Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How the Deep Lymphatic System Causes Pain

By Jan Olds, LMT

This article is from my latest printed newsletter

All body organs have deep lymphatic drainage. Both the deep and superficial channels are integral in the functioning of a healthy lymphatic system. The superficial channels that run in chains along the muscles converge to form bigger vessels that feed into deep lymphatic trunks and then drain into the thoracic duct or the right lymphatic duct. Often the deep drainage pathways around the different organs flow in different directions. They can drain to different parts of a lymph different lymph nodes in the same chain or even to completely different chains.

The deep lymphatic complex is extensive and powerful. In the deeper lymphatic there is a condition known as lymphostasis, which can occur anywhere in the deep system and leads to serious problems. Lymphostasis is a fancy word that means the stopping of lymph flow. When this takes place...the superficial vessels become overloaded and the normal drainage pathways become congested, causing the system to back up. Because the issue is originating in the deep part of the body...stimulating the surface lymph chains would be fruitless. Almost all techniques that are currently used to work with lymph predominantly access the superficial system.

The deeper areas that are affected need to be opened up to restore the vacuum like effect throughout the lymph system. some of the areas that in my experience have the most need for this type of intervention are the liver...gallbladder...spleen...small and large intestines.

These area can be stimulated manually by someone who has a developed sense of touch. They can also be impacted with the use of external castor oil packs and heat.

How does all of this impact painful areas in the body? Almost everyone experiences some pain in their neck and shoulders. Often the pain in the neck and shoulders is caused by a distortion that keeps the lymph from draining down the normal lymphatic chain. For example...if your neck is twisted toward your dominant arm this will often be painful because of the inflammation pressing on the nerve complex. That pain is increased depending on the amount of toxins in the fluid. The amount of toxins will vary depending on what environmental and food borne chemicals, bacteria and viruses you have ingested. The pain is often tolerable until times of increased toxic exposure. This is why when you are getting sick you often have muscle soreness. Most of the time...manually draining this and doing structural work to change the twisting of the neck is enough to eliminate the pain.

In the case where there is also lymphostasis the lymph chains in the neck are not drain-able until the deeper congestion has been addressed. This can often be accomplished by manually stimulating the deeper area and then revisiting the lymph chains in the neck.

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copyright © 2010 Essential Stillpoint

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Deep Lymphatic System

By Jan Olds, Licensed Massage Therapist
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The lymphatic system is often segregated into two parts: the surface lymphatic and the deep lymphatic. Most therapists who specialize in lymphatic drainage work with the surface system...but if the deep system is compromised it can severely impact lymph drainage at the surface of the body and cause varying degrees of muscle pain.

What is lymph? This is a question that I get asked everyday. The lymph system has three main functions: First is the returning of tissue fluid to the blood. Of the fluid that leaves the capillaries about 90% is returned. The 10% that doesn't return becomes part of the fluid that surrounds the tissue cells. Protein molecules will sometimes leak through the capillary wall increasing the pressure of the tissue fluid which further inhibits fluid returning to the capillaries. This non returned fluid tends to accumulate around the tissues. If this continues it causes blood pressure and volume to decrease and the volume of tissue fluid to increase which results in edema, also known as swelling. Lymph cells pick up the excess tissue fluid and proteins and return them to the veins. Once the fluid enters the lymph cells it is called lymph.

The second function of the lymphatic system is the absorption of fats and vitamins from the digestive system and the transport of these substances to the veins.

The third function is the immune system response. Lymph nodes and lymph organs filter the lymph to break down foreign particles as they are pushed through the lymph for removal from the body. Lymphatic organs contain lymphocytes that destroy invading organisms. In the process of a lymphatic massage mostly the surface lymphatic is drained and employed, but occasionally the deeper lymphatic access is compromised and needs to have manual help to make room for the surface it somewhere to go. The thoracic duct flows from the base of the neck down the mid-line of the body branching out in many directions throughout the abdominal region.

When the deep lymphatic system is not moving well...often the surface lymphatic will get "stuck" in the thoracic outlet. Sometimes I can get this moving by stimulating the area on either side of the xyphoid process and sometimes more manual draining of the liver or spleen are required to return the flow to a healing level.

While technically the organs of the lymph system include the tonsils, thymus gland and spleen, the liver has an enormous impact on lymph flow. In the liver are many lymph nodes and if the liver is congested it will often back up the entire system.

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copyright © 2010 Essential Stillpoint

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lymphatic Flow

I have been practicing massage in Salt Lake for over a decade and have developed a very unique blend of lymphatic and structural work. I find that clients...even those with a medical background...know very little about the lymph system. I dedicate a lot of time during massage and in my newsletter to educating my clients about lymph in easy to understand language. The article posted here is from my August newsletter.

I am using this blog because website upkeep isn't my strong suite and while I work to improve that...this blog is easy to use. Blogging also offers a variety of different benefits...including the ability for the public to make comments. As this blog is dedicated to the lymphatic system and lymph massage if you would like more pointed information about me...please see my website.

Lymphatic Flow

The Lymph system's primary function is to isolate infection and cellular waste from the rest of the body and purge it. The capillary (the smallest blood vessel) delivers blood with its oxygen and nutrients. The local cells use these nutrients and excrete waste. There may be pathogens or antigens present that create an immune response, leaving dead cells and perhaps live infection. Some of the blood and waste products are picked up by tiny veins. But much of the vascular fluid and waste - and hopefully all of the live infection - is picked up by tiny lymph cells, This process is happening all over the body all the time.

Like tributaries trickling into a stream that feeds a slow-moving river, the lymph system transports lymph fluid through ever-widening vessels, moving it through 500 filtration and collection points - your lymph nodes. At each successive node the lymph fluid is filtered and bacteria removed. If lymph fluid is blocked in one lymph node it will usually take a detour, but when blockage is extreme it can cause the lymph fluid to back up and cause swelling in the surrounding tissue, a condition known as lymph edema.

The far-reaching lymph cells merge at certain points to form lymphatic trunks. You have six major lymph trunks in your body, each responsible for draining filtered fluid from one region of the body.

The lumbar and intestinal trunks drain a large volume of purified lymph fluid upward from your lower extremities, pelvis and abdomen into a collection pouch at the base of the thoracic duct.

The now enriched and purified lymph travels up your torso through the thoracic duct along the left side of your esophagus. It merges here with the lymph from your left trunk and arm, and finally returns to the bloodstream at its junction with the left subclavian vein, located above your heart and under your collarbone. A much smaller volume of filtered lymph fluid from nodes and trunks along the right side of your head, neck and arm is fed back into the bloodstream by the righ lymphatic duct, on the right-hand side of your collarbone.

Amazingly, the lymphatic system has no central pump but depends on muscle contraction and manual manipulation to move fluid,

How does the lymph move without a pump? Water, exercise, deep breathing and massage are essential ways we can enhance movement of lymph through our bodies. Additionally, the organs of elimination (skin, kidney, liver, bladder, small and large intestines) need to be doing their jobs well so that the lymph does not get overwhelmed with waste products.

If the lymph system gets blocked or overrun (due to illness, surgery, toxic overload or lack of activity), lymph fluid gets backed up. This can cause swelling, joint pain, nausea and fatigue. Stagnant lymph may be stored within nodes for a long period of time but eventually becomes too toxic for the body to handle well.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Hello...for those of you that know know how passionate I am about the lymphatic system and how I believe it holds the keys to deep...miraculous and integrated healing in the body. I love doing lymph massage. I give all of my new clients a standard lymph lecture...which is simply an introduction in lay man's terms to what I believe is this most powerful system in the body.

I started this blog so I could explore my beliefs and hypothesis about things I am learning without always having scientific "proof." On my website (http// I aim to have articles that are accepted by the medical community...but acceptance is only a small part of the story and can and often does limit the vast healing that is readily available. In Western medicine there is an addiction to understanding everything first before it can be valid. Often I find that for many scholars...the fact that something works does not have much weight if the mind can not be sated. This blog will have some purely factual entries but will include a healthy helping of raw editorial. I encourage you to join in the conversation.

Even though most of what I will share has sound scientific reasoning....I will make sure to identify when I am asserting something in which I do not possess the western standard of scientific proof.

I love talking about lymph and am excited to explore it in a dynamic forum with you!

Until Next Time,