Akana Holistic Therapies | Did you know about MLD?
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Did you know about MLD?

28 Jul 2011 Did you know about MLD?

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

MLD stands for Manual Lymphatic Drainage – a treatment that has been described in the Saturday Daily Mail as ‘one of the best kept secrets on the health and beauty scene’.

Those in the know have a yearly course of ten sessions to detoxify and boost their immune system. This was recommended by Dr Vodder himself, pioneer of lymphology, the creator of this internationally recognised advanced massage technique which moves the skin over the underlying tissues using repetitive and circular movements. London’s leading fertility expert Zita West recommends MLD treatments for detoxification and reduction of fluid acumulation. Models have MLD facials before photo shoots. No surprise: it’s one of the most relaxing and natural face lift treatments. As well as a secret weapon in the reduction of stretch marks and cellulite. Surgical facelift patients in France are prescribed 30 daily treatments to reduce swelling, bruising and speed up healing of damaged structures. MLD is popular with pregnant women for tackling swollen ankles. It can also improve chronic conditions, like sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and acne. The treatment has an analgesic effect and is hypnotically relaxing! It has very few contraindications and is safe in pregnancy.

What more could you wish for? MLD is for everybody, for prevention and treatment. The list of benefits to having MLD is long, even before we look at its merits in the management of lymphoedema: for example, a patient who had her axillary lymph nodes removed as part of breast cancer treatment has a 25% chance to suffer from a swollen arm (secondary lymphoedema). MLD is a vital part in the treatment of this condition and will guide the lymph flow through alternate pathways, avoiding areas affected by malfunction. For a glimpse onto the difference MLD can make, you only have to look at before and after photos of case histories shared by successful decongestive therapy clinics.


What lymph is and why it has to move

Lymph is a colourless fluid we all have but generally know little about. It travels through the lymph vessel system, which exists in our body alongside our blood vessel system. Tiny lymph capillaries start in our body tissues, to collect and carry proteins, broken cells, malignant cells, long chain fatty molecules and plasma. They join together into larger lymph vessels which pass through lymph nodes, located all over the body. We sometimes become aware of our lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin when they swell as a sign of our body fighting an infection it cannot beat straight away. The white blood cells in the lymph nodes help fight infection and disease such as cancer. Hence, lymph nodes act as filters to destroy or trap anything harmful. The remaining lymph then travels through larger lymph ducts and drains into the bloodstream, from where remaining waste products are disposed of with other body waste.

The lymphatic system is a neat purification and drainage system, and we need it to work in order to stay healthy.


Why MLD and how it works

The need for intervention when the lymphatic system is compromised is clear. But even when our lymphatic system is intact, our circulation can become sluggish for reasons such as a sedentary lifestyle, or simply after spending too long on our feet. The lymphatic system has no dedicated pump like the blood circulation has the heart, so it relies on other factors, like muscular movement. MLD can intervene when circulation and waste disposal are slow. At other times, we want to speed up lymphatic circulation to clean and clear, to support other body processes.

Through the pumping and stretching effect on the skin, MLD stimulates the contraction of smooth muscles in lymph vessels, helping to move the lymph forward and drain the connective tissue. MLD can considerably speed up the lymphatic system for up to six hours.


How MLD is different from other massage therapy

MLD is a technique where precision is important for it to be effective – an aspect very much insisted on in therapist training. Compared with other massage techniques, most of which work on the muscles, MLD has a surprisingly light touch; it is a skin technique which should never cause pain. No oils or other massage mediums are used.

You might have heard that other massage techniques also increase lymph flow. Correct. However, this increase is triggered by the increase in blood flow and the resulting increase in tissue fluid volume, which places demands on the lymphatic system to work at the same pace and ‘mop up’ after it. Yes, we have more helpers, but they’re kept busy with a bigger basic task, so we’re more or less where we started. With MLD, blood circulation remains the same and only lymph increases its pace. This is why, when a specific effect on the lymphatic system is sought, MLD is your answer.


Listen to Astrid Lowe talk about MLD on Brooklands Radio’s Mind Body & Spirit show on 11 November 2011.


If you have questions about MLD, use our Contact form to ask them. Contact us to discuss how it could work for you, or to book a session.


Links and Articles

A Spring Clean For All Seasons, Wellbeing Magazine, 01 July 2010

Beauty treatment of the week: Manual Lymph Drainage detox treatment, Cosmopolitan, 24 January 2011

History of Manual Lymphatic Drainage, London Massage Guide, 27 July 2011


Reveal the New You in Less Time, Consulting Room

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