What is MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage)?
Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a form of manual therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system with gentle skin stretching strokes in the direction of your internal drains. The light rhythmical therapy encourages the lymphatic system to remove hard lymph cells (metabolic waste products, excess fluid and bacteria). The technique was invented by massage therapists Dr Emil and Mrs. Estrid Vodder in the early 1930s.
The effects of Manual Lymph Drainage are numerous and include general benefits to the nervous, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems. MLD is a great addition to other detox measures, as it encourages fluid flow in the connective tissues. Lymphatic massage by a certified lymphatic therapist has been known to be quite helpful with conditions like IBS, constipation, and abdominal discomfort.
Post operative procedures like general surgery, liposuction, plastic surgeries, or reconstructive procedures are main reasons for targeted MLD to remove the hardening that takes place immediately after the surgery. Cancer patients whom have had surgery to remove tumors, infected cells, lymph nodes, and organs are recommended for Lymphatic care immediately after the removal.
MLD is especially recommended for those who have lymphedema. It may be recommended by your physician to help reduce the lymph swelling which can develop over the course of your life. This condition develops usually after cancer treatment or any type of circulatory system disruption.
The lymphatic system does not have a pump and is composed of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and organs. This system relies on our skeletal muscle movement and manual therapy to keep it’s flow. Part of the body’s defense system, the lymph nodes remove microorganisms and other foreign substances. They act as a filtration system that keeps particulate matter, such as the bad bacteria, from entering the bloodstream.
“The lymphatic system has a vital role in the body by regulating the immune system, which protects the body against infection. It transports nutrients to cells and eliminates metabolic wastes, toxins and excess fluids from the body. Manual lymphatic drainage is also a very effective way of detoxing the body plus stimulating vital immune defenses. This is a powerful, deep cleansing treatment.” Explains David Goddard, ND
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The benefits of lymphatic massage are numerous and include:
- Clearing areas of congestion such as swollen ankles, puffy eyes and swollen legs
- Weight loss management and cellulite reduction
- Cancer prevention method
- Promotion of scar tissue healing, torn ligaments and sprains.
- Post-operative healing
- Swelling relief following plastic surgery
- Treatment of lymphedema and other conditions arising from venous insufficiency
- Improving chronic conditions such as sinusitis, acne, and other skin conditions
- Deep relaxation and sedation of the nervous system
Understanding Lymph Nodes and your Lymphatic system
There are between 600-700 lymph nodes present in the average human body. It is the role of these nodes to filter the lymph before it can be returned to the circulatory system. Lymph nodes can increase or decrease in size throughout life, although any nodes that has been damaged or destroyed do not regenerate.
What do lymph nodes do?
Lymph nodes kill pathogens, cancer cells and remove debris and excess fluid
- Afferent lymphatic vessels carry unfiltered lymph into the node. Here waste products, and some of the fluid, are filtered out.
- In another section of the node, lymphocytes, which are specialized white blood cells, kill pathogens that may be present. This causes the swelling commonly swelling known as swollen glands.
- Lymph nodes also trap cancer cells and slow the spread of the cancer until they are overwhelmed by it.
- Efferent lymphatic vessels carry the filtered lymph out of the node to continue its return to the circulatory system.