I was recently sent an article from The New York Times about a study that the National Center for Complementary andAlternative Medicine did on the effects of massage. They wanted to know if massage did more than “just relax your muscles.” What they found was surprising.
The researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angles recruited 53 healthy adults and randomly assigned 29 of them to a 45-minute session of deep-tissue massage and the other 24 to a session of light massage. All of the subjects were fitted with intravenous catheters so blood samples could be taken immediately before the massage and up to an hour afterward.
Volunteers who received Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol in blood and saliva, and in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. They also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system.
Volunteers who had the light massage experienced greater increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment, than the Swedish massage group, and bigger decreases in adrenal corticotropin hormone, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol.
The study was published online in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
The lead author, Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, chairman of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai, said the findings were “very, very intriguing and very, very exciting — and I’m a skeptic.”
Yay for deep tissue massage and double yay for light massage! As some of you may know, CranioSacral Therapy is part of this category of light massage. I see the same effects of this study in my practice and hear first hand my clients experiences – ” I don’t seem to get sick as much now that I receive craniosacral therapy regularly, My life hasn’t changed but how I respond to it has. Since I’ve been receiving light massage regularly I am better able to manage my stress.”
Now if only we could get health insurance to cover massage therapy.