With cold and flu season upon us, and spring still a few months away, it is crucial to do everything we can to protect our health and avoid getting sick. Generally, massage therapy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ways to avoid catching a cold; however, recent medical studies conducted by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine have shown that massage therapy can actually help boost your immune system and get you safely through cold and flu season.
The research, which focused on the effects of Swedish massage therapy on the body’s hormonal response and immune function, shows that massage can increase both serotonin and the activity level of your body’s virus fighters, also known as natural killer T cells. These cells act as infection-fighting immune cells in the blood, and increased activity potential means a boost to your immune system’s activity overall. Participants showed an increase in lymphocytes, cells that boost the immune system and help protect the body from harmful substances.
Participants who received Swedish massage presented a noticeable decrease in arginine-vasopressin, the hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and water retention, as well as a decrease in stress hormones. These biological effects resulting from massage led to the conclusion that Swedish massage may have a positive effect on the immune system.
Massage therapy has also been known to benefit those with a weakened immune system, as it stimulates the lymphatic system, improves blood circulation, and can restore balance to the immune system.
Remember, only receive a massage when you are completely healthy. Use massage to boost your immune system, not to treat cold and flu symptoms; maintaining proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise paired with massage therapy may be an effective way to help you strengthen your immune system and ward off cold and flu viruses.