Does Massage Release Toxins? Busting the Myth
It can be a significant challenge to separate fact from fiction when scouring the internet for medical advice. Homeopathic treatments are fantastically popular, but they’re often based on anecdotal evidence. The rumor that massage therapy can release toxins is a tempting one, but how true is it?
Massage does not release toxins from the body. However, it can increase circulation, lessen feelings of anxiety, and stimulate the lymphatic system. As such, massage therapy can help the body detoxify itself more efficiently and effectively. Still, massage alone will not rid the body of toxins.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of massage to help you understand how massage therapy might help the body heal and detoxify. We’ll also examine how the body rids itself out toxins and what you might be able to do to accelerate this process. Altogether, this information may help you achieve the clean, healthy feeling you deserve.
What Does Massage Do to the Body?
We’ll need to take a deep-dive into massage’s potential benefits to understand if massage can truly release toxins from the body. Of course, it’s crucial to remember that no two people are entirely alike. As such, reactions to massage treatments are bound to differ from person to person.
Still, there is some evidence to support the idea that regular massage therapy can result in:
- Improved circulation
- Reduced muscle soreness
- Less stress and anxiety
- Reduced blood pressure
- Better sleep
- Reduced heal time
- Lymphatic stimulation
- Improved cognitive ability
While there are a handful of other purported effects, there isn’t a significant amount of research to back up those anecdotal claims. As the breadth of medical knowledge continues to grow, there’s a chance that the list of provable massage benefits will also grow.
However, rather than exploring the most tenuous effects, let’s examine the most reputed facts concerning massage and its medicinal merits. After all, understanding the primary byproducts of massage may shed some light on the lesser-known benefits, including whole-body detoxification.
To start things off, let’s take a look at how massage can help improve circulation. Poor circulation can be detrimental to the entire body, making this particular benefit exceptionally vital.
Our bodies are intricate machines that are powered by electrical impulses and life-giving fluids. This information is nothing new, and medieval medical practitioners used the idea of life-sustaining fluids to create novel theories about disease and illness.
While we no longer use humorism as a basis for our scientific understanding of the body, some takeaways of this theory hold true today. Blood, for example, is something that we absolutely cannot live without. These tiny cells carry nutrients, oxygen, and protective antibodies throughout the body. As such, proper circulation is crucial to maintaining our overall health.
Massage has been shown to increase local circulation, helping to revive muscle tissue and spread necessary elements throughout the body. When circulation begins to falter, you may experience numbness or tingling in your extremities. You may also be at a greater risk for blood clots and heart disease.
As such, massage therapy could be an excellent remedy for chronic circulation issues. Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and physical activity level is just as essential to enjoying improved circulation and decreased risk of developing heart disease. Besides, when your circulatory system is in excellent shape, the rest of your body typically follows suit.
This includes, but is not limited to, your muscles. After all, torn and tired muscles require fresh oxygen, and plenty of white blood cells to heal and grow stronger. Without proper blood flow, muscles can begin to suffer serious consequences.
Reduced Muscle Soreness
When you exercise, you’re putting additional demands on your body. During aerobic exercise, these demands may fall squarely on the shoulders of your respiratory system. During strength-training exercises, you’re more likely to experience muscle strain. Still, nearly any type of exercise can result in muscle soreness, which may seem contradictory.
Exercise often causes the heart to pump harder and faster than it does at rest. This promotes improved and increased circulation. As such, it may seem strange that exercise can cause muscles to become taut, strained, and painful. However, underused muscles must tear apart to be rebuilt into stronger fibers.
Consequently, anyone pushing their personal exercise boundaries is likely to experience a little soreness from time to time. Fortunately, over the counter pain medications aren’t the only solution to this temporary discomfort. Massage therapy may also help.
Our muscles require plenty of fluid and protein to heal themselves. If your muscles aren’t getting enough nutrient-rich blood, they’ll likely require a longer amount of time to heal. Because massage promotes increased circulation, it could also reduce muscle soreness. Individuals with moderate muscle pain or spasms may benefit the most from targeted muscle-healing massage.
Alternatively, massage treatments may initially cause muscle soreness in some individuals. Deep tissue massage may affect muscle tissue that is underdeveloped or underutilized. As such, a little soreness is to be expected. The positive side of this pain is that it signifies improved blood flow.
Less Stress and Anxiety
We’re living in stressful times. In 2017, approximately 80% of adult Americans reported relatively high levels of daily stress and anxiety. The percentage has likely only increased, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape the way that society functions. Mounting feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, and fear affect not only adults but children as well.
Finding relief from these overwhelming feelings can be a significant challenge. Counselors, therapists, and psychologists are seeing a steady increase in client demands and referrals as more and more people turn to professionals for help. Unfortunately, this places a massive burden on the shoulders of the mental health industry.
Additionally, not everyone can afford therapy. Some therapy sessions can cost more than $200 per hour. With the US federal minimum wage remaining stagnant at about $7 per hour, and the general cost of living ringing in at about $30,000 per year, a single childless individual needs to work more than 80 hours each week just to survive.
To make matters even worse, they still wouldn’t be able to afford therapy. Massage therapy could be an affordable and effective alternative to standard therapy and counseling sessions. It only takes about ten to fifteen minutes of massage for your heart rate to decrease, and an hour of massage therapy can cost as little as $40.
Your cortisol levels are also likely to decrease during a massage. Cortisol is often called the ‘stress hormone.’ It is released in high quantities during times of stress or anxiety. Small doses can be incredibly helpful, but extended periods of high stress can cause a cortisol flood that seems never to stop. This can lead to several problems, including Cushing syndrome.
Reduced Blood Pressure
Regular massage therapy is often used to help lower a person’s blood pressure. In fact, the positive, blood-pressure-lowering effects of massage could be experienced more than 72 hours after treatment.
Individuals hoping to lower their blood pressure without reliance on powerful medications may want to opt for massage therapy. Many prescription medications only add to the body’s detox burden, so massage may offer two notable toxin-reducing functions for the price of one.
When circulation is improved, stress levels fall, and blood pressure normalizes. This can make it far easier to fall and stay asleep. Considering how important sleep is to our overall health, and how many people fail to get enough of it, massage therapy could be an exceptional drug-free alternative to insomnia medicines and melatonin supplements.
As you grow more accustomed to massage therapy, you may feel relaxed enough to take a short nap during your treatment. This feeling of serenity can last for several hours after your massage. This may ensure that sleep comes quickly and easily, no matter how long after your treatment, you begin to doze off.
Reduced Heal Time
Increased circulation may also account for massage’s potential to reduce the healing time associated with mild injuries. Our bodies are only able to heal themselves if they’re armed with the right tools.
White blood cells are the primary healing elements in our bodies, but they can struggle to reach their intended destination when circulation is compromised. Massage helps to increase and improve circulation throughout the body. Consequently, it can help facilitate the healing process by helping white blood cells reach damaged tissue rapidly.
As blood vessels open to allow for improved flow, they may also allow a greater volume of white blood cells to reach injuries.
The lymphatic system is pivotal to our continued health. It protects our bodies from illness by transporting harmful bacteria away from essential organs. Massage can stimulate the lymphatic system, helping it to process and flush toxins more effectively.
A specialized lymphatic drainage massage may help some individuals experience relief from lymphedema, fibromyalgia, or insomnia. Still, those who experience swollen lymph nodes or signs of drainage should consult with a medical professional to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
Improved Cognitive Ability
Massage therapy may also help to improve mental acuity and cognitive ability. When you’re free of stress, well-rested, and enjoying the benefits of improved circulation, you’re more likely to think clearly.
More specifically, targeted massage that focuses on the spine, neck, and shoulders may help nerves communicate with the brain more efficiently. The result is a clearer cognition, improved focus, and general feeling of increased mental ability.
How Does the Body Release Toxins?
The human body is truly a marvelous machine. We’re built to withstand a great many challenges, including an internal build-up of toxins. Understanding how our bodies manage this is critical to experiencing high-quality, effective, and all-natural detoxification.
When it comes to waste management, there are four primary organs (five if you’d like to get technical) responsible for such tasks. They are the:
When one of these organs experiences issues, the entire body can begin to suffer. Diseased kidneys can cause breathing problems, swelling throughout the body, and difficulty urinating. A failing liver can turn your skin yellow, cause you to vomit or make you feel exhausted.
The intestines absorb most of the nutrients we consume via our food, so malnutrition isn’t far behind when they begin to fail. And while many people don’t consider skin to be an organ, it’s actually the largest organ in the human body. It’s also the first line of protection against UV radiation and environmental toxins.
These organs work in synchronicity to help our bodies release toxins and flush them away. Keeping them in excellent condition is crucial to staying healthy and feeling fit. Let’s explore each organ a little further to discover how they each contribute to natural detoxification.
The vast majority of the human population carries two kidneys. Each one sits near the lower back, below the liver but above the intestines. Their primary function is to remove toxins and waste products and maintain an adequate hydration level throughout the body.
However, the kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and blood cell production. They are a key component due to their ability to help get rid of waste and promote improved circulatory health. But the kidneys don’t work alone. Their neighbor, the liver, is just as essential to waste management.
Bile, the greenish liquid produced by the liver, helps our bodies process waste and toxins. After being created within the liver, this substance flows into the gallbladder. When we eat, the gallbladder offers up some of this bile enters the duodenum, helping to break down fats, leaving the stomach.
Consequently, the liver indirectly helps our bodies process foods more effectively. The liver also breaks down a wide variety of other substances, including medications and common toxins. After being broken down into simpler pieces, these toxins are better able to find their way into our urine, feces, and sweat.
In this way, the liver facilitates toxin release. However, it too works closely with other primary organs—the intestines.
Our intestines are coiled tightly inside of our abdomens. They consist of two parts, a large intestine, and a small intestine. Both are responsible for sapping any remaining nutrients from our food before processing them into waste. In this way, our intestines are essentially the upcyclers of the body.
They take random chemicals, sugars, fats, and carbohydrates that other organs couldn’t utilize, and they turn that junk into biological treasure. As such, they’re one of the last stops for any remaining toxins in our body. Intestines suffering from bacterial infections may struggle to process toxins, resulting in insufficient waste removal.
Our skin acts as a forcefield against microbes, radiation, and natural elements. It’s also one of the primary organs involved in detoxification. While our skin may not filter toxins or absorb nutrients like the kidneys or intestines, they help us exude sweat.
Saunas have been used for centuries to help promote relaxation and wellness. Human sweat consists of water, salt, urea, and ammonia. This mixture is nearly identical to human urine. As such, sweat is a waste product that may help lessen the load on other detox-friendly organs.
However, if you’re not drinking plenty of water before building up a sweat, you may be putting your body at risk. Adequate hydration is fantastically vital to natural detoxification. Still, it’s not the only factor that could help improve your body’s ability to rid itself of toxins.
What Factors Help Improve Natural Detoxification?
There are several things you can do to help your body’s natural detoxification process go more smoothly. A body with a build-up of toxins is typically suffering from dehydration, poor nutrition, or a lack of regular exercise. By committing to healthy lifestyle habits, you could potentially boost your body’s natural ability to rid itself of toxins.
Some of the most imperative factors to consider when attempting to detoxify yourself include:
- Emotional awareness
Let’s take a few moments to analyze each of these items in greater detail. If you’re determined to flush out toxins naturally, these activities and elements may help:
In some ways, our bodies are very much like Earth. Much of this planet, about 71% to be more precise, is water. Human beings consist of up to 60% of water. Just as Earth needs water to remain cool and habitable, our bodies require water to maintain a healthy temperature.
Proper hydration achieves quite a few feats, including natural detoxification. While we’ve explored how the body rids itself of toxins, we’ve yet to discuss how important hydration is to this process. Water is what allows our bodies to produce waste products.
Without water, we wouldn’t be able to urinate or defecate. This would put an insurmountable strain on our digestive system, circulatory system, and every major organ in the body. Consequently, the average person would die more quickly from dehydration than starvation.
If you’re not drinking a few liters of fresh, clean water each day, you’re probably slightly dehydrated. Replacing plain water with fruit juices, coffee, tea, and milk is no substitute. Many of these liquids contain sugars, acidic substances, or complex carbohydrates. They cannot replace normal drinking water.
Of course, you could be drinking plenty of water and still feel tired and sluggish. If you’re not getting plenty of rest each night, your body isn’t being given enough time to detox.
While it may seem strange that sleep is an essential component of the natural detoxification process, evidence shows that our bodies are working diligently to repair themselves, even when our conscious minds are fast asleep.
When stress levels are high, it can be nearly impossible to experience satisfying rest. Unfortunately, this could lead to bouts of insomnia or constant tossing and turning throughout the night. If you’re like approximately 33% of American adults, you’re not getting enough sleep each night. This mild sleep deprivation doesn’t go away but instead adds up.
It may help to think of sleep as a biological bank account. Ideally, each person should be depositing eight hours into that account every night. When a person fails to achieve this, they begin to build up a sleep debt or sleep deficit.
So, if you’re meant to sleep for 56 hours each week, but you only manage 35, you’ve now incurred a sleep debt of about 21 hours. If you continue to build a deficit, it can be excruciatingly difficult to get back on track. A single year of this type of poor sleep equates to a sleep debt of more than a thousand hours.
Sleep serves several functions. It helps our brains process new information, but it also helps our bodies regulate themselves. Without proper rest and relaxation, our immune systems falter. As such, regular and satisfying sleep is crucial to the natural detox process.
Poor nutrition has several notable consequences. Eating a diet rich in processed foods and sugars can result in tooth loss, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancer types. As such, proper nutrition is just as important as hydration and rest when it comes to helping your body stay in tip-top shape and release toxins.
If you’re unable to afford organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, you may want to begin supplementing your diet with easy-to-digest multivitamins. While the human body processes natural sources of nutrients far more effectively than jam-packed multivitamins, a daily multivitamin may be able to help fill dietary gaps.
Still, even individuals with optimal diets can suffer from toxins build-up if they’re not exercising every day. As we mentioned earlier, getting your sweat on may just help you detox more quickly.
Though you may be tired of hearing it, exercise really can work wonders for your health. If you’re like a vast majority of the population, you likely don’t experience enough physical activity. Working from behind a desk may be convenient and comfortable, but it can also contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.
Individuals caught in a sedentary cycle are more likely to develop heart disease, certain types of cancers, and a wide host of other ailments. As such, daily exercise is vital to maintaining excellent health. Exercise helps boost circulation, helping to transport life-sustaining blood throughout the body.
With this rapid influx of white blood cells comes a tiny boost in natural detoxification. Additionally, aerobic exercise can help push more oxygen into the lungs. When your body is oxygenated, it’s capable of ridding itself of toxins more effectively. Exercise can also help reduce feelings of anxiety, helping to lower cortisol levels naturally.
Emotional awareness and intelligence are, sadly, underrated. Being aware of your emotions, triggers, and emotional habits are crucial to controlling and directing them. You can liken this to how children often throw tantrums upon not getting something they want.
When a child grows old enough to recognize that calm behavior is rewarded more often than emotional outbursts, they begin to learn coping mechanisms that help them process unpleasant emotions. For some, these coping mechanisms can be harmful.
Individuals who turn to drugs or alcohol for relief often find themselves unable to master their emotions fully. They may experience several side effects of this emotional unawareness, including the difficulty of keeping a job and troubles with forming lasting, positive relationships.
Others may use coping mechanisms that only serve to off-set their feelings of stress. Considering how many people experience anxiety each day, it’s never been more crucial to develop excellent coping skills and a heightened emotional awareness level.
By recognizing your stress symptoms, you can curtail the long-lasting side effects of stress by acting quickly. Meditation, yoga, journaling, and even going for a walk can help manage stress and increase your overall emotional and physical awareness. Detoxifying your body of harmful cortisol begins with improved mental health.
Massage therapy provides quite a few notable potential benefits. However, none of these proven effects is detoxification. As such, massage in and of itself does not release toxins from the body. What it can do is aid the natural systems that help our bodies detoxify and heal.
Consequently, detoxification may be a secondary side effect of massage therapy. This is particularly true of patients who practice positive lifestyle habits.
Eating nutrient-dense foods, getting plenty of rest each night, and downing lots of clean water are essential to the natural detoxification process. Meditation, journaling, and daily exercise are also vital components of detoxification and crucial to improving your mental state.
So, if you’re looking to feel your best and get rid of built-up toxins, massage alone may not be enough. You’ll also need to tackle other areas of your health and daily lifestyle to truly benefit from the sense of relief that comes with respecting your body and your mind.
Massage does not release toxins in the body. However, it affects several biological systems that are responsible for waste management and toxin processing.
Firstly, massage helps improve circulation, reduce muscle soreness, and ease feelings of stress. It may also help lower blood pressure, help reduce insomnia and improve our ability to both think and rest. However, massage is not the most effective route to the whole detoxification.
Understanding how our bodies release toxins might help you make smarter lifestyle choices that can improve your natural detox abilities. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, eating nutritional meals, and exercising can help you keep your kidneys, liver, intestines, and skin healthy.
Exercising emotional awareness is also key, as it is a form of mental detoxification that has very real physical benefits. Knowing how to cope with stress can help you naturally lower your blood pressure levels and reduce your body’s cortisol.
Richard A. Lehman, LMT, CSCS
Compliment Your Body, LLC has been providing In-Home and Corporate / Event chair massage to New York City and the surrounding boroughs since 2004. In addition. we offer in-office and online corporate classes ranging from stretch, self-massage, and meditation/mindfulness.
With over 15 years of experience in this great city, our handpicked Corporate Chair Massage Team is the BEST in NYC!
Commitment, compassion, connection, and charity are the pillars of our company. Experience the CYBNYC difference!
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What makes Compliment Your Body rise above the rest?
– We don’t rely on ads to find our amazing team of therapists. Our in-house NYC therapist referral network guarantees dedicated, vetted, experienced and professional New York State licensed massage therapists, whose goal is to produce 100% customer satisfaction.
– We are local to NYC. When you communicate with our team, you will always be within reach of a human voice. Your corporate / event planner will often make an appearance at your office to ensure things are running smoothly.
– We take care of our team of therapists. We believe in the core principles of reciprocity. When we take good care of our massage therapists, they take even better care of you. We make sure to provide our therapists with a healthy work environment. Experience the “Happier Therapist Difference.”
– We give back to the community. Every single massage, whether in-home or corporate chair massage, provides three meals to a New Yorker in need through our relationship with Food Bank For New York City.
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- American Massage Therapy Association: Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep
- Gallup: Eight in 10 Americans Afflicted by Stress
- Government of South Australia: The Risks Of Poor Nutrition
- Healthline: How to Relieve Sore Muscles After a Massage
- Issels Integrative Immuno-Oncology: Information on Detoxification
- Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?
- Mayo Clinic: Cushing syndrome
- MedicalNewsToday: How to perform a lymphatic drainage massage
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Durability of Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure
- NIH News in Health: The Benefits of Slumber
- PsychCentral: The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
- ScienceDaily: Massage therapy improves circulation, alleviates muscle soreness
- ScienceDaily: New Way To Reverse Poor Circulation And Heal Wounds Discovered
- University Hospitals: How Microtears Help You to Build Muscle Mass
- United States Geological Survey: The Water in You: Water and the Human Body
- The Washington Post: E-therapy apps see booming business since coronavirus pandemic. I gave one a try.
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