What is Lymphatic Drainage Good for: Study on Inflammation

By Paola Bassanese


Source: Energya Ltd and Paola Bassanese

Looking at a sample of 65 clients who presented in 2011 with various conditions and requesting manual lymphatic drainage massage, there is some correlation in inflammatory conditions and their symptoms.


Taking external factors like stress out of the equation, 52 cases remain which can be categorised according to body systems: reproductive, digestive, skin, respiratory, circulatory and immunity.

1 Conditions related to the reproductive system

Representing 19% of the sample, clients presented conditions including endometriosis, PCOS (policystic ovaries), heavy and painful periods, vestibulitis (painful intercourse), fertility issues (some were having IVF).

Related conditions included food intolerances, skin disorders, respiratory issues like hayfever and circulatory issues like Raynaud’s Disease (cold fingers syndrome).

2 Conditions related to the digestive system

Food intolerances (particularly wheat) and constipation were causing bloating and discomfort to clients presenting with digestive issues. This sample represented 27% of the total. Some presented with candida, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and ulcerative colitis.

3 Conditions related to skin disorders

Acne, psoriasis, vitiligo, breakouts were the main skin disorders presented in the sample and made up the 15% of the total. Most of the psoriasis cases also had hayfever.

4 Conditions related to the respiratory system

21% of the sample complained of respiratory problems highlighting sinusitis and hayfever as their key concerns.

5 Conditions related to the circulatory system

12% of the sample identified circulatory problems as their main concern and varicose veins represented the majority of cases. Water retention was present in these cases.

6 Conditions related to the immune system

6% of the sample complained of low immunity with conditions including auto-immune diseases like lupus and chronic fatigue caused by glandular fever.

Manual lymphatic drainage

Although we cannot measure the exact impact that manual lymphatic drainage had on clients, the feedback from people suffering from sinus congestion was that the mechanical action of working on the sinuses helped to breathe better.

Water retention cases were measured before and after performing manual lymphatic drainage with varying results. A case of swollen ankles, for example, were one foot was slightly swollen while the other had oedema, had the following results: the slighly swollen foot reduced in size by 0.2cm while the foot presenting oedema reduced by 1.4cm in size.

Another case of oedema on one arm showed a reduction in size by 1cm after applying lymphatic drainage.

Results varied at each session and oedema cases required a whole care plan that included compression stockings and self-massage.

For cases of bloating and constipation, working on the colon helped the digestive transit and reduced discomfort; over time it helped to regulate bowel movements.

With regards to fertility issues and difficulty to conceive, fertility clinics do recommend manual lymphatic drainage as an aid to prepare the body for pregnancy.

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