The Dispensary of Hand Prepared Aromatic Remedies & Complementary Therapies

Champissage - Indian Head Massage

The History Of  Champissage  - (Indian Head Massage)

Massage has been a major part of medicine for at least five thousand years, and significant in Western medical tradition for at least three thousand years. It was primarily administered by physicians, and was the first and most important of the medical arts.

Ancient Greeks and Romans used massage as their principal means of pain relief and healing. In the 5th century BC Hippocrates wrote comprehensively about the benefits of massage and insisted that physicians should experience in rubbing ' as rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and can loosen a joint that is too rigid ' - he recognised that massage can tone and stimulate weak, inactive muscles and can relieve tension in tense, knotted muscles. Julius Caesar pictured to your right was treated daily by being pinched all over to relieve neuralgia and headaches. 

From the 5th century AD ( after the fall of Rome ) however, the development of medicine in Europe made very little progress and it was left to the Arabs to study and develop the teachings of the classical world.

The Historical Record

Throughout history, massage has been written about extensively, from the writings of medical texts in 500 BC to the production of the first medical books after the development of the printing press by Gutenberg dated around 1450.


Records in the British Museum show that as early as 3000 BC the Chinese were practising massage systems. They developed their technique, amma, over may years. Chinese massage today us an intergral part of China's medical clinics and hospitals. The modern term for Chinese massage is tui-na which literally means ' Push-Pull '


In the 6th century AD the practice of amma entered Japan. It remained much the same as in China, but the points of stimulation were called tsubo. The Japanese believe that applying pressure to these points releaseds energy which balances the body's life force (ki) The finger-pressure technique the Japanese called shiatsu, and in recent years this has become a popular method in the West.


On the indian sub-continent massage has been practised for over 3000 years. Knowledge of massage came to India from China, and was based on findings the various points on the body were pressure, rubbing, and manipulation were most effective.  Records indicate that ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians used forms of massage for many ailments. The Ayur-veda ( Art of life,  ) a sacred book among hindus, was written around 1800 BC. It included massage amongst its hygiene principals.

The family tradition orf massage in India dates back to the beginnings of Hinduism, which has been the main religion of India for almost two thousand years and still claims the loyalty of eighty per cent of Indians. Today this centuries old tradition is still as important a ritual as taking food, and plays a central role in the life of the family.

Newborn infants are massaged daily from birth to the age if three, which promotes bonding. The mother of the newly-born infant herself receives ceremonial massages daily for a minimum of forty days after the birth. The child will continue to receive massage twice or three times a week until the age of about seven. At this stage the child will begin to learn massage techniques, partly from experiencing massage abd partly from watching other family members carrying out massage.

He or she will gradually be encouraged to take an active part in massaging other family members. Massage is also given ceremonially prior to a wedding. The tradition is that the bride and groom receive massage from members of their respective families, as an essential part of the preparation ritual.

Massage is carried out using oils adn organic extracts. These produce a beaitiful glaze on the skin, are aromatic, and induce relaxation. The couple gain stamina nad physic strength, which in turn increases their beauty. After the wedding, the wife gives her husband a massage every day of their life together.

For Indian housewives, massage forms part of their social activities. when the chores are finished in the afternoon they will meet for a gossip and to enjoy a head massage. In old age, grandparents can enjoy massage given by their grandchildren. The stimulating effects of massage are seen as a benefit to the elders of the family, whereas the calming effects are valued in dealing with fractious or hyperactive children.

Different oils are used at different times of the year, according to the season, availability andcost. Warming oils are used in the winter, and cooling ones in summer. Oils in general use are coconut oil, used traditionally in the spring, and sesame oil, used in the summer to help keep the head cool in the high temperatures experienced in the sub-continent.

The most expensive oils, used by rich woman, are herbal oils with sandalwood and henna; these may also have ingredients added to promote hair growth and discourage dandruff.

In India, weekly massage is a family matter: almost everyone gives and receives it. At holidays locations, on the beaches and in the markets, from Bombay and Calcutta to Goa, you will find head massages being offered. A visit to the barber in India will always include a head massage as part of the service. Indians believe that massage preserves the body energy and saves the organism from decay. It is the most powerful method of relaxing and, at the same time, rejuvenating the body.

The Benefits

Psychological Benefits

If too many physical or psychological strains are put upon us, the normal balances of the body become upset. Some common illnesses may be stress-related. Stress can be quite healthy in the right circumstances. Up to a point, stress helps us live more fully, facing new challenges with the feeling of adrenaline flowing through the body - without challenges, life would often appear boring. Yet we each have our own stress threshold: the point beyond which the challenges of everyday living become too much to cope with. Combined with other factors, such as poor diet and lack of sleep, the stress level can become too high and result in exhaustion. The body is then liable to a variety of disorders, including high blood pressure, migraine, sleeping problems, digestive problems, minor aches and pains, depression, lack of concentration, feeling constantly angry or irritable, and in some instances skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Indian Head Massage offers one of the bst ways to deal with stress. It can help re-educate the body, reminding us how to rest and relax. When the body has been re-balanced and the immune system boosted, the body is better able to fight off infection and begin recovery.

 A good Indian Head Massage may occasionally induce the client to fall asleep; most clients at least fall into a state of deep relaxation. Often clients feel more refreshed after a Indian Head Massage than after a full night's sleep. It is very and often common following an Indian Head Massage for clients to sleep better than they have done for a long time previously.

  Indian Head Massage Is Soothing &  clients may experience the following benefits: 

 The mind can take a break and with increased oxygen to the brain, concentration and alertness afterwards often improve.

Tension often brings with it emotional disturbances. These can be alleviated by applying massage. As the client feels relaxed and secure, barriers may break down and emotion may be released. Clients may talk about their problems and quite often they are tearful. Later, though, and as a result, clients' depression, low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness may have been alleviated.

The Physical Touch and the uplifting effect of the massage can help clients to feel more confident. Energy levels are usually increased, as energy that has become blocked by tension is released and allowed to flow freely.

The Physical Benefits

Indian Head Massage involves the treatment of face, neck, scalp and shoulders. This type of massage can help produce the following effects:

General Relaxation 

Improved Blood Circulation - by warming the tissues, massage increases the oxxgen supply to the brain Improved Lymphatic Flow - which aids removal of waste products and toxins and thereby helps the immune system.

Reduced Muscular Tension - Massage breaks down nodules and adhesions in the muscles and releases toxins from tense muscles.

Regenerated Skin - Layers of the epidermis are stimulated which improves their cellular function.

Softer Skin - Sebaceous secretions are stimulated and the removal of dead skin cells (desquamation) is accelerated.

Reduced Stiffness in the neck and shoulder region, which relieves pain

Stimulated Nerve Endings which relieves muscular pain and fatigue.  

When applied to the scalp Indian Head Massage encourages hair growth and the facial massage helps to relieve sinus problems, eyesytrain, headache and insomnia. 

 The Muscles and Joints

  • When muscles are working they need a greater supply of oxygen and they produce more waste products, including lactic acid. The waste products may accumulate. particularly after strenuous exercise, and muscle stiffness may occur.
  • Massage increased circulation, bringing fresh oxygen to the muscle tissues, which helps to remove waste products more quickly.  By removing the lactic acid that has built up in the tissues, massage relieves muscluar fatigue.
  • Muscles that are tense and contracted can relax fully when massage is carried out. Regular massage helps muscles to function to their full capacity.
  • Muscles work over joints. If the movemen of joints is impaired by adhesions, for example in the shoulder joint, then the full range of movement will be prevented. Massaging the area can help loosen the adhesions, giving greater mobility in the joints and more movement in the muscles, thereby increasing the range of movement.


The Circulation

  • As the blood supply to the muscles is increased, the temperature rises  and the area feels warmer. Redness erythema appears at the skins surface. Blood in the veins carries waste, toxins, and carbon dioxide away from the tissues; blood in the arteries brings oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Massage therefore helps to promote healthy cells.
  • Flow is increased in the lymphatic circulation also, taking other waste products to the lymph glands and helping to combat infection.

The Nerves

  • If movements are gentle, peripheral nerve endings are soothed and the area is calmed and revitalised.
  • If the massage movements are brisk, they will stimulate the area.
  • Any painful areas, especially around the neck and shoulder region wil be relieved for a time. The pressure applied to these areas will create a numbing effect.

The Skin

  • Massage improves the funtioning of the sebaceous and sweat glands by freeing their openings, which tend to become blocked.
  • Sensory glands are nourished by the increased blood supply. More sebum is prodiced, and the skin becomes softer and more supple.
  • Sudoriferous glands are stimulated. As well as producing more sweat, this helps to remove waste products by excretion.
  • The top layer of dead skin cells is massaged away. This improves the skins condition, giving it a healthier appearance.

The Lungs

Certain movements (tapotement and percussion) have beneficial effects on the lung tissue. Improved circulation nourishes the tissues of the bronchioles, increasing their elasticity. This in turn improves the exchange of gases within the lungs, as carbon dioxide is breathed out and oxygen is breathed in.


Indian Head Massage Movements

The Movements Performed in Indian Head Massage are Classified in Five Groups:

Effleurage - A sweeping, stroking introductory movement. Its main uses are the beginning and the end of the massage sequence and as a connecting or link movement that can be used at any point during the massage procedure. Effleurage  introduces clients to massage, allowing them to get use to the practitioner's touch and to become sensitised to the underlying muscles abd tissues while the medium is applied to the area so that the whole area is lubricated. Effleurage has a soothing and relaxing effect. It can either be superficial or a deep massage movement. It is performed with the palm of the hand and pads of the fingers, depending on the size of the area to be massaged and the amount of pressure to be applied. Relaxed hands mould to the body's contours: the fingers are relaxed and held closely to the first finger. Effleurage follows the direction of the return of blood through the veins to the heart. Pressure is applied in that direction, On the return movement, less pressure is applied.


  • Has soothing effect on the nerves ( it induces relaxation )
  • Increases blood and lymphatic circulation
  • Relieves tension (contracted tense muscles relax)
  • Aids the removal of dead skin cells (desquamation)
  • Helps to reduce non-medical oedema, which is usually due to poor circulation and tiredness


Petrissage These movements are deeper strokes, usually applied with the thumbs, the fingers, or the heels of the hands. Manipulation include Kneading, picking-up, rolling and wringing. In Petressage the tissue is firmly picked up and lifted from the underlying structures and then released. The pressure is often intermittent.

Kneading Movements may be performed in many ways. The effect can be achieved using both hands, on hand or just part of the hand ( the palms, the thumb, or the fingers). The pressure is appled firmly, then released; the movement is then repeated in an adjacent area. The pressure is always applied towards the heart.

Picking -up This can be performed usually with one or both hands, depending on the area to be massaged. For example, if movements is to be be carried out on the deltoid muscle, then one hand is used and the muscle can be massaged on either side.

Wringing  The muscle is lifted from the underlying structures and then moved from side to side across the muscle length, using the fingers of one hand and the thumb of the opposite hadn. The tissue is grasped and stretched.

Rolling The hands are placed firmly on the area, the superficial tissues are grasped between the fingers and the thumbs, the tissues are gently rolled backwards and forwards against the thumbs and fingers.

Reinforced Movements When or if one hand or more fingers are placed over the other hand or corresponding fingers, this will give a deeper pressure. 


All the movements described above relieve muscular tension. fatigue, and stiffness. Massage:

  • Increase blood and lymph circulation
  • Increase  venous return
  • Breaks down tension nodules  in the muscles thereby helping to prevent the formation of fibrostis in the muscle, especially in the trapezius muscle of the upper back
  • Speeds up removal  of waste products that have accumulated in the tissues, aids the absorption of fluid, particularly around the joints
  • Aids relaxation

Tapotement (Percussion)

Tapotement or percussion movements are often used to stimulate and tone the area that is being treated on. Tapotement movements include tapping, cupping, clapping, and hackcing (also known as champissage) Usually before this type of movement can be used, the client must usually have sufficient muscle mass, without this tapotement could be exceptionally painful and could lead to bruising especially in thin or elderly type clients. These type of movements are normally light and springy and should not necessarily cause any discomfort.

Tapping  is performed using the fingertips where rhythm is continuous breaking contact with the skin tissue. 

Cupping is performed using a massage cupping sound allowing erythema (bringing blood) to the surface of the skin tissue to help promote and improve circulation.

Hacking or Chamissage  is a fast light movement that helps to stimulate blood flow and break down toxins.   


These types of movements:

  • Aid Sluggish circulation
  • Can help loosen mucus in chest conditions
  • Tone and strengthen muscles
  • Produces and help raise body temperature
  • Stimulates sensory nerve endings


Frictions are movements that cause the skin to rub against deeper underlying structures. They are applied on small areas of surface tissue. The movements used are applied using a circular technique using the tips of the thumbs and fingers applying a degree of stretch to the underlying structures.  


  • Help to break down thickenings caused by fibrous fatty deposits
  • Help to remove tight modules in areas of tension, friction, help to free adhesions thus preventing the formation of fibrositis in the muscular tissue (ie, the trapezius muscle located in the back)
  • Aid the removal ofg any non-medical oedema
  • Helps aid and promote relaxation
  • Increases lymph and blood circulation


Vibrations are used to relieve fatigue and pain by stimulating the nerves, thereby producing a sedative effect on the area being treated. Vibrations involve fine trembling movements which are performed either with one or both hands.


  • Clear and stimulate the nerve pathways
  • Relieve tension in the neck and back promoting relaxation 

Please be advised contra-indicaitons to treatment include any injuries, diseases, disorders of any factors that would prevent a treatment being carried out. This will of course be discussed during your initial consultation. (head injury, whiplash, bruising, epilepsy, recent haemorrhage, migrane, history of thrombosis or embolism - cannot be treated.)  

Treatment Cost and Aftercare Advice

Consultation without treatment

30 minutes £20.00

Initial Consultation on first visit with full Indian Head Massage treatment and aftercare advice

90 minutes £45.00

 Remember, relaxation is an important part of your day, so give time to yourself

'Marchant Therapies' Telephone: 07958 556909 24 hour answer machine service