Massage therapy has a beneficial effect on the immune system, according to new research—and “there are sustained cumulative biologic actions for the massage and touch interventions that persist for several days or a week, and these differ profoundly depending on the dosage (frequency) of sessions,” investigators noted.

This study gathered preliminary data about the biologic effects of repeated Swedish massage therapy compared to a light-touch control condition on healthy, young adults, according to an abstract published on

“The study design was a five-week comparison of repeated Swedish massage and light touch on oxytocin (OT), arginine-vasopressin (AVP), adrenal corticotropin hormone (ACTH), cortisol (CORT), circulating phenotypic lymphocyte markers, and mitogen-stimulated cytokine function,” the press release noted. “The study comprised 45 minutes of Swedish massage or light touch, using highly specified and identical protocols, either weekly or twice weekly for five weeks.”

Among the results, according to the abstract:

• “Compared to the touch control condition, weekly Swedish massage stimulated a sustained pattern of increased circulating phenotypic lymphocyte markers and decreased mitogen-stimulated cytokine production, similar to what was previously reported for a single massage session, while having minimal effect on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function.”

• “Twice-weekly massage produced a different response pattern with increased OT levels, decreased AVP, and decreased CORT but little effect on circulating lymphocyte phenotypic markers and a slight increase in mitogen-stimulated interferon-?, tumor necrosis factor-?, interleukin (IL)-1b and IL-2 levels, suggesting increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.”

The research was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapies, published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc. Publishers.