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Single Session of Massage Causes Profound Biological Changes

Wendy McGrath Dec 21, 2012

  • A Cedars Sinai Medical Center study on the effects of a single 45-minute session of (deep tissue) Swedish massage (vs. a light touch massage control) found that Swedish massage caused profound biological changes: significant decreases in AVP - decreases in the primary stress hormone cortisol – and an increase in circulating lymphocytes, the white blood cells that defend the body against disease.
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  • Ongoing Weekly Massages Create Cumulative, Positive Biological Changes
    A follow-up study by Cedars Sinai Medical Center on the effect of REPEATED (as opposed to a single session) of Swedish massage (vs. a light touch control), found that 5 weeks of weekly Swedish massage increased circulating lymphocytes (white blood cells that defend the body from disease) and decreased mitogen-stimulated cytokine production. While ongoing twice-weekly massage further decreased stress hormone cortisol and hormone AVP (neuroendocrine stress measures), the results also suggested it may slightly increase pro-inflammatory cytokines. Conclusion: Swedish massage (vs. light touch) creates sustained, cumulative, positive biological changes that last for several days or a week, but they differ significantly based on the frequency of sessions.
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  • A University of Auckland (New Zealand) randomized controlled trial found that massage decreased migraine frequency, improved sleep quality, and induced heart rate and cortisol decreases, for migraine patients.
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