Enrico Viselli is an acupuncturist and alternative-healing practitioner trained in lymph drainage therapy at the Upledger Institute, a health resource center recognized worldwide for its groundbreaking continuing education programs, clinical research and therapeutic services. Viselli combines the ancient theories and methods of traditional Chinese medicine with bodywork, massage and craniosacral therapy in his practice. Here, Viselli explains the importance of the body’s lymph system and its role in health.
Similar to blood but containing no red blood cells, lymph is a colorless fluid that moves through a network of vessels called the lymphatic system. It carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells and removes waste products. Along the system are lymph nodes, which collect bacteria. There are more than 800 lymph nodes in the body. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like the heart, so you need to help the body move it. The three highest concentrated areas are in the armpits, the groin and the intestines, which also happen to be close to the three areas that have very high instances of cancer.
Breathing deep can help and having someone work on you helps. When a practitioner pushes the skin very gently where the lymph nodes are located, the pressure pulls on the vessels to move the fluid along for elimination. The ancient Chinese couldn’t see this fluid, but knew how important it was. They called it “the organ that has function but no form.” As the vessels are so tiny, it’s easy for them to become blocked. Swelling in the body is a sign that lymph is not moving.
Other than lymphatic drainage, sweating and vigorous exercise helps flush fluid out of the body, which removes toxins. Saunas are also great. Skin brushing helps the lymphatic system move. Rebounding or anything like running or jump roping that gets circulation going helps. Another thing to be aware of is that fat clogs up the lymphatic system: The more someone eats fat and toxic foods, the more the lymph system will be burdened.
Lymphatic drainage is good for everyone because it improves the immune system, promotes cleaner blood and cells and lowers stress. Even one session is helpful, although the ideal is one a week for a few months. Lymphatic drainage is a part of a more holistic way of viewing the body. In Europe and Asia, it’s already much more widely accepted. Massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, energy work and craniosacral therapy are all part of a healing protocol that allows the body to heal and do what it knows how to do.
Over time, the body cannot clean itself out of all its injuries, cuts and medications. Someone might have an injury at 20, and it can manifest as back pain at 40. Women notice it more during menopause. The body and hormonal system begin to change and it gets more difficult to move toxins out. But it’s never too late; it just takes a bit longer.
It detoxifies the blood, reduces swelling and regenerates tissue, especially from burns, scarring and post-surgery scars. It also aids acne, eczema and skin allergies. Drainage is effective for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. It can also provide relief from joint pain, depression, insomnia, loss of vitality and memory loss. It’s great for relaxation and reducing stress.
If you’re just starting out, you have to understand that your body will respond quickly at first and then will accommodate that level of exercise and new level of calories. You’ve just created a shift, and then the body balances out in a way where it will maintain the weight where it is. Then you have to double-up the effort by changing your exercise. The body is real good at finding homeostasis. That’s its basic job.
In Chinese medicine, they say that it’s better for your body to be basic or alkaline rather than acidic. Basic foods are vegetables, some nuts, brown rice and salads. If you eat acidic foods, such as meat, fish and pasta, make sure you also eat a lot of alkaline foods to balance it out. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat something anymore; it’s about a balance between the foods. Reduce the amount of dense animal protein you eat, as well as dairy and eggs. Eat a more green-based vegetarian diet; your body will then become more basic or alkaline.
Most people are dehydrated; you should drink half your body weight in ounces every day. Become aware of what you’re eating and eat the proper portion size.
Enrico Viselli is an acupuncturist and alternative-healing practitioner trained in lymph drainage therapy at the Upledger Institute, a health resource center recognized worldwide for its groundbreaking continuing education programs, clinical research and therapeutic services. Viselli combines the ancient theories and methods of traditional Chinese medicine with bodywork, massage and craniosacral therapy in his practice.