The Lymphatic System

Purpose: A response to The Expo & Investigating Body-based Therapies New Doc 12_6New Doc 12_4

Objective: Integrating the Lymphatic System with a body-based therapy known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques

Future Goal: To connect this specific therapy with knowledge of higher levels of biological organization, most specifically the vertebrate immune system.

#Interactive Videos for Immune System

3 Table 1.1 – Table for future research/study. 3

Manipulative and body-based methods

CAMt2*                                                                                               *t2 Therapy/Technique

5, 6 Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)

  • A type of gentle massage which aims to encourage the natural drainage of lymph waste products where lymph may be carried away from tissues, and back towards heart.


  • Uses specific amounts of pressure
    • X > 9 oz / in2 (~ 4 kPa)
  • Uses circular rhythmic movements in order to stimulate flow of lymph


  • The lymph system depends on intrinsic contractions
    • Cells of smooth muscle in walls of lymph vessels (peristalsis)
  • The lymph system depends on movement of skeletal muscles for propulsion
    • Lymph to nodes to ducts via. vessels
    • Systemic movement returns lymph to cardiovascular system 5, 6

Therapeutic Certification

  • Classes specializing in MLD
  • A complete lymphedema treatment certification course


PR for SE of MLD techniques*                                                     *PR – Peer-Review

                                                                                                                   *SE – Safety/Efficacy

4 This study published in 2009 addresses the efficacy of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques (MLDTs). Evidence for therapeutic efficacy was considered on a cellular and molecular level when addressing levels of enzyme serum composition within patients suffering acute levels of cellular damage, more specifically to skeletal muscle cells. Evidence shows MLDTs to hold significance in terms of the reduction of excess fluid, edema, following acute sprains in the joint of the ankle, and core radial fractures of the wrist.4

6,7 Historical Significance

  • Emil & Estrid Vodder (1930’s)
  • Noticed swollen lymph nodes of chronic cold patients on French Riviera
  • Treament of chronic sinusitis and other immune disorders.
  • At the time it was considered taboo to tamper with lymphatic system due to the medical profession’s poor understanding of system.
  • Beginning of their study of the lymph system specifically with light rhythmic hand movements to promote lymph movement (1932)
  • Introduction of MLD in Paris, France (1936)
  • World War II end and return to Copenhagen –> taught use of therapy to practicioners 6,7


Work Cited

            3 #wiki

         4 Vairo GL, Miller SJ, McBrier NM, Buckley WE. Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: An evidence-based practice approach. J Man Manip Ther. 2009;17:e80–9. [PubMed]

5 Milady’s Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage; Ramona Moody French; Delmar/Cengage;  2004

6 Stillerman, Elaine (2009). Modalities for Massage and BodyworkMosby. p. 129-143.

       7 Levine, Andrew (1998). The Bodywork and Massage SourcebookLowell House. pp. 173–84

       8 “Complete Lymphedema Certification”Courses. Academy of Lymphatic Studies. Retrieved 16  July 2013.


Disclaimer: This was created by students for a class and is not intended to provide any medical advice.

3 thoughts on “The Lymphatic System”

    1. Enjoyed this TED Talk. Thanks for the link. I had not really thought about the brain not having a lymphatic system before, but this information was impactful. In the ER, I have seen brains that come in without sleep and the disastrous effects on patients. Interesting perspective to think of the lack of sleep creating a dirty, unlivable house situation.

  1. I have to admit, when I read the title of your post-the word drainage in particular-my mind immediately went to doctors lancing boils and abscesses *shudder* But after seeing your lovely visual and reading what exactly is done, I am feeling at ease. What an clever and easy way to move waste away from the tissue!

    I absolutely love your visual! It looks like it must have taken some time to research all the info and put together- kudos to you 🙂

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