Medical Massage

Massage is a proven immune system booster

Keeping your immune system functioning at peak efficiency is always a good idea and is even more important during cold and flu season.  There are many natural ways to enhance your immunity with vitamins, supplements, exercise, and a healthy diet.  Another, perhaps lesser known way to enhance immunity is with massage therapy – a proven immune system booster.

While massage therapy which is generally used to reduce muscle pain or to increase relaxation also has been proven to boost the immune system in a variety of ways and is currently being used by some spa clients as part of their swine flu (H1N1) prevention program.  Massage therapy has been clinically proven to increase the amount of natural “killer cells” and lymphocytes in the body and to reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol.  Natural killer cells are a powerful part of the body’s immune system while cortisol has been shown to interfere with their production.

Your lymphatic system is your 'immune system' / Wikimedia Commons

Your lymphatic system is your 'immune system' / Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, massage therapy increases the efficiency of both the circulatory system and the lymphatic system.  Your circulatory system is responsibility for bringing nutrients to the billions of cells in your body and for removing toxic byproducts of metabolism.  Your lymphatic system, which is the primary component of your body’s immune system, also removes toxins and additionally captures and destroys invading bacteria and viruses. By increasing lymphatic flow, massage therapy directly enhances the immune system.

While massage therapy has been proven to enhance the immune system it has not been specifically proven to fight any disease specifically and is not a replacement for other types of medical care.  Massage therapy should be only be used as a part of your overall health plan in combination with other preventative measures.

You should not get a massage if you think you have the flu or other illness without first consulting your doctor.  Massage therapy is a method of enhancing your immune system while you are healthy and is not recommended when you have an acute illness such as a cold or flu.  The risks of spreading the virus to others during your massage session, and the risk of over stimulating your body during a weaken time far outweigh the possible immune increasing benefits during and active, acute illness.

If you would like a massage specifically designed to enhance the immune system, look for a lymphatic drainage massage possibly used in combination with a traditional Swedish massage.  The lymphatic massage will stimulate and improve lymphatic flow while the Swedish massage will increase blood circulation.

Abstracts from International Journal of Neuroscience:

Natural killer cells and lymphocytes increase in women with breast cancer following massage therapy.

HIV adolescents show improved immune function following massage therapy.

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