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Eliminating Toxins With Massage?

Can massage really release toxins, and if so, what specific toxins are we talking about? I am not referring to lymph massage but relaxation massage, such as Swedish.

Answer (Published 1/2/2009)

Massage can benefit health in many ways. It can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormone, enhance immune function, boost levels of endorphins and serotonin (the body's natural painkillers and mood regulators) and increase blood circulation - all this while easing sore and achy muscles. Massage certainly can help address the build up of lactic acid in muscles, and promote the clearing of normal byproducts of muscle metabolism, but I know of no evidence suggesting that massage can remove toxins of any kind from the body.

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The body has its own self-cleaning, self-purifying systems. The best ways to protect yourself from toxicity are to avoid taking toxins into your body and to keep those systems in good working order. For example, the kidneys are a key component of our blood-purifying apparatus, and you can best protect their health by drinking enough pure water and avoiding dietary stressors such as coffee, alcohol, and excessive protein. In general, I favor relying on the body's own resources for detoxifying, and I urge you to learn about them (I discuss them in my book Natural Health, Natural Medicine).

You also should be aware that none of the many supplements and herbal products purported to detoxify the system and purify the blood are necessary to good health. Neither is colon cleansing. The entire lining of the colon sloughs off and is regenerated every day. If you are eating well, drinking enough water, and getting enough physical activity, your regular eliminations will be sufficient to keep the colon clean and in good working order.

However, if you're still concerned about toxins, I suggest taking saunas or steam baths, which can help eliminate them through sweating. Otherwise, your best bet is to help the body eliminate toxins naturally by increasing your intake of pure water to boost urinary output and eating plenty of fiber-rich fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to ensure regular bowel movements. And take my daily antioxidant regimen, which includes vitamins C, E, mixed carotenes, and the mineral selenium, to help maintain your body's natural defenses.

In addition, you might try herbs that help the body protect itself from common toxins. Some of the best-researched are concentrated extracts of green tea, ginger, turmeric, and milk thistle.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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