When Surgery Is Not An Option: The Jin Shin Energy Healing Holistic Approach to Vocal Health

Woman singer with mic

Jin Shin Energy Healing is an ancient Japanese healing art that uses the fingers to harmonize the body’s energy flow. It is based on the idea that energy flows through the body along specific pathways called meridians. By placing the fingers on specific points along these pathways, practitioners believe they can help to balance the body’s energy and promote healing.

In this article, we will discuss the use of Jin Shin energy healing as a complement to conventional medical treatment for vocal dysfunction. Our recommendations are for educational purposes only, and are not meant as a replacement for medical intervention.

An Overview of the Conventional Perspective on Vocal Dysfunction

Allopathic medical practice recognises four broad categories of pathology, namely: inflammatory, neoplastic, functional and traumatic.

Inflammatory vocal fold pathology

Inflammatory vocal fold pathology is a term that refers to various conditions that affect the vocal folds and cause inflammation, swelling, or damage to the tissue. Some examples of inflammatory vocal fold pathology are:

  • Vocal fold nodules: these are benign growths on the vocal folds that are usually caused by voice overuse or irritation. They can make the voice sound hoarse or breathy.
  • Vocal fold polyps: similar to nodules, but larger and more irregular in shape. They can be pedunculated (attached by a stalk) or sessile (flat). They can also result from voice overuse, irritation, or trauma. They can make the voice sound hoarse, rough, or weak.
  • Reinke’s edema: a condition where the superficial layer of the vocal fold (Reinke’s space) becomes filled with fluid and causes the vocal folds to swell and become floppy. It is often associated with smoking, chronic irritation, or reflux. It can make the voice sound low-pitched, husky, or breathy.
  • Contact ulcers: small ulcers or granulomas that form on the back part of the vocal folds where they meet. They can be caused by excessive coughing, throat clearing, intubation, or reflux. They can make the voice sound hoarse, painful, or strained .
  • Keratosis: a condition where the vocal fold epithelium becomes thickened and rough due to chronic irritation or inflammation. It can be a precursor to dysplasia or cancer. It can make the voice sound hoarse or raspy.
Neoplastic Vocal Fold Pathology

Neoplastic vocal fold pathology is a term that refers to various conditions that involve abnormal growth of cells in the vocal folds. Some examples of neoplastic vocal fold pathology are:

  • Vocal fold papilloma: benign tumors that are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. They can grow in clusters and cause hoarseness, airway obstruction, or bleeding.
  • Vocal fold dysplasia: a precancerous condition where the vocal fold epithelium shows abnormal changes such as hyperplasia, atypia, or carcinoma in situ. It can be caused by chronic irritation, smoking, or HPV infection. It can make the voice sound hoarse or rough.
  • Vocal fold carcinoma: a malignant tumor that originates from the vocal fold epithelium. It is more common in men, smokers, and drinkers. It can make the voice sound hoarse, weak, or breathy. It can also cause pain, dysphagia, hemoptysis, or neck mass.
  • Vocal fold myxoma: a rare benign tumor that arises from the mesenchymal cells in the vocal fold stroma. It can resemble a vocal fold polyp clinically and histologically. It can make the voice sound hoarse or breathy.
Functional Vocal Fold Dysfunction

Functional vocal fold pathology is a term that refers to various conditions that affect the voice without any identifiable structural or neurological abnormality of the vocal folds. Some examples of functional vocal fold pathology are:

  • Muscle tension dysphonia: a condition where the muscles around the larynx are excessively tight or uncoordinated, causing strain or imbalance in the vocal fold vibration. It can make the voice sound hoarse, strained, or breathy.
  • Vocal tremor: a condition where the voice has involuntary rhythmic fluctuations in pitch, loudness, or quality. It can be caused by various factors such as aging, stress, medication, or neurological disorders. It can make the voice sound shaky, quivering, or wobbly.
  • Spasmodic dysphonia: a condition where the vocal folds have sudden and involuntary spasms that interrupt the voice. It can be classified into adductor type (where the vocal folds spasm closed) or abductor type (where the vocal folds spasm open). It can make the voice sound strained, choppy, or whispery.
  • Paradoxical vocal fold movement: a condition where the vocal folds close or narrow during inhalation instead of opening normally. It can cause difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, or choking. It can be triggered by various factors such as stress, exercise, irritants, or reflux.
Traumatic Vocal Fold Dysfunction

Traumatic vocal fold pathology is a term that refers to various conditions that result from excessive or improper use of the voice, causing injury or damage to the vocal fold tissue. Some examples of traumatic vocal fold pathology are:

  • Vocal fold nodules: benign growths on the vocal folds that are usually caused by voice overuse or irritation. They can make the voice sound hoarse or breathy.
  • Vocal fold polyps: similar to nodules, but larger and more irregular in shape. They can be pedunculated (attached by a stalk) or sessile (flat). They can also result from voice overuse, irritation, or trauma. They can make the voice sound hoarse, rough, or weak.
  • Vocal fold cysts: fluid-filled sacs that develop within the vocal fold tissue. They can be congenital or acquired. They can result from voice overuse, trauma, infection, or blockage of a gland. They can make the voice sound hoarse, breathy, or strained.
  • Vocal fold hematoma: bleeding into the vocal fold tissue due to trauma, such as intubation, surgery, or blunt force. It can cause pain, swelling, and bruising of the vocal folds. It can make the voice sound hoarse, weak, or aphonic.
  • Contact ulcers: small ulcers or granulomas that form on the back part of the vocal folds where they meet. They can be caused by excessive coughing, throat clearing, intubation, or reflux. They can make the voice sound hoarse, painful, or strained.
Diagnosis of Vocal Fold Dysfunction: Conventional Methods

These conditions are diagnosed by an otolaryngologist (a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat disorders) who will ask about the symptoms, history, and possible causes of the voice problem. The otolaryngologist will also perform a physical examination of the larynx and the vocal folds using a laryngoscope (a thin tube with a light and a camera) and a stroboscopic light source (a device that flashes light in sync with the vocal fold vibration). The stroboscopy allows the otolaryngologist to see the vocal fold movement and identify any abnormalities in the structure or function of the vocal folds.

Jin Shin Energy Healing Approach to Vocal Dysfunction

Vocal dysfunction, indeed, all dysfunction is a result of the improper circulation of energy, or chi in the body. Chi is one’s life force. Chi flows through 26 points located throughout the body in Jin Shin Energy Healing. All of the points have an emotional, mental and physiological component to them, and consequently may be affected by any of these components. Harmonise the energy flow  and the dysfunction will disappear. In Jin Shin Energy Healing, the vocal dysfunction is the effect. The disruption to proper circulation is the cause.

In a Jin Shin energy healing session, the client lies face-up on the therapy bed while the practitioner places his or her hands on two points, feeling the pulse under them. The path of energy can be considered to be ‘harmonised’ when the pulse under both hands has subsided. The practitioner will carry out a series of steps known as a ‘flow’, in order to restore proper energy circulation. Clients are given self-help ‘homework’ usually involving holding a prescribed finger(s) or toe(s) in order to support their healing at home.

Diagnosis of Vocal Dysfunctions in Jin Shin Energy Healing

Like Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, Jin Shin practitioners use pulse diagnosis and body reading to discover the underlying causes of dysfunction.

Pulse diagnosis is a technique of assessing the balance and flow of Chi (vital energy) and Blood in the body by feeling the pulse at three positions on each wrist. The positions correspond to different physiological causes (emotional/mental/physical) and different depths of energy. The practitioner evaluates the pulse quality according to various criteria, such as rate, rhythm, depth, width, strength, and shape .

Jin Shin body reading involves scanning the body to identify areas of disharmony. Together with pulse diagnosis, posture, movement, colour, texture and shape of the body parts provide vital information as to the state of the body. Every client is different. Unlike conventional medicine, similar symptoms may have different causes, and thus must be treated differently.

There are three possible causes of disharmony in Jin Shin Energy Healing: depth of energy, organ function energy and energy points.

Depth disharmonies

Jin Shin energy healing has 9 depths of energy. A depth of energy is indicates a vibration level. The slower the energy vibrates, the more dense it gets, and the lower the depth. Each depth of energy is associated with a color, an element, a part of the body, a season and more. For the purposes of this article, we will confine the discussion to physiological manifestations of the depths on the body.

The vocal folds and surrounding muscles involve the 2nd and 4th depth of energy respectively. The vocal folds are deep skin which is manifested 2nd depth energy. Any accumulations on the vocal folds (e.g polyps, nodules, cysts) and degradations of the folds (ulcers, atrophy) thereof,  are thus an indication of a possible 2nd depth disharmony.

The 2nd depth of energy is associated with social connections; mental activity and the attitude of Sadness. The broad category of Sadness includes difficulty in letting go (attachment), low self-esteem, low self-image. A holistic treatment plan should explore these themes, in order to address the mental and emotional causes of the dysfunction.

The 4th depth of energy governs the muscles and hormones. All muscular projects e.g. dysphonia, tremor, paradoxical vocal fold movement, warrant a look at disharmonies in this depth. The 4th depth of energy is associated with Fear (stress), especially the fear of not being in control of one’s life, which is common to many performers in the Arts. A holistic treatment plan may include psychological interventions such as clinical hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction etc. in order to help clients who present with these disharmonies resolve the mental-emotional cause(s) behind the dysfunction.

Organ function energy disharmonies

The 12 major organ function energies are common to both traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well as Jin Shin energy healing. Each depth of energy is home to two paired Yin (Feminine) and Yang (Masculine) energies. An organ function energy is an energy that carries out the function of the physical organ e.g Stomach energy carries out the function physical and mental digestion. Organ function energies travel along a set path known as a ‘meridian’.

Of the 12 organ function energies, we find harmonising Heart ,Small Intestine and Kidney extremely useful in our practice.

Heart Organ Function Energy

The Heart and Small Intestine are the paired Yang (Masculine) and Yin (Feminine) aspects of 5th depth energy respectively. Both Heart and Small Intestine affect the throat. Disruptions or overflow to the energy in this area may result in vocal dysfunctions.

Heart Organ Function Energy is one of the twelve major organ function energies of the body in TCM. It is associated with the element of fire, the emotion of joy, and the physical organ of the heart.

The voice is considered to be an expression of Heart in TCM, and the quality of the voice reflects the state of Heart energy. A clear and harmonious voice indicates a balanced and healthy Heart, while a weak, hoarse, or shaky voice indicates a deficiency or excess of heart energy. The Heart meridian also connects with the tongue, which is responsible for speech and taste.

Small Intestine Organ Function Energy

The Small Intestine Organ Function Energy is another one of the twelve major organ function energies of the body in TCM. It is also associated with the element of fire and is paired with the Heart.

The voice is also related to the Small Intestine, as the meridian connects with the ear and influences the sense of hearing. A balanced and healthy Small Intestine can lead to a clear and harmonious voice, while an imbalanced or unhealthy Small Intestine  can lead to a weak, hoarse, or shaky voice like voices afflicted with functional vocal fold pathology.

The Small Intestine also affects the speech and communication abilities of a person, which makes it one of the more pertinent organ function energy to look into in the event that vocal pathology is identified.

Relationship of the Heart and Small Intestine to 5th Depth

Both Heart and Small Intestine belong to the 5th depth of energy. The 5th depth of energy is associated with element fire. It forms the bones. Psychologically, the 5th depth of energy is related to the Attitude of Trying-to/ Pretense. Trying-to is linked to pushing the body past its limits. In the realm of voice, this means pushing the voice and body too hard. Busy schedules and prolonged frequent voice use characterise every professional performer’s career. As such, this aspect of life has to be addressed for a holistic resolution of related vocal dysfunctions.

The opposite of Pretense is Authenticity. Perhaps the performer is expressing themselves in a way that is not true to who they really are. Or the persona that they present conflicts with their true nature. The vocal dysfunction may be a psychosomatic manifestation of this conflict and a wake-up call to resolve it.

5th depth pulse shows up as an ‘explosion’ on the wrist in pulse diagnosis. It can also show up as completely no pulse at all as element fire has burnt-out element wood. Element wood is the representative of the individual’s health.

If we resolve the vocal dysfunction through surgery and voice therapy, without addressing the psychological aspect, continued strain on the nervous system might just herald the return of the dysfunction, or a different manifestation of it.

Kidney Organ Function Energy

Kidney organ function energy is associated with the element of water, the emotion of fear, and the essence of life. It helps to nourish and balance the kidney organ and its functions, such as filtering the blood, regulating the fluids, and storing life essence.

The voice is also related to the Kidney in Jin Shin Energy Healing, as this flow connects with the lungs and influences the respiratory system. The voice is an expression of a person’s life essence, which is stored in the physical kidneys, and nourished by the Kidney function energy flow. As Kidney life essence decreases with age, age-related vocal pathology such as vocal fold atrophy, vocal tremors, or bowing (presbyphonia or prebylaryngeus) may be traced to disharmonies in the Kidney energy.

A balanced and healthy Kidney function energy flow can lead to a strong and clear voice, while an imbalanced or unhealthy Kidney function energy flow can lead to a weak, low, or coarse voice. The Kidney function energy flow also affects the willpower and courage of a person. Therefore, stimulating the Kidney function energy flow can help improve the voice and breathing, as well as enhance the confidence and determination.

Jin Shin Energy Point Disharmonies

There are a number of potential ‘suspects’ when it comes to energy point disharmonies. Pulse diagnosis and body reading will give the practitioner an accurate picture of the state of the energy in the body of the particular client at that particular time, for him or her to work with. We will limit our discussion here to two energy point flows that have proven effective in our practice.

All 10 Flows

Energy point 10 is the hub of Voice. It is located at the edge of the scapula, at the narrowest point between the shoulder blades. Known as the ‘warehouse of abundance’, it is also the hub of all mental-emotional projects, linking mental, emotional and physiological aspects of voice projects. It is associated with element air and the 2nd depth of energy.

Jin Shin Energy Healing recognises 4 aspects of 10 in the 10 flow (general); Breathing Flow (emotional); Dizziness Flow (mental) and Eye Flow (Physical). The position and nature of pulse determine which of these flows to use.

10 flows are good for all voice projects, as well as their underlying causes. Pulse diagnosis provides the necessary information as to which flow to use.

20, 21, 22 Flow

These energy points belong to the 3rd depth, which is associated with element wood. 3rd depth energy is the ‘organising and activating principle’ of the energy system, and helps order energetic circulation.

This flow is known as the ‘brain specialist’. It is highly recommended for any neurological causes of vocal fold dysfunction. It helps organise brain function energetically and move excess energy away from the head. 20, 21, 22 flow is useful for vocal pathlogy related to ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke-related difficulties in voice use.

Conclusion

Our voice is an essential part of our identity. It is how we relate to ourselves and communicate with others. Vocal fold pathology can be debilitating and frustrating to deal with. In some cases, vocal dysfunction can be a sign of more ominous things around the corner.

Alternative medical therapies like Jin Shin Energy Healing allow us to understand more about ourselves through our illnesses. The body and mind are inextricably connected. Taking a holistic approach to resolving vocal pathology goes further than just the hospital and therapy room. Where required, it demands transformative life change. 

 

References

Inflammatory Vocal Fold Pathology

Pathology of Nonneoplastic Lesions of the Vocal Folds. https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/68687.

Pathology Outlines – Vocal cord polyp. https://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/larynxvocalcordpolyp.html.

Voice Therapy as Primary Treatment of Vocal Fold Pathology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31097333/.

Neoplastic Vocal Fold Pathology

Differential Diagnosis of Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement. https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/1058-0360%282008/07-0014%29.

True vocal cords | Radiology Reference Article | Radiopaedia.org. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/true-vocal-cords.

Pathology of Nonneoplastic Lesions of the Vocal Folds. https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/68687.

Functional Vocal Fold Pathology

An Updated Theoretical Framework for Vocal Hyperfunction. https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2020_AJSLP-20-00104.

Functional Voice Disorders – PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33085329/.

Vocal Fold Pathologies: Causes Symptoms And Treatment. https://stevegallik.org/vocal-fold-pathologies-causes-symptoms-and-treatment/.

Traumatic Vocal Fold Pathology

Functional trauma of the vocal folds: classification and … – PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8765552/.

An Updated Theoretical Framework for Vocal Hyperfunction. https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2020_AJSLP-20-00104.

Voice Therapy as Primary Treatment of Vocal Fold Pathology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31097333/.

Vocal Fold Pathologies: Causes Symptoms And Treatment. https://stevegallik.org/vocal-fold-pathologies-causes-symptoms-and-treatment/.

Diagnosis of Vocal Fold Dysfunction: Conventional Methods

Voice Disorders – American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Voice-Disorders/.

Functional Voice Disorders – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563182/.

Vocal Fold Paralysis—Symptoms & Treatment | NIDCD. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/vocal-fold-paralysis.

Vocal Fold Atrophy | Department of Otolaryngology | University of …. http://www.otolaryngology.pitt.edu/centers-excellence/voice-center/conditions-we-treat/vocal-fold-atrophy.

Benign Vocal Fold Lesions – University of Pittsburgh. http://www.otolaryngology.pitt.edu/centers-excellence/voice-center/conditions-we-treat/benign-vocal-fold-lesions.

Pulse diagnosis

Sensors | Free Full-Text | Traditional Chinese Medicine Pulse Diagnosis …. https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/20/16/4618.

Heart Organ Function Energy

A Guide to the 12 Major Meridians of the Body – RemedyGrove. https://remedygrove.com/traditional/The-Guide-To-The-12-Major-Meridians-of-the-Body.

Heart Meridian – TCM Wiki. https://tcmwiki.com/wiki/heart-meridian.

 Traditional Chinese Medicine/Heart Meridian – Wikibooks. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_Medicine%2FHeart_Meridian.

Small Intestine Organ Function Energy

The Small Intestine Meridian and its 19 Acupuncture Points. https://acuproacademy.com/the-small-intestine-meridian-and-its-19-acupuncture-points/.

English meaning of 聽宮 ( ting gong / tīng gōng ) – Small Intestine 19. https://www.hantrainerpro.com/tcm/chinese-english/translation-tinggong_si19.htm.

English meaning of 秉風 ( bing feng / bĭng fēng ) – Small Intestine 12. https://www.hantrainerpro.com/tcm/chinese-english/translation-bingfeng_si12.htm.

Kidney Organ Function Energy

Hands-On Tip: The Kidney Function Energy » Jin Shin Jyutsu Europa-Büro. https://www.jinshinjyutsu.de/en/2022/03/11/hands-on-tip-the-kidneyfunctionenergy/.

Jin Shin Jyutsu – Working with the Kidney Flow for Energy Recovery …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usV5Q3rtyW0.

Try this to Support Your Kidney Energy – What Therapy. https://whattherapy.com/try-this-to-support-your-kidney-energy/.

Voice Problems As We Age. Https://www.dukehealth.org/treatments/voice-disorders/Aging-voice#:~:text=Voice%20Problems%20as%20We%20Age&text=Changes%20can%20also%20occur%20in,Reduced%20vocal%20stamina

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