Most massage clients will attest that the more massage they receive, the better they feel and function. New research shows that even one massage-therapy session “produces measurable biologic effects” and may have implications for managing autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, set out to determine the effects of a single session of Swedish massage on neuroendocrine and immune function.

“Massage therapy is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States with 8.7 percent of adults receiving at least one massage within the last year; yet, little is known about the physiologic effects of a single session of massage in healthy individuals,” the study’s abstract noted.

One group of people received a 45-minute Swedish massage session while a control group received a light-touch control condition. Both groups comprised medically and psychiatrically healthy adults, 18-45 years old.

The researchers hypothesized that the massage session would enhance immune function, according to the report published on www.pubmed.gov.

The results showed that compared to light touch, Swedish massage “caused a large effect size decrease in arginine-vasopressin, and a small effect size decrease in cortisol. Massage increased the number of circulating lymphocytes … “

The researchers noted, “preliminary data suggest that a single session of Swedish massage therapy produces measurable biologic effects. If replicated, these findings may have implications for managing inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.”

“A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals” is running in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

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