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Immediate Effects of Traditional Thai Massage on Psychological Stress as Indicated by Salivary Alpha-Amylase Levels in Healthy Persons

Thanarat Sripongngam, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Dhavee Sirivongs, Jaturat Kanpittaya, Kamonwan Tangvoraphonkchai, Sutin Chanaboon

(Exercise and Sport Sciences Program, Graduate School, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand)

Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2015; 21:216-221

DOI: 10.12659/MSMBR.894343


BACKGROUND: Stress can cause psychological and physiological changes. Many studies revealed that massage can decrease stress. However, traditional Thai massage has not been well researched in this regard. The purpose of this study was to investigate the immediate effects of traditional Thai massage (TTM) on salivary alpha-amylase levels (sAA), heart rate variability (HRV), autonomic nervous system (ANS) function, and plasma renin activity (PRA).
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Twenty-nine healthy participants were randomly allocated into either a traditional Thai massage (TTM) group or Control (C) group, after which they were switched to the other group with a 2-week wash-out period. Each of them was given a 10-minute mental arithmetic test to induce psychological stress before a 1-hour session of TTM or rest.
RESULTS: Within-groups comparison revealed that sAA was significantly decreased (p<0.05) in the TTM group but not in the C group. HRV and ANS function were significantly increased (p<0.05) and PRA was significantly decreased (p<0.05) in both groups. However, low frequency per high frequency ratio (LF/HF ratio) and ANS balance status were not changed. Only sAA was found to be significantly different between groups (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that both TTM and rest can reduce psychological stress, as indicated by decreased sAA levels, increased parasympathetic activity, decreased sympathetic activity, and decreased PRA. However, TTM may have a modest effect on stress reduction as indicated by a reduced sAA.

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