Massage and toxins – does massage help remove toxins from the bloodstream and from a person’s body?  If you mention toxins in a Facebook discussion group for massage therapists, that is a sure way to get yourself bullied and chastised.

The great debate about toxins comes from a long line of toxin claimers – people claiming that massage does just that.   It is also confused with lactic acid and if you have been keeping up with the latest research, you will know that massage does not eliminate lactic acid.

Paul Ingram of  is one such campaigner with his articles:  Toxins, Schmoxins and Poisoned by Massage.  The second one says that it is the massage that could be making toxins!  And then there is this one: Toxic Muscle Knots which does acknowledge that triggerpoints can be ‘toxic’.

The issue though is not of science but of semantics.  People often refer to anything that makes them feel crappy as ‘toxins’ or  ‘toxic’ .

Toxin is defined as:

Merriam Webster Dictionary says :

:  a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation says:

any poison produced by an organism, characterized by antigenicity in certain animals and high molecular weight, and including the bacterial toxins that are the causative agents of tetanus, diphtheria, etc., and such plant and animal toxins as ricin and snake venom.

A toxin (from Ancient Greek: ??????? toxikon) is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms;[1][2] synthetic substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded. The term was first used by organic chemist Ludwig Brieger (1849–1919).[3]

Toxins can be small molecules, peptides, or proteins that are capable of causing disease on contact with or absorption by body tissues interacting with biological macromolecules such as enzymes or cellular receptors. Toxins vary greatly in their severity, ranging from usually minor and acute (as in a bee sting) to almost immediately deadly (as in botulinum toxin)

Dr Weil gets into it all and says NO.   Massage does not remove toxins.

So why do so many people continue to say that massage does get rid of toxins?

The Poisoned by Massage theory that says:

that the post-massage soreness & malaise, or PMSM is caused by Rhabdomyolysis — or just “rhabdo for short.

When muscle is injured, cellular guts are spilled into the blood, most notably myoglobin molecules, which messes with blood chemistry a bit, poison the kidneys, and turns your pee dark brown.


Further reading on Massage therapy and Toxins:

Dear Massage Therapists: ‘Lactic Acid’ Is Not a Toxin; It’s Muscle Fuel.  Massage and Fitness Magazine. 06/09/2017. Nick Ng.

I don’t know where the idea that lactic acid is a toxin and can be squeegeed out of your muscles like cleaning your car’s windshield come from. What I do know is that massage therapists — even myself occasionally — need to review and understand basic human physiology so that we don’t tell our clients, patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals such outdated and unsupported beliefs.

5 Myths and Truths about Massage Therapy. (PDF) Tracy Walton.

Although this belief sounds good and this claim is everywhere, no research shows massage releases toxins. It’s an old myth. We’re not even sure what was meant by the word “toxin.” That makes it hard to do research on the question. In massage therapy, we’re more focused on whether or not massage helps people feel better. Clients and growing research suggests that it does.

Old Myths Die Hard: The Truth About Toxins January 31, 2018 Sandy Fritz.  Massage Magazine.

Some massage therapists and many clients still believe massage releases toxins—and massage therapists should avoid perpetuating this misinformation and instead educate clients on the truth when the topic arises.

If massage therapy is going to be respected as a valid health service, we cannot continue to perpetuate this misinformation.