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Massage Today
December, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 12

A Session of Massage Keeps the Doctor Away

Study Confirms Improved Biologic Effects

By Christie Bondurant

A recent study, reported on in the New York Times, determined that a single session of Swedish massage produces beneficial biologic effects on neuroendocrine and immune function in healthy adults.

The study, published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, evaluated 53 medically and psychiatrically healthy adults, aged 18-45 years old. These participants were given 45 minutes of Swedish massage therapy versus a light touch control treatment. After just one session of Swedish massage therapy, adults experienced an increase in circulation of lymphocytes (improving the immune system) and a decrease in cortisol (aka the stress hormone), arginine-vasopressin (a hormone stimulating cortisol levels), and mitogen-stimulated levels of interleukin, which also improves the immune system as well as the nervous system and endocrine system (or neuroendocrine function).

Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, concluded that while this was a preliminary study, if more research confirms similar findings, massage therapy might be used toward managing inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

The findings in this study may not be revealing to many massage professionals, who already consider massage to be a healing treatment that restores and improves health. However, reputable research findings such as these that are also reported in mainstream publications is a step in the right direction toward validating and improving the larger perception of massage therapy.

The article titled "A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals" can be found here. The study was sponsored by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.


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