Supporting your immune system with massage

common cold helped by massage dreamclinic seattleCold 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.

USA Today Proclaims Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage is not just for pampering anymore. Research continues to prove massage’s efficacy at addressing a variety of health-related conditions.  USA Today’s USA Weekend Health Smart column recently featured an article proclaiming the medical benefits of massage. In fact, a survey indicates that more people today seek out massage for medical purposes than for relaxation.

Based on scientific evidence, massage therapy has been shown to:

  •  decrease blood pressure
  •  lower anxiety levels
  •  relieve chronic low back pain
  •  decrease levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, by as much as 50%
  •  elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, therefore reducing depression
  •  boost immunity, by increasing levels of killer T-cells in the body.

To learn more, read the full column here or watch the video below.

Anatomy: The Enteric Nervous System

by Diana Khoury

Scientists have recently identified a “second brain” in the body, known as the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is a large collection of neurons located in the walls of the digestive tract, along the alimentary canal spanning from the esophagus to the anus. It is estimated that the “gut brain” contains anywhere from 200-600 million nerve cells1, significantly more than are found in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. The enteric nervous system, part of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system, operates independently of, yet sends signals directly to, the central nervous system to regulate and communicate the status of gastrointestinal functions.

In response to the discovery of the “gut brain”, neuro- gastroenterology has emerged as a new field of scientific research. Leading scientists at Columbia University and UCLA describe the enteric nervous system as complex and responsible for many important bodily functions beyond that of merely digestion.

The enteric nervous system controls local functions of the entericgastrointestinal tract (fluid exchange, blood flow, digestive processes), regulates levels of neurotransmitters and hormones, and plays an important role in immune function.1 “Cutting-edge research is currently investigating how the second brain mediates the body’s immune response; after all, at least 70 percent of our immune system is aimed at the gut to expel and kill foreign invaders.”2 “The gastrointestinal tract also harbors an extensive endocrine signaling system, and many gastrointestinal functions are under dual neuronal and endocrine control.”1

Dysfunction of the enteric nervous system correlates with digestive as well as neurological disorders.2 Since 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced and stored in the digestive tract, gastrointestinal imbalance is often accompanied by mood disorders such as depression. This gut-brain connection may explain why antidepressants are commonly prescribed to address digestive disorders3. Alternately, some research suggests that antidepressants cause digestive disorders because they elevate serotonin levels2. Currently pharmaceutical companies are providing most of the funding for neurogastroenterology research because they see a large market opportunity in the potential findings.

Neurogastroenterology research has found a direct relationship between the body’s nervous and digestive systems. Therefore it is essential that a treatment plan addresses the nervous system in order to effectively treat digestive issues. Pharmaceuticals prescribed to treat the symptoms of gastrointestinal or mood disorders often have side effects, and are not the only treatment option. Research validates the efficacy of acupuncture5 and therapeutic massage6 as alternate approaches to balancing the nervous system and restoring proper digestive function. The objective of a treatment plan is to reduce or eliminate symptoms, restore the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract, and relieve stress in the nervous system to encourage greater body-mind health.

This is an original article from Dreamclinic, Inc. Dreamclinic is a Health and Wellness company committed to sharing information about commonly experienced health conditions and how they may be impacted through the use of bodywork and other natural approaches. Dreamclinic offers massage, acupuncture, and Reiki sessions at its Greenlake and Queen Anne clinics, as well as onsite massage at workplaces around Puget Sound. Contact us to learn more about how Dreamclinic can help you, your family or your workplace experience greater health.


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