The Hidden Health Benefits of Massage from Oprah.com

Health benefits women jumpingDid you know that getting a massage can actually improve your health? It’s true. Physical touch can benefit your body in a number of ways, such as lowering blood pressure and increasing serotonin—your brain’s natural anti-depressant. This article discusses a study done by Dr. Mark Rapaport that explores the health benefits of massage therapy. “We’re finding biological changes associated with a single massage session,” he says. “That’s saying something.” Read on to find out more about these “hidden” benefits to massage therapy…

Mark Rapaport, MD, used to wonder why his wife treated herself to so many massages. “She’d get tons of them, whereas I’d had maybe 10 in my entire life,” says the chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “But massage is a billion-dollar industry in the United States, which got me curious: Is there something to this beyond the fact that it feels good?”

Rapaport’s curiosity led to a study, published last fall, that looked at 53 healthy adults who received one of two types of touch treatments. Blood tests revealed that those who had a Swedish massage with moderate pressure experienced decreases in stress hormones and increases in white blood cells, indicating a boost in the immune system. Meanwhile volunteers who had a “light touch” treatment showed higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding. Based on the findings, Rapaport believes that massage might be effective in treating inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

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