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Lymphatic Drainage

Facilitating inner cleansing

The lymphatic system is one of the lesser known systems of the human body and while some websites like the lymph nodes dot com provide some useful information, there is a divergence of opinion among medical experts as to the function and even the location of the entire lymphatic system.

Blood supplies energy to the tissues, and the de-energised waste is returned for elimination by the lymphatic system. This exchange is indirect and is effected through an intermediary called interstitial fluid (ISF) or tissue fluid that the blood forms. ISF is the fluid that occupies the spaces between the cells and acts as their immediate environment. As the blood and the surrounding cells continually add and remove substances from the ISF, its composition keeps on changing. Water and solutes can freely pass (diffuse) between the ISF and blood, and thus both are in dynamic equilibrium with each other; exchange between the two fluids occurs across the walls of small blood vessels called capillaries and the lymphatic system is closely connected to the glands of the body.

The two primary lymph systems are the thymus gland and the bone marrow, where the immune cells form or mature. The secondary lymph system is made up of encapsulated and nencapsulated diffuse lymphoid tissue. The encapsulated tissue includes the spleen and the lymph nodes. The unencapsulated tissue includes the gut-associated lymphoid tissues and the tonsils.

We see that the lymphatic system is responsible for the circulation of interstitial fluid and removal of bodily waste from tissues. It also transports antigens to the lymph nodes where an immune response is stimulated and that unlike blood circulation, lymph is circulated by muscular activity. This means for the sedentary person, lymphatic fluid flow can slow or even stop.

As the flow of lymph slows due to long periods of standing, or inactivity, the possibility of stagnation occurs and we have the common diseases of oedema, fluid retention and lymphatic cancer occurring.

Lymphatic fluid exists throughout the entire body and is circulated through a system of veins and lymph nodes which filter body wastes from the lymph for elimination. It is in the lymph nodes that problems occur such as Hodgkin's lymphoma which is characterized by the orderly spread of disease from one lymph node group to another, the development of systemic symptoms as the disease progresses.

So when a cancer is present, it is to late for massage to be helpful and in some cases may even increase the spread of cancer, but massage is very helpful in maintaining the health of the lymphatic system as the rest of the body.

Lymphatic drainage massage is a political hot potato.. At this time when many massage institutions exclude the front of the body, breasts and groin from treatment, lymph drainage is not possible as the majority of the lymph nodes are
found in the groin, lower abdomen, breasts, arm pits and neck. Other node centres are in the face and head, behind the knees, arm pits and inside the chest and abdominal cavity.

Lymph nodes are only detectable during a massage if you take time to feel for them, but when inflamed or congested they are felt as a lump about the size of a pea under the skin and for a person of average to good health, any inflammation generally lasts only a day or so and you may have noticed some of your own lymph nodes inflamed, the most common in young people are the tonsils which unfortunately are often surgically removed as with other glands which become inflamed.


As the lymph vessels and nodes are situated under the skin and not under layers of muscles, lymphatic drainage is a therapeutic treatment that uses very light pressure with a combination of long, gentle, rhythmic strokes and soft pumping movements to increase lymphatic flow and to clear congestion.


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