Avoid winter cold + flu bugs with immune boosting massage

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Boosting your immunity through diet, rest and stress reduction is a good way to keep those winter sicknesses at bay. But did you know that massage therapy has been proven to help boost your immunity through clinical studies? Its true!

Initial studies revealed that Swedish massage therapy caused a decrease in vasopressin and a lesser decrease in cortisol levels (cortisol is a hormone brought on by high stress levels). A single session of massage therapy seems to have depressant effects on vasopressin and cortisol for as long as 60-minutes after the intervention.1

In another study, immune depressed HIV positive men were given 45 minute massages five days a week, for a month. They showed an increase in serotonin and an increase in natural killer cells, viewed as the first line of defense in the immune system.

Another benefit to the immune system with massage, is the stimulation of circulation of blood through the heart, as well as the stimulation of lymph through the system. Lymph is the body’s “cleaning crew”. This clear fluid sweeps toxins, dead cells, and infective organisms out of the body through our execretory channels. Stimulation of lymph happens when we exercise, or when we get a massage, where it is manually pushed through our systems. Increased blood circulation through massage brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the entire body, helping to heal injury and illness.

Increased stress is also known to weaken the body’s immune response by increasing the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone that prompts increased heart rate while decreasing our immune response. Massage was proven to decrease our cortisol levels  while at the same time, increasing the feel-good and well being hormones of seratonin and dopamine chemicals in our brains.

So while you are getting that flu shot, eating right and practicing good hygiene, schedule a massage or two during the winter to boost that immune system and feel comforted all over.

 

References:

  1. Rapaport MH, Schettler P, Bresee C. A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Sep 1. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 20809811; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3107905.