Any massage client will confirm that massage therapy promotes relaxation and reduces stress. Research has also shown that massage boosts immune functioning. New research looked at salivary biomarkers in relationship to the psychosocial benefits of massage.

To find out if salivary biomarkers are useful objective indices for assessing the effects of back massage, researchers measured heart rate and salivary biomarkers (alpha-amylase activity, cortisol and chromogranin A) in 25 young, healthy, female volunteers. The researchers also assessed the participants’ State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores before and after the back massage, a report published on noted.

The researchers, from the Department of Nursing, Hirosaki University Graduate School of Health Sciences, Hirosaki, Japan, found that back massage “significantly reduced” participants’ heart rate and anxiety; “however, salivary amylase and cortisol levels did not change. In contrast, the level of salivary chromogranin A significantly increased.

“We therefore conclude that changes in the salivary biomarkers tested here may not indicate changes in psychological status following massage therapy.”

They noted, however, that the increase in chromogranin A release may contribute to the benefits massage has on the immune system, “as chromogranin A has antibacterial and antifungal activity.”

“Back massage therapy promotes psychological relaxation and an increase in salivary chromogranin A release” is running in the
Journal of Anesthesia‘s Aug. 5 issue.

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