What does massage have to do with Cortisol, Serotonin, Endorphins, Dopamine & Hormones?
A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30 percent. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin — one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms — increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage.
- Get the Right Amount of Sleep. …
- Exercise, but Not Too Much. …
- Learn to Recognize Stressful Thinking. …
- Learn to Relax. …
- Have Fun. …
- Maintain Healthy Relationships. …
- Take Care of a Pet. …
- Be Your Best Self.
What is Cortisol and how does massage affect cortisol levels?
Cortisol, known more formally as hydrocortisone (INN, USAN, BAN), is a steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid, produced by the zona fasciculate of the adrenal cortex. It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. It also decreases bone formation. Various synthetic forms of cortisol are used to treat a variety of diseases.
Production and release
Cortisol is produced in the human body by the adrenal gland in the zona fasciculata, the second of three layers comprising the adrenal cortex. The cortex forms the outer “bark” of each adrenal gland, situated atop the kidneys. The release of cortisol is controlled by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain. The secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) by the hypothalamus triggers cells in the neighboring anterior pituitary to secrete another hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), into the vascular system, through which blood carries it to the adrenal cortex.
In the fasting state, cortisol stimulates gluconeogenesis (formation, in the liver, of glucose from certain amino acids, glycerol, lactate, and/or propionate), and it activates anti-stress and anti-inflammatory pathways.
It downregulates the Interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) on “Helper” (CD4+) T-cells. This results in the inability of Interleukin-2 to upregulate the Th2 (Humoral) immune response and results in a Th1 (Cellular) immune dominance. This results in a decrease in B-cell antibody production. Cortisol prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. This is why cortisol is used to treat conditions resulting from overactivity of the B-cell-mediated antibody response such as inflammatory and rheumatoid diseases, and allergies. Low-potency hydrocortisone, available over the counter in some countries, is used to treat skin problems such as rashes, eczema, and others.
Cortisol plays an important role in glycogenolysis, the breaking down of glycogen to glucose-1-phosphate and glucose, in liver and muscle tissue. Glycogenolysis is stimulated by epinephrine and/or norepinephrine, however, cortisol facilitates the activation of glycogen phosphorylase, which is essential for the effects of epinephrine on glycogenolysis.
Elevated levels of cortisol, if prolonged, can lead to proteolysis and muscle wasting.
Several studies have shown a lipolytic (breakdown of fat) effect of cortisol, although, under some conditions, cortisol may somewhat suppress lipolysis.
Another function is to decrease bone formation.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In this article, the positive effects of massage therapy on biochemistry are reviewed including decreased levels of cortisol and increased levels of serotonin and dopamine. The research reviewed includes studies on depression (including sex abuse and eating disorder studies), pain syndrome studies, research on auto-immune conditions (including asthma and chronic fatigue), immune studies (including HIV and breast cancer), and studies on the reduction of stress on the job, the stress of aging, and pregnancy stress. In studies in which cortisol was assayed either in saliva or in urine, significant decreases were noted in cortisol levels (averaging decreases 31%). In studies in which the activating neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) were assayed in urine, an average increase of 28% was noted for serotonin and an average increase of 31% was noted for dopamine. These studies combined suggest the stress-alleviating effects (decreased cortisol) and the activating effects (increased serotonin and dopamine) of massage therapy on a variety of medical conditions and stressful experiences.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Swedish Massage Could Lower Stress Hormone Cortisol: Study
Regular massages don’t just seem to melt away stress — they may actually lower levels of the stress hormone in your body, a small new study suggests.
The research, first reported by the New York Times and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, shows that indulging in a massage is linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and amped-up levels of a vital player in the body’s immune system, white blood cells.
The findings are “very, very intriguing and very, very exciting — and I’m a skeptic,” study researcher Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, the chairman of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told the Times.
The study included 53 adults, 29 of whom had a 45-minute Swedish massage either once a week or twice a week for a five-week period. The other 24 adults underwent a similar massage schedule, but with a light-touch massage instead.
Researchers found that compared to the light-touch massage, study participants who underwent the Swedish massage twice a week experienced decreases in cortisol levels, increased oxytocin levels (also known as the “trust hormone”), and slight evidence of increased white blood cell counts. They also experienced decreased levels of the hormone arginine vasopressin, which the Times pointed out is linked with cortisol rises.
Previously, researchers studied the effects of Swedish massage versus light-touch massage as published in a 2010 study in the same journal. But that study did not examine differences in hormone levels with different frequencies of massage.
The Mayo Clinic points out that other potential health benefits of massage include helping maintain stable blood pressure, relieving stiffness and pain, and even helping with anxiety and depression.
Serotonin plays a part in regulating mood. They all play a role in stress. Massage helps to lower levels of anxiety and depressed mood, increase dopamine and serotonin levels, and decreased norepinephrine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, and digestion. Synthesized in the brain and the intestines, it is theorized that low serotonin levels contribute to depression and anxiety.
The positive effects of massage therapy on biochemistry are reviewed including decreased levels of cortisol and increased levels of serotonin and dopamine. The research reviewed includes studies on depression (including sex abuse and eating disorder studies), pain syndrome studies, research on auto-immune conditions (including asthma and chronic fatigue), immune studies (including HIV and breast cancer), and studies on the reduction of stress on the job, the stress of aging, and pregnancy stress. In studies in which cortisol was assayed either in saliva or in urine, significant decreases were noted in cortisol levels (averaging decreases 31%). In studies in which the activating neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) were assayed in urine, an average increase of 28% was noted for serotonin and an average increase of 31% was noted for dopamine. These studies combined suggest the stress-alleviating effects (decreased cortisol) and the activating effects (increased serotonin and dopamine) of massage therapy on a variety of medical conditions and stressful experiences.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced to help relieve pain and improve mood — your own natural narcotic. Really. The chemical structure and effect of endorphins produced by the brain are similar to the opiate class of drugs derived from the poppy plant such as morphine.
Usually, endorphins are released in response to pain or stress, but there are other triggers, such as exercise (think “runner’s high). Endorphins are also released in response to laughter, dark chocolate, and you guessed it, massage.
Dopamine is associated with the reward centers of the brain. It’s the neurotransmitter that makes you feel giddy when you fall in love, positive when you complete a task and is the chemical activated by many drugs, leading to addiction. Low dopamine levels are associated with a lack of motivation, low energy, and the inability to focus.
A massage helps pre-event by increasing the level of positive hormones around the body. Increasing the positive hormones endorphins, serotonin and dopamine encourages relaxation. An increase in relaxation reduces the feelings of anxiety and nervousness, decreasing stress and tension. Regular Swedish or Sports massage will help balance their hormone levels and carry much needed balanced comfort for sore muscle tissues or stress.
- Exercise. The best and most effective way to boost serotonin is with daily exercise. …
- Spend time in the sunshine. …
- Eat some chocolate. …
- Pet a dog or cat. …
- Meditate. …
- B Vitamins.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.