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.




Please believe us when we say…

Many of us have been practicing massage, esthetics, or nail care for a LONG time, but we were all clients before we were practitioners and we know how easy it is to ignore the advice of a pro.  I polled our team to get their feedback on the top 15 things they wished clients knew (or rather, they wished clients would believe their esthetician, LMT, or nail tech about!)

15. If you are indecisive about nail polish colors, bring an article of clothing you want help matching for a special event or come with at least a basic idea of the color family (i.e. red, blue, pink) and whether you want cream or sparkle.  Your nail tech has seen how all of the colors look with lots of different skin types so if you are torn between a few shades, defer to her for the color that will look best and get you the most compliments!  If you arrive a few minutes early, ask the receptionist if you can walk back to the nail room for extra browsing time!

14.  Sometimes the most effective massages aren’t the ones with the heaviest pressure.  Lighter touch might do wonders for tension and services like Cranio Sacral Therapy are incredibly gentle but effective.

13. Shellac is a name brand gel polish from CND, but like most people call all kinds of tissues “Kleenx” even if they are a store brand or “Puffs” brand,some places just call all gel polishes “Shellac.”  Real Shellac can remove gently in under 10 minutes with no damage to the nail, but if what you are wearing is an off-brand, it might take our nail techs longer which will cut into your other service times.  Please be understanding with our nail techs if they have to adjust your service  due to longer removal process of non-Shellac gel polishes.

12. While we love that people think we’re just naturally gifted, our professions do require quite a bit of education and continuing education.  Many of our employees have over 1,000 hours of industry training, some over 2000 hours!   All of our licensed employees are required to attend regular continuing education (which is awesome because our classes are so cool!)

11. Men visit the spa and not just for massage!  Guys need skin care and facial treatments even more than women because of how irritating shaving can be on the skin.  Did you know that lots of pro football players regularly get manicures and distance runners often get pedicures to keep their toenails healthy so they can survive the abuse of training?

10. You will enjoy your service more if you arrive 5-10 minutes early to relax and shake off the day’s stresses so you can start your service in a place of relaxation.  Arriving late sets the wrong tone, means it takes you longer to get “in the zone” and means a shorter session.  If you just can’t seem to make it on time, book 15 minutes later.

9. Real change takes time.  While our LMTs, Estheticians, and nail techs are experienced and well educated in their specialties, it usually takes more than one visit to help you achieve your goals.  If you have had pain from your posture at work for years, it will take more than one massage for relief.  If you have been a nail biter working to grow your nails, a series of manicures can do wonders.  Working to see big improvements with your skin?  It will take more than one facial.  While one spa visit is great for an occasional indulgence, for real change, doing the recommended home care and visiting on a regular schedule will really improve the health of your skin or nails or decrease your pain.

8. We really do book up, especially for evenings and Saturdays.  Our happiest clients are those who set aside a regular time for sessions and book standing weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly services so they have something to look forward to and aren’t stressed when they can’t get in last minute.  It is easier to give us a day’s notice to cancel than to get in at a popular time on a day’s notice.

7. Everyone’s skin needs change regularly, especially with seasons which is why monthly facials are good.  Plus it is really nice to come regularly for a deeper cleanse with steam and extractions.

6. It is totally fine not to chat during your services!  You’ll get to a deeper state of relaxation and your therapist can focus more on his or her work for a more effective session.  If you snore, even better!  We consider that our highest compliment!

5. If your nails are dry or brittle, your hands are frequently in water or you have a job requiring lots of hand washing, or you don’t regularly moisturize nails with cuticle oil, your polish (including CND Shellac) will chip sooner.  Really, cuticle oil and starting with healthy nails will make a huge difference in how long your polish lasts.

4. Don’t plan a big night out drinking before (or after) your massage.  Trust us, it is very hard to relax with a hangover and massage will not help.  If you have a massage on the books and plan to go drinking afterward, you might feel extra crummy the next day.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

3. All bodies are awesome.  Trust us, we see pre-teens, great-great-grandmas, people with severe injuries, people undergoing cancer therapies, pregnant women, people of all heights and weights and we are not judging our clients on their bodies.  Your therapist is not focusing on your weight or your body hair, or blemishes.  He or she is focusing on how to help you feel great in the body you have and it is a really, really wonderful job.

2. Yes, our significant others are lucky (because we are awesome people) but no, they don’t get massage all the time.  In most cases, they have to schedule appointments like everyone else.  And often, they see our co-workers who are focused more on their therapy needs and not whether or not the dishes got done at home. 😉

1. Having regular massage will assist in strengthening the immune system by lowering stress levels and helping to keep stress in the body to a minimum.   And, considering that stress is a huge risk factor for many major life-threatening diseases, reducing stress can save your life!