Lymph Drainage Therapy

The Importance of Lymph Drainage For Good Health

The proper functioning of the lymphatic system is critical to our body's ability to drain stagnant fluids, detoxify, regenerate tissues, filter out toxins and foreign substances, and maintain a healthy immune system (Asdonk, 1970, Adair &.Guyton, 1982). It is a complex system comprised primarily of lymph vessels and nodes working in cooperation to accomplish these tasks.

Unlike the circulatory system, which uses the pumping of the heart to circulate its blood flow, lymph vessels rely upon hundreds of tiny muscular units (lyrnphangions) contracting throughout the body to propel lymph flow (Mislin, 1961). These contractions enable the lymph vessels to transport numerous substances (i.e., proteins, toxins, hormones, fatty acids, immune cells) to lymph nodes, which can then process them. The action of these muscular units can be hindered or stopped, however, due to surgery, trauma, burns, infections, substantial swelling, fatigue, stress, or age. When the lymph circulation stagnates, fluids, proteins, cells and toxins accumulate, and cellular functioning is significantly compromised (Adair & Guyton, 1982). This may open the way to many physical ailments and hasten the aging process.

Lymphatic drainage is a hands-on technique designed to attain and sustain proper functioning of the human fluid system. Its origins can be traced to two traditions in particular: the published research of Frederic Millard, a Canadian osteopathic physician (1922), and Emil Vodder, a Danish massage practitioner and doctor of philosophy (1932). Over the years, methods based on the discoveries of these two pioneers have been honed, refined and expanded. Today lymphatic drainage techniques are employed as standard scientific practice throughout Europe and continue to gain recognition in the United States—both from healthcare providers and national insurers such as Medicare.

Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) is an original hands-on method of lymphatic drainage developed by Bruno Chikly, MD, DO (hon.). Created out of his award-winning research on the lymphatic system, LDT takes traditional lymph drainage techniques and adds a new level of precision in keeping with the latest scientific discoveries and exact anatomical science.

LDT enables practitioners to detect the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymphatic flow. As a result, therapists can achieve profound, more precise outcomes in shorter periods of time. For clients, the process is very pleasurable and induces deep states of relaxation.

How Does Lymph Drainage Therapy Help You? In essence, Lymph Drainage Therapy works to help recirculate body fluids, stimulate functioning of the immune system, and promote a state of relaxation and balance within the autonomic nervous system. It is shown that when these actions are accomplished, the results may be:

  • Reduction in edemas (swelling) and lymphedemas of many origins
  • Detoxification of the body
  • Regeneration of tissues (e.g., from burns and pre- and post-surgical scarring) and anti-aging effects
  • Relief of chronic inflammation and conditions such as acne, eczema and allergies
  • Immune system stimulation for preventive and therapeutic effects
  • Reduction in the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
  • Relief of chronic pain
  • Deep relaxation to aid insomnia, depression, stress, loss of vitality, and loss of memory
  • Anti-spastic actions to relieve conditions such as voluntary or involuntary muscle hypertonus
  • Alleviation of adiposis and cellulite tissue

How Lymph Drainage Therapy Performed?

The LDT process involves the use of gentle manual maneuvers to aid in the recirculation of body fluids. While the exact amount of pressure applied depends on the area and pathology involved, it averages an extremely light five grams, or the equivalent weight of a nickel. Therapists work with flat hands, using all the fingers to simulate gentle, specific wave-like movements. These subtle manual maneuvers activate lymph and interstitial fluid circulation as well as stimulate the functioning of the immune and parasympathetic nervous systems

“Lymph Drainage Therapy is one of my most important tools. I use it for many different conditions, including hand therapy, post-surgical recover, scar treatment, pain, swelling, arthritis, back and neck conditions and lymphedema.”

-- L.B., Occupational Therapist

Using this technique, trained therapists are able to detect the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymph flow anywhere in the body. From there they can use their hands to perform Manual Lymphatic Mapping (MLM) of the vessels to assess the overall direction of lymphatic circulation, areas of stagnation, and the best alternate pathways for draining lymph and other body fluids (Chikly, 2001).

How Did Lymph Drainage Therapy Begin?

Bruno Chikly is a graduate of the medical school at Saint Antoine Hospital in France, where his internship in general medicine included training in endocrinology, surgery, neurology and psychiatry. Over the years he trained extensively in a number of manual and osteopathic disci- plines, including lymphatic techniques, CranioSacral Therapy, Cranial Osteopathy, Visceral Manipulation, Mechanical Link, Muscle Energy, Strain/Counterstrain, Myofascial Release, Zero Balancing, Process Acupressure, Neuromuscular Therapy, and Orthobionomy.

Of these studies, it was Dr. Chikly's work in traditional medicine, osteopathy and lyrnphology that primarily impacted his creation of Lymph Drainage Therapy. In 1994 he earned the prestigious "Medal of the Medical Faculty of Paris VI" for his exhaustive research on the lymphatic system and lymph drainage technique.

Dr. Chikly has conducted workshops and lectured in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Tunisia, Israel, Brazil, China, Canada and the United States. He is a member of the International Society of Lymphology. He is an associate member of the American Academy of Osteopathy and The Cranial Academy. And he is listed in the Millennium Edition of Marquis' Who's Who in the World. Dr. Chikly resides in Arizona with his wife and teaching partner, Alaya Chikly, CMT.

Dr. Chikly created the first lymphatic dissection video in North America, providing an unprecedented view of major lymph nodes, vessels and viscera. He is also the author of the first comprehensive book in North America on the lymphatic system and lymphedema: Silent Waves: Theory and Practice of Lymph Drainage Therapy—With Applications for Lymphedema, Chronic Pain and Inflammation (I.H.H. Publishing, 2001).

“The completely new enhancement of LDT is the palpation of the lymph flow—including its rhythm, quality and direction—in the different layers of the tissues. [Bruno Chikly's] work has opened the possibility for practitioners to map the lymphatic flow, greatly enhancing the effectiveness of the work.”

-- R.S., Medical Doctor

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