Lifelong exposure to environmental pollutants contributes to the accumulation of toxins in the human body, including harmful microorganisms, microscopic particles like asbestos and harmful chemicals. Your body has its own natural method of detoxifying by means of the lymphatic system, but considering the amount of pollutants modern humans are exposed to, your lymphatic system might need some help.
Your Natural Detoxification
The lymphatic system is your main line of defense against disease. Lymph begins with plasma that is excreted from blood capillaries, carrying nutrients to your tissues and washing your cells to pick up metabolic waste and toxins. This now-contaminated fluid is absorbed into microscopic lymph vessels and carried toward lymph nodes to be purified. After purification, lymph is carried through progressively larger lymph vessels until it is returned to blood circulation through large veins in your neck. In a sense, the lymphatic system is the sewer system of the body, removing waste and purifying tissue fluids through lymph nodes.
Lymph Drainage Massage
Lymph drainage massage is a gentle style of bodywork that mimics the movement of lymph vessels. Peripheral lymph vessels contract at a rate of six to 10 contractions per minute, so massage movements are repeated at the same slow rate. There is a rich bed of lymph capillaries immediately below the skin, so it isn't necessary to use deeper pressure to affect them. Lymph massage therapists use a light touch, less than nine ounces per square inch. Lymph fluid is drained toward lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin, before traveling to the largest lymph vessels and back into the cardiovascular system. Your therapist will massage your lymph nodes first, and then will massage lymph toward the lymph nodes, before massaging your trunk and extremities.
Effects on Your Body
Lymph drainage massage stimulates the reproduction and circulation of white blood cells and removes toxins from tissues, to be destroyed in lymph nodes. It reduces swelling which would manifest as puffy eyelids or in swollen joints. The number of white blood cells and natural killer cells increases with regular massage. It also reduces stress, which is beneficial because chronic stress inhibits the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
Do not have a lymph drainage massage if you currently have an infection or fever. Wait until your temperature returns to normal before having the massage. If you have a blood clot, or history of blood clots, avoid any kind of massage. If you have heart or kidney failure, lymph drainage massage could overload your weakened organs because lymph drainage massage affects blood volume.
Other Tools to Avoid Toxins
Lymph drainage massage is a very effective tool for detoxifying your body. You can also help your lymphatic system by drinking adequate water every day, as it is a fluid based system. To reduce your exposure to toxins, try to avoid pollutants, eat as pure a diet as you can, avoid the freeway at rush hour, and use natural cleaning products in your house.
- Textbook of Dr. Vodder's Manual Lymph Drainage: Basic Course Vol 1; Wittlinger, G, Wittlinger, H,, Harris, R; 2003