Welcome to Tree of Life Lymphatic Therapy
Lymphatic System Female

The function of the Lymphatic System

Lymph vessels absorb interstitial fluid, mainly from the skin and interstitial tissues and then transport it into the venous circulation. The lymph vessels absorb nutritional fatty acids from the intestines. This intestinal lymph is called ‘chyle’. In addition, the lymphatic organs have very important immunological functions. Lymphocytes, (white blood cells) are stored in lymph nodes. These lymphocytes have the ability to recognize foreign cells, substances, microbes and cancer cells and respond to them, i.e. destroy and eliminate them from the body. Recent research has revealed that our lymphatic system moves 3.5 to 4 liters of fluid a day and we have between 600 and 700 lymph nodes in our body. So, as you can see, it is a very busy and important system of the body.

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

MLD is a very subtle, powerful and gentle bodywork technique which is helpful in many medical applications, as well as being a great relaxation and rejuvenation tool.
This technique reduces inflammation and swelling by facilitating lymphatic flow. Research in Australia, Europe and North America has proven its efficacy as a stand-alone treatment, as well as in combination with other therapies.
The practitioner gently stretches and twists the skin in a deliberate and rhythmic manner, based on scientific physiological principles which have been proven to encourage lymph flow. In fact, research has shown that MLD can speed up the lymphatic flow by up to six times!
This practice can greatly enhance the patient’s recovery from surgery,for example, as well as having profound effects on the nervous system and other systems of the body.
MLD works in conjunction with the lymphatic system, aiding in waste removal at a cellular level and helping to bring nutrients and oxygen to the cells.
This modality is specifically geared towards encouraging best performance of the lymphatic and immune systems. It reduces edema and sluggishness, it has an analgesic effect and it increases relaxation while reducing anxiety.

When is a Massage not a Massage?

When it is manual lymphatic drainage, of course! Having said that, the pioneer of MLD, Dr. Emil Vodder, did call it a massage when he was creating this healing modality.
However, the field of bodywork has evolved considerably since the 1930’s, when many bodywork modalities were simply classified as ‘massage’. The evidence backed data we now have available to us today defines much more accurately what we actually do as therapists.
Massage describes the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body using techniques ranging from relaxation treatments to injury rehabilitation.
Manual Lymphatic drainage therapists, however, work on the lymphatic system specifically, (as well as on the nervous system as a by product).
MLD can be performed by massage therapists, MLD specialists, registered nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists, who are trained in this technique.
The technique does indeed resemble a “light massage,” but MLD is done for very specific reasons. MLD is an excellent choice for a myriad of health and wellness applications, but there are also a number of medical contraindications. It is very important, therefore, that the therapist is properly credentialed in these specific techniques and also that the client is as transparent as possible regarding their medical history.

There are many in our culture who believe that if bodywork is not deep, or painful, that it does not work. Manual Lymphatic Drainage is stand alone proof that this is a completely erroneous idea. MLD is never painful and is deeply relaxing, with most clients falling asleep on the table within minutes! The pressure is very gentle, slow and rhythmic, offering tremendous healing benefits to the recipient.

When a client asks whether MLD can help them to “detoxify,” the answer is theoretically “no”. The reason is that if toxins were actually circulating in our bloodstream for very long, we would literally be unable to sustain life! However, the lymphatic system is responsible for ridding our body of cellular waste and byproducts and, interestingly, cadaver research on lymph nodes has shown the presence of minuscule fragments of glass and coal.

The History of the Vodder Technique

Dr. Emil Vodder, Ph.D., MT (1896-1986) and his wife Estrid Vodder (1898-1996) of Copenhagen, Denmark, worked as massage therapists in Cannes, France, on the French Riviera in 1932.
Many of their clients were from Britain, coming to the area to recover from “colds” which, due to the weather in Britain, had become chronic in nature.
The Vodders discovered that all of these clients had swollen lymph nodes in their neck. At the time, the lymphatic system was a largely ignored system of the body by the massage community as well as by the medical establishment.
Dr. Vodder dared to go against this prevailing wisdom and was able to successfully cure his clients of their swollen lymph nodes using his intuition and skill. The clients “colds” vanished. This encouraged the Vodders to continue to develop this work and he created the MLD technique.
The technique was first made public in 1935 and Dr. Vodder’s first publication appeared in Paris in 1936. From this time on, he remained active as a massage therapist, held lectures, taught courses and gave demonstration treatments with his wife. The term, ”manual lymph drainage” was coined by the Vodders, which gives them claim as the originators.
The Vodder technique is practiced today worldwide in its original unadulterated form and it is still considered to be the “gold standard” in the health and wellness industry.

The Effects of MLD

MLD produces four major effects on the body, all of which have been scientifically studied and confirmed:-

1) Decongestive Effect
Any swelling of the body- with the exceptions of cardiac and renal edema-can be successfully treated with MLD. The lymphatic system is a kind of “one way street” which ultimately transports the lymphatic load (protein, fat, cells, water) back into the cardiovascular system at the left and right subclavian veins. Wherever “waste” is produced, (cell fragments, proteins, detritus from wounds), the lymphatic system must act in order to drain this waste. The special MLD techniques induce a pumping effect in the tissue. This enhanced drainage effect results in decongestion and restoration of normal tissue condition.

2) Parasympathetic Nervous System Effect
Manual lymphatic drainage is very soothing and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which causes relaxation and a general reduction in the body’s stress response. As previously mentioned- most clients will fall asleep on the treatment table. The steady and deliberate hand movements of a good therapist are the prerequisite for successful treatment. MLD is a wonderful antidote for stress, anxiety and “burn out”.

3) Analgesic Effect
MLD stimulates the lymphatic system to alleviate pain, (AKA Gate control theory). MLD results in pain mediators being drained into the lymphatic system more rapidly, so that they are no longer active in the tissues. Any prolonged pain, such as generated by migraine, acute injuries, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), fibromyalgia etc. can be treated using manual lymphatic drainage.

4) Immunological Effect
MLD helps accelerate the transportation of bacteria and allergens to the places where the body’s defense system is located (i.e. the lymph nodes) and where the rate of lymphatic drainage heightens the sensitization of lymphocytes and macrophages. The latter can travel more rapidly via the blood flow to reach the “scene of the action”. 

Conditions Which Respond Favorably to Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a great modality for so many conditions. Having said that, there are also a number of medical contraindications. For that reason it is doubly important that you are as careful as possible when you complete your medical intake information and that you update me on any health changes at future visits.

In a nutshell- inflammatory conditions, anxiety and stress, pain syndromes, lymphatic system dysfunction, auto-Immune dysfunction. The following list is not exhaustive. Feel free to contact me directly with any specific questions.

Post-Surgical Edema
Post Traumatic Edema
Varicose veins
Palliative Care/Hospice
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Migraine and Sinus Headache
Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Pregnancy Edema
Lyme Disease
Anxiety and Stress


Manual Lymphatic Drainage

60 Min
$ 125

Pregnancy Lymphatic Drainage

60 Min
$ 125

Post-Surgical Lymphatic Drainage

60 Min
$ 125

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