I’m researching some local, licensed massage therapists. I want to get going on a weekly massage regiment starting next month. Why? Because I’ve heard and read too much about how beneficial it can be for overall physical and mental health. If all of our warring world “leaders” over the years would have gotten regular massages, perhaps we’d have avoided a lot of conflicts.
As for immune health, I can’t find a lot of research support for the effect of massage on generally healthy people. But there are some very encouraging findings on specific massage efficacy among people with immune-compromised conditions.
One study among HIV patients: “Major immune findings for the effects of the month of massage included a significant increase in Natural Killer Cell number, Natural Killer Cell Cytotoxicity, soluble CD8, and the cytotoxic subset of CD8 cells. There were no changes in HIV disease progression markers (CD4, CD4/CD8 ratio, Beta-2 microglobulin, neopterin). Major neuroendocrine findings, measured via 24 hour urines included a significant decrease in cortisol, and nonsignificant trends toward decrease of catecholamines. There were also significant decreases in anxiety and increases in relaxation which were significantly correlated with increases in NK cell number.”
And other findings among breast cancer patients: “Participants, who were in the early stages of cancer, received 20-minute massage therapy twice a week for five weeks; others in a control group received no massage therapy. At the end of the five-week period, blood tests indicated an 11 percent increase in the number of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells among the participants who received massage therapy. These participants also reported being less depressed, less anxious and less angry, as well as having more vigor than the control group.”
The University of Michigan Health System is also a believer. I figure if massage can impart all these great benefits, doing it while I’m relatively healthy might be a great preventive measure. I think a massage on Friday afternoons around 3:00 might just be the ticket.