By Sharon Truelove
How does massage help? Stress produces change in the body’s chemistry. Keeping the autonomic system on overdrive constantly, causes the liver to dump too much cholesterol into the bloodstream. Massage, via relaxation, turns off the fight/flight response, and helps lower cholesterol by stopping the flood of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Thus, it lowers one’s risk of heart disease.
Japanese research has shown that massage may be another method used in the fight to help reduce cholesterol. When Anma massage was given for 25 minutes, blood tests showed that post-massage, cholesterol levels were lowered.
What is cholesterol? It is a soft, waxy fat, and is a natural substance found in the body’s cells and blood. It is essential to the body’s health. When there is too much, it can lead to cardiovascular problems by building up and it can lead to blockage of the arteries which can lead to heart attack/stroke.
Heredity can play a part in too much cholesterol production. The increase in sedentary lifestyles combined with a high saturated fat diet, may make hereditary high cholesterol harder to battle.
According to Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.,
“In an effort to evaluate the effects of massage on anxiety, the immune system and blood cholesterol levels, Japanese researchers examined participants receiving Anma massage before and after a 25-minute session. Results of the study compared baseline measures to post-massage measures, and there were significant improvement in all areas. As determined by blood tests, participants had lower total cholesterol levels after receiving Anma Massage.
By focusing on the entire body, the subjects received a fully clothed Anma massage that combined pressure, friction and touch with deep tissue bodywork. The practitioners used the following techniques: effleurage, kneading with whole hands and kneading with thumbs along the muscle. Each massage followed a specific order, beginning with the head and neck, then moving to the shoulders, back and hips, upper limbs and the lower limbs. Study participants were asked to let the massage therapist know the most comfortable level of pressure.”
Three different types of fat that are measured in “Total Cholesterol” are:
- low density lipoproteins aka LDL
- high density lipoproteins aka HDL
- triglycerides aka TRI
Blood tests measure milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). The four range of numbers that you want to pay attention to on your blood work are:
- Normal = 140 – 200
- Moderate Risk = 200 – 240
- High Risk = > 240
Known as “bad” cholesterol it, increases the chance of heart disease by accumulating on the arterial walls.
- Desirable = < 100
- Less desirable = 100-129
- Borderline = 130-159
- High = 169-189
- Very high= > 190
The chemical form of fat, high triglyceride levels are linked to a higher risk of coronary artery disease.
- Normal =< 150
- Mildly High =150-199
- High = 200-499
- Very High = > 500
The “good” cholesterol.
Higher number=lower risk.
Protects by removing the “bad” cholesterol from our blood and keeps it from building up in the arteries.
- Optimal = 60+
- Risk = <40 men/<50 women
Physicians advise four changes to help balance cholesterol:
- Weight Reduction
- Diet (lots of high fiber, antioxidants and Omega-3’s)
- Stop Smoking
By keeping one’s weight down, exercising regularly, eating healthy, not smoking and receiving massage regularly; you stand a good chance of keeping your numbers in the most desirable range.
Have you had your cholesterol checked in the last year? Did you have to do anything to change the numbers?