Published in New York Times : September 21, 2010
by Roni Caryn Rabin
Does a good massage do more than just relax your muscles? To find out, researchers at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center Center in Los Angeles recruited 53 healthy adults and randomly assigned 29 of them to a 45 Minute session of Deep Tissue Swedish Massage and the other 24 to a session of light massage.
All of the subjects were fitted with intravenous catheters so blood samples could be taken immediately before the massage and up to an hour afterward.
To their surprise, the researchers, sponsored by the National Institute for Complimentary Care and Alternative Medicine, a Division of the National Institutes of Health, found that a single session of massage caused biological changes.
Volunteers who received Swedish Massage Deep Tissue work, experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol in blood and saliva, and also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that are part of the immune system.
Volunteers who had the light massage experienced greater increase in oxytocin, a hormone linked to contentment, than the Swedish Massage group.
This Study was published online in The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine.The lead author, Dr.Mark Hyman Rapaport, chairman of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai, said the findings were "very, very, intriguing and very, very exciting- and I am a skeptic."