Massage, Immunity & Wellbeing

well being massage

Are there health benefits of regular massage therapy sessions?

Several hundreds  of UK adults receive massage therapy each day, either in a salon, spa or mobile/in-home. Massage therapy doesn’t only feel good, but it appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit to your well-being. Massage is purported to have a wide array of benefits, ranging from being pleasurable to alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, back pain, asthma, cancer, and human immunodeficiency virus. Conclusions from research analyses are that massage may reduce pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). Massage also helps enhance some immune parameters. One may expect that cumulative changes associated with regular massage would increase with more frequent treatment intervals e.g. weekly or fortnightly.

The health benefits of regular massage therapies include the treatment of soft tissue strains or injuries; headache relief; and help with digestive disorders. Crucially, massage therapy relieves pain, which can significantly affect your immune response. Research confirms that pain has a significant immunosuppressive effect on the human body. Scientists have also found strong evidence that pain reduces the levels of important parts of the immune system that deal with infection and even help fight cancer. Massage therapy is also great to increase circulation within the body, which improves tissue quality and allows people to move and function better when attended to regularly.

A preliminary study of the effects of a single session of Swedish massage on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and immune function in normal individuals.

Even though a single session massage has positive effects on you, preliminary data suggest that a single session of Swedish Massage Therapy produces measurable biological effect but there are sustained cumulative biological effects of repeated massage and light touch on neuroendocrine and immune parameters in healthy individuals. In the study, weekly massage increased circulating phenotypic lymphochyte markers and decreased mitogen-stimulated cytokine production with a minimal effect on HPA function. Twice-weekly massage appears to potentiate neuroendocrine differences.

 Another interesting study :

“Twenty-six adults were given a chair massage and 24 control group adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes, two times per week for five weeks. On the first and last days of the study they were monitored for EEG, before, during and after the sessions. In addition, before and after the sessions they performed maths computations, they completed POMS Depression and State Anxiety Scales and they provided a saliva sample for cortisol. At the beginning of the sessions they completed Life Events, Job Stress and Chronic POMS Depression Scales. Repeated measures and post hoc analysis revealed the following:

  • frontal delta power increased for both groups, suggesting relaxation;
  • the massage group showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power (suggesting enhanced alertness); while the control group showed increased alpha and beta power;
  • the massage group showed increased speed and accuracy on maths computations while the control group did not change;
  • anxiety levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions, although mood state was less depressed following both the massage and control sessions;
  • salivary cortisol levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions but only on the first day; and
  • at the end of the 5 week period depression scores were lower for both groups but job stress score were lower only for the massage group.”

Massage therapy of moderate and light pressure and vibrator effects on EEG and heart rate


Three types of commonly used massage therapy techniques were assessed in a sample of 36 healthy adults, randomly assigned to:

  • 12 -moderate massage,
  • 12-light massage, or
  • 12- vibratory stimulation group

Changes in anxiety and stress were assessed, and EEG and EKG were recorded. Anxiety scores decreased for all groups, but the moderate pressure massage group reported the greatest decrease in stress. The moderate massage group also experienced a decrease in heart rate and EEG changes including an increase in delta and a decrease in alpha and beta activity, suggesting a relaxation response. Finally, this group showed increased positive effect, as indicated by a shift toward left frontal EEG activation. The light massage group showed increased arousal, as indicated by decreased delta and increased deta activity and increased heart rate. The vibratory stimulation group also showed increased arousal, as indicated by increased heart rate and increased theta, alpha, and beta activity.


Does massage improves our ability to fight disease?

Clinical research also suggests that regular massage naturally increases the healthy immune system’s ability to kill certain cells, while decreasing the number of T-cells, for an improvement of the body’s overall immune function. In this study, 20 HIV-positive men received five 45-minute massages per week, for a month. The participants showed both an increase in serotonin and in the cells that comprise the immune system’s initial defence against infection and disease. Theoretically we can say that massage allows for faster recovery due to increased circulation of the lymph and blood vascular systems.

Do pregnant women experience immune benefits from massage?

A randomised controlled trial involving 52 healthy pregnant women examined whether aromatherapy massage offered immune-boosting benefits.

The women were split into two groups: one receiving 70 minutes of aromatherapy massage with 2% lavender essential oil every other week, the other no massage at all.

Researchers found that the group receiving aromatherapy massage showed significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improved levels of other immune markers.

According to researchers, this study presents evidence that aromatherapy massage could significantly decrease stress and enhance immune function in pregnant women.

Does one session boosts immune function ?

Recent research from Cedars-Sinai finds that people who undergo even one session of massage experience significant changes in their immune and endocrine responses. The researchers compared the effects of either a 45-minute session of Swedish massage or light touch.

Participating massage therapists were trained in the delivery of Swedish and light touch using “specific and identical protocols.”

Blood samples were collected at various intervals before and after each session, and researchers found that those who received Swedish massage experienced observable changes in lymphocytes, which play an important role in a healthy immune system that protects us from disease.

The Swedish massage group also had decreased levels of arginine vasopressin (AVP), a hormone associated with increased stress hormone (cortisol) levels, and a decrease in inflammatory cytokines, which are produced by infection-fighting white blood cells.

Does massage help fend off cold or flu?

Massage offers relaxation and stress relief, and when people are less stressed, they’re much less likely to fall ill. This is because chronic stress impairs your body’s inflammatory immune response, increasing your susceptibility to infection, according to research publishes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Do massages give immediate benefits of a healthy immune system?

Researchers recruited 34 post-surgery breast cancer patients, diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer, to a massage therapy group receiving 30-minute massages three times per week for five weeks, or a control group.

On the first and last day of the study, participants were assessed for both their psychological state and levels of immune system markers in their urine samples.

According to the study findings, immediate effects of massage therapy included reduced anxiety levels, depression and anger, while longer-term benefits showed direct impact on the body’s immune markers — such as increased dopamine, improved serotonin values and better lymphocyte levels. The researchers concluded that breast cancer patients experience significantly improved immune,  NK-cell (natural killer cell) and neuroendocrine function after receiving massage therapy.

What about massage and the COVID-19 crisis?

There is still so much unknown about the coronavirus, but having a healthy, functioning immune system will always be helpful in prevention of contracting the virus. Since massage therapy aids in improving the immune system, it is generally assumed that it could help reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.


Hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions , please email us on [email protected] and we will be happy to help. Feel free to comment below.

Remember whether you choose a Swedish massage, aromatherapy, deep tissue or any other type, there are still benefits with each one of them.

This summer FREE call-out charge even for repeat clients. 10% OFF DISCOUNT when 2 or more book on the same visit or if you refer a friend.

Don’t forget to book your regular massage :


Gianamassage and immune system

“A gracious touch for a wonder-feel experience!”


Disclaimer: This document is based on research published by pubmed and other science publications. Giana Ltd has not done this research but credits it as we hear similar results from our clients.

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