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Touch, Hugs, Massages and Health

Published on January 19, 2015

A study from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that hugs may help protect against infection. The researchers surveyed 400 healthy adults about the number of hugs they received over a two-week period, and then intentionally exposed them to the common cold virus. The study subjects were quarantined and monitored for illness. Those who reported having the strongest social support shown through hugs were less likely than others to catch the cold. Those who did get sick appeared to have less severe illness.

Obviously touch matters and that is one of the main reasons I recommend and receive so many magnesium massages. Touch is such a basic need that people easily forget it or do not see it as a separate distinct essential need. The hunger for touch is a real human need almost as important as food. Therefore, magnesium massages for cancer patients is an exceptionally good idea.

We are born with an intense skin hunger. Babies have a deep need for touch and if not forthcoming healthy development is interfered with. Touch is a God given need that we never outgrow and it can be enjoyed for its own sake, not just as a prelude to sex. As adults we have a strong need to hold hands, be held in someone’s arms, to hug, receive a nonsexual massage, have our face or arms stroked, be cuddled, caressed, etc. All of these things have actual physiological effects on our biochemical and bio-energetic systems. Brain wave activity is increased resulting in increased alertness for instance.

The amount of insulin needed in diabetics is reduced, hormone levels increase and sleep patterns are enhanced. Touch is physically necessary and beneficial to our entire sense of well-being. Through touch multiple neuronal messages are transmitted to our brains stimulating the production of hormones (chemical/emotional energy) that provide physical and emotional good feelings. Simply put, humans thrive on touch. The hunger for touch is a real human need. And though touch is physical, the need provides sustenance and anchoring for us.

Research by neuropsychologist James W. Prescott shows that insufficient amounts of physical affection may be a cause of high violence rates in the U.S. For many years, Dr. Prescott was a research scientist and administrator at the National Institutes of Health. He believes that touch deprivation is harmful to people’s physical and psychological well-being. According to Dr. Prescott, handling and body contact are essential "nutrients" for the developing brain in humans and other animals. He says depriving infants of physical affection can cause neurological dysfunction, which leads to abnormal and harmful behavior.

Destroy the world of touch
and you destroy the world of love

Following a research project on touch around the world, social scientists rated the United States and Great Britain among the lowest touch countries studied. The "warmer" high-touch countries included Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. In America touching someone can actually be a federal offense. With the new sexual harassment laws many people are afraid to extend a warm hug or a friendly touch. In addition, with the increase in child molestation, we must guard our children’s safety and teach them the difference between good and bad touching. Unfortunately for our children, that means their caregivers must be especially guarded in showing them affection, even when appropriate.

Many studies reveal the potential for a great deal of psychological human damage that can occur at a very early age. Essential aspects of development, including, most importantly, sexual-affectional development, is arrested or severely damaged when young children are deprived of affectionate touching. In the United States, some researchers estimate that only about 25% of children come from a functional home in which adequate attachment occurs due to sufficient levels of demonstrative affection. Perhaps a great part of the reason for this is, according to Robert W. Hatfield, “In its most rigid and fundamentalist form, the Judeo-Christian philosophy is staunchly antitouch, antibody, antipleasure, and antisexual.”

Study after study demonstrates that for all mammals,
receiving touch that is pleasurable, safe and appropriate
reduces sickness, depression and aggressive behaviors.
Dr. Ben Benjamin

The hunger for touch is a real human need almost as important as food. And just as intimacy can be seen differently from love and sex, though we often combine the two, touch also is an activity in itself and can be a wholly satisfying experience as people who give and receive massage well know. The most important way we give love to a baby is through touch. For babies, and the rest of us, love is equated deeply with touch. The problem for adults though, comes in with the intense association we make between touch and sex. Just like we fear intimacy many fear touch because sexual issues intervene in our consciousness.

Beings in union love each other, touch each other,
need each other, and heal each other.
We are here on earth to touch each other physically,
as well as spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

Clinically, cutaneous deprivation, (the lack of touch) leads to a host of emotional, physical and developmental problems in young and old alike. Research has shown that there are distinct biochemical differences between people who experience touch and those who are severely deprived of it. Baby monkeys who are raised without comforting, nurturing touch do not have that source of security and assurance. They are easily overwhelmed by new experiences. Placed in an unfamiliar environment without a sense of safety, they simply collapse in hysterical screams. They cannot cope with challenging or threatening situations the same way that their touched and comforted cohorts can.

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Physical affection is very important for wholesome touching puts us more in touch with the more beautiful parts of ourselves. Yet surveys have shown that overwhelmingly most people do not touch as much as they would like. Touch is an activity in itself, and is wholly satisfying, healing and a necessary life experience. Touch in the form of massage, affection, hugs, cuddles and plain pure tenderness diffuses emotional tension. It grounds the entire system and touches our souls. When a person has not been touched in a long while a simple and tender touch can send a person into a flood of tears for the heart feels the release of tension abruptly. Touch can be a communication of love and is a most powerful way to communicate empathy, friendship, approval, affirmation and love to another.

Other health benefits of physical affection are reported by Dr. Harold Voth, senior psychiatrist at the prestigious Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas. He asserts: "It has been shown scientifically that people who are mentally run-down and depressed are far more prone to sickness than those who are not. Hugging can lift depression – enabling the body’s immune system to become tuned up. Hugging breathes fresh life into a tired body and makes you feel younger and more vibrant.”

Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, has studied the benefits of touch for many years. Her book, Touch, reviews medical and sociological research on the importance of touch to good health and also argues that the Western world, including the medical profession, has marginalized and minimized its importance.

Many forms of touch can help reduce pain, anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior. promote immune function and healing… lower heart rate and blood pressure. and improve air flow in asthmatics. All this, and no drug side effects!
Tiffany Field, PhD

Beyond the study of body chemicals and neural tissue, it has been discovered that pleasurable touch is associated with enhanced learning, improved IQ, language acquisition, reading achievement, memory, general neonate development, preterm infant development, reduced self-mutilating behavior in the severely mentally retarded, expanded external awareness in autistic patients, improved geriatric health, decreased childhood clinginess and fears of exploring the environment, elimination of inappropriate self-stimulation and public masturbation behavior in children, and improved visual-spatial problem solving. Hospitalized patients recover more rapidly from injury and physical or psychiatric illness with attention to touch needs. Current thinking defines touch as the primary organizer (or, in the case of neglect and abuse, "disorganizer") of normal human development when viewed at biological, psychological and even social levels. A person’s sense of self apparently originates in body awareness, body functions, and body activities that center around the sense of touch.

Touch is love when the intent is beautiful.
Beautifying the intent is part of the process of
the beautification of our sexualities.

Babies and young children benefit greatly from regular touch.
Stress, as measured by chemicals in the blood, is reduced. This results
in babies crying less, sleeping more and being generally easier to soothe.

The human body is electric and needs grounding through physical touch. The activity of the billions of nerve cells in the brain and the central and peripheral nerve systems are all highly electric in nature and all have their grounding points in the skin. When we touch or are touched we ground some of our surplus energies and this calms the nervous system.

Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Professor of Natural Oncology, Da Vinci Institute of Holistic Medicine
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine
Founder of Natural Allopathic Medicine

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