Lymphatic drainage therapy is a process wherein the body is detoxified by restoring and boosting your lymphatic and immune systems to function at their best and flush out impurities. Lymphatic drainage can be activated and highly effective without the use of drugs or surgery by implementing two hands-on therapies, chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy.
Though the lymphatic system is not directly affected by chiropractic care or craniosacral therapy, both manual therapies directly treat the neuromusculoskeletal system and thereby indirectly affect both the lymphatic and immune system. Thus, if you’re experiencing swollen lymph nodes, any of its symptoms, or would like to simply clean and boost your lymphatic system, by treating you with a combination of chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy I can help you.
All Lymphatic Drainage Therapy is not the Same
All Lymphatic Drainage Therapy is not the same and my approach combines the two most effective non-pharmacological therapies (chiropractic care & craniosacral therapy) resulting in a powerful treatment that achieves the best enduring results over the fewest number of sessions. As you read through my treatment note the extensive research supporting my approach to lymphatic drainage therapy and be mindful “lymphatic massage” (and the many variants) is something different and a lesser treatment because:
- It does not include the musculoskeletal adjustment and realignment of joints of chiropractic treatment. As a consequence, stagnant fluids (lymph) can become trapped in the joints, leading to other inflammatory disorders quickly after a massage therapy session and surfacing down the line.
- It does not address the most critical aspect of lymphatic drainage, that’s treating the cranial system. Lymphatic drainage also takes place in the brain, which has a complex system of pathways and routes that must also be treated [source].
My therapeutic protocol for lymphatic drainage therapy is a combination of chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy and why it:
- is the most powerful non-invasive drug-free treatment
- achieves optimal & enduring lymphatic & immune cleansing & restoration
- swiftly achieves corrective results over the fewest amount of sessions
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system and moves waste, collects toxins, and protects the body from viruses, diseases, and other foreign invaders. Working together with the immune system, the lymphatic system is responsible for moving a fluid called “lymph.” back into your circulatory system (bloodstream). Lymph is a collection of the excess fluid drained from cells and tissues and includes nutrients, damaged cells, fats, proteins, minerals, white blood cells, and foreign invaders (viruses, bacteria, etc).
Many of us are aware of our lymphatic system when we catch a cold or flu, as it’s common to experience swollen lymph nodes in our neck as our body battles the infection. When lymph nodes swell, it’s typically due to trapped bacteria or viruses that would have otherwise attacked our immune system. Lymph nodes serve us by catching, collecting and thereby filtering out substances in our circulatory system posing a threat to healthy balance or “homeostasis” in the body. Homeostasis is your body’s ability to maintain a relatively stable internal functioning that sustains despite changes that can stress your body, like impurities.
Your lymphatic system’s key functions include:
- Maintaining fluid levels throughout your body: Your lymphatic system collects excess fluid (lymph) that’s drained from tissues and cells throughout your body and returns this fluid back to your bloodstream for recirculation.
- Absorbing fats from your digestive tract: Included in lymph are intestinal fluids containing both proteins and fats that are transported back to your bloodstream.
- Protecting your body against toxins and other foreign invaders: As part of the immune system, the lymphatic system produces lymphocytes (white blood cells) that identify and then destroy (detoxify) bloodstream invaders such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and fungi. Lymph transports the infection-fighting white blood cells to the foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, etc).
- Transporting and removing waste products and abnormal cells from the lymph fluid: These items are moved to the kidneys or liver and thereby removed from your bloodstream, then your body detoxifies by passing these unhealthy substances out through urine or bowel movements.
When the lymphatic system is not functioning well and draining lymph properly, fluid will build up in the body’s tissues and inflammation can emerge within your body without your immediate awareness. You only become aware when the inflammation produces visible swelling and or pain, and or dysfunction. It’s the accumulation of toxins and metabolic waste that have not exited your body that produces these health ailments. When this happens, it can become near impossible for the body to drain and the accumulating stagnant lymph can make you more susceptible to disease and infections.
What Conditions Affect the Lymphatic System?
Many conditions can affect the vessels, glands, and organs comprising the lymphatic system. Some of these conditions occur in utero (before birth), or early childhood while others surface as a result of disease, environmental exposure, or some form of trauma. There are 2 main lymphatic system disorders:
Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes: Lymph nodes become enlarged due to inflammation, infection, or cancer.
- Inflammation occurs in the body when the immune system detects a threat to the body’s “homeostasis”. For example, when you sprain a body part, injury-related inflammation typically follows. When the body realizes it’s injured, it sends helpful resources (nutrients, white blood cells, additional blood) to the body part in the recovery process. Inflammation also occurs from allergic reactions; exposure to toxins (like polluted air or unprocessed chemicals); diseases (like arthritis or autoimmune diseases like Lupus)
- Common infections are mononucleosis, strep throat, infected skin wounds, or Covid infection.
- Lymph node cancer (lymphoma) is seen with uncontrollable lymphocyte growth disrupting the flow of lymph through the node.
Accumulation of fluid (Swelling): The lymphatic system can become blocked by scar tissue from damaged lymph vessels or nodes. Swelling is sometimes observed when lymph nodes are removed from patients who’ve undergone radiation or surgery to remove cancer. This swelling is usually seen in your legs and arms and can range from mild to painful, even disfiguring and disabling. Swelling is also common after cosmetic surgical procedures and any extended period of inflammation risks producing cell, organ, and or tissue damage.
Symptoms of Lymphatic Drainage Therapy Helps
- Swelling in your fingers (rings fitting more tightly?)
- Feeling stiff and sore when you wake up in the morning
- Cold hands and feet
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Bloating / Water Retention
- Excess weight
- Food sensitivities
- Digestive issues
- Dry or itchy skin or rashes
- Sinus infections
- Frequent colds and flu
- Weakened immunity
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Allergies / Sinus issues
- Unexplained injury and illness
- Swollen ankles/feet/hands
- Joint/Muscle aches/Fibromyalgia
- Hormone imbalances
- Ovarian cysts
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Frequent colds/flu
- Puffiness around eyes
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Therapy
The benefits of lymphatic drainage therapy center around the many outcomes that come with granular detoxification of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which essentially controls all body organs and systems. Lymphatic drainage therapy allows the body to heal itself, which can range from reducing swelling to resolving headaches, enhancing skin and improving digestive health. If you’ve never tried it before, here is a partial description of what lymphatic drainage therapy can offer.
Reduce swelling & the build-up of lymph fluid. There are health conditions that can disrupt lymph fluid circulation and cause it to accumulate by localizing swelling (lymphedema), normally seen in the arms or legs. Lymphatic Drainage can reduce the abnormal accumulation of lymph (and swelling). For example, with arthritis, fluid might stagnate in joints and tissues for long stretches of time causing puffiness and tenderness in hands and fingers.
Recreational sports injury & post-surgery recovery. Swelling and inflammation are standard and expected side effects of injury – whether intended (as in surgery) or accidental (as in recreational sports). Once injured, the body sends helpful resources (nutrients, white blood cells, additional blood) to the affected area to start the recovery process – but also inflammation and swelling. Lymphatic drainage helps in reducing pressure on affected cells allowing them to reproduce quickly and accelerating healing. This is also the case with those who’ve undergone cosmetic surgical procedures that can result in the accumulation of excess lymph fluid including breast augmentation, breast reduction and liposuction.
Helps patients with autoimmune disorders (chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia). As an important part of the immune response system, lymphatic drainage has been shown to improve chronic autoimmune disorder symptoms:
- Pain & stiffness all over the body.
- Fatigue & tiredness.
- Depression & anxiety.
- Sleep problems.
- Problems with thinking, memory, & concentration.
- Headaches, including migraines.
- Sinus problems & chronic upper respiratory infections
This relief is achieved by increasing the efficiency of toxin (solvents, pesticides, or heavy metals) and other waste removal from the body. In fact, while the causes of Fibromyalgia are not fully understood, a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Psychological Therapeutics determined that Fibromyalgia patients had an improvement in symptoms through manual lymph drainage therapy.
Improved skin. Lymphatic drainage has been helpful to people with moderate to severe acne, psoriasis, eczema, cellulite, spider veins, and other skin issues arising from the accumulation of toxins in cells and decreased lymph circulation. The removal of impurities coupled with manual stimulation encourages the production of collagen and elastane (a skin protein) so over time skin looks youthful, glowing and healthy. Lymph carries white blood cells and helps remove fluid waste from the body, supplying the cells with the nutrition they need for healthy skin. In recent years, beauty spas have learned of the benefit of lymphatic drainage and have incorporated their approach toward lymphatic drainage into their offerings of services to treat dull and or puffy complexions and skin irritations. Some have gone so far as to characterize facial lymphatic drainage as a nonsurgical facelift producing results resembling a miniature facelift.
Weight Loss & gastrointestinal disorders – If you have a slow functioning lymphatic system then you will also have a slow functioning metabolism, making weight loss difficult. Lymphatic drainage improves circulation which in turn stimulates metabolism while also improving the efficiency of your body’s waste removal process. The parasympathetic nervous system influences the gastrointestinal functions and research has shown that the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system through manual lymphatic drainage provides constipation relief by:
- Increasing intestinal motility.
- Releasing gas.
- Relaxing gastrointestinal canal sphincters.
- Reducing colonic transit time.
- Increasing digestive secretions.
- Relieving pain, inflammation and discomfort.
- Reducing pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Stimulating the muscle contractions, it increases bowel movements.
Chiropractic Care for Lymphatic Drainage
Chiropractic care generally involves movement and manipulation of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments. For this reason, chiropractic techniques support lymphatic drainage in 3 primary ways:
1) Chiropractic manipulations create cellular level movement within the body. Any stagnant and or trapped fluids within the body are instantly released. Blood cells, toxins, and other substances surge throughout the body with nutrients absorbed and impurities eliminated. After chiropractic adjustment lymph fluid levels naturally rise and help move waste and respond to infection with fresh red and white blood cells soothing the formerly affected area. Chiropractic manipulations can trigger your lymphatic system to both collect, release, and then circulate lymph. This helps to increase the efficiency of the lymphatic system, as well as boost the overall effectiveness of your immune system resulting in the purification and detoxification of the body.
2) Chiropractic care supports the lymphatic system with correction of any imbalanced posture, subluxations, or spinal curvature. Poor posture, stress, improper ergonomic support, or simply too much sitting or standing can change the spinal curve over time and strain organs and internal systems of the body. For example, many of the lymph nodes and ducts that help clear your lymphatic fluid are located near your spine. If your spine has any misalignment, it can put pressure on those lymph nodes compressing and keeping them from operating correctly. Sometimes, lymph settles and accumulates in the tissues because of poor function of lymph nodes. In treating you with chiropractic techniques, any discovered spinal misalignment or subluxations are resolved.
3) Also, any lack of movement in the thoracic/upper chest area of the spine can prevent the lymphatic system from doing the final dump of toxins that it has collected for cleansing. The rib cage supports the hydraulics of the lymphatic system and is crucial for lymphatic circulation. Correcting any musculoskeletal abnormalities, displacements or subluxations that restrict movement of the thoracic/upper chest area of the spine, helps to create a healthy pressure within this region allowing the rib cage to assist in moving oxygen to the cells.
Routine chiropractic care helps the interconnected relationship between the respiratory, skeletal, cardiovascular, muscular, immune, nervous, and digestive systems. The holistic benefits of chiropractic care extend to all systems of the body because of synergy and how the healthy functioning of one system can improve and support the functioning of all the others. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who are experiencing swollen lymph nodes, immune fatigue, or are battling chronic infections.
Craniosacral Therapy for Lymphatic Drainage Therapy
Cerebrospinal Fluid Explained
Cerebrospinal fluid is:
- A filtrate of blood
- produced in hollow spaces (ventral cavities) at the center of the brain
- surrounds & bathes the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system)
- contained in place by a membrane layer
As cerebrospinal fluid is produced and absorbed the membrane layer containing it expands when filled then contracts with the cerebrospinal fluid is absorbed. This continuous expansion and contraction creates a rhythmic pulsing motion called the cranial rhythm. It’s been proven that the cranial rhythm is:
- connected to cerebrospinal fluid flow. [Source & Source]
- both measurable and palpable (able to be touched or felt) throughout the body.
- moves the cranial bones at this same rhythm as the cerebrospinal fluid.
- stimulated by hands-on therapy & once restored achieves lymphatic drainage, removing blockages or restrictions and returning healthy cerebrospinal fluid flow. [Source]
The cranial rhythm typically pulses at a rate ranging from 6 to 12 expansion and contraction cycles per minute. This rhythm is transmitted from the craniosacral system to the rest of the body via the connective tissue. In treating you I assess your cranial rhythm and if necessary, work to release any patterns of restriction disrupting cerebrospinal fluid flow and rhythm.
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle hands-on approach using the delicate touch of a finger(s) to skillfully balance the cerebrospinal fluid circulating around the brain and spinal cord. Craniosacral therapy differs from chiropractic care notably in that there are no sharp forces or tense acts, and this allows the body to relax and release naturally.
Craniosacral therapy involves applying the light pressure of a finger to manipulate the membrane layer containing the cerebrospinal fluid to improve the production, circulation, and reabsorption of the Cerebrospinal fluid around your brain and spinal cord. The membrane layer (the Dura Mater) plays an important role in cranial bone movement. The bones in the skull are movable, and when there is restriction and compression in these joints, the fluids in the cerebral spinal fluid do not move as well. Diminished movement of your bony structures in an area of your body, indicates a malfunction that your body is not correcting on its own, and will need to be addressed.
A network of lymphatic vessels is responsible for draining fluid from the central nervous system into the lymph nodes found near the jugular vein in the neck. Lymph nodes monitor and cleanse the lymph fluid, filtering undesirable cells, and producing white blood cells (which attack harmful substances in the fluid). Cerebrospinal fluid is also exchanged and moved through these lymph nodes to your network of veins. [source] In this way cerebrospinal fluid is lymphatic (fighting infection & disease) and any deficit in proper circulation of cerebrospinal fluid could account for an array of deteriorating health conditions and issues. – Perrin RN. Lymphatic drainage of the neuraxis in chronic fatigue syndrome: A hypothetical model for the cranial rhythmic impulse. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2007;107(6):218–24. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
It’s also worth noting cerebrospinal fluid blockage and buildup can place pressure on the surrounding brain tissue, resulting in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, vision changes, respiratory changes, impairment of mental functions, emotional disturbances, and hormonal changes, and more. If you’re noticing any of the signs or symptoms of lymphatic issues or simply interested in reaping the benefits of lymphatic drainage therapy, don’t hesitate to call me at (212) 328-1180.