Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Lymph System and Autoimmune Disease

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I have been seeing an alarming increase in auto-immune responses in the last 5 or 6 years.  What this refers to is the response when the body's immune system sends out a message to attack the bodies' healthy tissues and cells.

Normally the immune system sends white blood cells to attack foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses and toxins.  In an auto-immune response the body does not differentiate between healthy body tissues and foreign invaders.  What follows is an immune response attacking the normal body tissues.  This response is similar to an allergic reaction.

In allergies, the immune system goes to battle with an outside substance that it normally ignores.  In an autoimmune response, the immune system battles healthy body tissue that it normally ignores.

A few examples of auto-immune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, hashimotos and chronic fatigue.

When someone asks what causes auto-immune responses the most common answer is that the cause is unknown.  I am not a doctor or a scientist but as a highly experienced body worker I believe that part of the issue lies in the health of the lymphatic system.  No doubt there are many factors that go into the creation of auto-immunity and it would certainly be pie-in-the-sky to say you can get a massage and cure all of this, but I believe that in addressing the issues that are contributing to the lymph slow down, you improve your chances of healing your immune system.

This would be a good place to reiterate that I am not a medical doctor and am not qualified to diagnose or to treat medical conditions.  The opinions in this article should not take the place of professional medical care.

Now let's look at the lymph and it's function in relation to the immune system. The Lymph fluid carries white blood cells that defend against the aforementioned germs.  The lymph nodes and spleen are two examples of places in the body where white blood cells fight infection.

The lymphatic system is an important part of how the body clears away infection and keeps the body fluids in balance.  When this system is not working fluid builds up in the tissues, resulting in swelling.

Most people have lymph slow down that is caused by musculoskeletal displacement most commonly found in the neck, ribs, low back and hips. When joints are out of place or muscles are tight over lymphatic chains it creates a lymph blockage.  Because the lymph system has a vacuum effect, each blockage, no matter how small, causes the lymphatic to slow down throughout the body.

Here are a few ways you can support your lymphatic health:

  1. Get lymphatic massage or lymphatic drainage
  2. Increase the amount of quality water you drink (no tap-water)
  3. Do Yoga (this is one of the best exercise you can do for your lymph)
  4. Start a conscious breathing program

I have recently been impressed by certain teachers of Kundalini Yoga and if nothing else you can learn to do what is called the breath of fire.  It has been said that if you do the breath of fire for 3 minutes it will purify all the blood in your body.  When I have clients do this prior to coming in for lymphatic massage the drainage is increased exponentially.

Here is Carolyn Cowan teaching breath of fire:

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copyright © Essential Stillpoint 2012                                                   

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why Does My Back Hurt?

In my experience I would say that the biggest factor in back pain is that your shoulders can rotate almost 360 degrees. There are a lot of moving parts in that motion. If anything gets caught or pulled tight it will start to pull on the back and rib cage. Add to that tightening of the jaw, front of the neck and pectorals and things get pretty locked down. If your hips pull on your back in the opposite direction of the shoulder, it can cause a tightening that can lead to major distress.

What happens if you have any or all of the above scenarios and you fall down...or reach for something...or sleep wrong? All of your muscles are attached to bones. In the upper body many of these are attached to the rib cage. When you are tight and your body is pulling in opposite directions even a simple sneeze can pull a rib out of its proper alignment.

This rib misalignment can cause sharp pain by itself but as long as the rib stays out of whack it will cause that part of the lymphatic system to back up and get stuck. This commonly results in a stiffening and pain in the neck that can't be resolved until the rib goes back into place.

If you have ever reached for something and felt a sharp pain followed by your back or neck "not feeling quite right" or all of a sudden just noticed a weird tightness in your arms or neck that wasn't there before, you may have pulled a rib out.

If you are loose enough, sometimes a rib will go back in on it's own in time or you may be able to get it to go back in with some stretching or yoga. On the other hand, I have had clients that I suspect have had a rib out for several years.

When you hear that you may have a rib out, you might naturally think a trip to the chiropractor is in order. If you go to the traditional bone cracker, odds are this issue won't resolve. What needs to happen first is a loosening up of all the major tethering points or muscle attachments pulling opposite directions.

Draining the lymph is useful in the loosening process because what is sure to accompany the tightness is a build up of lymph fluid which can make the area more sore and deep work quite painful.

It took me years to know to look for a misaligned rib. If you have back pain and suspect you may have a rib out it would be worth your time to find a massage therapist in your area with the experience to release the areas binding the rib. Once you find somebody, often simple stretching after the work is enough for the rib to move back into place. If not, setting a chiropractic appointment for after the massage session will greatly increase the success of realignment.

Although many chiropractors now employ massage therapists, in many cases either the therapist doesn't have the experience or the sessions are just too short to do more than get the fluid moving and to warm up the muscles.

If you are in the Salt Lake area feel free to contact me for more information. If I can't see you, I can make a reliable referral.

If you are not local and would like more information on how to find someone who has the experience to help, you are welcome to leave a comment or send me a private email and I will try to offer some useful suggestions.

copyright © 2010 Essential Stillpoint

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What's the Difference Between Lymphatic Massage and Lymph Drainage Therapy(LDT)?

On a first session with a new client I typically give them what I refer to as the Lymph lecture. It is a simplistic description of how the lymph system works, why it is important and how it directly relates to pain, malaise and other illnesses.

When I first started doing this years ago, less than 1% had any working knowledge of the lymphatic system. I am happy to report that those numbers have been increasing. People who are educated on the lymph system are still a dismally small number but it is promising that, at least in my practice, t
his number is on a steady rise.
So what is the difference between Lymphatic Massage and Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT)? My primary massage practice is in Salt Lake City, Utah and in this state most of the people trained in lymphatic work have been trained in a technique that calls itself Lymph Drainage Therapy (a therapy developed by French doctor Bruno Chikley.) This is an uber light technique that helps to move fluid with the slightest pressure (5 grams or the weight of a nickel.)

LDT is based on a premise that the lymph cells will rupture with more than 5 grams of pressure and regenerate within 24 hours. I don't believe this is true. In my experience, when someone has severe lymphedema it is possible to rupture the lymph cells with too much pressure but the amount of pressure it takes to burst these cells is variable based on multiple factors. It may be 5 grams but not necessarily.

Severe Lymphedema (Light Pressure)
There is always an optimum pressure and finding that requires the therapist to have a finally developed sense of touch and sensitivity to their client's body.

For healthy people 5 grams will not rupture the lymph cell. When someone is extremely ill or has the most severe form of lymphedema...the almost imperceptible touch of LDT can be quite healing and do wonders for an overtaxed parasympathetic system.

For anyone who is healthy, moderately ill or has the kind of lymphedema caused by a mastectomy or adolescent onset...Lymphatic Massage is often the more effective and satisfying choice.

Moderate Lymphedema (Variable Pressure)
In Lymphatic massage...the lymph fluid is still being drained and depending on the expertise of the therapist there is potential for a much bigger release of toxins than in LDT. For a very ill person...too many toxins released at the same time can send them into a downward spin that can be challenging to overcome.
However, in the moderately ill to healthy person, releasing as many toxins as possible is desirable.

I do occasionally use LDT when the circumstance is warranted...but in my experience Lymph Massage is typically by far more effective and satisfying.

For those of you that have had both the uber light LDT and Lymph Massage (usually not by the same therapist), how do you notice the difference?

This article should not be a substitute for professional medical care
copyright © 2010 Essential Stillpoint

Friday, June 8, 2012

HCG Diet and Massage Part 1 of 2

The HCG diet has become the diet of choice for many people in the last few years. After taking both the time to research this and monitor my client's progress while using this protocol, I am impressed.

Although this program is famous for its astonishing success in weight loss, it also appears to balance and bring into harmony the glands that regulate metabolism. Medical clinics that specialize in HCG will often take a patient completely off thyroid medication during the protocol and in many cases have been able to completely eliminate thyroid medication after the treatment has ended.

According to Dr. Albert T. W. Simeons, author of the manuscript "Pounds and Inches" and founder of the HCG diet, the bonus benefits of this program include restoring steroid hormone balance, slowing or reversing the downhill slide of hypoglycemia and diabetes, re-energizing thyroid and adrenal glands, breading up arterial plaque, reducing rheumatic pain, and lowering blood pressure.

Sounds great! So what's the catch? Unfortunately one of the controversial instructions in this manuscript is, that during phase 2 of the diet (23-43 day period of actively taking HCG) no massages are allowed.

So why is there a no massage mandate for the HCG diet phase 2? As far as I can tell, Dr. Simeons appears to have two basic objections to massage.

  1. The use of oil and lotions on the body
  2. Kneading and breaking up of fat that leads to bruising and scar tissue
In part one of this blog I will look at the oil objection and in part 2 (the next blog) will address the type of massage that leads to bruising and scar tissue and how that applies to this century (the manuscript was written in 1954.)

The Oil Issue
Massage oil can be problematic during HCG phase 2 which calls for a very low calorie diet, one that is extremely low in carbs and has absolutely no fat.

Your body is designed to seek resources that are fairly easy to break down and convert into fuel. Your body's first preference of material to convert to fuel is glucose, which is provided through consuming carbohydrates. The second resource that your body prefers is fat and the third is protein.

Because of this, your body will not burn fat as a primary fuel source until the glucose is used up and it won't burn significant amounts of protein until the fat is used up.

The HCG diet is ketogenic. That means it will shift your body from burning glucose to burning fat for fuel. Your body will not move into ketosis until the glycogen stores have been completely used up. Even in the fat burning state, again your body prefers fat that it does not have to break down. If you introduce fat through diet or through the skin transdermally, the body will use that for fuel before it breaks down fat resulting in slower weight loss.

I recommend during phase 2 that you check with your massage therapist as to what kind of oil or lotion they use or are willing to use. Many of the professional massage lotions, such as Biotone, have been reported to have no impact on weight loss in phase 2.

In my massage practice, my clients have substantiated this and reported to me that the Biotone (which does have some oil in it) has not inhibited their weight loss. I also use an oil mixture in my practice which would not be recommended for phase 2. If you are phase 2 and are booking an appointment with me please let me know you are doing HCG so that I can switch to using the Biotone.

Again if you are wanting to have massage in phase 2, another option is to check with your massage therapist to see if they would be willing to use baby oil that you would bring with you to the session. It is a non-soluble mineral oil and the body will not absorb it.

With a little planning, you can have your massage and your HCG too!

This article should not be a substitute for professional medical care
copyright © 2010 Essential Stillpoint

HCG Diet and Massage Part 2 of 2

This is the second part of a two part series on the HCG diet and massage. The first part reviewed the claim that fat in many massage oils interfere with HCG induced weight loss and this segment aims to answer the argument that massage may cause bruising and scar tissue that can slow down the weight loss.

In his manuscript "Pounds and Inches", Dr. Simeons objects to massage for the time the hormone is being administered and is emphatic about not disturbing the body in that phase. Here is what he has to say about it:

"I never allow any kind of massage during treatment. It is entirely unnecessary and merely disturbs a very delicate process which is going on in the tissues. Few indeed are the masseurs and masseuses who can resist the temptation to knead and hammer abnormal fat deposits."
"I have seen such patients who were as black and blue as if they had received a sound thrashing."

"How anyone in his right mind is able to believe that fatty tissue can be shifted mechanically or be made to vanish by squeezing is beyond my comprehension. The only effect obtained is severe bruising. The torn tissue forms scars, and these slowly contract making the fatty tissue even harder and more unyielding."

This was written in 1954 and made me laugh. It brings to mind an amusing image I use humorusly on my gift cards. The image is black and white set in the 1950's with a big boned European woman in a sterile white dress.

Clearly massage has changed in the past 58 years. I do not know of any massage therapist that squeezes or hammers a fat deposit. My massages stimulate the lymphatic system and works with structural blockages to lymphatic flow. Both of which are key in weight loss.

My clients in phase 2 of the HCG diet report that the day after massage, on average, they have lost double the normal weight loss for the day and have more energy.

I have noticed in clients who have been on HCG for more than 2 weeks that their muscles get very soft and deep work is not a good idea. You will know if the work is too deep for you because these areas are very tender. For sure, during the part of the diet where the hormone is being administered there is more susceptibility to bruising.

Lighter work aimed at lymphatic drainage and flow is really the best type of massage for Phase 2 and works very well with the goals of the diet (plus will make you feel wonderful releasing the toxins that were stored in the fat you are shedding.)

So for those of you HCGrs...get your massages but make sure to ask your therapist to provide an alternative to oil (before you show up for your session) and let them know you are in Phase 2 and may need very light work.

It is best if you find a therapist who specializes in lymph massage and has some understanding of the unique needs of the HCG protocol.

If you have any questions...feel free to leave me a comment or send me a private email!

This article should not be a substitution for professional medical care
copyright © 2010 Essential Stillpoint