Blog Post

Finding a New Age-Free Lymphatic Massage Therapist

LT asks: "I want to do a lymphatic massage, but looking for a therapist all I find is that they all do something else besides massage, some do yoga others do Aromatherapy etc. Is it alright for me to go in just to do the massage even though they do all this other stuff?"

LT has stumbled upon the biggest thorn in the side of legitimate massage therapists - the New Age. This field has become saturated with "energy workers" who offer all kinds of alternative and Eastern "hooey" to patients, many of whom are just looking for a good massage.

First of all, for those who are not familiar with lymphatic massage (also known as lymph drainage), this was developed in 1932 by a Danish physiologist named Emil Vodder. The purpose of this massage is to encourage the flow of lymph, which is the clear fluid produced by the lymph nodes located in the neck, chest, underarms, groin and abdomen. A healthy flow of lymph is said to support the body's immune system and help it to fight off toxins that are responsible for infection. There are about 500 to 600 of these nodes in the body and the health of the lymphatic system is believed to be crucial to the body's ability to heal.

Massaging the nodes is done with an extremely gentle touch because they are located just under the skin and respond to slight amounts of pressure. Special training is required for this type of massage.

The potential benefits of lymphatic massage include decreased joint and arthritic pain, as well as mood and energy enhancement. It is also thought to relieve migraines and menstrual cramps.

In addition, this treatment is used for patients who have lymphedema, an accumulation of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling (often occurring in cancer patients whose lymph nodes have been removed).

Studies of the efficacy of lymphatic massage are ongoing. Two examples can be found here and here.

The National Lymphedema Network website provides a wealth of information about how to select a therapist and what qualifications they should have. Your physician may also be able to recommend someone who is not involved in sham therapies.

My suggestion would be to use these resources and do your best to avoid giving any financial support to New Age massage therapists.