Swedish massage has recently been shown to strengthen the immune system — just minutes after the very first session. In a study from the Cedars-Sinai Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in Los Angeles, participants received 45 minutes of traditional Swedish massage. Blood samples were taken both before and after the massage and demonstrated a clear improvement in several factors that measure immune response and overall health, including: boosting lymphocytes, lowering cytokine levels, and reducing hormones associated with stress. This is hardly the first research to appear showing the beneficial aspects of massage on health and immunity. Numerous studies through the years have determined that massage can aid in stress relief, lessen anxiety and depression, decrease pain, alleviate stiffness, manage blood pressure, improve sports-related injuries, and possibly even contribute to the effectiveness of cancer treatments, among other things. And now that research has proven the health benefits of a single 45-minute session, imagine how great and long lasting the health benefits can be if we all opted to have massages more regularly. Getting a massage should not be considered an extravagance at all. With no downside and plenty of positive factors in its favor, massage should become another tool in our arsenal of health care. Listen to this natural health podcast for more in-depth information about how to utilize massage for more than just relaxation.