Pain & Nerve Management
Pain & Nerve Management

Massage Therapy & The Immune System

Did you know 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.

What the Research Says


In a controlled study composed of HIV-positive adolescents, participants who received massage therapy showed enhanced immune function by the end of the 12-week study. The immune changes included increased white blood cells known as natural killer (NK) cells, which provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells.
 

Benefits from massage therapy enhances dopamine and serotonin levels while also increasing NK cell number and lymphocytes. Immediate massage benefits included reduced anxiety while the long-term impact increased serotonin values, natural killer cell numbers and lymphocytes, which work to strengthen the immune system and cognitive function during sickness.

References

1. Mark Hyman Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2010, 16(10): 1079-1088. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0634.
2. Diego, M., Field, T., Hernandez-reif, M., Shaw, K., Friedman, L., & Ironson, G. (2001). Hiv Adolescents Show Improved Immune Function Following Massage Therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 35-45.
3. Hernandezreif, M. (2004). Breast Cancer Patients Have Improved Immune And Neuroendocrine Functions Following Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 45-52.

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