Acupressure and Lymph Drainage

One person's hand inside another's, with fingers pressing on palm
Acupressure has many health benefits. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Acupressure originated in Asia thousands of years ago as a form of healing that involves using the fingers to firmly press specific points on the body. Pressing these points is supposed to stimulate innate self-healing abilities contained in the human body by discharging muscle tension and improving circulatory system functioning. Lymph drainage concerns relieving lymph nodes of infected material that causes them to swell, a symptom frequently seen in ear infections, mononucleosis and lupus. Acupressure may assist in reducing lymph node swelling and relieve associated illnesses.

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system functions to maintain a steady flow of lymph fluid by connecting all parts of the body using a system of nodes, vessels and fluid. Initially, this clear, protein-rich fluid emerges from the blood, which transports the fluid, to filter toxic substances. When you cut yourself and notice clear fluid oozing from the wound, this is lymph fluid attempting to keep the wound clean. The body contains nearly 650 to 700 lymph nodes, tiny clusters of lymphocytes and macrophages that seize viruses and bacteria in order to eliminate them from the body.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Located in the neck, groin, under the chin and around the armpits, lymph nodes become swollen when an individual suffers certain illnesses caused mostly by viral infections. Swollen lymph nodes are often painful, which can make an already ill person feel worse. Another medical condition called lymphedema involves lymph fluid buildup in the tissues of the legs and arms. Painful as well as physically debilitating, lymphedema may become chronic and cause other serious side effects.

How Acupressure Works

Acupressure practitioners know exactly what points to press to relieve health problems that include lymph node swelling or lymphedema. Although science has not provided an explanation for this type of healing, it has been suggested that pressing on certain areas of the body may facilitate release of analgesic chemicals found in the body. Practitioners of acupressure will press with their thumbs between two vertebrae in order to drain the lymphatic system or gently massage areas around major lymph nodes to relax and stimulate lymph drainage.

Use

Acupressure, sometimes referred to as a more specialized form of massage therapy, is used to promote lymph drainage and may reduce symptoms of certain viral infections. By pressing specific points of the body and gently employing a massaging technique to the area around swollen lymph nodes, an acupressure practitioner may be able to alleviate the pain and discomfort of swollen lymph nodes or a blocked lymphatic system. In addition, acupressure can be learned by lay people who want to avoid taking synthetic medications and practice a form of holistic self-help healing. Acupressure is not a substitute for medical treatment.

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