Anatomy Review: Lymphatic System

When I first heard of Manual Lymph Drainage, the product Liquid Plumber came to mind!  And being a manual plumber was not appealing to me – I’m a holistic healer, not a mere lymph drainer! 

But the healer in me will find a way.  And where does the word “lymph” come from?  From the Latin “lympha” which refers to native divinities of springs and streams and water goddesses.  And “lympha” is derived from the Greek “nymphe,”- the goddess of a spring!

So, with one etymological search, we’ve departed from Liquid Plumber and arrived at the “Goddess of the Spring.”

Indeed, it is the spring-fed purity of the fluids in the body that enable us to sustain and amplify our health through diet, hydration, exercise, and manual lymph therapies.

This life-sustaining fluid contains and conveys 25% of all our white blood cells!  The white blood cells and the healing waters they flow in – the plasma in the lymphatic system – are further filtered through the lymph nodes.  So just like a water filter in your home, the lymphatic system is operating at every moment, heightening the qualityof all your bodily fluids.  I say all the bodily fluids because ultimately the lymph flows into the cardiovascular system through ducts just above your heart.  Like the rivers into the sea and sky and back again, the liquids in your body flow in completely inter-connected, rhythmically flowing waterways.

Every human is 80% water. So if you want to understand human beings, you learn most of what you need to know by learning more about the nature of water. 

(If you’re curious to know more about that, check out the astonishing book, Sensitive Chaos, by the German scientist Gustav Schwenk.)

Like your veins, the lymphatic vessels have one-way valves assuring that lymphatic flow is toward the heart. Therefore, assuming massage is indicated for your client, all your work toward the heart will assist lymphatic circulation to some extent. Generally lymphatic work uses much less pressure than Swedish massage, slower rhythms, and with a number of gentle repetitions of each stroke.

Also note that deep, relaxed breathing has a positive and stimulating effect on the lymphatic system.

Every stroke you do as a therapist supports the purifying effects of this beautiful system. Every moment and in every place inside of you, this goddess of the spring that you are is giving you new life!

For more information, Lauterstein-Conway offers a wonderful introduction to manual lymph drainage bythe Physical Therapist, Elizabeth Hoffmaster.  For more training, consider courses offered through the Upledger Institute and other reputable MLD groups and individual teachers.

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