Massage therapy has long been known for its relaxing and therapeutic benefits. But did you know that massage can also lead to the release of a hormone called oxytocin? Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone" because it is released during physical touch, such as hugging, and kissing, but is also released during a massage.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced by the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It is best known for its role in childbirth and breastfeeding, where it helps to stimulate contractions and milk letdown. However, oxytocin also plays an important role in social bonding, stress relief, and relaxation.
How is Oxytocin Released During Massage?
Massage therapy has been shown to increase the release of oxytocin in several ways. Firstly, the physical touch of massage stimulates the nerves in the skin, which send signals to the brain to release oxytocin. Secondly, the pressure applied during massage can increase blood flow and decrease muscle tension, which can also lead to the release of oxytocin.
Research has found that even a single session of massage therapy can increase oxytocin levels in the body. For example, a study that took place at UCLA found that participants who received a 15-minute chair massage had higher levels of oxytocin compared to a control group who simply sat in a chair for 15 minutes.
Benefits of Oxytocin
So, why is the release of oxytocin during massage therapy important? Oxytocin has been linked to a number of benefits, including:
Relaxation: Oxytocin promotes relaxation by reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the "fight or flight" response. This can lead to a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
Stress Relief: Oxytocin can help to relieve stress and anxiety by promoting feelings of calm and relaxation.
Pain Relief: Oxytocin has been shown to have analgesic (pain-relieving) effects by reducing the perception of pain and increasing pain tolerance.
Social Bonding: Oxytocin is often referred to as the "cuddle hormone" because it is released during physical touch and can promote feelings of social bonding and connection.
Massage therapy can be a powerful tool for promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and relieving pain. The release of oxytocin during massage can further enhance these benefits by promoting feelings of relaxation and social bonding. If you're looking for a natural way to promote relaxation and relieve stress, consider scheduling a massage therapy session to experience the benefits of oxytocin for yourself.