How Swedish Massage Effects Hormone and Immune Function

couples-massage-2Most of us experience times when we seem much less tolerant to illness and generally just feel run down. We all know that a healthy lifestyle including a nutritious diet, exercise, plenty of sleep and a decrease in stress, plays an important role in encouraging wellness. Additionally, research is beginning to show that massage is also a positive contributor to staying healthy.

A recent study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined how Swedish massage therapy effects the body’s hormone and immune function. Swedish massage uses long, lighter strokes and kneading to facilitate relaxation.

Researchers assigned 53 adults to receive either a session of massage or only a light touch using the back of the hand. Both sessions lasted 45 minutes and were done by a licensed therapist. Blood samples were drawn before and after the sessions to check levels of hormones and circulating white blood cells. Those who received massage showed a decrease in hormones responsible for regulating blood pressure and water retention. While there were no real changes in levels of white blood cells, there were significant decreases noted in specific proteins linked to diminished immune response.

In another study by Dr. Gail Ironson, 29 men, 20 of which were HIV positive, were given 45 minute massage five days per week for one month. The men studied showed both an increase in serotonin levels (those happy, feel good hormones), and an increase in natural “killer” cells,  our body’s first line of defense in fighting off illness. The subjects also showed a significant decrease in cortisol in 24 hour urine samples. Excessive cortisol increases blood sugar levels, suppresses the immune system function, decreases bone formation, and interrupts fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

Incorporating regular massage is one way to a healthier lifestyle. Visit us and begin your path to improved wellness!

Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa

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