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Massage for Allergies

Is a Massage for Allergies a Real Thing?
Question:

I’ve suffered from allergies all my life. My friends and family spend most of their time outdoors in the spring while I’m stuck indoors, and I feel left out. But at the same time, allergy medications sap my energy and make my brain foggy. I have a friend who mentioned she was getting some relief from her allergies with massage therapy. Is there a particular massage technique that’s used to treat allergies, and how does the treatment work?

Answer:

If you suffer from allergies, you are not alone. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year – making allergies the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States.[1] Americans spend tens of millions of dollars on allergy treatments and medications, and like you, many may find the side effects of the medications are worse than the symptoms they’re supposed to treat.

All of this has led many to search for more holistic ways to ease allergy symptoms. Massage, specifically sinus massage, may work for you. A massage therapist uses light, rhythmic pressure on your face and neck to stimulate your lymph nodes and enhance lymphatic flow.[2] The theory behind this massage method is that by increasing the flow of lymphatic fluid through massage, the allergens that cause your symptoms are removed from your body.[3] If you’re interested in trying this treatment, speak to your doctor about it first and find out if it’s something they recommend. Keep in mind that you may need more than one session before you achieve any noticeable results.

A more traditional massage treatment, such as a Swedish massage, also may ease the symptoms of an allergic reaction. According to the Institute for Integrative Healthcare, stress can aggravate allergies and lead to more severe allergic symptoms.[4] With a Swedish massage, your therapist uses long, gliding strokes to promote relaxation and help reduce stress. Since Swedish massage is probably the most common type of massage, you should have no trouble finding a therapist at any time that’s convenient for you. Massage may also improve your circulation and increase your focus, both of which can go a long way towards potentially lessening your allergy symptoms.

Stress also weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to allergens that you may otherwise have been able to fight off. If you seek massage therapy regularly, you can decrease stress and reduce the load on your immune system. Your newly strengthened immune system may be better able to fight off those allergens as a result, leaving you able to breathe a little more easily.

References:

[1] American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: “Allergy Facts” http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies

[2] Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: “Lymphatic Drainage and Facial Massage can Help Sinus Infections and Allergies” https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/10/12/lymphatic-drainage-and-facial-massage-can-help-sinus-infections-and-allergies

[3] Id.

[4] Institute for Integrative Healthcare: “Massage for Clients with Allergies” http://www.ovcmt.com/index.php/blog/Massage-Therapy-Techniques-for-Allergy-Relief

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