The need for stress relief and relaxation motivate many people to seek out massage therapy. New research indicates chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response, which can in turn lead to the development of disease.

“Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body,” reads a press release form Carnegie Mellon University, whose researchers led the study. “For example, psychological stress is associated with greater risk for depression, heart disease and infectious diseases. But, until now, it has not been clear exactly how stress influences disease and health.”

According to lead researcher Sheldon Cohen, “Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control.”

Previous, unrelated research studies have shown that massage therapy lowers cortisol levels, decreases feelings of depression, lowers blood pressure and boosts mood.

The current study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institute of Mental Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health funded this research.

Related articles:

Research Shows Massage Therapy Relaxes the Autonomic Nervous System

Research Shows Massage Therapy Lessens Stress

Massage Shown to Reduce Stress Response

• Research Review Shows Massage Therapy Effectively Addresses Symptoms of Depression