A growing body of research supports massage therapy for health and wellness. Studies have documented how massage reduces pain and anxiety, improves mood and sleep, and is an effective adjunct for cardiovascular and oncology care. These massage benefits can enhance our lives throughout the year.
Massage, Viruses, and the Immune System
The use of massage in strengthening the immune system is also a benefit throughout the year, but it’s even more important during cold and flu season. Today, as the coronavirus COVID-19 affects individuals worldwide, many people are seeking additional ways to stay healthy. Research shows that massage can help. At the Bodywork for Liberation clinic, we follow the latest research on massage therapy.
Massage therapy can boost the immune system. Studies have shown that receiving massage can strengthen the body’s ability to fight viruses by strengthening its defense system. Researchers working with patients with compromised immune systems have found massage therapy can improve how the immune system functions.
How does this work? Massage therapy increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses. According to research from Cedars-Sinai, participants in a Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes, which play a large role in defending the body from disease. Those same benefits can help people seeking to fight off the common cold, flu and the coronavirus.
Cedars-Sinai researchers found that massage brought other physical changes, too. After receiving massage, study participants had lower levels of cytokines, a type of molecule that plays a role in inflammation. High levels of inflammation are known to be associated with conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and depression. Receiving massage also affected participants’ hormone levels. Receiving a massage decreased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and vasopressin, a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior. The positive effects of massage care apply only when you are healthy. Please do not receive massage when you are ill.
Essential Oils Can Help, Too
Research has shown that essential oils can inactivate airborne viruses and help to diminish the spread of disease. One study examined the aerosol use of tea tree oil and eucalyptus, and found that removing particles from the air and then inactivating them with essential oils was one of the most efficient ways to minimize risk of viral exposure.
A 2010 study looked at a commercial essential oil blend of clove, wild orange, and cinnamon. Its application reduced in vitro viral particles by 90 percent. The oil blend was also found to decrease infection. In a 2016 study published on the National Institutes of Health website, essential oils were shown to have “potential in the field of biomedicine as they effectively destroy several bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens. The presence of different types of aldehydes, phenolics, terpenes, and other antimicrobial compounds means that the essential oils are effective against a diverse range of pathogens.”
Help Yourself Stay Healthy
Here are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting a cold or a virus such as COVID-19.
Wash your hands with soap and water to minimize your infection risk. The best way to prevent coronavirus is to wash your hands as often as possible.
Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Viruses can linger on surfaces such as doorknobs or countertops, so you can easily infect yourself if you touch your face with dirty hands.
Stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing. Since coronavirus is a respiratory infection, coughing and sneezing are common symptoms—and they release the virus into the air, so they may increase your risk of infection.
Disinfect high-touch surfaces daily, using a product that kills viruses.
Use essential oil diffusers to fight airborne viruses.
Schedule regular massage sessions to strengthen your immunity. The masters-level therapists at Bodywork for Liberation can help you stay healthy.
Together with its relaxing, pain-relieving and somatic benefits, massage therapy has been demonstrated to combat viruses by increasing the body’s white blood cells—thereby strengthening its immune system. Utilizing this powerful tool can increase your ability to stay healthy.