Everyone Is Talking About Lymphatic Massages—Here's What You Need to Know

The latest detoxification treatment to try next is said to support immune health, remove toxins and reduce swelling. It's like a relaxing spa treatment that also supports overall health and may even make you feel less bloated. 

We're talking about lymphatic massage, and it's a treatment that has famous fans in Selena Gomez, Chrissy Teigen and Hailey Bieber, as well as a host of enthusiastic civilians just trying to live their best, healthiest lives. 

Basically lymphatic massage targets the fluid in the lymphatic system, which is the network of tissues and organs that get rid of toxins and waste from the body. The purpose of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, which is the actual fluid containing the white blood cells that fight infections in the body. Like dry brushing, the technique works at stimulating and encouraging the natural flow of the body's internal systems.

Heard of gua sha? That's actually a form of lymphatic massage favoured in traditional Chinese medicine, where a stone tool is used to promote blood flow and support cell regeneration and overall healing.

Read on to find out more about lymphatic massage and the health benefits it could offer you.

What is lymphatic massage?

Also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), lymphatic massage uses a controlled amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate the flow and drainage of fluid in the lymphatic system. Unlike other types of massage that target the muscles, lymphatic massage uses less pressure since the lymphatic system is closer to the surface of the skin. 

The sequence of lymphatic massage also differs from other types of massage, starting in the central part of the body and moving outwards towards the extremities. The technique was developed by Danish doctors in the 1930s to treat chronic sinusitis and other immune disorders. These days, it's growing in popular among people who want to strengthen their immune system and reduce bloating.

According to Eva Carey, who is a national massage therapist director for Zeel, a US-based massage service, lymphatic massage can be helpful for anyone spending long stretches of time in sedentary positions, like passengers on long-haul flights or anyone with a job that keeps them in one spot all day. The idea is to "allow for congestion, deposits and debris to flow from the body," Carey says.

Benefits of lymphatic massage

While the science is still out on whether lymphatic massage is a proven way to target health concerns, as research into the area is lacking, the possible benefits are many and varied. In addition to the reduction of swelling, lymphatic massage is said to support good immune health, improve digestion and even reduce acne. Read on to find out more about the ways this trending holistic health treatment could benefit your wellbeing and decide whether it's something you'd like to try.

  • Reduced swelling: It is thought that the gentle stimulation of lymphatic massage encourages the drainage of fluid and the targets blockages, ultimately reducing swelling related to lymph supply. 
  • Immune support: The idea is that by stimulating and supporting the lymphatic system, you can help those infection-fighting white blood cells that stave off illness.
  • Gut health: Some say that lymphatic massage can help kickstart digestion and reduce symptoms of IBS.
  • Clearer, smoother skin: By massage the skin and supporting healthy flow of lymph and oxygen to the blood stream, lymphatic massage can help to clear pores, improve acne, and even reduce the appearance of scars.
  • Pain relief: The light pressure is said to be a great way to gently ease swelling after injury or surgery.

Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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