Spotlight on Diabetes Massage: Improving Care in Underserved Communities in Mexico

Diabetes Type-2 is a common disease in Mexico. Diabetes massages are important in treating it, as research has shown they reduce both pain and blood glucose levels, provide relaxation, and improve medication adherence for those suffering from this disease.

Massage therapy has a long history in Mexico – local healers practicing massage are known as sobadores – but in the last 30 years, as therapeutic massage has grown in availability in Mexico’s urban areas, it has decreased in rural areas. Therapeutic or medical massage for diabetes in the rural Municipality of Cabo Corrientes where two-thirds of adults suffer from diabetes, is non-existent. The one exception to this is the work of Dr. Korn and the therapists of the Center for Traditional Medicine (CTM).

One of CTM’s projects is to deliver massage therapy for diabetes to underserved urban and rural indigenous regions and to local indigenous communities. This project, funded by the Massage Therapy Foundation in 2010 and 2019, aims to enhance the specific skills of massage therapists and to teach self-care massage methods to consumers and their families. Among the participating agencies in this project are the Centro de Salud in El Tuito, Cabo Corrientes Mexico with in-kind gifts of treatment locations, housing, and transportation from local residents.

CTM has a record of bringing successful treatment protocols to indigenous people and all who can benefit from them. From 2004 -2006, CTM was funded by the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on Polarity therapy with Native dementia caregivers. The study’s publications can be found here. The study revealed that receiving touch therapies decreases pain and stress and stimulates the recipient’s capacity to enact self-care activities.

As a chronic disease, the management of diabetes requires consistent self-care activities, called Diabetes Self‐Management Education (DSME). The delivery of massage specially designed for diabetes, coupled with teaching simple self-massage methods, leads to enhanced well being, self-care activities, and stimulates ongoing massage-seeking and often improved self-care.

To educate more people about the benefits of medical massage for diabetes, CTM has recently filmed a video (in Spanish with English subtitles) and created free downloadable books in both the Spanish and English language, as well as infographic posters in English and Spanish. CTM is offering free access to everyone, as well as an online course about diabetes. Find all these resources here.

Dr. Korn has also created a 30+ hour online certification training course for health professionals in Integrative Medicine and Nutrition for the treatment of Diabetes Type-2, Dementia, and Cognitive Decline. You can learn more about the certification course here.

To learn more, volunteer, or help support the work of CTM, drop us an email at or visit our project site.

This project is funded by the Massage Therapy Foundation, the Center for Traditional Medicine. and the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a Native-led organization and nonprofit 501(c)3.

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