A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals.
Rapaport MH, Schettler P, Bresee C.
J Altern Complement Med. 2010
Objectives: Massage therapy is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States with 8.7% of adults receiving at least one massage within the last year; yet, little is known about the physiologic effects of a single session of massage in healthy individuals. The purpose of this study was to determine effects of a single session of Swedish massage on neuroendocrine and immune function. It was hypothesized that Swedish Massage Therapy would increase oxytocin (OT) levels, which would lead to a decrease in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity and enhanced immune function. Design: The study design was a head-to-head, single-session comparison of Swedish Massage Therapy with a light touch control condition. Serial measurements were performed to determine OT, arginine-vasopressin (AVP), adrenal corticotropin hormone (ACTH), cortisol (CORT), circulating phenotypic lymphocytes markers, and mitogen-stimulated cytokine production. Setting: This research was conducted in an outpatient research unit in an academic medical center. Subjects: Medically and psychiatrically healthy adults, 18-45 years old, participated in this study. Intervention: The intervention tested was 45 minutes of Swedish Massage Therapy versus a light touch control condition, using highly specified and identical protocols. Outcome measures: The standardized mean difference was calculated between Swedish Massage Therapy versus light touch on pre- to postintervention change in levels of OT, AVP, ACTH, CORT, lymphocyte markers, and cytokine levels. Results: Compared to light touch, Swedish Massage Therapy caused a large effect size decrease in AVP, and a small effect size decrease in CORT, but these findings were not mediated by OT. Massage increased the number of circulating lymphocytes, CD 25+ lymphocytes, CD 56+ lymphocytes, CD4 + lymphocytes, and CD8+ lymphocytes (effect sizes from 0.14 to 0.43). Mitogen-stimulated levels of interleukin (IL)-1ss, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, and IFN-gamma decreased for subjects receiving Swedish Massage Therapy versus light touch (effect sizes from -0.22 to -0.63). Swedish Massage Therapy decreased IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13 levels relative to baseline measures. Conclusions: Preliminary data suggest that a single session of Swedish Massage Therapy produces measurable biologic effects. If replicated, these findings may have implications for managing inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
Other studies investigating effects of massage on Immune System
Keywords: NK cells, CD4+ cells, CD8+ cells, T cells, lymphocytes, CD4/CD8 ratio
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