October 20, 2011
Health Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage has been used for millennia in traditional therapies, and now Western research is confirming that the benefits are real through scientific inquiry. Here are some highlights of recent studies:
- Massage therapy is one of the most effective known non-pharmaceutical treatments for alleviating chronic pain.
- Studies have shown reduction in pain for people with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, and labor pain. People with back pain also had increased mobility after massage therapy.
- A study by the University of Miami found decreased levels of cortisol (average decrease of 31%) and increased levels of seratonin and dopamine (increases of 28% and 31% respectively).
- Cortisol kills cells that are important for your body's immune system, so massage can strengthen your body's resistance to disease.
- Seratonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that work in the brain to regulate your body's mood and reward systems, among many other important functions.
- Another study by the same group found that bulimic adolescents benefit from massage therapy.
- Massaged patients showed immediate reductions in anxiety and depression.
- By the last day of the therapy, they had lower depression scores, lower cortisol (stress) levels, higher dopamine levels, and showed improvement on several other psychological and behavioral measures.
- Breast cancer patients were shown to have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy.
- Immediate massage therapy effects included reduced anxiety, depressed mood, and anger.
- Longer term massage effects included reduced depression and hostility, increased dopamine and seratonin values, a higher NK (natural killer) cell number, and increased lymphocytes.
- Smoking cravings have been reduced by massage [study]
- In the study, smokers attempting to quit smoking were taught self-massage techniques. After they study they had lower anxiety scores, improved mood, and fewer withdrawal symptoms than the control group. They also smoked fewer cigarettes per day by the last week of the study.
- Massage therapy has been shown to be effective for depressed adolescent mothers
- Compared to a control group, the massage therapy group had a decrease in anxious behavior, pulse, and cortisol levels.
- While hypertension used to be considered a contra-indication for massage, studies have now shown overwhelming evidence that massage is an effective treatment for hypertension in most cases and reduces blood pressure.
- Hypertension patients given massage therapy have shown decreases in sitting diastolic and systolic blood pressure, decreases in cortisol levels, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.