use the zoom tool under View on your toolbar, or command +… my apologies.)

1. What do you think about most when someone is on the table?

When a client lays on my table I am thinking about muscles.  My hands are relaying a mental picture for me which allows me to plan my treatment.  The conversation is to distract from the intensity of the triggers being released, however after this process happens I do drift and my thoughts can dwell on my family, friends, food.  Sometimes I get what I call a spiritual connection where I feel a greater sense of compassion.

2. What is your approach?  We spoke the other day about there being many different modalities.  What is yours?

     My approach is very simple.  First I practice Neuro Muscular Therapy (N.M.T.).  Its principles teach that muscle pain is caused by poor blood flow, nerve entrapment or compression, postural distortion, biochemical dysfunction and trigger points. So, lets look at each one of these concepts.
Poor blood flow-
     Blood flow is very important.  It is how our cells get rid of waste, get energy, oxygen, and other nutriments and chemicals.  When blood flow is compromised muscles can become toxic and don’t function properly.  The brain treats this as an injury sending neurotransmitor substance p to simulate pain nerves so you wont move the muscle.  What compromises blood flow? Tight muscles and fascia.
     Fascia is connective tissue that wraps around muscles, organs, and creates structural planes in the body for support.  It is sticky in nature.  It forms to repetitive movement and can become hard and restrict movement.  It can also entrap nerves and blood supply.  If you have ever cleaned raw chicken it is the white film that is on the meat.
Nerve entrapment and compression-
     There are many nerves in the muscle that make it function, and like blood flow, if it is compromised muscles won’t operate properly.
Biochemical dysfunction-
     This deals with the brain producing neurotransmitors that control muscle.  Three main nerves in the muscle gogli nerve (limits length), spindle nerve (controls contraction), and motor nerve (action).  If the brain doesn’t produce enough of these neurotransmitors then the muscle is limited.
Postural distortion-
      Most common is leg height or scoliosis.  This will cause one or several muscle to work harder.  This type of stress will cause the muscle to over develop and over power the complementing or opposite muscle and cause pain.
Trigger points-
     A trigger is a neurological center in a muscle which causes it to contract the muscle.  By applying pressure to it you can break up the signal and cause the muscle to release.
     So first I warm the body/soft tissue area by deep gliding stroke.  This will promote blood flow, loosen any scar tissue or fascia.  Deep gliding also stimulates the brain causing neurotransmitors to be created which helps in the function of proper muscle and nerve function.  So just by deep gliding in the right direction you can release tension and sometimes this is all one needs.  However, trigger points may need to be released in the muscle.  Postural distortion can sometimes be corrected if it was caused by tight muscles.
     I like using this technique because it gives results.  My clients at first complain about the intensity of the therapy (the pain) however after a few treatments they don’t even notice.  However, I base my pressure on how it is stimulating the body.  I also revisit an area several times to get it to release and muscles release when they want too or when the brain haves produced enough neurotransmitors for this to happen.
      There will be side affects.  Sometimes, depending on the therapy, soreness is normal.  It may last up to four days, though usually it will last no more than 48 hrs.  This is due to toxins (waste in the muscles) that have been released during therapy. You may even feel flu like symtoms too.  All normal.  That is we always say drink lots of water to help flush these toxins out and rehydrate the muscles.  Resting is important, taking it easy for the next couple of days, allowing your body to heal.
3. What are the benefits of massage?
Well the benefits are numerous.  I like to explain it like this: what you touch on the outside stimulates the inside.  So real simple- skin and muscle, nerves, and the brain are the key componants here.  We stimulate the skin and muscles which activate different nerves.  Now we have nerves that feel different types of pressure (light to deep), temperature, space (balance), pain and the best pleasure.  All this information goes to the brain where neuro-transmitors are created.  Neuro transmitors are chemicals the brain creates and it is specific for that person.  So dopamine which controls muscles and emotions we all make but our body has its own recipe for making it.  So when we are feeling down or our body feels slow our brain is not producing enough dopamine. Neuro transmitors also stimulate the nerves that control every system in our body.  To name some of these systems: digestive, endocrine, cardio, these are the main important ones.  When these systems are functioning properly then they indirectly help other systems in your body function properly. Massage can help manage most physcial and mental ailments barring disease and fractures and tears.  Therefore when you get a massage you are causing the brain to re-tune the body completely.  The human body is meant to be touched everyday, so getting a professional massage and making physical contact with people daily is key to our well being.
4. Do you think that people under utilize massage?
     Yes!!!  In ancient times massage was done daily.  It sometimes was done communaly.  What better way to bond as a group then to tend to each other.  The number one reason why people don’t get massages is they don’t know what it’s about.  There is a massage technique for whatever pains you.  I feel that we in the industry haven’t done a good job at promoting ourselves and services.  Regular massage can make a big diference in your well being.  Think of it as a tune up.  Especially as we get older, our body slowes down– its a fact.  It needs the help to stay at proper functioning level.  Massage can help.  Even once a month can make a difference.  And don’t be afraid to get a long session.
5. What are things of to take note of when finding a massage therapist?
     Its trial and error.  Sorry.  Even for me I have a hard time finding a good therapist.  You can ask other people who had a good experience who to go to but other than that it is hard quest.  Its like finding a good hair dresser lol!!!!
6. How can people reach you if they would like to have a session with you?
Contacting me directly is the best.  My cell is 352 256 0799.  I am an independant contractor and I work at two places.  The first is Deerwood Country Club in the fitness center for the members and their friends and second at Paradice Palms Massage in Ponte Vedra.  My second place is open to the public and has reasonable pricing. Actually both places have reasonable pricing.  I also am available for house calls.
A big thank you to Sean for diving into all of these questions!

Orenda Herbal with Emily Ruff

    What follows is an email ‘conversation’, if you will, between myself and Emily Ruff, the director of the Florida School of Holistic Living and the co-founder of Orenda Herbals.  I have learned so much of what I know thanks to Emily, and I wanted to share some of her abundant knowledge directly with you.   Thank you Emily!
     You can see her influence in my own approach to herbs in the home in my post on Hibiscus Tea.

1. What herbal formulas do you prepare for your family?  What things do you like to have around the house?  

     My favorite herbal formulas are prepared as a daily tisane (herbal tea) for my family.  I prepare them a gallon at a time to ensure there is always tasty medicine on hand for my family.  I try to prepare a nutritive blend (like Orenda’s Harmony) or a blend for the nervous system (like Orenda’s Stress Less) because these types of teas are useful for everyone in the family, no matter what is going on with their health.  I will add a smidge of honey to make sure everyone will gulp it down and usually keep it in the fridge for a refreshing summer brew.

 2. Can you share one or two accounts of how herbs have been effective in treating you or your families symptoms or the root of your health issues?

      Every cold and flu we’ve experienced in the last decade has been successfully treated with herbal remedies – not minute clinics or doctors.  It is inspiring and empowering to connect with the plants and use their gifts to heal our families.  In fact, it is our birthright!  I am always amazed at how simple herbs can shorten the duration of these common illnesses and bring us back into balance and brightness more quickly.  I have also been amazed at the use of daily herbal blends to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis and digestive concerns.

3. Tell us a little bit about Orenda Herbal. 

       Orenda Herbal is an herbalist-owned company that has been making herbal medicines since 2004.  Jackie Feasel and I tested all our formulas with our families, and it was this rigorous feedback that led us to our most popular blends.  We use strictly organic ingredients, and strive to use as many from the Orenda Herbal gardens or from local growers as seasonally possible, to support our local agricultural economy and ensure the purity and potency of our products.  Our primary focus is tisanes because we believe it is a great and tasty way to take our herbal medicine, and useful for all members of the family.  You can use tisane blends in the bath tub too, which creates a delightful atmosphere.   In addition, we offer seasonal blends of elixirs, made from locally grown ingredients, to honor the cycles of the gardens we tend.  Elixirs are more concentrated, and great for portability in a diaper bag or purse.  We also offer topical preparations with the herbs from our gardens, like our Ouch Ease line, which provide healing for cuts, bumps, and scrapes without the use of petrochemicals.  The best way to achieve radiant wellness using herbal remedies is to use herbs on a daily basis.  Find one herb, or one blend, that you can make by the gallon for your family, and drink several cups a day, instead of a soda or a coffee, for instance.  Optimal health does not come from finding a quick fix to a health issue, but from using tonic herbal allies to prevent those health issues in the first place.

4. Why herbs?

      Like I said, it is our birthright!  Humans have always wandered the fields and forests, nibbling along the way.  Just a few generations ago, every family had an herbalist – a grandmother, a father, an aunt – who would provide primary healthcare and preventative medicine to their families.  We’ve lost that way of life, but fortunately, just by going into our backyards, we can reclaim this way of life for ourselves and our loved ones.  Herbal medicine provides us balancing, nourishing tools that avoid the common plethora of side effects of our modern pharmacopeia, and best of all, they are available right outside our door, offering a sensible approach to preventative wellness that is affordable and accessible, not to mention more environmentally responsible.  At a time when our modern medical system is attributed as the cause for over 800,000 deaths in the US each year, it is more imperative than ever to find a more natural, harmonizing way of health.  This is where herbal medicine fits in so beautifully.  Certainly in acute health situations, we should rely upon the technologies of modern medicine, but we can look to the plants to prevent those situations in the first place, and provide an arsenal of tools for those common but less serious illnesses, like the flu.  If your grandmother would have cared for an illness from her kitchen, you can too!

     To learn more about Emily Ruff, the School of Holistic Living, and Orenda Herbal I encourage you to visit some of these links!

Gold for Colds


     This week Bodhi brought home a cold from school.  I should have started pushing echanacea immediately for both of us, but sometimes he will get a runny nose and no other symtoms.  I thought it might blow over.  It didn’t.  Instead we are both home from school and work, respectively, taking it easy. 

     So I wanted to write a post specific to the topic of caring for colds in the home, without OTC medications or trips to the doctor.  I find that these methods lighten our symptoms and aid our immune systems to heal.  For instance, throughout this particular cold, Bodhi and I have dodged the bullet of becoming completely ‘stuffed up’ in our sinuses, and are just experiencing rather runny noses.

     One thing I am mindful of with herbs is that they often operate on our body’s level.  Meaning that they are often working at the body’s pace to heal itself; these herbs encourage the bodies natural tendencies toward reconciliation.

       I remember reading a book about the Vietnam War that shared an anecdote about the US soldiers who would find children with red rings on their back.  In their ignorance, they assumed it was some sort of punitive measure by parents.  In fact, it was a therapy called cupping, where a cup is place on one’s back and a candle behind the cup.  As the cup warms, it creates a sort of vaccuum, pulling the skin into the cup promoting blood flow.  I often think of mother’s tenderly cupping their sick children when I am rubbing Bodhi down with my therapies, and it reminds me that sometimes it is not what we do, but how we do it, and that we do it at all.  Caring for… nurturing… sympathy… compassion… love.  These, I would argue, can be the most powerful healers of all.  

     One of my favorites is eucalyptus essential oil.  I mix one drop with a teaspoon of pure sesame oil (this can be any kind of oil, even olive oil) and warm it with my hands.  Then I rub it all over Bodhi’s chest.  Immediately, his gaze becomes fixed, his breathing slows.  He takes in the caring massage as much as he does the scent of the oil.  It really helps to open up the nasal congestion.  (Think Vick’s Vapor Rub without the extra chemicals).  I will also add eucalyptus and lavender essential oils to his bath or humidifier in his room.

     Mists are often a nice way of calming a fussy, overheated, feverish child.  I like to mix rose water with some Bach’s Flower Essences Rescue Remedy.  I’ll mist it over Bodhi and let it fall on his face and body—very cooling for any pitta that seems to be overwhelming him. 

     Also, let’s not forget my previous post on ginger honey.  It can calm any nausea, is warming to the body and can potentially help drainage, much the way spicy food does. 

     A note about when to apply warming therapy versus cooling- You really have to consider all of the symptoms.  As an example, let’s say Bodhi is congested with a fever.  Do I include warming foods for congestion, even though he has a fever?  If it won’t cause discomfort, then it’s fine.  The sweating induced can also cool you. 

     Just remember that you can cool with cool or, less effectively (in my opinion), with heat via sweating (via broth, ginger, spicy foods, elder), but you can’t warm with cool. 


     These are the herbs that I like Bodhi and I to start taking once it is apparent that we are getting a cold. 

  • Echanacea– This herb is superb for boosting the immune system.  Imagine it as a drill sergeant ordering all of your macrophage T-cell soldiers to come to the front lines of defense.  That is why this is not recommended over long periods of time and is best used when symptoms are acute.  It becomes less effective if used for long periods of time as well, so use it in cycles of 5 days on, 2 off until you are well.
  • Contraindication: auto immune system disorders or an overactive immune system.
  • Elder – Often used in syrup form, these berries and the flower are perfect for little ones because it tastes so good.  It is very high in vitamin c and has immune enhancing properties.  It can induce sweating, as it is an effective diaphoretic, so it can be used to reduce fever if one is present.  Be mindful, however, that fevers can be a sign that your immune system is working.  Unless there is discomfort from the fever or it is above the safe range of temperatures, I personally leave it alone.  Your body is working!  Amazing!

     If there is any indication that there is also a sore throat or cough present, I will also start us on:

  • Wild Cherry Bark and Horehound are both excellent expectorants for coughs.  I like to make a tincture of these together. 
  • Marshmallow and licorice are wonderful for soothing a sore throat, as both are demulcents (or will coat the throat).  Licorice also has anti-inflammatory properties.  These are nice as teas, as they can properly coat the throat.
  • Contraindication- some studies have shown that licorice increases water retention, and therefore may increase blood pressure.  Those with high blood pressure, be aware.  


     In addition to these measures, I find that some yoga asanas can be energizing (in the way that you need when you have a cold), relaxing and restoring.  Find lots of pillows and bolsters to support you in these poses.  It also helps to have a timer with a soft alert.  I like to hold them for three minutes, but if I have an extra minute or two, I’ll hold my favorite for five.  Look any of these up on  It is a great resource!

  • Uttansana (standing forward fold)- Bring a chair over to your mat and pad it with a pillow or two.  Fold forward with your feet hips width apart.  Rest your forehead on the chair’s seat.
  • Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose)- Sitting down, place two thick pillows or folded blankets behind your back.  Allow your shoulders to grace the floor.  This is such a yummy, supported pose I often stay in this one longer than three minutes. 
  • Viparita Karani (waterfall)- I like to do this one against the wall.  It allows you to completely relax.  Place a pillow or two under your derriere and your legs up resting against a wall. 


 photo from

     And last, but not least, nourish thy self!  Brothy soups and mineral rich foods are gold for colds (think seaweed, bone broth, miso, leafy greens).  Stay away from dairy, sugar, and overly acidic things (even orange juice… try a hot lemonade with honey instead) as they tend to increase phlegm and mucus. 

Get well!




 ** note to reader- I am not a certified herbalist and this is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe anyone medications, herbs, or otherwise.  It is a journal of my musings and what works for our family.**