Episode 060 | Manual Lymph Drainage – How it benefits Dentistry


Hello and welcome to episode number 60 of Elmar´s Tooth Talk: The missing link to total health.

In today’s episode we explore how manual lymph drainage can benefit ourselves and how it can support dental treatment.

So, before we start let me tell you What’s in it for you in this episode:
We talk about:

  • WHAT Lymph is
  • HOW the lymphatic system works
  • WHAT function lymph nodes have
  • HOW lymphatic vessels work
  • HOW manual lymphatic drainage was discovered
  • HOW manual lymphatic drainage works
  • How lymphatic drainage can be used in dentistry
  • HOW children can benefit from manual lymph drainage
  • HOW you can improve your lymph flow with some easy-to-follow methods

Alright, here we go. What is this Lymphatic system all about? Do we really need it?

In addition to the blood vessel system, the lymphatic system is an important part of our body’s detoxification, disposal and immune system.

What is lymph

Lymph, also called tissue water, is filtered from the blood through the finest blood vessels, the capillaries, into the lymphatic vessels.

Lymph contains salts, glucose, and enzymes. Proteins and fats as well as immune cells can also be added during transport.

Lymphatic tracts run through the whole body and lymph ultimately ends up in the blood vessel system again.

What are lymph nodes and what are they used for?

The lymph flows through many lymph nodes on its way. Lymph nodes filter bacteria, viruses, cell debris and other waste materials out of the fluid.

The lymphatic system controls our immune system.

Lymph nodes are a kind of filter for toxins and breakdown products.

Lymph nodes swell when the amount of breakdown products exceeds the amount the lymph node can handle easily.

Lymph nodes are found all over the body.

There are also a number of lymph nodes in the head area, which react, for example, to inflammation of the teeth, the jaw or the paranasal sinuses

What is lymphatic drainage?

Lymph drainage is a physiotherapeutic form of treatment that can be applied to all parts of the body. It is mainly used in places where, as a result of illness or external influences, there is a circulatory disorder with the consequence of a lymph congestion.

The visible sign of a lymph drainage disorder is tissue swelling such as swollen ankles.

How did lymphatic drainage develop?

The first investigations into the function of the lymphatic vessels were carried out around 1909 by Professor Földi in Freiburg in Germany’s Black Forest. Where the famous Black Forest Gateau was created. – one of my favourite cakes – when done properly.

In the 1930s, the Danish couple Vodder worked as masseurs on the Cote d`Azur in France. They found that many of their patients who suffered from respiratory problems and the associated swollen cervical lymph nodes could be helped with stroking movements that loosened the swelling.

Up until that time it was the medical opinion that lymph nodes, especially if they are swollen, should not be touched under any circumstances.

The Vodder couple were able to dissolve the congestion in the lymph nodes with circular, pumping and stroking movements.

Inspired by this success, Vodder began treating lymph nodes in other areas of the body and was also very successful.

Recognition of manual lymph drainage as an independent form of treatment

In the world of established medical professionals, of course, the discovery of the non-medical practitioner Vodder initially meant next to nothing.
In 1936, Vodder presented his treatment method to a larger audience for the first time in Paris. However, it took many years for the new treatment to spread.
It was not until 1958 that the first training in manual lymphatic drainage took place in Germany.

In the 1960s, general practitioner Dr. Johannes Asdonk from Essen came into contact with manual lymphatic drainage and successfully integrated it into his treatments.

In 1967 Vodder, Asdonk and the masseur Günther Wittlinger founded the Society for Manual Lymph Drainage according to Dr. Vodder.
In 1976 this society was renamed the “German Society for Lymphology”.

In 1969, Dr. Asdonk founded a school in Essen for training in manual lymphatic drainage and in 1972 he opened the world’s first specialist clinic for manual lymphatic drainage in the Black Forest.

Just two years later, in 1974, manual lymphatic drainage was included in the catalogue of statutory health insurance services because of its outstanding success.

Thus, manual lymph drainage had established itself as an independent form of treatment in medicine.

This was mainly due to Dr. Asdonk and his colleague Michael Földi, who ensured the spread of manual lymphatic drainage through their training schools.

Aim of therapy

The aim of lymph drainage treatment is the improved lymph transport capacity, the decongestion of body regions, release of pain and improved flexibility of the lymph vessels.

Lymph drainage also loosens and relaxes the muscles.
However, manual lymph drainage is primarily used to treat oedema, which is the accumulation of watery fluid in the skin or mucous membrane and in the connective tissue.

Patients feel a relief already during the treatment. At the same time, the decongestion and detoxification of the tissue all over the body creates deep relaxation.

Course of a treatment

In contrast to conventional massage, the principle of manual lymph drainage is based on a specific grip technique.
Rhythmic – circling-pumping grips, usually with the fingers or flat hands, work with finely dosed pressure.

Depending on the clinical picture, there is a step by step process of these handles.

How can lymphatic drainage support dental treatment?

Decongestion through lymphatic drainage has a beneficial and relaxing effect, especially on the head.
In this way, the regulatory capacity of the organism is improved in a very gentle way.

In dentistry there are many areas of application in which lymphatic drainage can have a supportive effect.
Examples for this are:

  • Problems with eruption of teeth
  • As an accompanying treatment in orthodontics, for example for crowded teeth,
  • Nasal breathing
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • After jaw operations, tooth extractions, any surgical interventions
  • For swelling after jawbone surgery
  • For pain relief, possibly also with trigeminal neuralgia
  • TMJ disorders
  • For inflammation of the paranasal sinuses
  • For tinnitus
  • Tension in the chewing and neck muscles
  • When reduced wound healing is to be expected. For example, in patients with diabetes, heavy smokers, bleeding disorders

When should manual lymphatic drainage not be used?

There are also conditions when manual lymph drainage should not be applied.

This is in patients who suffer from:

  • Unclear malignant tumours
  • Acute bacterial inflammation in the head area
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Manual lymph drainage treatment

A treatment with manual lymph drainage lasts between 15 and 60 minutes.
Thereby the body’s metabolism is profoundly activated.

As you have already heard, the lymphatic system runs through the entire body. Thus, treating just one part can cause symptoms in other parts of the body.
Therefore, it is important to treat the entire system.

Having activated the body with manual lymph drainage, this metabolic activation can lead to the following symptoms after treatment:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Headache
  • Tingling in the arms or legs
  • Increased tiredness

All of these symptoms are a sign that the metabolism has actually been activated by the treatment, the lymphatic fluid has been stimulated to excrete and the vascular flow has increased.

A sufficient supply of water intake and the necessary relaxation for the body help with regeneration.

Manual lymphatic drainage in children

Children who often suffer from nose or throat infections respond very well to manual lymphatic drainage, because their lymphatic system is weakened, often caused by breathing through the mouth.

Manual lymphatic drainage also has a supportive effect in orthodontic treatment.

HOW you can improve your lymph flow with some easy-to-follow methods

The best way to support and increase your lymph flow is to bounce on a Rebounder for a few minutes every day. Include this in your daily exercise regime and I would be surprised if you don’t feel any benefits.
Start slowly and gently with only a few minutes and increase as you go along.

Follow this by hot and cold showers and finish off with brushing your skin.

Deep breathing and sauna also activate your lymph system. Check out Wim Hoff.

These are all methods to enhance and activate your immune system.

And again we have come to the end of another episode.

Thank you for tuning in and see you next time at Elmar’s Tooth Talk – The missing link to total health.

Bye for now.

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