Massage and the Immune System

Christmas is coming, a joy for some and stress for another, I prefer to keep my Zen and shelter myself away from the commercial rush. Keeping up my exercise routine, eating well, venturing outdoors (ha ha I am hoping).

If you experience high levels of stress you may tend to get sick more than others. A combination of stress with lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and our immune system’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection reduces significantly.

A Massage can help your immune system?

Massage therapy promotes increased lymphatic circulation, a process whereby lymph moves throughout the body, eliminates pathogens and other waste, and increases the spread of white blood cells. Such a process serves to boost your infection-fighting capabilities.

It can also can reduce your levels of cortisol which is a hormone associated with pressure and stress. High levels can boost blood pressure and decrease natural killer cells. Low levels, on the other hand, can allow immune cells to do their job without interference.

When you come for a massage you can choose from a blend of oils.

Lavender to help reduces anxiety and emotional stress.  Lemongrass that can also help relax and tone your muscles, as well as relieve muscle pain, mix that with bergamot and geranium and be in apothecia heaven.

A great one for the winter blues, I use my blend of thieves’ oil, which consists of clove bud, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary. These oils are very well known for their protective properties and the story of the “four thieves” goes back to the days of the bubonic plague. The story goes that during that time, there were four thieves robbing graves of the infected who had died from the plague. The four thieves seemed to be immune, as they did not become infected. After being arrested, in exchange for their freedom, they agreed reveal the secret of why they were immune. Apparently they doused themselves with this blend of essential oils before robbing the graves and claimed this is what kept them from being infected.

Below is a study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA 2010) looked at how various biomarkers responded to Swedish Massage Therapy.

https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2010/Adults-Demonstrate-Modified-Immune-Response-After-Receiving-Massage-Cedars-Sinai-Researchers-Show.aspx

Among the study’s results:

  1. People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes ,(lymphocyte numbers and percentages white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease.
  2. Swedish massage caused a large decrease (effect size -.74) in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior and linked to helping cause increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
  3. Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  4. Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.

So don’t delay, listen to your body, have a massage as a general MOT, just as you would your car.  Look after yourself as a preventative measure.