New research by Dr. Mark Rapaport from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shows that a single massage produced measurable changes in the immune system and endocrine system of healthy adults.
Blood samples taken before and after the massage showed several changes that indicated a benefit to the immune system. For example, the massage caused sizeable decreases in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that contributes to aggressive behavior, and small decreases in the stress hormone cortisol.
The participants also had an increase in lymphocytes, cells that help the immune system defend the body from harmful substances. A control group that received light touch only, did not have the same benefits.
“This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” Rapaport said in a news release. “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.”
This study looked at Swedish massage, but it is likely that other massage styles would have similar effects. Swedish massage is actually derived from Chinese Tui Na Massage, and uses some of the same techniques, although it does not have the same Chinese theory and use of acupressure points as Tui Na.