Massage and the Immune System

I was chatting with a friend yesterday, who sullenly announced he was coming down with his first flu of the season. My first thoughts were, good for him for catching it so early, that means he'll be over it before it gets bad, but then I wondered why we just accept that we're going to pick up winter ills and sit waiting for it to happen.

As a Massage Therapist and raving lunatic obsessed with massage, I am determined to find methods of massage to help with as many ailments as I can, and low and behold, believe it or not, Massage can work wonders for your Immune system.

The health benefits of regular massage include some of the following:

  • Helps Fight Infection—Massage increases the activity of white blood cells that target and destroy infectious agents. With regular massage, the immune system is strengthened rather than stimulated and it becomes more robust.

  • Modulates Immune Function—Massage strengthens the immune system, restoring balance. Massage increases antibody production in immune deficiency and reduces autoantibody production in autoimmune disease.

  • Benefits Autoimmune Diseases—Besides reducing autoantibody production, massage reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are responsible for inflammation and pain.

  • Reduces Pain in Arthritis---Besides reducing production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, massage increases production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, effectively reducing inflammation and pain.

  • Reduces Depression—Massage increases the production of both endorphins and serotonin. Increased levels of these biochemicals effectively reduce symptoms of depression and contribute to wellbeing.

  • Improved Circulation—By stimulating blood flow to the body’s organs, massage improves circulation. With improved circulation, red blood cells are better able to transport nutrients to the body’s other cells.

  • Stimulation of the Lymphatic System—The lymphatic system is comprised of the thymus gland, tonsils, spleen, adenoids, lymph nodes and lymph fluid as well as lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic vessels carry clear lymph fluid that circulates throughout the body, removing waste products, degenerated cells, and accumulations of fats and proteins. Lymph vessels lie beneath the surface of the skin and are stimulated by massage. This results in improved lymphatic circulations.


    Research by the Touch Institute in Florida has also found that Massage therapy is associated with enhancing the immune system in a study performed in Feb 1996 and whose results can be obtained from the following publication:

    In the end, what harm can it do?
    Come along to the clinic and chat with me about the benefits of regular massage, and why adding it to your regular health care practices can help boost your immune system, relieve stress, improve mental well being.
    The worst that could happen is that you enjoy a relaxing massage, and leave feeling a little less stressed and ready for a nap.