Many medical experts agree that physical touch is a primal human need, and yet, in western society, complex social rules often prevent us from the simple act of positive touch. Some call it "skin hunger," and it affects everyone — with the elderly, the isolated and the ill being the most touch deprived.
Medical Evidence for Touch & Massage
The medical evidence on the benefits of touch and massage is powerful and growing. Studies find that babies that receive massage develop faster, sleep better and experience less pain.
The 700-plus medical studies on massage reveal that it is a medically effective therapy for a range of conditions, including back pain, stress, anxiety and depression — and that it reduces stress hormones, improves immune function and even enhances alertness.
It is well publicized that stress is responsible for 75 percent of all doctor visits. For instance, a recent Cedars Sinai study found that just one 45-minute massage resulted in powerful biological changes, including a significant decrease in stress hormones, while boosting immunity.
New research from Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn reveals that stress leads to shorter telomeres (those protective caps on the ends of chromosomes), and that shorter telomeres lead to higher risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, depression, and osteoarthritis.
Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, stress management and exercise, can reverse telomere shortening and potentially extend people's lives.