In our Pioneer Valley, there are lots and lots of massage therapists. There are three schools churning out graduates every semester, it’s a wonder there are enough people who need back rubbing to keep them all busy. I read in last night’s NY Times about the medical benefits of massage–based on a recent research study at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Fifty subjects were fitted with intravenous catheters after either a 45-minute deep tissue Swedish massage or a light massage. Blood taken before and after was compared. And those who opted for the Swedish massage showed significant decreases in the stress hormone cortisol and in another hormone that leads to more stress. The beneficial lymphocytes, or white blood cells, were increased!
For those who were lightly massaged, the benefits were different–here they had increases in oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment and bigger decreases in the same hormone that causes stress. Although many people who get regular massages could tell you in just a few words why they do it, the doctors in LA are intrigued with this new hard evidence.
“[the findings] were ‘very, very intriguing and very exciting–and I’m a skeptic.”