How Does Massage Therapy Boost The Immune System?
Whenever you go for chiropractic massage therapy near you, what are your expectations? Our best guess is that you expect stress and pain relief coupled with an elevated mood. What if we told you that massage therapy can boost the immune system? Surprised much? Don’t be. In this article, we will go into details about the effect of massage therapy on the immune system. So, next time you want to get chiro massage therapy, you can always say that you want to fight off diseases too.
What Are The Effects Of Pain And Stress On Our Immune System?
It is a well-known fact that massage therapy helps with pain. Now, did you know that pain affects your immune response? Now, you do. Pain acts to suppress immune activity in the body. Scientists have found out that pain reduces the levels of certain components of the immune system that deal with infection and fight off cancer. If massage therapy helps to ease pain, then is massage good for the immune system? Yes, it is. However, it should interest you to know that stress has a bigger effect on our immunity than even pain. We will soon see how.
High levels of stress is a risk factor for several medical conditions. Most of these effects happen because stress stimulates the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that has wide-reaching effects on multiple systems of the body. It is known to prevent weight gain, elevated blood pressure, cause headaches, digestive problems, sleep problems, heart disease and affect memory and concentration. These take a toll on our immune function and this is why many people fall sick when stress builds up. There are many ways to deal with stress, and getting chiropractic massage near you is one of them.
Other Ways Massage Therapy Helps Immunity
A particular study demonstrated how immune function improved in 20 HIV-positive men who received five 45-minutes massages every week, for four weeks. Investigations revealed that the participants showed an increase in serotonin and the cells that constitute the first line of defense against infections.
In theory, massage is known to improve recovery from illness because it improves circulation in the blood and lymph vessels. Scientists have also found out that regular massage increases the ability of the immune system to kill certain cells, helping the specific immune response to some diseases.
Another study involving pregnant women shows how massage improves immunity in this population. Although pregnancy is a normal and physiological process, it is never exactly a smooth sail on the body. The numerous changes during this period take a toll on the woman’s immunity. Pregnancy can increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. In this study, 52 healthy pregnant women were split into two groups. The first group received 70 minutes of aromatherapy massage with 2% lavender oil fortnightly while the other group had no massage. The researchers found out that the first group showed significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone.
Perhaps the most intriguing study on massage therapy of all is the one that demonstrates that a single session of massage is enough to significantly alter immune and endocrine function. The researchers evaluated these responses only after a 45-minute session of Swedish massage or light touch. One striking observation was the increase in lymphocytes, cells that play an important role in a healthy immune system. Another observation was decreased levels of arginine vasopressin (AVP), a hormone associated with increased stress hormone (cortisol) levels. Also, a decrease in inflammatory cytokines which are usually produced when the white blood cells are mounting a resistance against infection was noticed.
So, does massage improve the immune system? Yes, it does. Getting a massage does not only sound and feel good, it is good for you. The only way to enjoy these benefits is to go for chiropractic massage therapy near you today.