Combining massage with herbal medicine has great benefits. Massage can enhance and speed up the action of herbal remedies, our hands can detect a wealth of diagnostic information and touch adds a deeply compassionate level to the act of healing. Furthermore the liniments, oils etc used in massage provide an additional channel for herbs to work.
Chinese massage is closely related to acupuncture in its use of the meridian system and is considered to be effective for a similar range of health problems. However it should not be seen as a poor relation to acupuncture. It is an effective and comprehensive therapy and is regarded alongside herbs, diet, qigong and one of the fundamental arts of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Massage is of course as old as human kind. However even with this perspective the pedigree of Chinese massage is impressive. There are massage textbooks as far back as the Nei Jing (722-481 BC) the most ancient medical texts. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) it is recorded that there were 56 massage doctors in the imperial hospital more than the total of herbalist and acupuncturists around this time
Chinese techniques were imported to Japan and eventually gave rise to Japanese Shiatsu. Later still Peter Henrik Ling learned from Chinese masters before developing Swedish massage the origin of Western bodywork.
The development of the Chinese tradition came from the synergy between four groups, doctors who brought the sophisticated medical theories of TCM to massage, martial arts who combined deep experience of qi with great ability to heal injuries, Buddhist and Taoist adepts who used massage as an essential support to their spiritual yoga and laymen often blind practitioners offering massage for pleasure and relaxation.
Since the time of the Mao Zedong massage has continued to develop absorbing western ideas into the traditional framework. It is widely practiced and taught in hospital and medical schools and is an essential part of primary healthcare..