Regular massage therapy may decrease cortisol, the hormone we release to help us adapt to stressful situations. Massage has also been shown to increase both serotonin and dopamine. These are your feel good hormones.
Cortisol is a hormone that you releases in response to your perception of stress. It is very necessary to alert us to possible danger. When it is switched on all the time it can influence how our body functions. Excessively high cortisol can lead to hormonal imbalance, flare ups of your autoimmune symptoms as well as low energy, flat and/or anxious mood. High levels of cortisol destroy important immune cells including natural killer cells; these are responsible for destroying cancer and viral cells. Natural killer cell levels are notably higher when cortisol levels are lower.
- Post massage therapy (15 minute seated massage), healthcare workers under high stress were found to show decreases in job stress, anxiety, and depression. Urinary cortisol levels decreased by 24%.
- Pregnant women who received 2 x 20-min massage therapy sessions twice a week were shown to experience a 25% increase in dopamine and reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep, and less back pain by the last day of the study.
- Women diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer who experienced massage 30-min massages 3 times per week for 5 weeks, reported that massage therapy reduced anxiety, depressed mood, and anger. Natural killer cells & lymphocytes increased, as did urinary dopamine (by 26%) & serotonin by 38%.