by Barbara Meza
The gentle, hands-on technique of lymphatic drainage therapy (LDT) stimulates movement of stagnant lymph, encourages rerouting of the lymphatic waterways when lymph nodes have been removed during cancer treatment or damaged by injury, improves pathways of detoxification and supports a stronger immune system overall.
Most often a difference is noticed immediately during treatment: the softening of a taut, bloated abdomen, spontaneous sinus drainage or an enhanced sense of calm. Other times a shift is noted post-session: increased urination and elimination, less constriction in the chest, ribs or upper back, easier breathing, increased energy or a lessened occurrence of edema.
At any time during the year, but predominantly during seasonal shifts, it is important to pay attention to the body. Integrating LDT and seasonal dietary modifications supports the body as it adjusts.
Early Spring Transition
As spring peeks in, the desire to detoxify and lighten up begins—a natural occurrence as the body physically shifts from the necessity of heavier foods and internal insulation to keep us warm, in preparation for more movement and outdoor activity. In the early spring, we begin to crave bitter flavor to stimulate the liver and gallbladder, increasing bile flow to break down stored fats, stimulating digestive fire and promoting elimination. Before the availability of refrigeration and the easy attainment of out-of-season produce, humans foraged for emerging young, bitter greens, like dandelion or wild mustard, as a delicious respite to the heavy meat and dense vegetables of winter meals.
Following nature’s cycle, a spring detox can be done gently, easily and healthily. Including LDT and other healing modalities in our “internal spring cleaning” will help us lighten up, feel more refreshed and energetic.
Spring Cleaning from Within
Diet is a significant spoke in the wheel of health. Including herbs in meal preparation, as potherbs, wilted greens, salads or beverages, is one way to incorporate Earth medicine into a diet.
With the goal of spring detoxification, the key is incorporating cleansing herbs with slightly different attributes that work on multiple pathways in the body, supporting the organs of detoxification and elimination to work more efficiently. Some favored herbs for a gentle and thorough internal spring cleaning include cleavers, chickweed, dandelion leaves, young nettles, parsley, calendula blossoms, red clover blossoms and the roots of astragalus, dandelion, echinacea and yellow dock.
Shake It Up
Although it parallels the circulatory system in construction, the lymphatic system has no pump and relies on external pressure to circulate the lymph fluid. Engaging in regular, rhythmic movement that utilizes as much of the body as possible, like walking, swimming or dancing, is the most beneficial.
Regular, vigorous exercise increases the depth and rate of breathing, actively engages the muscles and stimulates the smooth flow of lymphatic fluid. For no reason in particular, take a walk to the corner and back. While dinner is cooking or that work project is printing, turn on the music and dance. Find an activity that is enjoyable and moves the body for at least 30 minutes a day.
Gentle Does It
LDT uses light, non-invasive, rhythmic touch to improve lymph circulation and detoxification. Most lymphatic vessels are located directly beneath the skin and are best addressed by using pressure the approximate weight of a nickel. A typical lymph session is done with very slow, rhythmic strokes, moving the skin in the direction of the lymphatic flow and encouraging drainage of waste and fluid.
Post-session, it is important to drink plenty of water to maintain hydration and to support the flushing of waste. Most people experience a sense of deep relaxation or report feeling lighter. Many feel calm and energized. Depending on how toxic the body is, one may feel some flu-like symptoms. The best solution is to drink plenty of water and move, supporting the process of detoxification.
There is a correlation between the inhibited flow of fluids in the body and fluid flow of emotions. This may be recognized as headaches or feelings of being stuck, sad or out of sync with the rhythm around us.
LDT gently stimulates the waterways within the body, encouraging the removal of toxins trapped within the muscles and joints, reducing fluid retention and promoting elimination. Those suffering with seasonal allergies, feeling tired, sluggish or “heavy”, may benefit from LDT. It is not unusual to experience a brightening of the mood after receiving a lymphatic drainage treatment.
Barbara Meza, owner/practitioner at Conscius Vita, in Yardley, and The Meandering Herbalist, is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Lymphatic Drainage Therapist, ICTA Certified Cupping Therapist and holistic health practitioner integrating the benefits of bodywork and complementary healing arts. Connect with her at 201-978-7335 or ConsciusVita.com. April 2015.