Those who know me very well by now will know that I’m a Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) fan and a lymphatic drainage therapist freak too!

I have at least 3 patients a day, who would come to the clinic and have Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) treatments.  While the majority comes for post-cancer related conditions such as Lymphoedema (will talk about this on my next post), I’m starting to see a new trend emerging: women are coming to have MLD done for general health issues such as colds, sinusitis, postnatal fluid retention and post operative oedema.  This is the proof that taking time to educate ourselves, and therefore having the adequate skills to educate our patients, does pay-off!

For years I’ve been buzzing in your ears about the importance of the Lymphatic System in our body and the benefits of MLD for our Lymphatic System and consequently our Immune System. The end result is that most of our female clientele are now coming to have their treatment done to reduce the puffiness, swelling and heaviness from their joints and limbs. You could be pregnant, postnatal, with a sinus infection, with a cold, wanting to lose weight or just recovering from surgery (any surgery) and I would always say come and have an MLD.

I have to be a pain now and bore you to death about the Lymphatic System but bear with me or skip to the end part if you are falling asleep! 🙂

The Lymphatic System functions parallel to the Circulatory System consisting of a network of tissues and organs made up of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph. Organs such as our tonsils, spleen, adenoids and thymus are also part of the Lymphatic system. One of the most important roles of the Lymphatic System is to absorb and transport large molecules, including protein and cellular debris, which are too large to be collected by veins and venous capillaries.

We each have between 600 and 800 lymph nodes that filter the lymph before it returns to the circulatory system. The lymph nodes range in size from a tiny pinhead to a broad bean and they are arranged in clusters or chains like pearls knotted on a string where the exact arrangement is unique and with a specific drainage pathway for each individual. It is in the lymph nodes that cells from the body’s natural defence system, called lymphocytes, help fight bacteria and viruses. The lymph nodes serve as a series of cleaning filters to the lymph fluid that passes through the nodes reabsorbing some of the components to the blood stream.   The rest of the lymph passes along the vessels of the lymphatic system back to the thoracic ducts, where the contents rejoin the circulatory system and finally reach the kidneys. The kidneys will then filter and process the blood and excrete the waste products as urine.

If the Lymphatic System gets congested or overrun due to illness, surgery,toxic overload, or lack of activity, the lymph fluid backs up. This can cause the swelling that sometimes you can be aware of or not. This lymph stagnation can also cause joint pain, nausea and fatigue.

A stagnant Lymphatic System can also interfere with the system’s own ability to cleanse or fight bacteria or diseased cells from organ tissue. If the Lymphatic System is working effectively, viral infections, bacteria and mutagenic cells can move through the lymph fluid where they will be targeted and destroyed in the lymph nodes. Pollution, toxins, poor nutrition, mucous formation, surgeries, overload from previous viral or bacterial infections etc, can all contribute to a sluggish lymphatic system. If the lymphatic system is functioning well, we naturally feel well. This shows the immunity function of our Lymphatic System.

Symptoms of chronic lymph blockage are diverse and you may be well familiarised with some listed below:

• Frequent cold and flu infections
• Headaches and migraines
• Joint pain and muscle cramping
• Tissue swelling and fluid retention
• Sinusitis
• Allergies and food sensitivities
• Fatigue
• Mental fuzziness
• Mood irregularities
• Skin breakouts and acne
• Cellulite

In general you may feel constantly tired and toxic with a sense of heaviness in your body, particularly your abdomen. If you suffer from fluid retention due to a sluggish lymphatic system you will feel that some areas will become soft and “watery feeling” to the touch.

To reduce and minimise this swelling the best treatment available is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). MLD is a gentle massage technique that aims to encourage fluid away from congested areas by increasing activity of normal lymphatic vessels and bypassing ineffective or obliterated lymph vessels.

Technicality aside, MLD is a highly specialised form of massage, which uses light, rhythmical, very precise hand movements, pressures and sequences. The massage works at a skin level to influence the direction and speed of lymphatic flow, re-directing if necessary. Most clients mention that after an MLD session they would feel less puffy, lighter and relaxed. Some would run straight to the ladies room after the treatment and would continue to do so throughout the day! 🙂

Depending how toxic or overloaded your Lymphatic System is you may also feel other side effects such as headaches, migraines and skin breakouts. Not a nice picture here, I know, but give it a few sessions and you will feel better, re-energised and definitely with a more effective lymphatic system.

Unfortunately, and with any therapy, there are certain contra-indications for the practice of MLD which I will list below:

• Acute cellulitis/erysipelas
• Renal failure
• Unstable hypertension
• Severe cardiac insufficiency
• Hepatic cirrhosis with abdominal fluid
• Superior vena cava obstruction
• Untreated tuberculosis or malaria
• Primary tumours
• Metastases
• Untreated thyroid dysfunction

Read our Testimonial with Clare talking about how MLD helped her deal with the swelling resulting from surgery for impacted wisdom teeth. Brave Clare who faced this without general anaesthetic! Her pictures speak for themselves.