Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Shiatsu Massage - Interview with John Kozinski of the Kushi Institute

Author's note: Since this article was first published in 2004 the situation in France has changed, with a certain amount of progress being made thanks to the creation of various associations for the promotion of holistic massage. However, only time will tell as to whether or not these associations will continue to be a protective force, in view of the pressures on most associations to conform to escalating regulatory measures imposed by government and industry.

October 31, 2004

It comes as rather a surprise to people in countries such as the UK and the US, where alternative medicine is still practised relatively freely, to learn that in the more medically repressive countries such as France, shiatsu massage is a crime punishable by law. With massage having been 'colonised', redefined and controlled by the medical authorities, the only legitimate form permitted (unless you choose to sneak off and bravely practise on the black market) is what you'll get from the official knee-cracking 'kinesithérapeutes' who wouldn't know a shiatsu from their big toe.

So before the current tide of prohibitive legislation jump steps the rest of the world into line with countries such as France, it would be a worthwhile aim to learn about this valuable therapy whose roots reach back to antiquity.

In the following interview, John Kozinski - counsellor and tutor at the Kushi Institute Massachusetts - explains macrobiotic shiatsu, Do-In (a relative of shiatsu practised on oneself) and the macrobiotic view of supplements.

EH: Could you explain why, in your opinion, shiatsu has been gaining so much popularity worldwide? How can shiatsu help those with candida?

JK: I think there are several reasons. Shiatsu and related massage therapies from China are superbly effective methods of healing in the hands of a skilled and healthy practitioner. In developed countries, a different kind of stress has arisen; a stress from poor diets, inactive lifestyles, a lack of social supports and other trappings of modern lifestyles. Shiatsu is very effective for helping to melt the tension in the body that is created by these causes.

EH: Do-In is also becoming more popular recently. Is Do-In a 'do-it-yourself-shiatsu'? What are the advantages?

JK: Do-In is the Japanese name for what in China was called internal exercise, 8 Brocades, Tao-Yin, Nei Gung and recently (in the last 50 years, Chi Gung). There are hundreds of forms. I believe that the increased popularity is related to the same reasons that Shiatsu is gaining popularity plus when done correctly it is incredibly energizing. The effects of practising high level do-in or qigong can go much deeper than Shiatsu

EH: Could you explain the difference between traditional and macrobiotic shiatsu?

JK: Macrobiotic Shiatsu incorporates 1) an understanding of the effect of diet and lifestyle in creating a person's condition. A Macrobiotic Shiatsu practitioner can tell what foods have contributed to a person's health condition through touch and 2) the use of a form of Asian diagnosis that shows which organs are troubled and how food and lifestyle was a major cause. Macrobiotic shiatsu practitioners focus also on keeping their diets and lifestyles balanced so that their own ki ( life force ) is functioning well. Through a healthy condition, they are able to transmit energy to the receiver.

EH: Thought differs amongst macrobiotic therapists as to the benefits of supplements. What would you say is your position on the subject?

JK: The nutrients in vitamin supplements are very different from the nutrients in foods. When you isolate nutrients from foods, the activity of the vitamin is lost. Some effect is achieved. In the long run, ingesting isolated substances will have very negative effects on a person's health. I feel that certain vitamins may be used for short times, and become harmful after a few months. It has been my experience that it is difficult for a person to eat balanced whole foods when taking vitamins. Strong craving arise for sweets, fats, excess flour products, and proteins

I would suggest for serious deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, that a person seek out vitamin and mineral supplements from food concentrates. Several companies produce these types of supplements. They are derived from foods.

I do not believe that vitamins and mineral supplements should be outlawed or only prescribed by doctors. You and others have written about the movement afoot to ban supplements. This would be a tragedy. Once certain supplements are outlawed, it is only a matter of time before other natural foods, and substances, such as herbs, are regulated. I applaud the work that you and others are doing in opposing the outlawing and regulating of supplements.

EH: Do you know of any supplements that may be of value to candida sufferers?

JK: Soil based pro-biotics can be of great benefit for 3-6 months or longer. If these are taken with a balanced macrobiotic whole foods diet, the effect is amplified and sustained.

Foods that benefit the candida sufferers are fermented foods such as miso, and unpasturized pickles. This recommendation would take some explaining because, as you know, people diagnosed with candida are, often, suggested to avoid fermented foods.

From my studies, candida, at its root, is caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the colon. Healthy bacteria keep the naturally small amounts of candida, yeast, in check. The enzymes in miso, and unpasturized pickles, such as sauerkraut, aid the pancreas in digesting foods fully, and promote healthy bacteria in the colon. The only caution is use soybean miso for the first 2 months of introducing miso. After this period, barley miso would be best.

High quality oils in the form of extra-virgin olive oil and sesame oil are, also, very helpful for the candida sufferers. This oil helps the body to fully digest proteins in foods. If the proteins in foods are not fully digested, the protein may rot and form harmful bacteria. 1-2 teaspoons, at each meal, would be best. This can be eaten in the form of dressings, in soup and very lightly sautéed.

EH: What is your view on magnet therapy? Could you explain a little about the basic principals of this therapy?

JK: Magnet therapies vary in the way they affect people.
The majority of the magnets are placed on the body with the negative pole facing down. People also sleep on magnetic pads which have this polarity. These pads or applications can be very useful for people who have pain or are exhausted from eating too many sweets and refined foods. In my health counselling, I recommend magnetic products on a case by case basis. From a macrobiotic view, people who have hard, tight ( or yang ) conditions from eating too much meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, salt or hard baked flour products, should not use magnetic products. Magnetic products tighten and contract loose tissues, and organs.

EH: Many candida sufferers are prone to alcoholism and addiction to foods that may make them ill. What do you think might be the solutions to the widespread problem of alcohol, drug and food addictions?

JK: This is a larger question, and would require a much more extensive answer. I would be happy to answer this in more detail. In general, I feel that modern diets and lifestyles are prone to creating hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar in many individuals. My sense is that this is the trigger that leads people to medicate their discomfort with alcohol, drugs and foods. After the initial trigger, these substances become a coping mechanism, a self-sustaining cycle. This occurs, on a biochemical level, because sugar, drugs, caffeine, and alcohol stimulate the production of the feel good neurotransmitters in the brain. The problem is after a period of use, the body requires more of these stimulants to create the feel good effect.

You can cause the body to produce these neurotransmitters without the drugs, alcohol or sugar. To do this, at each meal, a person needs to eat properly prepared ( fermented) whole grains, such as brown rice, and millet, a healthy fat, and a protein rich foods ( beans, fish or if still eating them, naturally raised animal products).

I know of many who have broken the cycle of addiction and created healthier and happier lives.

EH: Support and understanding from family and friends when making changes in one's diet are not always guaranteed. Especially when there is currently so much black-listing and harassment of alternative medicine therapists by certain politicians, medical authorities and members of the press who are protecting the financial interests of the large pharmaceutical industries.

JK: I think that it is important to be aware that there is a concerted effort to keep people in line with social pressures to conform. Anything different that a person wants to do is often criticized by friends and family. Once a person becomes aware of this, he or she can cope with and break out of the cycle
How can an over-worked mother ease her family away from a poor diet when faced with such opposition?

I've worked with many women in this sort of situation. I would suggest to begin by education. Learn about the problem, and slowly make changes in your diet and lifestyle. Find friends who will support you in doing something different and healthy from the rest of the crowd. Although some of his ideas are somewhat hard to accept, David Icke explains quite well in his books the situation of the social pressures of doing and thinking anything different. I would suggest :"An Introduction to Macrobiotics" by Oliver Cowmeadow and 7 Days to Better Health by Jon Sandifer as 2 wonderful books to help improve a person's health.

EH: Macrobiotic cooking is generally very sparing with the oil. However, candida sufferers, not being able to eat much sugary food often turn to oil for flavour and enjoyment. What's more, olive oil, which is used less in macrobiotics, has the property of inhibiting the candida bacteria's tendency to change into it's fungal form. What are your views on oils? Are there any studies that support the benefits of increasing oil as opposed to reducing it?

JK: Oil is harder to digest for many people with candida.. I suggest that people with candida begin to add oil to their diets, slowly. I would suggest, as a starter, to include two teaspoons of olive oil at each meal. If a person can digest this amount of fats, they can then experiment with more.

After counselling people with the macrobiotic approach for 25 years, and observing many health conditions, I have come to the conclusion that most people need more oil than is in most of the macrobiotic cookbooks. Some candida sufferers have had some success with the use of coconut oil, also.

EH: Thank you John