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Benefits of Massage Therapy: Strengthens the Immune System

March 6, 2012

Firstly, I would like to extend my sincere apologies to my readers for the lack of regular publishing of posts during the last month.

The idea of the series of posts on the benefits of massage therapy is to generate awareness on the numerous benefits of massage therapy.  Massages are not just known for their relaxing effects but also for being an effective tool in maintaining good health. In a previous post, I explained how massage therapy could improve bad postural habits and today I would like to share with you the benefits this therapy has on our immune system.

The immune system is a collection of organs, cells and tissues that work together to protect our body from disease and illness, caused mostly by pathogens (parasites, bacteria, viruses…), through the production of lymphocytes and plasma. The immune system also helps to detox and cleanse our body and provide nutrients to our cells. Together with the circulatory and lymphatic systems, the immune system drains excess fluids from our cells and tissues thus helping maintain fluid balance in our body.

We know we are constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses and we are vulnerable to infectious illnesses such as respiratory or urinary problems. Some people tend to have a weak constitution while others do not show any sign of poor health. The assiduousness of illnesses such as allergies, fatigue, arthritis, etc. can give us a sense of the strength, or weakness, of our immune system.

Developed in the 1930s by Danish practitioner, Dr. Emil Vodder, lymphatic drainage is known to stimulate the immune system, improve our metabolism, help the body to eliminate waste and toxins, and to boost the immune system. Due to the thin-walled lymph vessels and capillaries in our body, even a gentle and smooth massage makes an impact on lymphatic circulation. As we learnt last week with the circulatory system, massage therapy will stimulate and boost the body´s ability to eliminate waste and absorb nutrients.  This process helps improve the health of our tissues and organs, especially during injuries.

Professor of psychology and psychiatry, Gail Ironson, at the University of Miami, carried out research studies investigating the impact of massage therapy on the immune system. These studies revealed an increase in serotonin and in natural ‘killer cells’, viewed as the first line of defense in our immune system. It has also been noticed that patients with breast cancer, leukemia, bulimia or HIV have shown an improvement in immunity and neuroendocrine functions through massage therapy.

Regular lymphatic drainage and therapeutic massage sessions are especially useful for individuals who suffer from common illnesses like colds or flus. They are also recommended for those who lead sedentary lifestyles and do not exercise regularly, or those who want to reduce puffiness or swelling. Lymphatic drainage massages also have a positive effect on skin problems, cellulite, dysfunctional respiratory systems and people with low energy or high levels of stress, as they tend to get sick often. There are many more benefits of strengthening our immune and lymphatic systems such as: decrease in edema of extremities (arms and legs), encouraging a quick recovery of fatigued, sore muscles and from illness general illnesses, increase in the retention of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur to aid in bone repair. One needs to be aware that when the lymphatic circulation slows down, the regeneration of cells becomes less effective causing cellular oxygenation to decrease and tissue regeneration to diminish.

It is always important to have in mind that massage therapy provides a great addition to your exercise routine and your healthy eating habits thereby keeping your immune system strong.

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