Cold and flu season is upon us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that this year’s flu vaccine is 60% effective; so even if you’ve had a flu shot, you are still susceptible. Add a heaping spoonful of stress on top, and you further increase your vulnerability to illness. But there is some good news. A growing body of research indicates that your chances of staying healthy year round are increased because of supporting your immune system with massage
Chronic stress releases hormones in the body that contribute to decreased immune function, inflammation, depression, anxiety and ultimately, illness. Massage counteracts many of the negative effects of stress while encouraging relaxation, improving circulation, and releasing tension.
Multiple scientific studies have confirmed massage’s effectiveness at boosting immunity. One such study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, focused on healthy adults. Multiple blood samples were taken from study participants before and after they received a massage. Results of the blood tests showed that “a single massage produced measurable changes in the immune system and endocrine system of healthy adults.”
Dr. Mark Rapaport, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and the study leader at Cedars-Sinai, said, “This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you. People often seek out massage as part of a healthy lifestyle but there hasn’t been much physiological proof of the body’s heightened immune response following massage until now.”
Participants in other controlled studies on this topic have ranged from pre-term infants to HIV+ men, medical students, and women with breast cancer. Each of these studies definitively showed that massage produced a positive improvement in immune system functioning.
Michael Ruff, Ph.D., a research associate professor with a specialty in virology and immunology at Georgetown University Medical School stated, “These are the first studies that show an effect of massage therapy on an immune function test, which can support the use of massage therapy to alleviate stress, relax muscles and now possibly serve as an alternative medical practice,” said “What we’re really looking at is creating a new paradigm for the practice of medicine, where massage therapy could be used in medication treatment versus just for relaxation.”
This article has been brought to you by Dreamclinic – offering quality therapeutic massage and acupuncture in the greater Seattle area as well as corporate massage nationwide.