Massage therapy may help fight infections. Until recently, little scientific investigation has been conducted to examine the belief that massage therapy can effect the immune system of healthy people. If there are any links between massage therapy and improved immune function, the mechanisms by which they operate are not known. One study has evaluated the effects of massage therapy on immune functions of two healthy women.
These two lucky women received a relaxing massage during the experimental phases and no massage during baseline phases. Blood tests were conducted for T and B lymphocytes, which are the immunity cells of the body and the stress hormone cortisol. Anxiety levels were also examined.
The results indicated a consistent and significant trend of increased activity of both T and B lymphocytes for both women during the massage phases compared to the baseline phases. There were no significant differences between experimental and control conditions for the cortisol, although both women demonstrated a reduction in trait anxiety over the period of massage therapy.
Further studies with larger sample sizes in control and experimental groups, over a longer experimental period are necessary to know if this effect is widespread.
In other words, massage improves immune function, helping you fight infections. It also makes you less stressed. Of course, anyone who has a regular massage knows this – but it is nice to have some research that backs it up.