Lymph Drainage Therapy

A Hidden Key to Health and Longevity,
as Developed and Taught by Bruno Chikly, MD
© Dane Roubos, D.C.

Before we get into Lymph Drainage Therapy and what it can do for you, I want to offer you some basic information about the mysterious Lymphatic System, because most people don’t know much about it.  I’ve tried to put some humor into it, because this science stuff can be rather dry!  :-)  Oh, by the way, "Drainage" is pronounced French-like, as in "massage."

What is lymph, and why do we need it?
Our tiny blood capillary walls are only one cell layer thick, to allow for exchange of nutrients and waste products.  But because they’re so thin, they’re also a little leaky.  In fact, about half of the protein in the blood leaks out over the course of a day, along with other blood components and plasma.

These gradually seep into the surrounding tissues, filling the spaces between the cells.  Since large molecules like protein attract water, it doesn’t take long before the tissues get rather swampy if nothing is done about it.  There goes the neighborhood . . .

Fortunately, our bodies have a built-in sump pump to gather up all that protein and fluid, along with toxic cellular waste products, dead cells, cancer cells, bacteria, etc, and carry it all back to the blood stream – it’s called the Lymphatic System.  On the way back, everything passes through one or more lymph nodes where the bad stuff is broken down and any bacteria are destroyed – Yea!!!

What is Lymph Drainage Therapy?
Dr. Chikly’s Lymph Drainage Therapy is a sensitive, light touch manual therapy that is documented to provide these benefits:

  • Stimulates blood circulation & reduces edema
  • Stimulates and supports your immune system
  • Calms the stress-inducing sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and enhances the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation, digestion, and reduces pain & spasm)

These fundamental benefits support healing of every aspect of your mind and body!

Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) uses sensitive sensory skills to “feel” the subtle waves of lymph flow, and to identify areas of restricted flow that would benefit from treatment.

A light stretching of the skin in the right direction is usually enough to stimulate greater flow in the local lymph vessels, and deeper work with the muscles, joints and organs is very effective as well.

What Happens If The Lymph Stops Working?
Since the lymph system isn’t world-famous, you probably haven’t heard much about it, and may be wondering what all the fuss is about.  Let me give you an example of its importance.  Let’s say a couple of tiny juvenile delinquents snuck into your body while you were fast asleep and tied off all your lymph vessels, shutting down the lymph flow back to your bloodstream.

By the time you woke up the next morning, your body would be swelling up like a human balloon, you would feel like crap, and even calling in sick wouldn’t lift your spirits much.

It would rapidly progress from bad to worse, and within 24-48 hours you’d find yourself in the promised land (according to Guyton’s Physiology textbook).  Unfortunately, through a technical oversight Mr. Guyton neglected to mention anything about the juvenile delinquents or the promised land.  Oh, well, I trust you get the general idea – your life depends on a healthy lymph system!

Every living thing needs an effective system to remove and recycle waste from its tissues.  Needless to say, the lymph system gives new meaning to the concept of sustainable living!  Even subtle impairments can lead to problems like back pain, muscle pain or joint pain. I see it every day. Please see All About Pain – Part 4 for more information.

Use this lymph trivia to amaze your friends!

  • The lymph system filters about 1.5–3 liters of fluid every day.
  • Your body has three times more lymph fluid (about 10.5 liters) than blood (about 3.5 liters)!
  • There are 400-700 lymph nodes in your body which process and purify the lymph flowing through them.
  • Lymph vessels are found in almost every tissue.
  • Lymph is the only system capable of returning the “leaked” protein and plasma back to the blood (where it needs to be).
  • The smallest lymph vessel cells (lymphangions) have spiral muscles that “squeeze” the lymph toward the heart in gentle waves.
  • These cells contract repetitively about 15,000 times a day, with no time off for good behavior, and they do it all for you. Now, that’s selfless service!
  • Lymph waves occur about 5-15 times a minute, and can be perceived by sensitive hands.
  • Sluggish lymphangions can be re-activated by stretching the skin in the right direction with gentle traction. This is how Lymph Drainage Therapy works.
  • About 85% of the cells in your lymph fluid are protective immune cells called Lymphocytes. depicted in the electron microscope image to the right. They are experts at dealing with cancer cells and viruses.
  • About 13-15% of the cells in your lymph fluid are protective immune cells called Macrophages (Greek for "big eaters"). The Macrophage loves to munch meanies like bacteria, fungus or parasites, and alert the rest of the immune system to their presence..
  • A healthy lymph system does all of this without you even having to think about it!

Mystery, Magic and LDT
There is a mystery to this work. While the client will usually have something they would like me to focus on, and I may have an idea of where the session will go, there is often a surprise; an unexpected “discovery” that emerges during the session.

One, or both of us will often have insights that connect the physical issue we are working on with a "life issue" they’re engaged with. Sometimes they’ll have a memory or feeling of a particular event when “it all started” which we can then clear out during the session.

I’m intuitively drawn to related areas that are also involved in some way.  Perhaps two or more organs need to be “reconnected” in their communication, or rebalanced in their relationship to take the next step in healing the underlying issue. 

How any of this happens will probably always remain a mystery, which is OK with me.  I am only exceedingly grateful that it does, that people find it helpful, and that I get to be a part of their process.

Practical Uses and Benefits of LDT
In the six years I’ve been using Lymphatic therapy, it has consistantly provided these local transformations:

  • Dissolves muscle tenderness by at least half in less than a minute
  • Helped restore normal motion to visceral organs that were restricted in their normal movement. Please see the article on Visceral Mobilization if you’d like to learn about the importance of freely moving organs.

LDT has occasionally shown an amazing ability to “melt” chronic spinal restrictions wherin the spine has lost it's flexibility and feels like a rock. I've seen it dissolve long-standing spinal fixations (blockages) on several occasions, and restore that part of the spine to full and free movement. This is like a "miracle" to the hands of a chiropractor!

To locate a Lymph Drainage Therapist in your area, visit the International Association of Health Care Practitioners. Select Lymph Drainage Therapy in the Modality section and enter your zip code (or the first 3 digits of your zip to extend the range of your search).