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Massage the Body’s Natural Painkillers and Mood Regulators

The Complete Herbal Guide / Massage Therapy  / Massage the Body’s Natural Painkillers and Mood Regulators

Massage the Body’s Natural Painkillers and Mood Regulators

The Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Tension headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neck pain
  • Surgery-related discomfort

What the experts say

Sure, it feels great, but they provide much more than a few “ahhhs” for people with back pain. “Massage therapy has been shown to boost levels of endorphins and serotonin—the body’s natural painkillers and mood regulators—and to reduce stress hormone levels,” says Dr. Weil. Massage therapy may also work at a molecular level, helping to turn on and off genes associated with inflammation, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine.

It’s showing promise for post-operation patients, as well. “We’ve conducted a number of studies on massage as a treatment for pain following surgery,” says Brent Bauer, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program. “In each of these studies, we have been able to demonstrate statistically significant reductions in pain, along with significant reductions in anxiety.” The results have been so compelling, he says, that massage therapy is now routinely available to all patients undergoing surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

What traditional medicine says

The therapeutic massage was first described in China about 2,500 years ago. Around 400 bc, the Greek healer Hippocrates used it to treat sprains. Most of the world’s medical systems, including Chinese medicine and India’s Ayurveda, developed their own versions.

What we know

Researchers at the University of Miami followed 37 breast cancer patients who received massage therapy or practiced progressive muscle relaxation for five weeks. Women in the massage group reported feeling less depressed and angry, and they had more energy. In the University of South Florida study of high blood pressure patients, those who got 10-minute massages three times a week for three weeks lowered their higher number by 11 points.

What new research shows

A review of more than a dozen studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that this therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry. In a series of studies including about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after a massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.) It also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

To find a qualified massage therapist: Visit The American Massage Therapy Association. Cost: Roughly $30 for a 30-minute, $60 for an hour.

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Herbal Guide Staff

schillemi@thecompleteherbalguide.com

The Complete Guide to Natural Healing believes that food, vitamins, supplements, and alternative medicine can be your best medicine. Our staff will show you the truth about health and wellness, so you can help your family and closest friends get even healthier. You’ll learn exactly what you should do and how to eat to get healthy, exercise to get your leanest, healthiest body and how to take control of your family’s health, using natural remedies as medicine.