Even a single session can provide benefits. In the pilot studies from Emory, which were also peer-reviewed and published, subjects experienced an increase in oxytocin levels, a decrease in vasopressin levels and even a small decrease in cortisol.
From there, the news only got better, with twice-weekly massage for five weeks causing "more profound decreases in stress hormones, oxytocin increases and decreases in vasopressin," according to Rapaport. Weekly massage also "caused more profound changes on the immune system."
It’s worth mentioning that the Emory researchers can only speak to Swedish massage, and most other data on the medical benefits of massage also covers this best-known type of “bodywork,” as Massage Envy terms it.
"One of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body," Massage Envy adds. "This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart."
In another interesting twist, the Emory researchers teamed up with Atlanta School of Massage for the clinical trial.
But the wide acceptance of such complimentary treatments needs more time and effort, Rapaport explains. “People should be justifiably skeptical of complimentary treatments, the extent of the well-done research is limited.”
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