Massage Boosts Immunity & Wellbeing
A growing body of research indicates massage therapy can benefit the immune system, especially important during winter months. People looking to fend off cold and flu as the winter months arrive should speak to a massage therapist about prevention strategies. Regular massages have been shown to make the immune system stronger, according to studies.
“Researchers working with patients with compromised immune systems have found massage therapy can improve how the immune system functions,” said Lauren Tindall, principal massage therapist at Holistic Bliss Bodywork on the sunny Gold Coast. “Those same benefits can translate to people seeking to fight off the common cold, flu and other seasonal illnesses.”
Massage therapy increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses. According to research from Cedars-Sinai, participants in a Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes, which play a large role in defending the body from disease. A lymphocyte is one of the three sub-types of white blood cells in the immune system.
People who received a 45-minute massage had an increased number of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said in a statement. “This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” said study researcher Dr. Mark Rapaport, chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, at Cedars-Sinai.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage boosts patients’ white blood cell count (which plays a large role in defending the body from disease). Additionally, it also “improves immune function for individuals with HIV,” says Tindall. A follow-up study in 2012 went a step further, showing that there were cumulative health benefits to repeated massage.
What the Research Says
In a controlled study composed of HIV-positive adolescents, participants who received massage therapy showed enhanced immune function by the end of the 12-week study. The immune changes included increased white blood cells knowns as natural killer (NK) cells, which provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells.
An additional randomized study found women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer may benefit from massage therapy for enhancing dopamine and serotonin while also increasing NK cell number and lymphocytes. Immediate massage benefits included reduced anxiety while the long-term impact increased serotonin values, natural killer cell numbers and lymphocytes, which work to strengthen the immune system and cognitive function during sickness.
Some studies report that massage has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol, (a stress hormone), and vasopressin (a possible aggressive hormone). Since massage improves blood and lymph flow, massage is beneficial to the entire body, including the immune system.
Massage brings other physical changes, too. After massage people have lower levels of cytokines, which are molecules that play a role in inflammation. Chronically high levels of inflammation are known to be associated with conditions such as asthma, autoimmune conditions, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease and depression & anxiety.
Many health benefits of massage therapy are well known, including increasing range of motion, improving coordination, and reducing stress and anxiety. But many people don’t know that massage for wellness also serves as an important immune system booster. People who undergo treatment experience measurable changes in their immune and endocrine response, making massage a great promoter of wellness and immune health.
“Lauren gives the most amazing massage, her intuitive healing touch is divine that makes you feel deeply relaxed and refreshed. Thank you so much 🙏 5 stars all the way! ♥♥♥♥♥”
— Shane Terence, Gold Coast.