of Your Immune System

An Overlooked Component Of True Health

The lymphatic system is a critical — and often overlooked — part of your immune and detoxification systems. Composed of a network of vessels, organs, and nodes, the lymphatic system carries lymph fluid throughout your body, from node to node, while also eliminating waste, excess fluid, and other unwanted materials such as bacteria and toxins.

It is like a slow moving river that constantly flows throughout the body, neutralizing foreign invaders and gathering waste that is eventually released into the bloodstream, and then to the liver and kidneys for elimination.

Unlike the circulatory system where the heart pumps blood throughout your body, the lymphatic system does not have a pump, and relies completely on muscular contractions to move lymph fluid through the body. Without proper exercise, breathing patterns and hydration, the lymph fluid in your body stagnates and becomes backlogged — and all of the toxins and waste stagnate along with it.

When this cellular waste remains in your body it can contribute to a long list of health problems like immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation, brain fog, body aches and pains, swelling, allergies and histamine responses, and much more.

Reawaken Your Lymphatic System

A deeply relaxing experience, lymphatic massage (also known as lymphatic drainage massage) uses a series of light, gentle touches to stimulate the lymphatic system. These light touches open the lymph vessels and encourage the natural flow of lymph fluid throughout the body.

This allows trapped toxins and waste material to pass through the lymph nodes where they are filtered out and neutralized, cleansing your body of cellular debris, waste products, and lingering pathogens. This is how lymphatic massage reactivates one of your body’s most powerful detoxification pathways for a whole-body approach to cleansing, lowering inflammation, reducing pain and swelling, and anti-aging.

Whole-Body Benefits

Because the lymphatic system is so intricately intertwined with your immune system, detoxification pathways, and overall wellness, a lymphatic massage benefits every system in your body.

Lymphatic massage has been proven to:

  • Boost the immune system, helping fight off infections
  • Relieve chronic pain and inflammation
  • Reduce swelling from injury or surgery
  • Promote healing, and can decrease surgical recovery time
  • Stimulate skin and may soften or reduce the formation of scar tissue
  • Trigger the parasympathetic nervous system for deep relaxation
  • Relieve anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue

Lymphatic massage is a wonderfully supportive therapy that can contribute to your health in many ways, and is particularly beneficial for people who are dealing with lymphedema, fibromyalgia, and chronic inflammation, undergoing a cleanse, or preparing for or recovering from surgery.

The lymphatic systems’ role in maintaining health has been commonly misunderstood, even ignored. Finally, we have this clear explanation of how to keep ourselves in optimum working order

~ Dr Andrew Weil on new book “Lymph & Longevity, Gerald Lemole M.D. and Mark Hyman M.D. (Oct 2021)

Re-Balance Your Nervous System

In addition to the normal relaxation benefits you may find in a more meditative style of bodywork, a lymphatic massage has a profound effect on the parasympathetic nervous system — slowing your heart rate, relaxing your muscles, and allowing your body to release all tension and completely relax. It helps to turn off the fight-or-flight response, and gets you into a rest-and-digest response.

We live in a busy, stressful world where we are juggling complex lives and collective change. Our sympathetic nervous systems are chronically overactivated which leads to a long list of health concerns such as digestive issues, chronic inflammation, decreased cognitive function, sleep problems and weight gain.

Engaging the parasympathetic nervous system relaxes your body on all levels, returning to your natural baseline state of vitality and healing.

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Due to the gentle nature of lymphatic massage, it is suitable for most people, as it is unlikely to cause tissue damage. However, the following conditions are contraindicated for lymphatic massage:

Please consult your physician before booking a lymphatic massage or if you have any questions about eligibility or suitability.

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A lymphatic massage at Radiance Health Center is designed to help you rebalance not just your body, but your mind and soul.

Arrive early so you don’t have to rush. Allow yourself to completely relax while you are on the table. Know that you are in good hands.

For full instructions on how to get the most benefit from your Lymphatic Massage and Bodywork session, please see our Prepare for a Session page and our Post Session Care page.

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Frequently Asked Questions
How will I feel after a lymphatic drainage massage?

After a lymphatic massage you will most likely  feel like you woke up from a very restful nap.  The activation of your parasympathetic nervous system is deeply relaxing and restorative and you may also feel light, joyful, centered, and calm. 

We recommend slowly easing back into your day whenever possible to allow your system time to adjust and rebalance. If your lymphatic system was particularly sluggish, you may experience die-off/detox like symptoms as your body flushes out the newly-released toxins. Be gentle with yourself and drink lots of water.

For more information on how to address a detox reaction please see our Post-appointments page.

Is lymphatic massage similar to a regular massage?

A lymphatic massage is a specialized hands-on bodywork modality designed to open the lymph vessels and stimulate the flow of lymph fluid through your body using very light and specific touches. More traditional massage modalities use a variety of strokes and pressure points, and focus on working deeper muscles and tissues. While traditional massage techniques can be very relaxing and provide incredible benefits, they often bypass the delicate and direct stimulation needed to fully activate and open up the lymph system .

Will I undress and is there massage oil?

You may undress to your personal level of comfort, however we do recommend removing as much of your clothing as possible. Lymphatic massage uses very gentle, light touches to stimulate the lymphatic system and open your lymphatic vessels. Clothing, especially tight clothing such as athletic wear, compression garments, and bras, can restrict your range of motion and impede your therapist’s access to your lymph nodes.

Massage oil is typically not used in manual lymphatic drainage bodywork.

Is lymphatic massage important for cleansing?

Since the lymph system is the body’s biggest drainage system it is an essential part of cleansing — one that is too often overlooked. Lymphatic massage can be extremely beneficial during a cleanse as it encourages the movement and removal of excess wastes that are stirred up due to the cleanse and detoxification process. 

Why isn’t the lymphatic system mentioned much in functional medicine?

Despite the lymphatic system playing a key role in your overall health and wellbeing, current medical and functional medicine curricula do not spend much time on this vital system, leading to it being overlooked by most functional medicine practitioners. 

The truth is, that very few medications or supplements have a direct effect on the lymphatic system so interventions are not in pill form. Since the lymph system moves through smooth muscle contraction or manual modalities, external actions like lymphatic massage, exercise, dry brushing, self-massage, breathwork and mini-trampoline are still the most effective ways to move lymph.

While there is a growing body of research and evidence focused on the lymphatic system, it remains an area of specialization for most practitioners and thus is not often discussed even in alternative health and wellness settings.

Isn’t lymphatic massage only helpful for lymphedema or oncology patients?

Those who suffer from lymphedema, are currently undergoing cancer treatment, or have had their lymph nodes removed as part of a medical treatment, especially benefit from lymphatic massage because their lymphatic systems require more support to operate normally. However, lymphatic massage has many health benefits that anyone can experience. 

Stimulating the lymphatic system and opening the lymph vessels assists with detoxification, reduces inflammation, calms the nervous system, and can help relieve fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, and migraine headaches.

Are the lymphatic system and the gut connected?

Yes, the lymphatic system and your gut are intimately connected. There is a higher concentration of lymph nodes around your colon and small intestine than anywhere else in the body. Your intestinal tract is also lined with lymphoid tissues critical to maintaining immune health. 80% of your immune system lives in your gut through the microbiome and lymphoid tissues, therefore you can not talk about gut health without considering the lymphatic system.

Design Rachel Pesso
Development Alchemy + Aim