Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis: What are they and can spas help?

Today is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness day.  Our team has grown familiar with these diseases because two of our team members who have agreed to let us use their name, are living with them.  Cassandra, our nail technician and esthetician was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 21.  Celeste, one of our receptionists, has Crohn’s disease, which is the main reason she is no longer working as a cosmetologist.

We recently partnered with our friends at Two Rivers Marketing in the East Village for their month of fundraising for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) by sending two of our massage therapists, Jamee and Justin, to do chair massage in exchange for donations.  In just 90 minutes, they raised nearly $300 for the foundation from the employees at Two Rivers Marketing!

Justin providing chair massage to raise funds for CCFA at Two Rivers Marketing

Justin providing chair massage to raise funds for CCFA at Two Rivers Marketing

Crohn’s and Colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that affect all or part of the digestive tract. Symptoms common to both Crohn’s and Colitis are  diarrhea, blood in the stools, fever, inflammation, pain, and unintended weight loss.  The inflammation and symptoms can lead to scarring, ulcers, fistulas, and blockages which may necessitate surgery. These diseases aren’t typically fatal, but their complications can be.  These diseases and their treatments can also increase the risk of cancer.

Doctors don’t know the exact causes of IBD.  Some speculate that stress plays a role, though there is some indication that hereditary and immune system disorders play a major role.  Others risk factors are diet, history of smoking or living in polluted areas, age, and use of certain medications.

Surgery may be a cure for someone with Ulcerative Colitis by removing the colon and rectum, but will lead to diet and lifestyle changes.  Surgery may temporarily alleviate symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, but is not a cure.

Cassandra says that one thing she wishes more people understood is that she can no longer eat like everyone else.  She has to eat small, frequent meals and is often hungry.  Her abdomen makes lots of noises as well.  She works to make sure her schedule at the spa includes frequent breaks for small meals between clients.  Cassandra recommends that people who are newly diagnosed with these diseases join a support group, get a CCFA membership, and talk to others online or in person.

While people primarily see these as digestive diseases, according to the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) 10-20% of people, like Celeste, who have these diseases also have joint pain and problems.  

There hasn’t been much research into spa services and inflammatory bowel diseases, we do know that stress can exacerbate symptoms of Crohn’s and Colitis.  Spa treatments, especially massage therapy, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.  Massage therapy is also beneficial with post surgical scarring and range of motion.  Because Crohn’s can cause chronic pain, massage also might be beneficial as it has been shown to have a positive effect on people with other inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.  This month, Massage and Bodywork Magazine published a great article about massage therapy and Crohn’s Disease.

If you or someone you know are living with Crohn’s or Colitis and want to know which services might be appropriate, don’t hesitate to contact us!  For more information, see the three great resources below.




Proven benefits of massage therapy

In the nearly 10 years I’ve been a massage therapist, it has been really fun to see the shift in attitudes about massage therapy.  It used to be viewed as more of a luxury, or something to do only for fun or a special occasion.  While massage therapy is still an awesome way to celebrate an anniversary or birthday, more people are using it as a regular part of their health and wellness routines.

Groups like the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami have published great studies on the benefits of massage therapy.  The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is another great resource for good, solid FACTUAL information.

Findings from massage therapy research is well summarized on an article at and highlights include the following benefits of massage:

  • alleviate low back pain
  • Shorten labor, reduce labor pains, and reduce hospital stays after delivery
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, atrophied muscles
  • Help people working to ease dependence on pain medications
  • Increase joint flexibility
  • Help after surgeries to reduce adhesions and swelling
  • Reduce scar tissue
  • Reduce anxiety and depression (there are great studies on the effects of massage on people undergoing cancer treatments and the effects of massage to reduce their anxiety about their diagnosis)
  • Reduce migraine pain and frequency

The Mayo Clinic lists other benefits including:

  • Help with digestive concerns
  • Help reduce insomnia related to stress (I can personally attest to this!  A hot stone massage does the trick for me!)
  • Reduce pain from TMJ
  • Help recover from sports injuries
  • MORE!

Really, the best way to see if massage can help you is to book one.  Not every kind of massage is beneficial for every condition.  For relaxation, circulation, and stress reduction, a Swedish or Hot Stone massage might be the ticket.  For recovery after a sprain or strain, a myofascial or sports massage is best.  If you’re struggling with migraines, a cold stone massage, craniosacral massage, or other focused massage could help.


Also, because massage therapy can serve to help so many conditions, it is important to note that not every  massage therapist specializes in every type of massage or in work with every type of injury.  Our clients who are happiest and benefit most from their treatments have 2-3 therapists at the spa they see based on their needs.  They might see Tiffany during their pregnancies and Justin for sports therapy.  They might see Clair for deep tissue and stretching work, but Teresa for migraine help using Craniosacral techniques.  All of our therapists are very flexible in their treatments, but they also are very familiar with what their colleagues specialize in so are always happy to make a referral.  And NO!  You aren’t cheating on your LMT if you try a different style of work!

We have a little quiz (not super scientific, more for fun and info) to help guide you in choosing the best spa massage for you to try for your first time, or you can call and ask Kelly at the front desk what she recommends based on your needs!

East Village Spa to Receive ISPA Innovate Award at 2014 ISPA Conference & Expo

I am very pleased to announce that we have won an ISPA Innovate Award!  We’ll be recognized along with 14 other spas around the world for business innovations.  I am particularly excited about this award because it will give me an opportunity to speak to a large group of my peers about the advantages of hiring people with disabilities.

In March this year, we met with Candeo, an organization that helps businesses to identify unmet employment needs and then works to fill those needs with an individual with a disability.  Our laundry mountains had been growing and our employees were getting busier doing treatments (yay!) but were needing help with the laundry.

Mallory, LMT, Holly, Laundry Assistant, and Tiffany, LMT/Receptionist work together to keep up with the linens!

Mallory, LMT, Holly, Laundry Assistant, and Tiffany, LMT/Receptionist work together to keep up with the linens!

Candeo introduced us to Holly, whom we hired.  They have been coming to work with Holly at every shift to help train her, though she’s super independent with her work and possibly our most enthusiastic employee!  Holly’s co-workers were asked to write down their favorite work memory from the first half of the year so far for a spa party and nearly every single one pertained to something awesome Holly said or did!

If you’re needing help at your workplace or have an unmet employment need, even if it is just for a couple of hours a week, I’d guess that Candeo can help you find a perfect employee!  Feel free to contact me if you have questions and I’ll put you in touch or reach out to them directly.

Below is the press release for our award:


Des Moines, IA Sept. 3, 2014 – East Village Spa will be celebrated by the International SPA Association (ISPA) at the upcoming 2014 ISPA Conference & Expo with an ISPA Innovate Award. The ISPA Innovate Award is given to spa industry leaders with innovative and successful spa-related initiatives.

Cassie Sampson, spa owner will represent East Village Spa at the 2014 ISPA Conference & Expo, focusing on the topic, “individuals with disabilities find perfect spa employment.”

“Innovation is the driving force behind growth in the spa industry,” said ISPA President Lynne McNees. “Recognizing the innovation that is occurring within ISPA’s membership will encourage and inspire future ideas.”

“Hiring an employee with different abilities and strengths has helped to fill an employment need for us,” said Sampson. “Our laundry assistant, Holly, is proud to be a part of the East Village Spa team and her co-workers are thankful that the work she does helps them to be able to focus on providing great treatments to customers. Her positivity is contagious and we look forward to her shifts. I’m excited that this award will help us educate more people about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.”

The ISPA Conference & Expo Innovate Session will be held on October 15 at 3:30 pm at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., where a select group of award recipients will share their innovations with ISPA Conference attendees. Attendees can register for the ISPA Conference & Expo by visiting

New Years Resolutions

For year’s I’ve been resolving to start a spa blog…so it seems that a
resolution blog is the best way to start off the year AND the blog!

are a great way to help stay on track for your new years resolutions
and goals. Some popular goals we can help with include:

  • Reducing Stress/ more “me” time: I think that any spa services are the best way to go about this!
  • Quit
    biting your nails:  Regular manicures are helpful in growing nails.
    First, if nails look good, you’re less likely to bite.  Second,
    professional manicures can help with dry, dead skin around the nail and
    cuticle that are so tempting to chew, especially in the winter.  Third,
    if you have a thick gel polish like Shellac on your nails, trust me,
    they aren’t as fun to bite (spoken by a reformed nail biter!)
  • Weight
    Loss/Fitness Goals: While massages won’t melt the pounds (we’d be rich
    if they did!) they will help keep you in shape, especially if you’ve
    gone from couch to champ overnight!  As your body gets used to new
    workouts, it is possible to get injured.  Massages will help keep you on
    target to meet your goals so you don’t miss too many gym sessions for
    soreness and injuries.

We look forward to seeing you in 2014 and helping you to have your best year ever!

smnycollageCassie and the spa team

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