blog post #364
As I work on my own video series, I’ve started to pay more attention to what other people are doing with video. Laura Allen is a massage therapist and writer in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. I got a kick out of her folksy 3-minute debunking of a classic massage myth. Laura’s no-nonsense southern twang and well-chosen words are perfect for this job!
How many massage therapists are still out there telling their clients that massage gets rid of toxins in the body? On any given day on Facebook, I see about half dozen people at least making that claim … Would you maaahnd sharing with us exactly how that happens?
Massage isn’t the only place toxins come up, of course. Massage therapists should avoid using the term if only to put some distance between their profession and more common and serious abuses of “toxins.”
The idea of “toxins” is usually used as a tactic to scare people into buying de-toxifying snake oil of one sort or another. It’s not that there’s no such thing as a toxin — obviously there are toxic substances in the environment. The problem is the kind of people who toss the idea around, the reasons they do it (profit), and the total lack of any specific claim or scientific knowledge or evidence to support it. It is so vague that it’s literally meaningless, except as a marketing message. Indeed, “detoxification” may be the single most common marketing buzzword in alternative health care, and yet exactly which toxins we’re talking about, or exactly how they are disposed of, is never explained by anyone selling a product that supposedly detoxifies — because they don’t know.
The body deals with undesirable molecules in many ways. It eliminates some and recycles others; some are trapped in a safe place; and quite a few can’t be safely handled at all (metals). Most alleged “detox” treatments are focussed on stimulating an excretion pathway, like sweating in a sauna. But it’s not like sweating is broken and the sauna is fixing it! The only truly “detoxifying” treatments help the body eliminate or disarm molecules the body cannot process on its own. A stomach pump for someone with alcohol poisoning is literally “detoxifying.” So are chelation for heavy metals, and antivenoms.
I cover the specific idea of “flushing” toxins in Should You Drink Water After Massage? (Massage is wonderful for all kinds of reasons — it doesn’t need the support of the idea that it detoxifies.) For more general consumer advocacy and education about toxins, see “Detoxification” Schemes and Scams (from QuackWatch.org).
There are also 247 more articles and eight big tutorials on the website, plus dozens more timely updates and “posts.” See the complete categorized index, or get some reading recommendations for patients or professionals.