Massage therapy goes even more mainstream with its proven medical benefits.

According to one report:

Recent research has suggested that massage therapy can effectively alleviate cancer-related pain, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and stress levels, reduce headache frequency and ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms, among many other things.

Just one massage session of massage can decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and increase the number of white blood cells, according to a study released in fall by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

It’s also a lucrative profession. Last month, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked massage therapy one of its top 10 careers for 2011. U.S. News and World Report named massage therapy one of the 50 best careers.

In fact, more growth is expected in massage therapy than most other industries over the next decade. The U.S. Labor Department estimates an expansion of almost 20 percent, with the addition of 23,200 jobs by 2018.

The American Massage Therapy Association reported that, in 2009, the industry was worth between $16 and $20 billion, up from $6 to $11 billion in 2005. From July 2008 through July 2009, an estimated 48 million American adults received at least one massage.

"Massage has become a lot more mainstream," said Peter Rubnitz, owner of the Urban Oasis Spas in Chicago. "I would guess that there are two or three times more people now receiving massage than there were back in 1992."

The greater demand for massage therapy services, industry insiders agree, results from the growing needs of aging baby boomers and the continuing emergence of medical studies that reveal the health benefits of massage therapy.

"It’s becoming more recognized in the medical community for its powerful influence on the human body," said Debbie Huckeba, a massage therapist at Wrigleyville-based Southport Wellness Center. "Normal aches and pains can become chronic problems if they are not treated by massage, chiropractic or acupuncture. You don’t necessarily need to take a pill or have surgery."

Home remedies are huge in Malaysia:

Our forefathers’ interest in turning to nature to cure ailments and stay healthy is making a comeback in a big way. Home remedies that once originated from the kitchens of our ancestors are now gaining attention as people look for cures with no side effects, said president of Malaysian Society for Complementary Medicine (MSCM) Dr Lee Chee Pheng.

He said the interest in home remedies had grown to a point where 70 per cent of Malaysians use some form of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) to enhance health or to treat illnesses. This, Lee said, was a finding by a survey by the Health Ministry in 2004.

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"Over the years, the side effects of conventional drugs have become a major concern and it is driving many people to use home remedies, which use natural ingredients, such as herbs, spices and fruits.

"This is basically motivating the reinvention of the practices of our forefathers," said Lee.

He said the demand for alternative medicines had given rise to the various forms of traditional and complementary medicines such as naturopathy, siddha, phytobiophysics, acupuncture, ayurveda and chiropractic treatment.

More news in the massage therapy regulatory world:

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) Board of Directors announced today they have unanimously confirmed the appointment of Leena Guptha, D.O., to serve the remaining three years of a four-year open seat on the board. The appointment restores the board to its full complement of nine seats, consisting of eight massage and bodywork professionals and one public member. ? ?Dr. Guptha is the Dean of Academic Affairs and Acting Director for ITT Technical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she has taught, developed curriculum and managed the education department.

Her professional career spans more than 20 years and has encompassed traditional medical practice, academic appointments and practice of complementary alternative therapies. She is active in a number of professional organizations, including the American Massage Therapy Association, where she presided as national president in 2007-2008. As a driving force in the massage industry, Dr. Guptha is passionate about education, regulation and advancing the profession toward global recognition. ??"Leena Guptha is an incredible asset to the NCBTMB Board," said Alexa Zaledonis, Board Chair and Licensed Massage Therapist. "Her commitment to advancing education, universal awareness of the health benefits of massage and collegiality among stakeholders in the profession is precisely in line with NCBTMB’s objectives and vision for the industry."

Dr. Guptha was formerly the Dean of Massage Therapy at Lehigh Valley College in Pennsylvania and taught at the National University for Health Sciences Lombard, Illinois, for eight years. She received her degree in Osteopathic and Naturopathic Medicine from the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy in London and her Masters degree in Complementary Therapy from the University of Westminster. She graduated from the British College of Acupuncture with a Licentiate in Acupuncture and is a Board Certified Hypnotherapist. She is currently

pursuing her Masters in Business Administration. ??Dr. Guptha’s personal mission for more than 20 years has been to facilitate the integration of complementary alternative therapies into primary health care settings.

"I believe this can happen within my lifetime and I take every opportunity to bring stakeholders together for what I believe serves the greater good of the public, practitioners and ultimately society," said Dr. Guptha. ??"I am delighted to serve again on the NCBTMB board, especially with the new focus on developing an advanced credential for massage therapists. This is exactly what is needed to gain greater recognition for massage as a respected complementary treatment within the traditional medical community. I embrace the role, to be an ambassador for the massage profession and believe that together, with NCBTMB, we can serve the greater good by taking the industry to new heights," added Dr. Guptha.

"I can’t overstate how excited we all are to welcome Dr. Guptha to the national certification board," said NCBTMB CEO, Paul Lindamood. "I look forward to drawing on her knowledge, expertise and insights in helping us create a more significant presence for massage across the nation, as well as in the integrative health care arena." Lindamood added, "She also brings an awareness of the conventional healthcare community that will help form a bridge to the next level for massage. The entire profession will benefit."

ABOUT NCBTMB ?The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) was established in 1992 as an independent, nonprofit organization fostering the highest standards of ethical and professional practice in the delivery of therapeutic massage and bodywork through two recognized credentialing programs. NCBTMB examinations are currently accepted or recognized in statute or rule by 38 states plus the District of Columbia. There are nearly 90,000 professionals with NCBTMB certification. NCBTMB’s certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

The LA Times is hosting a web chat on the usefulness of CAM for Alzheimer’s:

Alzheimer’s, MS and Parkinson’s are devastating diseases with no known cures. Some patients turn to alternative medicine hoping for pain relief and maybe even a cure. This expert can explain whether alternatives are worth a try or a waste of money.

Dr. Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, will be the guest of Chicago Tribune health reporter Trine Tsouderos during a live Web chat Tuesday (1 p.m. EST, noon CST, 10 a.m. PST) . Novella also is president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society and hosts a weekly science podcast called "The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe."

The National Institutes of Health offers guidelines on how to assess complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. It says: "It is important to learn what scientific studies have discovered about the CAM therapy you are considering. Making a decision based on the facts is a better idea than using a therapy simply because of something you have seen in an advertisement or on a Web site or because someone has told you that it worked for them."

Before you consider any alternative treatment, come to the Web chat and ask a question or two.

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