Worrisome Wellness Words

-or-

Misused words I wish wellness professionals and product pushers would stop using!

  • Toxins
  • Detox/detoxify/detoxifying
  • Cleanse/cleansing

**Updated to add a link to this fantastic article “You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth…”

Misused so much we probably don't know the real meaning.
Misused so much we probably don’t know the real meaning.

In massage therapy and other wellness professions these words are thrown around willy-nilly. “Release the toxins!” “Rid your body of toxic build-up!” “This XYZ miracle product will detoxify your skin/body/guts and you’ll be skinny/beautiful/healthy without changing your lifestyle!” “Try this miracle cleanse!” Consumers are being misled and given incorrect information about how their bodies work. This isn’t a new thing, it’s been happening probably since the beginning of time. Or at least the beginning of¬†selling things.

I’ve said them all. I used to talk about toxins every day. I was taught, incorrectly, that massage helps remove toxins from the body. My instructors had no idea they were teaching outdated information. They are wonderful people who were teaching what they were taught. I’m not angry with them, only myself for not questioning things sooner. Click here to see my previous post about toxins.

Often the people using these words to sell their services/products do not know they are misusing the word. They were either taught incorrectly, like I was, or they are repeating marketing material. The trouble with the marketing material is not very many people research it further. Look beyond what the company says. I want to stress again that many of the people selling products do not know they are misusing words. They aren’t trying to scam anyone, they themselves have probably been taken in by the bigger company.

These words have been misused for so long we don’t even realize it’s wrong.

It ain’t right, y’all.

We see things on television and the internet touting near-impossible results for very little effort but a definite amount of money. Some products are for weight-loss, others for general health and wellness. Marketers and salespeople repeat these words over and over. The word toxin is grossly misused. The description of how many of these products work defy the reality of known science, anatomy, and physiology. Yet, we still gather in groups to hunt the dreaded toxin and cleanse our lives for good.

We, as consumers, must put our critical thinking caps on to ask some very simple, yet important questions.

  • What is a toxin? No, really: what is the real definition of toxin?*
  • How does the body process toxins?
  • Better yet: how does the body process food? Vitamins? Medicine?
  • Will anything eaten or ingested actually change the way the body processes food, medicine, chemicals, anything?

*Toxin: : a colloidal proteinaceous 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 (merriam-webster/medical)

Examples of a toxin would be botulism (food poisoning,) snake venom, cholera, and tetanus.

Will an essential oil, wrap, smoothie, vitamin, or massage really rid the body of these things? No. If you have a real toxin in your body you will have specific symptoms that will lead you to seek medical treatment.

I don’t know where the idea that rubbing muscles would squeeze out undesirables came from but it has been and still is believed by many, many practitioners and clients. If massaging muscles is supposed to squeeze out the bad stuff, why does the body keep the good? Where does all this bad stuff go? Many answer “pee and poop.” On the one hand, yes, the body rids waste through excrement and it’s possible to move bowels with abdominal massage. This is not an accurate description of “removing toxins with massage.” All of the excrement will find its way out of the body with or without massage or other products. “Toxins” and such are filtered through the liver. Piling on lots of pills/vitamins may not be the answer.

To protect your wallet and avoid possible side-effects remember to ask important questions about the body. Grab a basic A&P book to familiarize yourself with how the systems of the body function. Arm yourself with real knowledge so you can look through marketing material and make an informed decision. You may still want to try the product. That’s OK. Not all the products are bad. I mainly want to bring attention to the misuse of certain words.