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What is Lymph Drainage Therapy?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Lymph drainage therapy is a holistic massage technique that is said to encourage the circulation of lymph -- a clear fluid found in the lymphatic system -- as well as the circulation of the fluid between cells. It is also said to help in stimulating the immune system in addition to the parasympathetic nervous system. It may be helpful in regenerating tissues, including those damaged by burns and other types of wounds, and relieving chronic pain. Some claim that it may be helpful for reducing edemas and relieving inflammation, such as that present in bronchitis and sinusitis. Lymph drainage therapy is even said to be useful for such things as constipation, cellulite, insomnia, stress, and loss of memory.

To understand lymph drainage therapy, it's important to first consider the lymphatic system, which can be described as a secondary circulatory system. This system includes not only lymph, but also nodes, ducts, and body organs. The lymphatic system can influence health and plays an important role in immune system function. This system's fluids drain fluids from cells and other body tissues, produce immune cells, and transport disease-fighting cells. Lymph fluid does circulate but is not drained or pumped through the body.

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The idea behind lymph drainage therapy is that lymphatic fluid can become stale over time. This stagnation could be caused by such things as fatigue, stress, inflammation, swelling, age, or even lack of physical activity. By some accounts, lymphatic flow can even become stagnant due to such things as improperly fitted bras or those that are worn for longer-than-average amounts of time. When lymphatic circulation slows down too much, cell regeneration may becomes far less than optimal. As such, toxins and proteins are allowed to accumulate around the cells, leading to decreased tissue regeneration and impaired immune function.

Typically, a session of lymph drainage therapy lasts about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The person performing the technique starts by evaluating lymphatic circulation and then evaluates the best pathways for draining the body of stagnant fluids and encouraging natural circulatory function. He or she then uses flat-hand, full-finger massages to create wavelike movements on the person's body, moving lymph and encouraging improved circulation.

Usually, a minimum of three sessions of lymph drainage therapy is recommended. However, the number of sessions varies, depending on the specifics of the patient's case. To perform this technique, it is necessary for the practitioner to have a good understanding of anatomy and physiology as well as hand techniques. The practitioner must also be in tune with the rhythm and direction of the lymph fluid flow as well as its depth. Generally, maintenance sessions are recommended as well and are typically scheduled at two- to four-week intervals.

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