The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Measuring the physiologic response to massage

    Researchers at Umea University, Sweden get clinical.

    First, the details.

    • 22 healthy adults received both treatments (crossover design).
      • Touch massage was performed on hands and feet for 80 minutes.
      • During the control period, participants rested in the same setting.
    • Measurements included the following:
      • Heart rate and heart rate variability
      • Saliva levels of stress hormones (cortisol)
      • Blood sugar and insulin levels
      • Extracellular levels of glucose, lactate, pyruvate and glycerol
    • Data were collected before, during, and after massage and at rest.
    • Saliva levels of cortisol, and blood sugar and insulin samples were collected before, immediately following, and 1 hour after massage and the control period.

    And, the results.

    • During massage:
      • Total heart rate variability and related components decreased.
    • After 5 minutes of massage:
      • Heart rate decreased significantly, indicating a reduced stress response.
      • Saliva cortisol and insulin levels decreased significantly.
      • Blood sugar levels remained stable.
    • During the control period:
      • A similar, though less prominent, pattern was seen.
      • There were only minor changes in glucose, lactate, pyruvate, and glycerol (decreased), and lactate (increased.
      • Changes in glycerol or pyruvate levels were not significant.

    The bottom line?

    So, there you have it. “In healthy volunteers, touch massage decreases sympathetic nervous activity, leading to decreased overall autonomic activity where parasympathetic nervous activity also decreased, thereby maintaining the autonomic balance,” concluded the authors.

    In other words, it’s relaxing.

    7/25/10 20:11 JR

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