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Manual Lymphatic Drainage  

Manual Lymphatic Drainage has powerful cleansing, relaxing, pain relieving, and immunological effects. In its manual form, it is gentle, flowing, rhythmic massage. In any form, it can be applied to a wide range of pathologies, to great effect, and is used in hospitals across the country.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is used primarily to promote the optimal functioning of the lymphatic vessels that lead to the circulatory system. Manual Lymphatic Drainage techniques facilitate the removal of metabolic wastes, excess water, toxins, bacteria, large protein molecules and foreign substances from tissue via the initial lymph vessels and the venous capillaries.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, reduces pain, and enhances the activity of the immune system. It is effective in the treatment of a wide variety of problems, including oedema, skin disorders, headache, sinus congestion, sprains and aches, stress, digestive disorders, and before and after surgery to remove tissue congestion and minimise scar formation. It is particularly useful as part of post-mastectomy therapy, to reduce oedema and fibrosis and to relieve pain and tension.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage techniques are based on the principal of motion and 'stationary circles', in the direction of the lymph node that is aimed for, for drainage.

Western culture's diet of highly processed foods, stress the lymphatic system with excess wastes and toxins. Coupled with this, and not enough fluid intake, most of us have sluggish lymphatic systems. This causes more anaerobic metabolism to occur, with more waste products and less energy. A self-perpetuating cycle begins. For this reason, any patient can benefit from lymph drainage as part of a general detoxification program. It can improve energy, increase cellular oxygenation and nourishment as well as build immunity. 


Lymph flow is stimulated by Manual Lymphatic Drainage, through triggering the receptors in the vessel walls.

Manual Lymph Drainage is extremely gentle and feels wonderfully relaxing. The majority of patients either fall asleep or go into a highly relaxed state, due to the slow, gentle rhythmic motions involved. These techniques stimulate the movement of lymph through the lymph vessels.

Due to the lymphatic system's role in the body's immune system Manual Lymphatic Drainage has subsequently become the focus of increasing research in more recent times. The lymphatic system is only developed in the higher vertebrates (an animal with a spinal cord surrounded by cartilage or bone), which have an extensive vascular system. Such a system has to have a high intravascular pressure if the blood is to be adequately transported. This results in fluid seepage from the capillaries and it is thought that the lymphatic system originally evolved to combat the problem. Lymphatic tissue is a type of connective tissue characterised by large numbers of lymphocytes. The storm (framework) of lymphatic tissue is a network of reticular fibres.

The Lymphatic System

The Lymphatic System is a part of the circulatory system entwined with the blood circulation which provides one way for the blood to leave the heart; the arterial system, and two ways for it to return.

The Lymphatic System consists of:

  • lymphatic vessels - capillaries, lymphatics, nodes and ducts

  • lymph

  • spleen

  • thymus

  • adenoids

  • tonsils

  • appendix

  • Peter's patches (found in the small intestine only)

The Lymphatic System's principal functions are to act as:

  • a drainage system by collecting and returning interstitial fluid, including plasma protein to the blood, thus helping to maintain fluid balance and prevent oedema.

  • remove waste from cells.

  • return larger protein molecules back to the bloodstream.

  • a defence system which combats infections and generates antibodies by producing lymphocytes.

  • a fat (lipids) absorption system from the intestine and transports them to the blood.

Small amounts of diffuse lymphatic tissue are found in virtually every organ of the body. In addition the spleen and the thymus gland are considered to be made of lymphatic tissue.


Blood travels to and from the body tissues. A derivative of blood plasma, known as interstitial fluid, escapes from the blood capillaries and delivers nutrients such as oxygen, glucose and proteins. Interstitial fluid then collects carbon dioxide, lactic acid and other waste products. However, not all can pass through the capillary walls due to high pressure inside the capillaries. The fluid that is left behind is picked up by lymphatic capillaries. Once interstitial fluid enters a lymph capillary, it is referred to as lymph.

Fluid and dissolved substances are continually being filtered out of the blood. Approximately 90% of this tissue fluid flows back into the blood capillaries and is carried away as part of the venous blood. The other 10% is drained by the lymphatic capillaries that surround the blood capillaries. 

Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage 

  • Relaxes the sympathetic nervous system

  • Decreases heart rate

  • Reduces pain

  • Improves the activity of the immune system and builds immunity

  • Detoxifies the body

  • Treats oedema

  • Treats skin disorders

  • Reduces cellulite

  • Relieves headaches

  • Relieves sinus congestion

  • Treats sprains

  • Relieves aches

  • Removes tissue congestion

  • Reduces swelling and bruising quickly

  • Minimises scar formation

  • Relieves tension

  • Treatment before and after surgery to remove tissue congestion and minimise scar formation

  • Removes metabolic wastes from the body

  • Removes toxins and bacteria from the body

  • Removes large protein molecules and foreign substances from body tissues

  • Treats lymph cancer

  • Improves energy

  • Increases cellular oxygenation and nourishment