Magic Healing Hands

Americans spend up to $6 billion a year on massages. Many companies give on-site massages as a benefit to reduce employee stress. Massage therapists were even called out to New York and Washington, D.C., after the terrorist attacks to relieve rescue workers. In fact, medical science shows massages may do more than relieve stress. Here’s more on the healing power of massage.

It relaxes, soothes the soul, tension is forgotten or erased. Yet for Elizabeth Russell, massages are more than just a treat. She says, “It’s like medicine, only a medicine that tastes good.”

As a breast cancer survivor, Russell hopes massage therapy can keep the disease away.

Research psychologist Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., of the University of Miami Touch Research Institute, says, “It appears to increase natural killer cell numbers. And those particular cells are very important for fighting viruses and tumors.”

In an ongoing study, researchers hope massages will increase cancer-fighting cells in breast cancer patients.

Hernandez-Reif says, “The women receiving massage therapy are less depressed, less anxious, and their immune system is getting stronger, very encouraging.”

Equally encouraging is what massage can do for Parkinson’s disease.

“When I move down and start working on the hands directly or on the legs or the feet, the tremoring virtually goes away,” says massage therapist Sandra Thomson.

Hernandez-Reif says, “We’re finding that it helps the Parkinson’s patients sleep better, and it improves their daily living activity.”

The best part is, these healing hands can work their magic at home.

“It’s amazing, even a 15-minute backrub can do wonders,” says Hernandez-Reif.

Thomson says, “I think the most critical is the human touch.”

Now, we just have to wait for science to catch up with that belief.

Other studies at the touch research institute have found massage can benefit sickle-cell anemia, HIV, asthma, diabetes and ADHD patients. The institute has more than 60 published studies dealing with massage therapy for infants, adults and even the elderly.

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