Ewww, but ahhhhh

Posted on December 12th, 2009 by Michelle

woman getting massageJudge lymphatic drainage by name alone and the first impression is likely an emphatic “Yuck!”, ranking right up there with colonoscopy on the fun meter.

But as disgusting as it sounds, lymphatic drainage is actually a gentle massage technique developed by a French couple in the 1930s to stimulate the circulation of fluids through the lymphatic system and clear toxins from the body.  The process, a health treatment that is making its way onto many spa menus, has a number of beauty benefits, including regeneration of tissue (read: new skin), anti-aging effects and the breakdown of cellulite tissue.

The lymphatic system comprises more than 600 lymph nodes throughout the body. The interconnected vessels and ducts, working much like a network of rivers, carry fluids and nutrients throughout your body. The body’s system, however, also pulls waste products and toxins from tissue and deposits them in the bloodstream to be carried away from healthy cells and removed from the body. Keeping the system clear of blockages maintains a healthier body.

Lymphatic drainage – or manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) as it was named by Dr. Emil and Estrid Vodder about 70 years ago and probably sounding much more appealing in French – involves therapists massaging the lymph nodes in the neck, moving their fingers in gentle, wave-like motions to stimulate the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system. Pleasant, right? Not surprisingly, in addition to all the beauty benefits, it relieves stress too.

In terms of reducing cellulite, researchers in Brazil (and what isn’t coming out of Brazil these days?) determined that the cottage-cheese effect found all too often around our hips, butts and bellies, begins with “an accumulation of fluids in the cell interstice (spaces between cells).”  They also connected a change in the lymphatic system to the fluid retention, and showed that regular MLD not only reduced the cellulite, but kept it off over a period of years.

Even though the treatment sounds like a relatively low-impact massage, it isn’t for everyone. The director of the Dr. Vodder School International in British Columbia, Robert Harris, notes that the treatment can make heart conditions worse, and it shouldn’t be used on people with a chronic infection or with compromised lymphatic systems, such as after chemotherapy.

For most people though, it can relieve stress, reduce edemas (swelling), have anti-aging effects, stimulate healthy cell production, relieve chronic pain and conditions like sinusitis and bronchitis, may erase cellulite, alleviate insomnia and boost memory …

All in all, lymphatic drainage sounds almost too good to be true.  Unless you say it out loud.

Spafinder.com wil help you find practitioners in your area.

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