I get a weekly massage and I thought, should share the benefits with my readers because every body deserves a massage!
Lymph Drainage for Detoxification
By Boris Prilutsky
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine,
These days, the manual acceleration of lymph drainage is mainly used by practitioners to reduce the size of lymphedemas, even though the main function of the lymphatic system is detoxification and disposal of metabolic waste. The compromised quality of the air, water, food, etc., causes significant accumulations of metabolic waste products in our body, some of which are toxic. In many cases, this accumulation of toxins causes us to feel low energy levels, fatigue, mood swings (the clinical symptoms of which are often confused with depression by physicians) fatigue, etc. There is no doubt that lymph drainage is a powerful method for lymphedema reduction, but I also believe we should offer lymph drainage to our clients as a detoxification program.
Clients who receive full-body medical massage regularly (for example, on a weekly basis) should be getting a lymph drainage session every fifth treatment. I do not advise therapists to incorporate techniques of full-body massage with lymph drainage techniques, as this can cause severe reactions such as headache, dizziness, nausea, etc. Detoxification causes a significant improvement in the power and function of the immune system. I personally see regular lymph drainage sessions incorporated with full-body stress management massage as no less important than immunization against the flu virus and other infections. Immunizations sometimes do not protect people from contracting the flu, for example. A consistent detoxification program has proven very effective in protecting humans from infections.
The main function of the lymphatic system is detoxification, but it also plays an important role in immunity. Lymph is an extracellular fluid that enters the lymphatic vessels and is mixed with cellular elements. The lymphatic system starts at the lymphatic sacs in the extracellular spaces. These sacs have pores, allowing the passage of large proteins and other metabolic waste products. When the lymphatic sacs are filled, lymph enters the lymphatic vessels. These vessels also have large pores and carry a small quantity of smooth muscles. The walls of lymphatic vessels contain valves, directing the flow of lymph one way only (toward the heart). Along the path of the lymphatic vessels are lymphatic nodes. When the fluid reaches these nodes, infections, alien proteins, and other foreign materials are destroyed. The drained lymph then continues its flow. Most of the lymphatic fluid reenters the circulation via the thoracic duct (a common drainage duct). Through this duct the lymph enters the brachiocephalic vein. The right lymphatic duct drains lymph only from the right upper extremity and half of the face and head.
The Nature of Lymphatic Flow
During inspiration, the diaphragm muscle contracts, creating negative intrapleural pressure. This is when both the thoracic and right lymphatic ducts release the largest amount of lymph into the circulatory system.
It’s important to remember these points:
-Gravity is the main opposition to lymph flow. Most of the
lymphatic vessels are between skeletal muscles. When muscles contract (during movement), a pumping action is created, thereby pushing the lymph along.
-Pulsations of large vessels (arteries and veins) also help the lymph to flow.
-The peristaltic contractions produced by the walls of lymphatic vessels, however weak, contribute somewhat to the flow of lymph (though not significantly).
When we perform manual acceleration of lymph drainage we actually use the knowledge of the nature of lymph drainage and apply special techniques to accelerate lymphatic drainage.