Chinese Wisdom - Gloucestershire Echo
Ancient medicine inspires family to spread the word
Chinese wisdom is being spread across the western world thanks to one Cheltenham woman. Owen Adams found out how an ancient form of massage changed the life of Maria Mercati and her family.
may seem hard to believe unless you've been initiated, but behind
the trim suburban facade of Flecker's Drive in Up Hatherley there's
a drug-free health revolution in progress. From her modern Cheltenham
semi, Maria Mercati - author, teacher, masseuse and acupuncturist - is spreading Chinese
wisdom across the western world.
Maria, her family and her students from around the world,
have a busy schedule. For,
Maria's Bodyharmonics is the only place in Europe to treat and teach
people using Tui Na massage and acupuncture as a complete package. And,
as her books and instructional videos are selling by the thousands,
so people are travelling from all over Britain and Europe to receive treatment. Since discovering
the ancient massage Tui Na (pronounced twee-nah) on a 1992 trip to China, Maria has become one
of the foremost authorities on Chinese medicine outside the Orient.
Tui Na works separately and in conjunction with acupuncture
and herbs. All three forms of Chinese medicine work using a complex
diagram of the human body which consists of 12 energy channels linked to various organs. On the body,
there are 365 different points. The
treatment is to remove blockages to the flow of energy, thus restoring
balance. It involves basic Chinese philosophies like the yin and
yang and the five elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood.
put, Tui Na is acupuncture with moving pressure used instead of
needles - it uses bare-handed rubbing, chops, knuckle rolls and
a myriad other often vigorous, intense and deep pulling, shaking,
pummelling, pounding, kneading and vibrating techniques. In addition to specific ailments being treated, you leave
after a session of Tui Na and acupuncture feeling considerably refreshed,
more alive and as light as a feather.
However, the massage is not a form of chill out therapy
- it's intense, rough, bordering on violent (although the pummelling
and pushing is very subjective) and you're likely to wake up the
next day feeling like you've been in a mangle. But breach the pain
barrier and you experience something almost transcendental. If that
seems enough of an ordeal, Chinese practitioners of Tui Na and acupuncture
allow for at least 10 similarly powerful sessions to complete any
specific treatment. This is to ensure that the energies are so balanced
that the body's healing is complete.
Obviously, for babies and young children, the treatment
is far gentler. Each of a baby's fingers can be tweaked to encourage
the Qi (energy flow) for each organ, rubbing the abdomen in a circular
motion treats wind and colic and a needle between the thumb and
index finger of a young child wards off colds and flu - according
to the doctrine of Tui Na and acupuncture.
was diagnosed with Perthes'
Disease (a destructive hip complaint which often develops into osteoporosis)
as a child and was told she would eventually need a hip replacement. But an eye opening trip to China for a month long course
of treatment in 1992 meant no hospital treatment was needed. Nine
years later, Maria still has her own healthy hip. She
said: "I was so amazed by my progress in the first week of
treatment, I felt I had to bring Tui Na to the western world - teach it, practise it and write books about it.
'The public get told by their doctors that they have
just one option, which often involves an operation or drugs. "In
China, there are no chiropractors, osteopaths and other Specialists
that you find in western medicine because all their needs are met
by massage, acupuncture and herbs. "For something like a car
crash or a burst appendix, you need western treatment but most health
problems and diseases can be cured with Chinese medicine. "You're
not actually healing people, you're just getting the body in a state
where it can heal itself."
Since that fateful visit, Maria has returned to China
eight times to gain extra knowledge. On
the last visit, she took along a camera crew to record 50 hours'
footage of people being treated using Tui Na and other Chinese medicines in combination. After the laborious process of editing the tapes, a short
series containing the footage will hopefully be shown on TV. In
one case, a weeping mother and father were told by doctors that
there was no hope for their
baby daughter, infected by meningitis. She had been in a coma for three months and the hospital
wanted to turn off her life support system. But, after a Tui Na
practitioner had worked his magic for five minutes by pressing his
hands, on her acupoints she came out of her coma and was on the
road to recovery. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it
with my own eyes,” said Maria.
Maria says many of her clients are families. She teaches
parents step-by-step to massage their babies while adults require
a professional Tui Na practitioner as stronger and more complex
techniques are needed. "Every
time I complete a session and see the difference in the person leaving,
I feel a great sense of fulfillment,"
All four of Maria's children practice Tui Na - Gisela, 29, and Gina, 27, in London and Graham, 25, in Buckinghamshire. His twin Danella has re-joined her mother in Cheltenham after spending two months in the Caribbean resort of Parrot Cay, where she massaged stars like Paul McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Demi Moore and their families.
Tui Na Can Treat Many Ailments
Tui Na's literal translation is to push and grasp. Some experts believe it pre-dates acupuncture, which has been practised for 4,000 years in China.
It promotes smooth, unhindered flow of Qi (energy) through a system of 12 channels called meridians and regulates and balances the spread of Qi between the organs by stimulating specific combinations.
Tui Na and/or acupuncture can he used to treat chronic pain caused by musculo-skeletal conditions like back pain, knee conditions, frozen shoulder, sports injuries and osteo arthritis, internal conditions like sinusitis, bay fever, ME, MS, menopause and migraine, psychological conditions like depression and insomnia as well as common childhood conditions such as colic, cough and colds, hyperactivity, teething, cerebral palsy, night crying, asthma and fever.
It treats all conditions that osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists deal with in the western world.
Tui Na uses no oil or drugs and is performed through clothing.
Tui Na works in conjunction with other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ranking equally with acupuncture, herbal medicine and Qigong. More than one-fifth of the world's population uses TCM - the second largest medical system in the world.
Tui Na links different emotions to different organs. For excessive joy, sadness, hysteria, stress and irrational behaviour, the heart is treated. The stomach and spleen are connected with too much thinking, worrying and lethargy and the liver and gall-bladder to anger and depression. The bladder and kidneys are linked with fear and phobias, whether mild or acute and the lungs are connected with feelings of sadness and grief.
Baby Tui Na is said to strengthen the child's immune system and reduce reactions to substances that cause asthma and eczema, develop the brain to increase intelligence, help with parent-to-child bonding and improve motor co-ordination to enhance physical skills like writing, drawing and sports. It is a holistic treatment, that treats and balances the entire body and mind.