[Touch Medicine - a complementary therapeutic approach exemplified by the treatment of depression]

Author: Bruno Müller-Oerlinghausen1,2, Michael Eggart3, Henrik Norholt4, Michael Gerlach5, Gabriele Mariell Kiebgis6, Michaela Maria Arnold7, Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg8
1 Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Deutschland.
2 Medizinische Hochschule Brandenburg Theodor Fontane, Neuruppin, Deutschland.
3 Hochschule Ravensburg-Weingarten, University of Applied Sciences, Fakultät Soziale Arbeit, Gesundheit und Pflege, Weingarten, Deutschland.
4 SomAffect - The Somatosensory & Affective Neuroscience Group, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
5 Dr.-Reisach-Kliniken für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie, Hochgratklinik GmbH & Co. KG, Oberstaufen, Deutschland.
6 Praxis und Ausbildungszentrum für psychoaktive Massage, Kressbronn am Bodensee, Deutschland.
7 Praxis für Naturheilkunde und Berührungsmedizin, Würzburg, Deutschland.
8 Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skara, Schweden.
Conference/Journal: Dtsch Med Wochenschr
Date published: 2021 Dec 17
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1055/a-1687-2445. , Word Count: 187

Skin-to-skin-contact presents the earliest sensory experience of men and animals. Deprivation of age-relevant touch experiences during infancy results in compromised psychosocial and biological development. The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded for the discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch. Clinical studies have demonstrated the benefit of professional salutary touch for prevention and treatment of various illnesses. However, in the present practice of medicine the application of salutary touch does not meet adequate interest. Proposing a new medical discipline "Touch Medicine" we link the findings of modern touch research to clinical medicine. The treatment of depression which we conceive primarily as a disease afflicting the body will serve as an example to demonstrate the usefulness of touch therapy. Controlled studies and systematic reviews have convincingly shown antidepressive, anxiolytic and analgesic effects of salutary touch. The effectiveness and efficacy of touch therapy has also been demonstrated in many areas such as neonatology, pediatrics, oncology, and geriatrics. We discuss the underlying mechanisms on various explanatory levels including interoceptive and oxytocinergic mechanisms as well as the role of C tactile afferent nerve fibers.

PMID: 34921360 DOI: 10.1055/a-1687-2445