(Investigator 179, 2018 March)


The earliest mention of massage can be found in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, attributed to Huang-ti, the Yellow Emperor who died in 2598 B.C.

Homer, Hippocrates, Plutarch and Galen all mention massage in their writings, and Buddha is depicted receiving a massage on the twelve hundred year old temple walls at Borobudur in Java. The Roman and Greek physicians also used massage for treating and healing physical pain.

The Ayurveda, Indian books written about 1800 B.C., describe a process of rubbing and "shampooing" the body as a means of promoting recovery and healing of the body after injury.

Massage went into a decline during the Middle Ages in Europe when it came to be identified with the sinful pleasures of the flesh.

The popular Swedish massage was developed by Per Hendrick Ling in Sweden at the beginning of the 19th century, and in the United States, Cornelius E. De Puy, M.D. published the first journal on the subject of massage therapy in 1817.

Today, massage parlours are found in almost every city, although some of them offer services not strictly recognised as therapeutic massage.


Stroking or kneading various parts of the body, particularly the upper torso, helps to relieve stress and tension.

Although the ancients regarded massage as a technique to treat a variety of chronic illnesses, massage therapy today is non-specific and different techniques are applied to treat different ailments.


The techniques vary from the gentle manipulation of soft tissue using oil, talcum powder or hot or cold packs to the use of electrical or mechanical apparatus. Some practitioners incorporate the structural integration techniques of the Alexander or Feldenkrais Techniques. Rolfing concentrates on softening the hardened connective tissues, and myothermy, or pressure-point massage, works on painful irritated areas in muscles. Aromatherapy massage combining massage techniques with the therapeutic use of oils is also very popular.


Widely used in sports support, the physical, mental and emotional benefits of massage are well documented and include increased circulation of the blood, relaxation and the reduction of stress. However, any suggestions that massage of any kind can overcome illnesses or diseases unrelated to muscular problems are without foundation.


American Massage Therapy Association.1989. A Guide to Massage Therapy in America, Chicago, Illinois.
 ________________________________1986. Applications of Therapeutic Massage. Chicago.
 ________________________________1986. Sports Massage. Chicago, Illinois.
________________________________1986. Stress. Chicago, Illinois.

Rolf, Ida P. 1975. What in the World is Rolfing? An Introduction to Structural Integration, A technique of Human Well Being. Dennis Landman, Santa Monica, California.

The Relaxing Art of Massage. 1996. Lansdowne Publishing Pty. Ltd. Sydney.

(From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc.)

Over 70 alternative healing methods examined on this website: