Water vs Toxins - The Myth
Updated: Apr 5
If you're an adult and alive on this planet you've probably heard it echoed through the years "Drink more water, it flushes out toxins" and "Drink plenty of water after a massage, it flushes out the toxins that are released." In this blog post, we'll be sharing new information that debunks this myth.
So… does massage flush toxins out of your body and is that why you should drink water after a session? The short answer is no. It doesn’t. There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that massage therapy releases toxins from the body. The concept of toxins being stored in the body and released through massage is a popular one in alternative medicine, but it is not supported by the scientific community. A “toxin” is considered to be any harmful substance. Essentially, anything and everything can become toxic, including drinking too much water. Eating too many cheeseburgers. The list goes on.
At a glance, here's the gist of what the most recent information is saying. we've summarized the main points from each article that we've read and researched in these bullet points.
-Your kidneys, liver, skin, lungs, and intestines are the filtration specialists of the body
-These organs rely on proper levels of hydration (aka Water) to do their job and do it well
-When "toxins" are introduced into the body, the chemical and metabolic mechanisms built into your physiology, will process these toxins through the listed filtration organs.
-Massage Therapy does not contribute to the excretion or secretion of any toxins that may be found. Your organs are very capable of processing such things and this is in fact what they are designed to do.
-Massage therapy does not directly impact these organs or their ability to remove toxins, including the infamous toxin…Lactic Acid. Dun dun dun. More on that in a separate blog post.
-Water works to hydrate and assist in our bodily functions because of cells and specifically water-soluble cells. Water doesn't flow through tubes in our bodies. It goes down our esophagus, into our stomach, where it's digested, passed through the intestines, and then onto the liver and kidneys. Paul Ingraham, LMBT and Science Writer in Vancouver Canada has a poignant quote that sums it up nicely: “There’s a prevalent and vague belief that drinking water somehow “rinses” your blood vessels or cells … or something. But your circulatory system is not a simple system of tubes you can flush out by imbibing extra water. This makes about as much sense as adding fuel to a car to make it go faster.”
-During the breakdown of substances like water, the brain/body are talking to each other and putting water molecules where they're needed. The same process happens with food. Your body takes what it needs and discards the rest or it will store it.
-It's still quite unknown or there is really vague and inconclusive research that tells us what, if anything, is physiologically "released" during bodywork.
It's important to note, that it's really only been in the last 50-60 years that Massage Therapy has been considered a science-based industry. That really isn't a very long time. There's still, unfortunately, quite a bit about each facet of Massage Therapy that isn't well understood, researched, studied, or funded for that matter. The lack of a general societal understanding that Therapists are important to a healthy lifestyle doesn't help either. In each article, we read there were very few definitive remarks made about this topic (and others that we subsequently read) and that is due to a lack of research to come to definitive conclusions. It could also be because we are still in the process of trying to fully understand the scope of the human body and all of its capabilities. The biggest takeaway from what we've read and have tried to break down is this: Massage Therapy does not release toxins into your body and you should be drinking water when your body tells you to do so simply because it is necessary for the overall function of your body. Basically, eat well, drink well, and trust that your local massage therapist isn't releasing anything toxic into your body, and you will live a long and happy life.
Take care friends and remember, be excellent to yourselves and others.