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Massage and Immunity

              Recent reports suggest that massage therapy can benefit the immune system :

Massage Therapy Can Boost Your Immune System

Recent studies have found massage therapy to enhance immune function both physically and psychologically. One physical effect of massage therapy is an increase in circulation. The short, rhythmical strokes of a massage can increase lymph circulation in the body, which leads to a greater distribution of neutrophils and lymphocytes. The more even distribution of white blood cells that results decreases susceptibility to antigens. Massage therapy has also been shown to reduce inflammation and edema. These physical changes contribute to the body’ immune-enhancing ability.

Psychologically, massage therapy boosts the body’s immune function by reducing stress and inducing a sense of relaxation. Emotional stress is destructive in suppressing cellular immunity and provoking inflammatory immune responses. When the body is under emotional or physiological stress, it produces increased levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine and neuropeptide Y. These sympathetic hormones suppress natural killer (NK) cell function, thereby inducing a less than ideal pro-inflammatory state.  As for massage therapy, it has been repeatedly shown to decrease stress levels, as evidenced by decreased levels of cortisol (salivary and urinary), epinephrine and norepinephrine, and to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure and heart rate.

Massage Therapy May Prevent Cold and Flu


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 Jeff Smoot, President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). “Those same benefits 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 subtypes of white blood cells in the immune system.