Manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle massage to encourage the natural drainage of the lymph from the body tissue. (Lymph is the fluid that circulates in the tissue space/interstitial throughout the lymphatic system.) The technique is light with gentle pressure mobilising fluid toward the lymphatic sites, with varying degrees of pressure in the actual sites (chest, neck, pelvis, axilla (armpit), inguinal (groin) region) and in association with the blood vessels of the intestines.
Lymphatic Drainage Assists with:
- Cellulite treatment
- Children with respiratory conditions
- Pregnant or Postnatal women with oedema (fluid retention)
- Postnatal recovery
- After a miscarriage
- Menopause or hormonal alterations and disturbances
- Post-surgical operations
- Cancer Treatment (such as breast cancer)
- Elderly people suffering with oedema
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- As part of a ‘Detox’ health plan (such as dietary or ‘stop smoking’)
- Immune system deficiency
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and immune system, comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that transport a clear fluid called lymph, directionally toward the heart. These vessels carry lymph to the various lymph nodes for ‘processing’. Lymph nodes are major sites of immunity cells, such as B, T, and others. Lymph nodes act as filters or traps for foreign particles, and are important in the proper functioning of the immune system. They are packed tightly with the white blood cells called lymphocytes and macrophages which process pathogens.
The lymphatic system depends on peristalsis (propulsion of the lymph due to alternate contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle), and the movement of skeletal muscles to propel lymph back to the cardiovascular system. This means, healthy digestion and physical movement are important to move the lymph along.
Function of the Lymphatic System:
- Addresses biological infections (bad icky things!), as well as biological breakdowns or errors within the body, as in the response to cancer
- Responsible for the removal of interstitial fluid from tissues in the body
- Absorbs and transports fatty acids and fats as chyle from the digestive system
- Transports white blood cells to and from the lymph nodes into the bones
- Transports antigen-presenting cells (APCs), such as dendritic cells, to the lymph nodes where an immune response is stimulated
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage:
Lymphatic drainage is beneficial for most people, with a lymph condition or not, as it helps to stimulate your immune system and circulatory system, giving you an overall immunity boost.
- Reduce inflammation and swelling
- Aid recovery (health condition, post-surgery, slow recovery, etc.)
- Move and drain congestion
- Stimulates circulation
- Relaxes your nervous system
- Aids your immune system (particularly beneficial for those recovering from respiratory infections, chronic fatigue, and for the physically inactive; or recuperation from long illness or surgery; and ongoing rehabilitation such as cancer treatment plans)
- Aids detoxification
- Supports stop smoking/alcohol treatments
What to Expect:
A history is taken at the beginning of each appointment so the treatment can be correctly tailored to your particular needs. Most of the major lymphatic sites are gently worked upon, although this will depend on your symptoms and requirements. Lymphatic massage is light and gentle, and you can expect to feel comfortable and relaxed. As toxins are aided to leave the body, increased urination after a treatment is a healthy by-product. You will feel ‘lighter’ in body with an increase in energy. If you are detoxing, there may be a temporary increase in skin outbreaks or nausea, as the stimulated liver flushes out extra toxins. Drinking more water aids this natural process.
More Lymphatic Information:
- The circulatory system processes an average of 20 litres of blood per day through capillary filtration which removes plasma while leaving the blood cells. Roughly 17 litres of the filtered plasma actually get reabsorbed directly into the blood vessels, while the remaining 3 litres are left behind in the interstitial fluid.
- The thymus gland and spleen are important in the function of the lymphatics. Thymus gland is a lymphatic system organ and makes T-cells; which locate and destroy invading pathogens in the blood stream and lymphatic system. The Spleen organ plays multiple supporting roles in the body. It acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system. Old red blood cells are recycled in the spleen, and platelets and white blood cells are stored there. The spleen also helps fight certain kinds of bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis.
More About Conditions that Require Lymphatic Drainage
Lymphoedema – also know as lymphatic obstruction, is a condition of localised fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system. There is both primary (which may be inherited) and secondary lymphoedema, (which occurs due to injury to the lymphatic vessels and nodes). Such as cancer patients that in the course of their treatment from surgery, where lymph nodes have been removed or destroyed from radiation therapy, are most at risk in developing lymphoedema.
Treatment for lymphoedema – may vary according to the severity of the oedema and associated symptoms. Most people with lymphoedema manage their condition themselves, with a regime of self-care interspersed with other treatment and medical advice when appropriate. The most common treatments are a combination of manual lymphatic drainage, compression garments and bandaging. Although more ideal together, any of the treatments can be done individually.
Oedema – is a build up of fluid when the lymphatic system struggles (but is not damaged) to remove the excess fluid. Causes include the body’s reaction to hot weather, a high salt intake, stress and the hormones associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause. Symptoms include swelling of body parts such as feet, hands and ankles, a feeling of stiffness or aching and weight fluctuations.
Treatment for oedema – though much less serious and mostly a short-term condition, it is generally treated in the same way as lymphoedema. Pregnancy oedema is often relieved by elevation of the feet and rest. Wheras severe oedema accompanied by other symptoms; such as protein in the urine, sudden onset of headaches, blurred vision, epigastric pain, can be symptomatic of pre-eclampsia (a type of pregnancy induced hypertension).
What Products Do I Use?
I use light, absorbable and nutritious oils with additives of essential oils and therapeutic herbs. My use of essential oils is mindful of individual need and preferences, such as allergies, pregnancy and proper dosage.
Tips to Help You Stay on Your Treatment Plan:
- Drink more water
- Eat more green, leafy vegetables and protein
- Eat good food and get rid of the junky stuff especially sugar as the excess converts to fat stores!
- Reward yourself with healthy treats so your mind and body can appreciate the difference
- Exercise in whatever way works for you, starting small and enjoying your exercise
- Burn fat with weight training
- Improve your ‘sleep hygiene’ (what’s that? at least 7-8 hours every night)
- Reward yourself with ‘rest hygiene’ (what’s that? nurturing activities that are restful and restorative)
Who cannot be treated?
Contraindications for Lymphatic Drainage Massage are Oedema that is the result of kidney failure, heart failure, liver disease, local infection, blood clots and DVT (Deep vein thrombosis). Also active chemotherapy for cancer treatment is another contraindication.
What about rebates?
Health funds that cover remedial massage will also cover you for lymphatic drainage, as a treatment will generally include some light remedial at neck and shoulders and your spine. Via Hicaps, you can claim your rebate on the spot in clinic.
The Healing Practice, 129B Balmain Rd, Leichhardt NSW 2040