Nine years ago, Debra M. Doricchi was bedridden with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Now, Doricchi is up and about and running the county's first shiatsu clinic out of her home on Clarence Avenue in Severna Park.
Shiatsu, which means "finger pressure" in Japanese, is a massage therapy that is derived from the ancient healing art of acupuncture and a traditional form of Japanese massage called anma.
Doricchi, 43, credits massage therapy and other alternative health-care practices such as acupuncture and chiropractic treatment with helping her recover.
"I swear that if it had not been for them, I probably would've been incapacitated right now," she said.
Shiatsu concentrates on the body's ki, or essence of life, and helps it flow through the channels of the body, which, in turn, helps maintain good physical and mental health, practitioners say.
Problems occur when the flow becomes blocked, Doricchi said. Arthritic pain signals a blockage of ki in the gall bladder and liver area; asthma could be caused by a stoppage in the lung area, she said.
To combat arthritis, Doricchi said she would begin massaging the head, move down to the middle of the back and then the outer parts of both legs. To relieve pressure in the lungs, she would start in the upper chest area, rub the interior parts of both arms from the armpits to the thumbs, and massage the backs of the legs.
Practitioners of shiatsu and other Asian-based therapies emphasize seeking the cause of symptoms, Doricchi said.
"A symptom is an indication of disharmony somewhere in the wholeness of the body," she said. "Eastern philosophy really centers on the wellness and wholeness of the body. My job is to locate where the disharmony is coming from and bring it back to a balance."
Cheryl Brodhead drives 35 minutes every other week for a one-hour session with Doricchi. Brodhead said her shiatsu treatment has taken the place of acupuncture.
"No needles," said the 40-year-old clinical pharmacist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. "This just makes me feel so much better, and this is much more relaxing. It's great."
After her own treatment, Doricchi enrolled at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy and became a licensed and nationally certified shiatsu therapist.
She still goes to an acupuncturist, chiropractor and massage therapist every week.
Doricchi, who opened her clinic in January, has about 30 regular clients.
She said shiatsu helps to strengthen the body against disorders and illnesses such as depression, migraines, and allergies.
"Right now, the mind-set in this country is if we don't feel good, we go to the doctor, or when we're sick, we look to see what's wrong with us," she said.
"If we begin to learn to take care of ourselves when we're well, we can build our immune systems and fight off diseases."
Pub Date: 8/15/96