If you're standing at the soda machine with a buddy, and you think he's put his hand on your shoulder, most likely the touch feels comfortable. If it turns out it's a stranger, the same touch may feel intrusive or even aggressive. That's because the area in your brain that registers the sensation of touch also serves up your emotional reaction to it. That's what makes touch such a powerful force and why you want to make it (everything from massage to intimate cuddling!) part of your routine to stay healthy.
Dr. Oz likes his cardio patients to have touch therapy before and after they're in the operating room. He says reflexology (targeted foot massage) can ease everything from low libido to high blood pressure. Dr. Mike tries to get a massage weekly and advocates infant massage to promote bonding and neuromuscular development. Now, research shows that cancer patients get relief from depression and chemo-induced nausea and pain with Healing Touch or Therapeutic Touch massage. They also may see increased immune strength and better wound healing. And it may not matter if the healing powers of touch come from some magic medicine or simply from a placebo response — as long as you feel the benefit.
So reach out and touch someone. And let yourself be touched. Whether you hire a masseuse, do at-home reflexology (Google "Dr. Oz reflexology 101"), or ask your doctor for massage to be part of your recovery, when mind and body work together, you harness the power to heal faster.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.