What is Lymph Drainage Therapy?
Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) is a gentle, hands-on method of lymphatic drainage developed by Bruno Chikly, MD, DO, that works through the body’s interstitial and lymphatic system to support the healing process. By utilizing subtle manual techniques to assess the quality and depth of lymph flow anywhere in the body LDT practitioners are able to support and enhance immune function, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, and determine the direction of lymph flow to identify areas of stagnation or fibrosis.
Manual Lymphatic Mapping (MLM) is an important component to LDT as it allows practitioners to assess the quality and direction of lymph flow. It is an effective assessment tool both during an individual session to assess change as well as over a series of treatments because it allows us to ‘map’ where and how well the lymph is moving and identify areas of stagnation or fibrosis. By doing so we can support the most appropriate pathways and lymphatic reroutes, respecting the body’s innate healing mechanisms.
Some benefits of LDT include:
-increased circulation of lymph and interstitial fluid, leading to improved immune system function
-reduction in edemas of various origins
-reduction of chronic and subacute inflammations, including sinusitis, bronchitis, otitis, acne,
-reduction in chronic inflammations due to musculoskeletal issues
-Improved filtering processes, i.e. detoxification of the body
-reduced chronic pain
-reduction of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms
- improved parasympathetic nervous system function which can help dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders
-improved cellular function leading to improved regeneration of tissue including burns, wounds and wrinkles
-aids antispastic actions. This can help with conditions such as muscle hypertonus and some forms of constipation
What is the lymph system?
The lymphatic system is made up of lymph (a clear fluid), lymph vessels and lymph nodes. Lymph vessels help transport excess fluid that is not reabsorbed by the venous system. Once in the lymph capillaries this clear fluid is called lymph. It contains fats, cellular waste products, cells, water, and chemical and foreign organisms (bacteria and viruses). Lymph travels through the lymph vessels to lymph nodes which are scattered in groups throughout the body. The lymph nodes filter and concentrate the lymph and, when necessary, active immune response. Once passing through the lymph nodes the fluid continues through the lymph vessels, eventually pouring into the heart to become a component of blood.
As described above, the lymph system is responsible for reabsorbing the fluid that the venous system does not reabsorb. While the circulatory system uses the heart to pump blood through the body, the lymphatic system is dependent upon deep breathing and movement to help stimulate lymph flow. Sedentary life-style, injury, stress, and disease, among other factors, can result in reduced lymphatic circulation and a build-up of toxins in the tissues. This can lead to fatigue, feeling sluggish, a feeling of loss of vitality and memory, and or recurring colds and flu due to a depressed immune system. LDT stimulates the circulation of lymph and interstitial fluids, detoxifying tissue and strengthening the body’s natural defenses.
How often should LDT be received?
A minimum of three sessions is recommended initially, ideally within a one month period. Maintenance sessions can be scheduled at longer intervals.
When is LDT not appropriate?
-if you have fever, acute infection or are in the early onset of inflammatory disease
-if you have DVT or other serious circulatory problems
-if you have major cardiac problems including acute angina pectoris and coronary thrombosis as lymphatic techniques may increase cardiac load
-active cancer that is not under medical supervision or not given MD clearance
LDT Breast Care:
The breast care component of LDT is a helpful compliment to standard health care protocols. Breast tissue has a rich lymphatic network but, unlike other areas of the body, does not have sources of external compression such as muscles or strong overlying fascia to aid natural lymph drainage. As a result breast tissue has a tendency to accumulate fluid leading to stagnation, increased toxin and protein accumulation and decreased tissue regeneration. The light touch of LDT is gentle on the breast’s suspensatory ligaments and elastic fibers while effective in moving lymph fluid to support breast health.
While LDT can help alleviate many symptoms relating to pregnancy such as engorgement, sore nipples, plugged ducts, etc., it can also help with chronic inflammation, pre- and post-surgery issues, scars, traumas and mastoptosis (sagging). It is appropriate for both men and women.