Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles set out to see if there are any health benefits to be derived from a massage, or is a massage just relaxing to your muscles?

They took 53 healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either receive a 45 minute session of deep tissue Swedish massage or to a lighter massage routine.

The subjects were given intravenous catheters so blood samples could be obtained immediately before the massage begun and then up to an hour after the completion of the massage.

1- The individuals receiving the deep tissue massage experienced significant decreases in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol in both their blood and their saliva. They also had increases in their numbers of lymphocytes, white blood cells which are a part of the immune system.
2- The subjects receiving the light massage experienced increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of contentment as well as a larger decrease in adrenal corticotroph in hormone which stimulates the adrenal gland to release cortisol.
The study appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The lead author of the study was Dr. Mark Hyman, Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.