How massage can help defend our bodies from diseases
When you think about the ways to beat a cold or flu, your mind goes to Vitamin C, hot soup, echinacea or getting a good nights sleep. An even better response is massage. While many people know that the main benefits of massage are stress relief, improved circulation and relaxation, most are unaware that massage actually has a profound influence on your immune system.
If you feel you need a reason to get a massage then the recent study conducted by researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center indicates that massages are more than just relaxing and will have you booking twice as many!
So what exactly did researchers find?
The first group, after their intensive massage, showed a marked decrease in the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in both their blood and saliva. Additionally, a second hormone which contributes to cortisol levels, called arginine vasopressin, was also reduced. Meanwhile, the light massage group showed an increase in oxytocin, one of the hormones that contributes to feelings of contentment and reduced stress.
One other significant finding was made in the first (long massage) group – an increase in lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the white blood cells that make up part of your immune system, and increasing white blood cells can help your body respond more quickly to illnesses and infection.
If you think or know you have a low white blood cell count, then massage may be one of the many things that you can do to help your body get back on track.
A low white cell count may lead to higher chance of:
- Bacterial infections: Rashes, swelling, infection, and coughs can be caused by different types of bacteria that you are exposed to every day.
- Fungal infection: Fungi are stubborn microscopic creatures that can cause itching, lumps, swelling, and more, and are especially prevalent in people with poor immune systems.
- Viral infection: White blood cells are the first line of defence against a virus, so if you find that you are getting the flu or other illnesses a poor immune system may be the culprit.
Besides treating yourself to a few massages, a good diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and vitamin C can help to boost your immune system. Investing in a quality multivitamin and some Echinacea can also help increase your white blood cell count. The more you do to help your body stay healthy now, the better it will pay off later – so book that massage!