In a Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine study, researchers divided several dozen volunteers into two groups: one received a traditional Swedish massage and another a session of light touch (but no actual massage-therapy techniques).
After each 45-minute session, blood samples were taken. The result: The Swedish massage group experienced a significant increase in their lymphocytes—white blood cells that play a large role in protecting the body against disease—and a decrease in their levels of the stress hormones. The light-touch group didn’t not.
“We found that biological changes occur as a result of even a single session of massage, and that these changes may benefit even a healthy individual,” says Mark Hyman Rapaport, M.D., one of the study’s authors.
However, once you ARE ill, massage can exacerbate symptoms. It is better to wait until the illness is no longer acute.