How Swedish Massage Effects Hormone and Immune Function

couples-massageMost 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 play an important part to wellness. However, research is also beginning to show massage is a positive factor in 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. Before and after the sessions blood samples were drawn 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 the 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 not only an increase in serotonin levels, but an increase in natural “killer” cells as well, which is our body’s first defense in fighting off illness. The subjects also showed a significant decrease in cortisol in 24 hour urine samples. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, suppresses the immune system function, decreases bone formation, and aids in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

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

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

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