Massage can ease insomnia, boost immunity, prevent PMS and more. It’s so effective with healing and pain that many hospitals are offering massage as part of their standard therapy.
“All of our surgery patients are offered the treatment — I call it ‘service with a smile’ — and it’s a mandatory weekly prescription I give myself,” says Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Institute at New York Presbyterian Hospital–Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and a member of the board at LLuminari, a health-education company.
Here are a few of the benefits of massage:
- Good-bye, pain – studies show that massageworks better than chiropractic and acupuncture for pain reduction. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol and boosts feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. All these changes slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure and block pain receptors. Increased blood flow to muscles also help them heal.
- Hello, dreams – massage increase delta waves, those linked with deep sleep. That’s why it’s so easy to drift off to sleep on the massage table.
- Take that, colds – massage boosts “natural killer cells” — the immune system’s first line of defense against illness. Cortisol destroys the natural killer cells. Massage decreases the levels of cortisol and the immune system gets a boost.
- Blues, be gone – less cortisol and more serotonin and dopamine in our system also means less stress, anxiety and depression. That feeling of well-being after a massage is a big reason why some hospitals offer it to anxious patients preparing for surgery or chemo.
- Shove off, PMS – in a study of 24 women with severe PMS, massage was found to reduce symptoms of pain, water retention and mood swings. For maximum effect, combine with other proven remedies such as exercise and dark chocolate!