Massage Lymphatic Drainage, also known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD, is a type of massage technique which promotes the natural drainage of lymph. Waste removal away from the human tissues is crucial for healthy lymph in the cardiovascular system, or serious illnesses may develop, including Lymphedema and various Lymphomas (cancer).
MLD is commonly used as part of a holistic treatment regimen and a natural, alternative method of treatment for immune disorders developed by Danish doctors Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s. Patients in the French Rivera with chronic colds were observed to have had swollen lymph nodes, but medical science had such limited information regarding the lymphatic system for treatment of diseases. The Vodders proceeded to study the lymphatic system intensely, and later introduced the MLD technique to practitioners in 1936.
The MLD Process
The MLD process is also referred to as Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (LDT), and incorporates massage. Since the lymphatic system is located directly beneath the skin (the integumentary system), light and circular massage movements are used to stimulate the proper flow of lymph. The following physiological changes will occur when LDT sessions are used:
- Puffy and swollen tissues are drained, so proper tissue functioning resumes.
- Rejuvenation of the both immune system and the digestive system
- Detoxification (the elimination of toxins and excess waste products)
- Nutrients to the cells are delivered correctly
After each LDT session, patients are encouraged to drink plenty of water (to combat dehydration), and to avoid foods or beverages which create water retention. The number of required LDT sessions may vary, based on the patient’s condition prior to treatment.
The Proper Use of MLD by Patients
Massage therapy is increasing in popularity as a non-invasive healing tool to promote good health, and LDT should be used responsibly to produce desired effects. Specially trained massage therapists are allowed to practice LDT, so patients with chronic diseases should seek the advice of their attending physician before engaging. Patients with arrhythmic disorders and blood sugar disorders should be aware that LDT therapy arouses increased heart beat and a fluctuation of insulin levels. Detoxification is associated with some fatigue, so the operation of heavy machinery or intense physical activity following a LDT session is prohibited.