We have written before about some research carried out in Los Angeles sponsored by NIH which measured changes in hormone levels before and after a massage. The study observed measurable decreases in cortisol – the stress hormone – as well as increases in lymphocytes, the white blood cells that form a key part of the immune system.
But the benefits don’t stop at decreased stress and improved immune strength; massage has also been shown to increase levels of other hormones and chemicals which improve wellbeing, such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.
Endorphins are the most well known of these “positive hormones”. When endorphins bind to receptor neurons they reduce the intensity of any pain sensations, as well as promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. While there is no comprehensive body of research that proves the release of endorphins is caused by massage (as opposed to, for example, the simple act of lying still), it is a theory widely advanced by massage therapists.
There is a larger body of evidence that massage increases levels of serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is the classic “reward system” feel-good hormone, and is associated with all pleasurable sensations. Serotonin helps regulate our mood as well as sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory. Quantifying the increase has been the subject of a range of research, and increases of circa 30% have been measured.
What we do know for certain – from mountains of anecdotal evidence and practical experience – is that regardless of the changes in blood chemistry, massage does enhance feelings of wellbeing. So if you want to enjoy the natural dopamine high that follows a good massage, why not book yourself in at our brand new massage spa in Holborn.