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The Effects of Massage Therapy on Adrenal Exhaustion

By Lyn Michaud ; Updated July 18, 2017

The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, release epinephrine and a variety of hormones and hormone-like chemicals. Adrenal exhaustion may result from exposure to constant stressors causing the adrenal glands to overwork until unable to produce sufficient amounts of hormones. Symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include fatigue, recurrent infections, inability to deal with stress, changes in blood pressure and achiness. Though the exact mechanism of action remains scientifically unconfirmed, massage therapy provides relaxation in complement with conventional medical treatment.

Lowers Stress Hormones

Daily life happens in a series of mini-stress situations: out of milk, red lights, fussy children, competition at work, angry customers, crabby spouse. The adrenal glands release cortisol to deal with these issues and emergency situations with the fight-or-flight response. Research by Tifffany Field and associates shows massage treatment reduces cortisol in both saliva and urine samples indicating reduced stress.

Improves Mood

In an overview of massage therapy from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, research indicates a single massage reduces temporary anxiety that results from a stressful situation. Multiple massage treatments reduce general feelings of anxiety and depression. A simple hand massage can reduce anxiety in patients, notes Dr. Iwao Osaka.

Supports Immune Function

One symptom of adrenal exhaustion is frequent sore throats and infections. A research review published in the Townsend Letter notes the positive effects of massage on immune function. Massage increases white blood cells and natural killer cells in healthy individuals following a Swedish massage. There is an observed increase in natural killer cell activity and T-cells in HIV positive patients receiving daily massage. In addition, a reduced loss of lymphocytes in HIV positive is noted in children receiving massage therapy twice per week.


For a professional massage, seek out a certified or licensed massage therapist. The American Massage Therapy Association recommends you ask your massage therapist about their credentials to practice massage therapy. Talk to your massage therapist about why you are seeking massage therapy -- this will help your therapist choose the best style and approach to your massage. Use massage therapy for relaxation, not as an alternative to medical treatment.

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