Ancient Belly Secret

Self-abdominal massage brings relief for belly ailments

“Digestive health issues are often the underlying cause of many health disorders.”

Did you know that expressions like “my gut reaction” or “my gut instinct” reflect what is now accepted as a medical idea? The abdomen is often called the “second brain” thanks to the groundbreaking discovery of Dr. Michael D. Gershon. In his book, The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine, Dr. Gershon reveals that nerve cells in the gut act as a brain. Considering the belly is where we might hold emotional stress, have you noticed that the abdomen is oddly omitted in Western massage therapy?  I noticed. As a naturopathic doctor and a person with a sensitive tummy I was determined to find a complete approach to improving abdominal health with the goal of sharing what I discovered with my patients. In my 11 years of naturopathic practice, I realized approximately 80% of my patients were coming due to symptoms in the abdominal region. Digestive health issues are often the underlying cause of many health disorders. Dietary changes, nutritional supplements, herbal or homeopathic remedies and traditional Chinese medicine were making significant improvements, but I still felt something was missing. The “aha moment” came when I discovered Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy (ATMAT).  ATMAT is a modern adaptation of ancient Mayan healing techniques developed by Dr. Rosita Arvigo, who spent 30 years in Belize apprenticing under Mayan healers. Through a unique, non-invasive external massage, ATMAT gently aligns the muscles and ligaments of the abdomen improving circulation and lymphatic flow to the region, which helps the functionality of the abdominal and pelvic organs. Teaching the patient self-care abdominal massage is a vital component of ATMAT. ATMAT can particularly enhance women’s health issues and is often called “uterine massage.” The popularity of ATMAT is growing rapidly in the USA, England and Australia and has caught the attention of the media. Daphne Oz, daughter of well-known physician Dr. Oz, recently wrote about ATMAT in O, The Oprah Magazine. After experiencing rewarding results as a patient of ATMAT for over 6 years followed by intensive training in the United States, I am now one of the few practitioners offering ATMAT in Toronto. I created the Belly Be Well program, which offers a careful combination of a tailored naturopathic treatment with the benefits of ATMAT. The Belly Be Well program is designed to help people with digestive disorders, menstrual cycle disorders, fertility issues, urological disorders, gynecological disorders, displaced uterus or bladder, menopause or pelvic pain or congestion. The integration of an ancient hands-on therapy to successfully improve modern abdominal-pelvic health issues seemed like a natural fit and I will be forever grateful for trusting the gut instinct that guided me to find it so that I may share it with others.   Christine Matheson is a naturopathic doctor (ND) practicing in Toronto since 2002 and is one of the first ND’s in Canada to work in a hospital at Women’s College Hospital. Learn more about her balanced and integrative approach to health at:

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