Here’s another reason to hit the spa: Massages help you fight diseases. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that a massage could improve the immune system. The study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, revealed that people who got a 45-minute massage experienced an increase in lymphocyte production. Lymphocytes are white blood cells crucial to the body’s disease defense. Participants also reported lower cytokines, vasopressin, and cortisol levels after a massage.
Higher Levels of T and B Lymphocytes
Since massages increase T and B lymphocytes, which are known to fight infection, in the body, it could make people more resistant to diseases. The B lymphocytes produce antibodies that fight toxins and foreign substances. Meanwhile, the T lymphocytes kill infected cells and direct the response of the immune system.
Lower Levels of Cytokines, Cortisol, and Vasopressin
The authors also found that people had lower cytokines levels after a massage, one of the molecules responsible for the body’s inflammation. Inflammation at such high levels is linked to cardiovascular disease, asthma, and depression. Meanwhile, participants experienced lower levels of vasopressin, which is associated with aggressive behavior.
Massages reduced the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which interferes with learning, memory, and bone density. The hormone also increases the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease.
Dr. Mark Rapaport, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Head, stated that the study was one of the first to investigate the effect of massages on the immune system. The positive results are good news to 17% of American adults who intend to get massage therapy.
Not everyone has the time to go to a spa, though. If you want a massage in the convenience of your home, consider buying a massage chair. Your Massage Spot, a site that reviews massage chairs, claimed that aside from increasing your lymphocytes, massage chairs relieve people from muscle soreness and back pains.
So, if you have some time to spare, go to a spa or sit on a massage chair. You can relax your way to a healthier immune system.