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Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

Please note: this style of lymphatic drainage is not a massage nor is it ‘body reshaping’.
I’m using an osteopathic approach to working with the lymphatic system and combining the techniques with visceral manipulation and breathing therapy. It is important to understand your liver & gut health and breathing patterns have a massive influence on the efficiency and health of your lymphatic system.


My manual lymphatic drainage therapy training has covered a few different methods: Vodder (MLD), Casley-Smith (Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy) and Chikly (Lymph Drainage Therapy). I use a blend of them all but my favourite by far is Chikly. The Chikly Lymph Drainage Therapy method was developed by French Osteopath, Bruno Chikly. The concepts of his method are the same as Vodder and Casley-Smith, but what stands it apart is the therapist's hand engagement of the lymphatic fluid rhythm.

The lymph fluid has a typical pathway it flows through the body. In the case of congestion and oedema, due to a blocked lymph node for example, lymph fluid has the ability to redirect itself away from the ideal path, taking an alternative route. This adapted route may have smaller vessels and/or there is already a lot of lymph fluid trying to make its way through, like a very busy motor highway. This will lead to a build-up of lymph fluid by either, the fluid still trying to make it through the blocked lymph node or taking an alternative route. When a Chikly Lymph Drainage therapist assesses the lymph fluid pathways, the congested areas will have a stagnant or sluggish quality, instead of a free flowing surf-wave rhythm.

Assessing the body's lymph fluid pathways can be done within a minute, so very quickly it can be discovered where the primary congestion area is. This eliminates the need to have to work on the entire body and reduces the length of time needed for the session. Additionally, the unique techniques Chikly has developed to decongest a particular area, close to the skin or as deep as any of the internal organs, are super quick! Over the years of being a lymphatic drainage therapist I have seen more permanent results using Chikly than any other manual method.


What is a lymphatic drainage therapy session like and how will I feel?
This is a really common question and an important one to understand!

LDT/MLD is very subtly gentle. As the superficial flow of lymph fluid is close to the skin, the touch is very light so to be able to engage the direction and consistency of the fluid (is it flowing in the typical direction and/or is it sluggish). If I was to apply a stronger touch, I will bypass the lymph vessels & nodes, and be working on the muscles instead.

The deeper lymphatic vessels, the ones that are linked to your organs and bones, requires a deeper precise touch. This may feel like to you that I'm just holding that area of your body, but if you have a good body awareness you'll be able to feel your lymph fluid regaining its flow, and the softening of the surrounding fascia; with lots of gurgling :)

The aftereffects do vary depending on your overall health. Lymph Drainage promotes a stimulus for cleansing. If you have a build-up of fluid (fluid retention), going through a diet cleansing program, have conditions such as CFS, lymes, etc, your body will spend the next several hours clearing the excesses waste that have been mudding up your circulatory systems; this may not feel very nice and produce cold flu like symptoms. On the other hand, you may find you need to pee a lot and have a burst of energy. After the main bulk of toxins have been cleared, the energy required to support your immune system is reduced freeing up your energy supply to be used elsewhere.


What is the lymphatic system responsible for?

The Lymphatic System is a key to your body's immune defences and a major contributor to your health. It 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).

Every day, in normal conditions, 2-4 litres of lymph fluid circulates around your body. 50% of lymph fluid is produced by your liver, the rest is derived from interstitial fluid (fluid in and around tissues spaces housing particles such as: proteins, toxins, hormones, fatty acids, old cells and immune cells). Particles filter out of your blood vessels and mixes in with the interstitial fluids. The interstitial fluids gets pulled into your lymphatic vessels, from then it is known as lymphatic fluid.

Stationed along the lymph vessel pathways are numerous lymph nodes. Lymph nodes produce crucial white blood cells, macrophages (eater cells) and lymphocytes. Macrophages engulf foreign particles, harmful bacteria, toxins, cancer cells, and cellular debris, breaking them down into smaller particles. The presence of macrophages stimulates the lymphocytes to reproduce powerful antibodies which form an overall defensive shield against infections. Your main lymph nodes are located above your collarbones, in the creases of your elbows and knees, and within your armpit and groin regions. The majority of lymph nodes though are scattered around your organs, approximately 500 of them!

Lymph fluid is pumped to your subclavian veins where it re-enters your blood circulation. This is done by with the help of numerous tiny muscular units, lymphangions, within the lymph vessels. Muscle and joint movements during gentle exercise, diaphragmatic breathing, peristalsis of digestive organs, contraction of blood vessels all aids in the movement of lymph. The blood vessels then transports your blood, containing all the broken down particles, to your liver and spleen for further filtration, passing all the waste material onto your colon and kidneys for evacuation from your body.

In times of sickness, the amount of lymph fluid produced can peak as high as 30 litres. This excess amount of fluid can cause the lymph nodes to get congested, leading to a build up of lymph fluid in the lymph vessels and/or in the interstitial tissue spaces; similar to a pipe network of plumbing in a unit complex, if one of the pipes gets blocked this can cause a build-up in the adjoining pipes. If your body is unable to clear the blockages, the build-up of waste can make you feel sluggish and rundown.

Lymph nodes and vessels can be hindered due to a genetic condition, surgery, trauma, burns, infections, substantial swelling, fatigue, stress or age. In chronic situations of lymph congestion it can develop into a condition called lymphoedema. Lymphoedema usually develops in situations of lack of lymph nodes and/or vessels and initially affects a limb with swelling, hardening and thickening of the skin, and an increased risk of infection.

During a Lymph Drainage Therapy treatment all congested pathways are opened up allowing for any stagnant lymph fluid to move through the lymph vessels.


Lymph Drainage benefits:

  • Reduces the effects of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, using a specific protocol.
  • Assists with body circulation.
  • Reduces oedema & lympoedema.
  • Reduces fluid retention.
    Please note: for weight/fluid loss it is important to have your own self care program - supportive anti-inflammatory gut health diet, regular physical exercise and sauna sweating.
  • Stimulates a sluggish immune system.
  • Aids in detox.
  • Speeds the healing of injuries.
  • Assists in prevention of and recovery from disease.
  • Clears chronic sinuses and recurrent ear problems.
  • Eases arthritis.
  • Assists in the recovery of glandular fever and other post virus conditions.
  • Benefical for pre and post operations.


Lymphoedema Management

Managing your lymphoedema can be exhausting, but if you are familiar with these simple approaches it will become a lot easier.

At this current phase of my clinical practice, I'm not able to allocate the appropriate time required for helping with regular lymphoedema therapy. When you have your lymphoedema under control with daily self-management, I can assist you with therapy sessions roughly every 6 weeks.

Five simple guidelines:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage therapy sessions.
  • Home exercises.
  • Self drainage massage.
  • Self skin care.
  • Bandaging and compression garments.



Medical Taping Concept - Lymph Taping

Based on chiropractic and kinesiology principles from the late 1970s, Lymph Taping has evolved to assist with lymphoedema, lipoedema, venous insufficiency, haematomas, bruising, fibrous, wound and scar healing.
Cure Tape is an elastic cotton tape with hypoallergenic adhesive. The design of the tape allows for protection of the tissues, allows full range of movement, and activates the body's own natural healing process.


Miriam Bunder
Integrative Bodywork Therapist

ATMS Member 15464

ABN 38 016 837 325

I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I share my work, the Cammeraygal clan of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
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