Does Massage Help Immunity?

does massage help immunity

Can massage boost immunity? Studies show it does. Massage therapy is not just relaxing and invigorating, its benefits go deeper. Regular massage sessions help strengthen the immune system, the body’s natural defense against pathogens that cause diseases.

This increases the body’s ability to fend off colds, flu and other infections and also enables the body to heal faster when ill. Read on to discover how massage improves the immune system.

Studies on The Benefits of Massage on the Immune System

1. In a study conducted by Cedars-Sinai hospital and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, healthy individuals who had Swedish massage sessions experienced an improvement in their body’s immune and endocrine response. They experienced significant changes in lymphocytes, a subtype of white blood cells that plays a major role in defending the body from diseases, an increase in natural killer cells and a decrease in cytokines – molecules associated with inflammation.

Swedish massage also resulted in a decrease in cortisol the stress hormone and Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone that increases the level of cortisol, thus reducing stress and anxiety for a healthy immune system.

2. In a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, HIV-positive teenagers who received massage therapy demonstrated enhanced immune function. Massage increased the natural killer (NK) cells, the white blood cells that provide rapid response to viral-infected cells.  

3. In another study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer who received massage therapy experienced an increase in the levels of dopamine and serotonin (natural feel-good hormones), resulting in a decrease in stress and anxiety. The massage also improved their immunity and cognitive functions by increasing the number of NK cells and lymphocytes.

How Massage Boosts Immunity

Massage helps strengthen the immune system by increasing natural killer cells and boosting the activity level of the white blood cells that work to combat disease-causing pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. Another way massage therapy benefits the immune system is by improving blood circulation and lymph flow.   

Stress is one of the factors that compromise the immune system and make one more susceptible to illnesses. By relaxing the body and reducing the level of cortisol and vasopressin, massage calms the body and helps alleviate stress and anxiety, which results in a strengthened immune system. Massage also improves sleep and quality sleep is essential for a healthy immune system.


One of the reasons getting a massage is good for you is that it will boost your immunity. All the benefits of massage including relaxing the body, boosting blood circulation and alleviating stress and anxiety result in a stronger immune system.

Whether you have a condition or are looking to keep the common cold or flu at bay in the winter months, regular massages can boost your immunity and improve your body’s ability to resist diseases and overcome illnesses faster.          

More Resources

A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals

Get in touch with Higher Living Bodywork at (929) 500-2041 for a consultation on the best type of massage for your needs! I am a licensed massage therapist and can offer my therapeutic services at the comfort of your home or in our studio space in Williamsburg Brooklyn!

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