A Hug A Day Keeps Infection Away

A recent article from Dr. Mercola speaks to the value of hugging to avoid infection. As a massage therapist, I immediately related getting more hugs to the value of getting more massage! 

A quote from Dr. Mercola's article: 

"It’s been shown that people who are under stress and in conflict with others are more susceptible to viruses like the common cold. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University set out to determine whether social support, as gauged by hugging, might in turn be protective against such infections. It turns out their hypothesis was right. Among 404 adults, those who had greater social support and more frequent hugs during conflicts were less likely to “catch” a cold after they were exposed to the virus. The hugs, researchers said, were responsible for about one-third of the protective effect."

According to the study:

This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress…

The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy… Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.”

What are the benefits of a 10-second hug per day?

Hugging increases the levels of the bonding hormone, oxytocin. Elevated levels of oxytocin in the body have been proven to have beneficial effects on heart health and the immune system. Studies have shown that hugging lowers blood pressure and reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate. Research suggests there’s even more to it than that.

As reported by Mail Online: 

The skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centers called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve winds its way through the body and is connected to a number of organs, including the heart. It is also connected to oxytocin receptors. One theory is that stimulation of the vagus triggers an increase in oxytocin, which in turn leads to the cascade of health benefits.”

Later in his article, Dr. Mercola goes on to say that that alternatives to hugs such as massage therapy have similar value. He states that a hug must last at least 10 seconds to have the maximum benefit. Massage therapy sessions last a lot longer than that! 

Add a weekly, biweekly, or monthly massage to your daily hugs and we will all be on our way to superior health!   

See the full article here.

Darcy Blaine, LMT
(NVMT# 7593)

Resources:
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