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Massage Therapy in Holistic Detox

Medically Reviewed Fact Checked
Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Massage therapy helps you ease stress, relax, renew, and even remove toxins, all in peace and comfort. 

Therapeutic massage helps the body in multiple ways and has been found exceptionally beneficial in the process of thorough, deep, holistic detoxification. 

We offer massage therapy to all of our residents at Alternative to Meds Center. It is one segment of a wealth of therapeutic treatments at the center but can be life-changing all in itself. Find out why!

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Benefits of Massage Therapy

While therapeutic massage sessions are definitely helpful for relaxation and comfort, we have found these therapies can also support the body in other ways during holistic detoxification and recovery. Many studies have been done that also demonstrate these benefits, and we encourage reading these (listed below this article) for even greater understanding.1-8

Massage therapy benefits include:
  • therapeutic massage sedona drug rehabPain relief
  • Improvement in skin conditions
  • Improved gastrointestinal functioning and motility
  • Reduced anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms
  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Improvements in blood pressure
  • Better balance and strength
  • Enhanced gait — greater stride length, and speed
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Increase in neurotransmitter release (dopamine, serotonin)
  • Regulation of cortisol levels
  • Boosted immunity, increased levels of killer cells and lymphocytes (white blood cells)

Mechanics of Therapeutic Massage

The mechanics at work during massage involve the use of movement. The massage therapist administers a sequence of synchronized movements that stimulate the body. These massage movements involve irregular or altering pressure applications that gently stretch and compress tissues of the muscle. Massage is also a great way for someone to drop into a more relaxed, and therefore, healing state.

Residents often report relief from pain and feelings of deep relaxation after just one massage session.

Massage Therapy and the Immune System

The immune system in the human body is a protective system that guards against invading pathogens, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and even parasites. Keeping the immune system in robust condition is vital to good health. When the immune system becomes dysregulated its efficiency is reduced and can even go into a destructive over-stimulated state that can lead to autoimmune disease. Killer cells provide the ammo for the immune system in good working order to keep us healthy. Massage therapy has been clinically shown to initiate the release of killer cells and in this way, their increased levels boost the efficacy of the immune system.9,10

Many different detoxifying massage therapies are available to participate in, for example, lymphatic massage.

Lymphatic System and Massage Therapy

The lymphatic system is one of two major circulatory systems in the body. The circulation of blood is the other major one. Both are essential to have in good working order. Massage improves circulation and mobilizes lymph. Lymph is the clear liquid that serves as a conduit to and from the cells and tissues.

The lymphatic system is basically a transporter. The system carries tissue liquids, cells, and non-cellular molecules (all together these components are called lymph) through a connective chain of depots, or nodes. The movement of massage therapy assists in moving these liquids along the lymphatic pathways. These liquids can contain toxins such as heavy metals, dead cells, and other waste products and debris. The lymph is then scoured over and cleansed of these undesirable materials by the immune system.

With a sequence of strokes and movement, therapeutic massage assists the lymphatic and immune systems to clear toxic substances contained in the lymph.

Therapeutic Massage and Psychological Symptoms

Studies on massage therapy demonstrate clearly that there are many benefits available for reducing and eliminating psychological symptoms. Massage works in tandem with regulating hormones and neurotransmitters that are regulators of mood. Improvements in depression and anxiety are two good examples of the benefits of massage therapy for psychological symptoms.

Massage therapy has been used in many settings including for veterans, cancer patients, recovery in substance use disorders, and many others. All of these areas found improvements in psychological wellness when massage therapy was regularly employed.6,7,12

Benefits of Massage for Quality of Sleep

Another area where regular massage therapy has been found helpful is improved sleep. Just like breathing, adequate sleep is fundamental for both physical and mental wellness.3,8

Even in extreme health conditions, such as cancer recovery, massage was shown to significantly improve sleep patterns.14

How important is sleep during any type of recovery? Sleep is so vital to health that sleep deprivation has been used as a tool for torture, and for creating mental pathologies. Thankfully, massage therapy provides benefits to quality sleep without drug side effects associated with sleeping pills.13

Cortisol Regulation and Massage Therapy

The reduction of cortisol, the “stress hormone”, is also reported in clinical studies as a highly beneficial result of massage. Despite its commonly perceived reputation, cortisol is not intrinsically a bad thing. In fact, cortisol is essential for energy production at normal levels. Receptors for cortisol are found all over the body. This keeps the vast network of interactions between body systems properly fuelled for proper response and function. But too much cortisol can result in over-reactions such as anxiety. Massage can help regulate cortisol levels for reductions in stress and anxiety if cortisol is too high. When cortisol is too low, it can manifest as ADHD-type symptoms and aggressiveness. Keeping cortisol in proper balance with massage therapy can assist with such manifestations of psychological symptoms.5-7,11,12

Massage Therapy at Alternative to Meds

Massage therapy is just one of many complementary therapies provided at Alternative to Meds Center. We have found it highly beneficial during holistic detox and greatly assists in recovery after over-use of medication, addiction treatment, and improving mental health in natural ways.

We want to assist you in your information gathering, and we are always happy to provide families and individuals with all the information possible in preparation for selecting the right program. Please call us at Alternative to Meds Center for more details on massage therapy and all of the other adjunctive therapies we use to assist our clients on their personal path to recovery and natural mental health.

1. Field T. (2016). Massage therapy research review. Complementary therapies in clinical practice24, 19–31. [cited 2023 June 15]

2. Field T, Diego M, Delgado J, Garcia D, Funk CG. Rheumatoid arthritis in upper limbs benefits from moderate pressure massage therapy. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 May;19(2):101-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Feb 6. PMID: 23561068. [cited 2023 June 15]

3. Hatefi M, Jaafarpour M, Khani A, Khajavikhan J, Kokhazade T. The Effect of Whole Body Massage on the Process and Physiological Outcome of Trauma ICU Patients: A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Jun;9(6):UC05-8. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2015/12756.6096. Epub 2015 Jun 1. PMID: 26266191; PMCID: PMC4525581. [cited 2023 June 15]

4. Givi M. Durability of effect of massage therapy on blood pressure. Int J Prev Med. 2013 May;4(5):511-6. PMID: 23930160; PMCID: PMC3733180. [cited 2023 June 15]

5. Adib-Hajbaghery M, Rajabi-Beheshtabad R, Abasi A. Effect of Whole Body Massage by Patient’s Companion on the Level of Blood Cortisol in Coronary Patients. Nurs Midwifery Stud. 2013 Sep;2(3):10-5. doi: 10.5812/nms.13781. Epub 2013 Sep 15. PMID: 25414870; PMCID: PMC4228537. [cited 2023 June 15]

6. Poland RE, Gertsik L, Favreau JT, Smith SI, Mirocha JM, Rao U, Daar ES. Open-label, randomized, parallel-group controlled clinical trial of massage for treatment of depression in HIV-infected subjects. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Apr;19(4):334-40. doi: [cited 2023 June 15] 10.1089/acm.2012.0058. Epub 2012 Oct 25. PMID: 23098696; PMCID: PMC3627430.

7. Adib-Hajbaghery M, Abasi A, Rajabi-Beheshtabad R. Whole body massage for reducing anxiety and stabilizing vital signs of patients in cardiac care unit. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2014 Jun 17;28:47. PMID: 25405113; PMCID: PMC4219878. [cited 2023 June 15]

8. Ko YL, Lee HJ. Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of using back massage to improve sleep quality among Taiwanese insomnia postpartumwomen. Midwifery. 2014 Jan;30(1):60-4. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2012.11.005. Epub 2013 Feb 11. PMID: 23410501. [cited 2023 June 15]

9. Ironson G, Field T, Scafidi F, Hashimoto M, Kumar M, Kumar A, Price A, Goncalves A, Burman I, Tetenman C, Patarca R, Fletcher MA. Massage therapy is associated with enhancement of the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity. Int J Neurosci. 1996 Feb;84(1-4):205-17. doi: 10.3109/00207459608987266. PMID: 8707483. [cited 2023 June 15]

10. Grubbs H, Kahwaji CI. Physiology, Active Immunity. [Updated 2022 Aug 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2023 June 15]

11. Choi, I., Lee, S., & Hong, Y. K. (2012). The new era of the lymphatic system: no longer secondary to the blood vascular system. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine2(4), a006445. [cited 2023 June 15]

12. Oosterlaan J, Geurts HM, Knol DL, Sergeant JA. Low basal salivary cortisol is associated with teacher-reported symptoms of conduct disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2005 Mar 30;134(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2004.12.005. PMID: 15808285. [cited 2023 June 15]

13. Vyazovskiy V. V. (2015). Sleep, recovery, and metaregulation: explaining the benefits of sleep. Nature and science of sleep7, 171–184.

14. Samuel SR, Gururaj R, Kumar KV, Vira P, Saxena PUP, Keogh JWL. Randomized control trial evidence for the benefits of massage and relaxation therapy on sleep in cancer survivors-a systematic review. J Cancer Surviv. 2021 Oct;15(5):799-810. doi: 10.1007/s11764-020-00972-x. Epub 2020 Dec 2. PMID: 33269414; PMCID: PMC8448699. [cited 2023 June 15]

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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