Got Formaldehyde?




My husband was diagnosed with a pretty severe allergy to formaldehyde about a year ago. I figured it was no big deal–when are we exposed to formaldehyde?? I did some digging. Boy, was I wrong…

Formaldehyde has been used for decades to embalm dead bodies for open casket burials. It is a preservation fluid that replaces the blood, it is a recognized cancer causing agent (carcinogen) by the National Cancer Institute, and oh, by the way, it is in most of the products you buy and use around your home, even the materials your home was built with!

It might surprise you to know that much of the shelving, furniture, wall finishes, carpet, cabinetry and flooring in your home could contain this dangerous chemical. Formaldehyde can also be found in these building materials:

  • Glue
  • Plywood
  • Fiberboard
  • Insulation
  • Particleboard
  • Timber Paneling


Many personal cleansing and beauty products contain formaldehyde, think about that before you put them on your skin, your largest organ. Here are some of the personal products that might contain this toxin:

  • Lotions
  • Shampoos
  • Sunblock
  • Soap Bars
  • Cosmetics
  • Body Wash
  • Fabric Softeners
  • Toothpaste
  • Baby Wipes
  • Bubble Bath
  • Detergents

Additionally, formaldehyde is used in the manufacture of fabrics. It makes them more wrinkle resistant, a feature we all love. Have you ever noticed that distinct odor you smell as soon as you walk into any fabric store? That’s formaldehyde…

I have a number of clients with pretty severe allergies and asthma. When a new client recently told me he was allergic to formaldehyde I figured it was time for me to become more proactive. I have just purchased brand new table linens that are made from 100% organic cotton. They have never been exposed to formaldehyde. If they seem a bit wrinkled, remember, that’s a good thing! To keep them free of harmful chemicals I’ve started using a new detergent called Ecos. It contains neither petrochemicals nor formaldehyde, and it’s completely biodegradable. If you’re interested in buying Ecos I found it in Kroger and Costco (significantly cheaper at Costco).


Additionally, I do not use fabric softeners on any of my linens. Fabric softeners are known to contain neurotoxins. It’s just not worth it. 

As an aside, wine and other alcohol products contain trace amounts of formaldehyde. People with sensitivities should be aware of this and may have to limit their consumption.

So, when you come in for a massage session you can relax and know that you will not be exposed to any harmful chemicals from the linens on my table, nor from the massage oils I use.  That will be the subject of my next blog!


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Massage Therapist or Masseuse??

A masseuse is defined by the Webster’s New World College Dictionary as “a woman whose work is giving massages.” The term is French and gender specific; thus, when applied to men, the word used is masseur. A therapist is defined in the same Webster’s dictionary as “a specialist in a particular type of therapy.” A massage therapist is thus a man or woman whose profession is giving massages. The latter term is more relevant to the modern massage therapy industry, as in recent decades, especially within the U.S, the term masseuse has come to connote a prostitute working in a “massage parlor.” While this may not always be the case, the term “massage therapist” is more commonly associated with registered professionals who have trained and gained recognized qualifications.

Therapists within the legitimate massage therapy industry prefer to be called massage therapists or LMTs, not masseuses. When someone does refer to me as a masseuse I assume it’s a harmless mistake.  Please help me get the word out about the distinction.  Thank you.

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Human Trafficking


Commercial sex businesses often try to disguise themselves as legitimate massage businesses. These “massage parlors” are frequently involved in human trafficking. I was not aware of this until I started my own massage therapy practice. When I was initially building my website and wanted to see where the major search engines ranked my business, I was horrified to find massage parlors that came up in searches right next to my listing. Unfortunately, because we happen to share the word “massage”, legitimate businesses like mine are sometimes associated with these illegal brothels. As soon as I began to dig into this issue I discovered the human trafficking angle.

Human trafficking is “modern day slavery”. It is the human rights issue we face today just as we faced it in the trans-Atlantic era of the mid-1800s. Human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to the illegal drug trade and is the fastest growing. Human trafficking is a very lucrative business–estimated to generate at least $32 billion annually. Unlike drugs and arms dealing, traffickers continue to exploit their victims because human beings can be sold over and over again. Human trafficking doesn’t just happen in third world countries anymore. It is happening across the United States and it is happening in North Alabama, as evidenced by the human trafficking arrests that occurred in Madison city in December 2012.

Prior to 2008, vice units were regulating massage parlors, along with county code enforcement officers, the sheriff’s department, and local law enforcement.  Many agencies lost their vice departments after the economic downturn in 2008.  Staff resources are short, leaving massage parlors to fall through the cracks. As a result, since 2008, the number of these massage parlors has grown exponentially, almost tripling in the last four years.

You can help to stop trafficking now. For more information, contact the Huntsville-Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force at 256 653 8527. Email:  You can also check them out at www.stnow.orgGet involved! The Human Trafficking Task Force meets the first Tuesday of each month, 2:00 p.m., at the National Children’s Advocacy Center, 210 Pratt Avenue, Huntsville, AL. I am a member of the task force and I’d love to see you there.

Click on the second link below to read an excellent article about massage parlors and human trafficking. It was published by The Polaris Project.

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Should I Tip??

“Do you accept tips?”

I am often asked this question.  Here is my official policy:

“Tips are never expected, but always appreciated.”

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