Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 75 PROPER USE OF AROMATICS Recently, I visited Bermaga Farm (see sidebar page 65) to watch animal massage students fi nishing up their professional training. As I sat at the back of the class, I marveled at the many ways the students chose to best help the animals. Three horses hung their heads over the stall gates in anticipation, and a cat stretched lazily across the lap of one student who held a bowl of barley grass and hemp oil in offering. Four dogs were lying or sitting on beds next to students in the afternoon sun, sniffi ng from various vials of geranium, peppermint, copaiba, and holy basil. One horse had arrived at Bermaga Farm for rehabilitation from a physical and mental trauma. He had spent the last weeks sulking at the back of his stall, depressed and unwilling to engage with people or other animals. On the fi rst day of class, he regarded the students with suspicion and rejected oil after oil offered, with a curled lip and a stomp of his massive front hooves. The day that I was in class, Katie Carter, a practitioner and student with a long history working in hydrotherapy and animal rehabilitation, stood by the horse's door clasping a vial of rose essential oil. He stood several feet away with an eye turned in her direction. Gradually he inched closer and extended his neck cautiously. As his nostril passed over the bottle, an ear twitched forward involuntarily. He retreated with a deep inhale and stood blinking, before coming back over and taking a long drag from the bottle with each nostril. Again, he retreated, but this time yawned and lolled his tongue. A heavy breath escaped him, and he came back a third time—this time placing his head over the gate directly into the student's hands. He stood that way for several minutes with all of us watching in silence. To those that don't know horses well, it may have seemed like a very small concession. But for those who have looked into the eyes of a horse with deep affection, it was a small miracle in action. Fear was replaced with trust, depression was replaced with interest, and tension was replaced with breath. PLANT ESSENCE AND ANIMALS Plant essences have special meaning for animals who spend so much of their lives immersed in scents. Horses can select specifi c plants based on a single blade of grass, and in the wild, they choose plants that calm an upset stomach, fend off parasites, or fi ght off a worm infestation as easily as you or I select items in the grocery store aisle. The use of essential oils can be enhanced with preparations of plants, such as barley grass, blue green algae, dried herbs, and fl owers and fl ower signatures. Teas and tinctures made from hops or valerian can help with sleep disruption or anxiety (though competition animals may be restricted from competing during use). Raspberry leaf is commonly used to level moods in mares with ovarian concerns. Chasteberry is a powerful herb to help with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, also known as PPID or Cushing's disease, a common endocrine condition seen in older horses and dogs. Calendula and marigold petals can be used to line laying boxes for hens, as they are calming to the hen and enhance the color and fl avor of yolks. German chamomile and lavender can be suspended in a hydrosol to use in conjunction with acupressure along the kidney meridian. My own horse, a thoroughbred who retired from nine years of racing and is now exploring a second career in jumping, benefi ts from a calming blend of nine dried herbs he selected, and he receives regular massage with an oil of magnesium and macerated yarrow. Endless opportunities exist to introduce these powerful plant medicines to animals in a safe and informed way. Whether you are exploring ways to improve the health and longevity of your family pet or a four-legged athletic partner, or you are considering paths to diversify your bodywork practice, aromatics for animals can help you meet these goals. Notes 1. Ashley Berke, "The Nose Knows: Sniffi ng Out Cancer at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center," University of Pennsylvania, September 9, 2016, www.vet.upenn.edu/about/news-room/bellwether/penn- vet-extra/penn-vet-extra-september-2016/the-nose-knows. 2. Ashley Berke, "The Nose Knows: Sniffi ng Out Cancer at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center." 3. Ashley Berke, "The Nose Knows: Sniffi ng Out Cancer at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center." Lola Michelin, LMT, LAMP, SAMP, is an animal massage practitioner, and the director of education at the Northwest School of Animal Massage in Washington State. For more information on animal massage, visit nwsam.com. SCAN AND LISTEN TO THE ABMP PODCAST WITH LOLA MICHELIN "Animal Massage" 1. Open your camera 2. Scan the code 3. Tap on notification 4. Listen!

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