Manual Lymphatic Drainage


The Lymphatic system was first documented in 1622 by an Italian Surgeon Dr Aselli and followed up by De Winiwarter, a Belgium Surgeon who suggested using manual lymphatic drainage techniques for draining oedema. These techniques were then used in European hospitals.

Later, in the early 1930’s, Dr Vodder from Denmark, named the method, Manual Lymph Drainage MLD. In the company of his wife, Dr Vodder travelled through out Europe educating others around the structure and functions of the Lymphatic System, while continuing his valuable research on the anatomical and physiological aspects of the lymph-vessel system.

The majority of disturbances and organic involvements, from colds to fever, have a bearing upon the lymphatic system and it is quite impossible to consider any organic disturbance that does not include a lymphatic change”
F.P. Millard

Lymphatic Congestion

Simply put, the function of the Lymphatic system is designed to transport and dispose of waste and debris, including dead cells, toxins, bacteria, hormones, virus, excess protein and excess fluid from the spaces between cells (interstitial fluid), back to the blood so the cardiovascular system can maintain sufficient blood volume.

The lymphatic vessels form a one-way system throughout the body and flow towards the heart. Because the lymphatic system has no pumping mechanism of its own, movement of lymph fluid through the body is dependant on the action of skeletal muscles, pulsation of arteries, contraction of smooth muscle, breathing and exercise.

Lymphatic congestion occurs when the lymphatic system becomes overwhelmed, resulting in failure to successfully clear excess fluid and debris from the interstitial space. This can happen through lack of exercise, obesity, injuries, illness, immobility, stress, unhelpful dietary habits, incorrect posture, pregnancy, menopause, following surgery and more. Muscular tension around the neck and shoulder area can contribute to lymphatic congestion by constricting the flow of lymph. This may be demonstrated by swelling elsewhere in the body such as swollen ankles and puffy feet.

Manual Lymph Drainage – the Therapist & the Therapy

The Therapists

The Day Stay Natural Detox Centre, has three available Therapists qualified to practice full body Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy. Our therapists were trained in M.L.D. therapy, by Jill Griffiths from the Weller Institute, Melbourne, Australia and have collective training and experience in other modalities such as Remedial Massage, Myo-fascial Release, Reflexology, Foot Joint Mobilization, Acu-Pressure & Electro-acupressure, Indian Head Massage, Ayurvedic Dry Brushing, Herbal Medicine & Natural Therapies.

Note: Lymphatic Drainage techniques should never be attempted unless full professional training has been achieved in the M.L.D modality and the Therapist is a current member of a relevant registered body.

The Therapy

Targeting lymphatic nodes and vessels, the therapist task is to follow the natural lymphatic pathways throughout the body, using a touch, unique to Manual Lymph Drainage (M.L.D). M.L.D. therapists, use low speed, low pressure, learned hand manoeuvres and touch. Favourable results can be best achieved by the accuracy of the specific M.L.D. hand movements and direction, including correct rhythm and pressure, avoiding dermal backflow.

Manual Lymph Drainage works to stimulate and reactivate lymphatic system function by working on nests of nodes and vessel work. By restoring and maintaining better lymph flow, toxin elimination is greatly improved, tissue swelling reduced, circulation enhanced and immune system boosted.

Who will benefit from Lymph Drainage?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage has been demonstrated to be effective for a myriad of health issues, including Oedema. Because the lymphatic system is compromised by many factors such as toxin overload, chemical poisoning, heavy metals, illness, injury, stress, over exercise and other impacting factors, the whole waste removal process can become impeded, with a stagnation effect.

We are subjected to aggravating and sometimes accumulating toxins and chemicals such as lead emissions, agro-chemicals and sprays, hormone mimicking ingredients and heavy metals commonly in personal care products (ingested through our skin and into our blood stream), more and more chemicals in our food stuffs, our drinks, our water supply and the very air that we breathe. No wonder we suffer from the obvious and less obvious signs of lymphatic congestion.

Another bonus of M.L.D. is that by stimulating lymph flow, recovery of exhausted muscle is accelerated – hence avoiding stiffness and cramping resulting from accumulation of lactic acid crystals. Especially beneficial therefore for athletes, sports persons, regular gym participants, repetitive specific muscle use (i.e. using a computer mouse for too long) and those standing or sitting for long periods of time. MLD can be used in conjunction with supervised fast (fasting) and detox therapies available at The Day Spa Natural Detox Centre

M.L.D. is indicated for a myriad of medical ailments too numerous to name – with those listed below being some of the more common:

  • Pre-surgical
  • Post-surgical
  • Irritable Bowel, Colitis & Bowel Health
  • Headaches
  • Migraine
  • Sinusitis
  • Eyelid & under-eye Oedema
  • Bells Palsy
  • Injuries including sprain, ligaments, fractures & dislocations
  • Oral oedema
  • Cosmetic including cellulites & wrinkles
  • After cosmetic surgery including liposuction & face lift
  • Pain
  • Scars
  • Snoring
  • Muscle fatigue, muscle spasm, pain and relaxation
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Carpel Tunnel, tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Menstruation pain & cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Vertigo
  • Sports & fitness enhancing
  • Congestion
  • Breast Pain

Although Manual Lymphatic Drainage can be a stand-alone therapy, The Day Stay Natural Detox Centre has recognised the value of incorporating this modality as an important adjunct to other soft tissue, dry brushing, eclectic body-work & other tools and modalities utilized, which encourage ultimate detoxification through our greatest elimination organ – the skin.  For Individual appointments, please see our tab Naturopathic + Lymphoedema Clinic.

Contra-indications for M.L.D

Another therapy option will be given to replace M.L.D. should any of these conditions or symptoms be applicable to you:

  • Infection & fever (may be drained once recovered)
  • Carotid thrombosis
  • Cardiac conditions including angina
  • Acute enuresis (absence of urine)
  • Malignant conditions: cancer, leukaemia & malignant tumour
  • Thyroid problems
  • Bronchial asthma (may be drained with medical approval when symptoms are in recession)
  • Fresh scarring & burns
  • Surgical indications such as organ inefficiency or removal
  • Pregnancy
  • During Menstruation, bleeding or haemorrhage
  • Serious hypertension and serious allergies

If wanting an separate appointment with Debs Chase-Paterson who is a trained Dr Vodder Therapist, appointments are available by phoning 07 5735487.  Debs is avilable in te Puke and has a clinic in Whakatane operating every 3rd week.