Are you feeling sluggish? Do you have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia? Do you get ill frequently? Are you facing or recovering from surgery? Got cellulite? If so, lymph drainage therapy may be for you.
The lymphatic system is the body’s second circulatory system. It transports lymph fluids from the cell tissue to the cardiac circulatory system and plays a central role in detoxification, cell regeneration and maintaining the body’s immune system.
For reasons ranging from inactivity to illness to physical and emotional trauma, the lymphatic system can get congested. When this happens, toxins accumulate and the body’s natural vigor is compromised. Lymph drainage clears the pathways and gets the system moving again.
It was Emil Vodder who first developed lymph drainage as a systematic therapy in the 1930s. His approach, which is called “manual lymph drainage,” continues to be available today.
Lymph drainage therapy, or LDT, expands on Vodder’s work and was developed by Bruno Chikly in the 1980s. It combines light and constant touch with detailed knowledge of the lymphatic system. Practitioners use their hands to map the superficial and deep lymphatic pathways. This technique, which is called Manual Lymphatic Mapping, enables them to identify the best pathways for routing around fluid stagnation. It’s not unlike figuring out how to use back roads to get from one town to another when the highway has been shut by flooding. The practitioner then stimulates the two to three layers of muscle located along the appropriate lymphatic pathways, and this in turn activates the lymphatic system.
The results can be spectacular. In a Washington Post article, Deborah Simons recounted how her son Gideon developed a chronic sore throat and headache after swallowing a fish bone. Repeated visits to every manner of specialist failed to identify the cause, and led to the diagnosis by more than one doctor that her son was acting out. Finally she happened on an acupuncturist who suspected lymphatic involvement. After Gideon’s first LDT session—and a painful 2 1/2 years after he swallowed the fishbone—his headache subsided considerably. After six treatments, both areas of pain were gone.
If you think LDT might be for you, you can find a certified practitioner in your area by going to the Web site of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners. Click on “search practitioners,” enter your location and click on “lymph drainage therapy.” A list of nearby practitioners will come up, along with the number of certification classes they’ve taken. Try entering just the first three numbers of your zip code. You’ll get a bigger list of practitioners.
An extra credit question: How do you pronounce “drainage,” as in “lymph drainage therapy”? If you’re associated with the Upledger Institute, the central organization for promoting Chikly’s work, the emphasis is on the last syllable, as in “massage.” It’s one part homage to Chikly’s French origins, and one part a way to differentiate it from what a plumber does when your sink gets stopped up.
At the end of the day, of course, it’s not how you say it that matters, it’s how it makes you feel. And LDT has helped lots of people feel like their old selves again.