Electro-Lymphatic Therapy Benefits
Therapist Shannon Goins on New Mexico Living Discussing Electro-Lymphatic Therapy
What the Lymph System Does
Lymph is an essential fluid in then body. Much like blood, lymph transports nutrients to tissues and carries away toxins.
Lymph is also the major highway of our immune system. When we get a cut on our winter, for example the body rushes specialized cells to the site to latch on to invading germs.
They are then transported to the nearest lymph nodes through the lymphatic system. The germs are safely broken down in the lymph nodes and then their residue is carried to the bloodstream where filtering organs detoxify and dispose of the waste.
How Does Electro-Lymphatic Therapy Work?
Electro-Lymphatic Therapy (ELT) works by making lymph more fluid so that it can better flow through the body.
Lymph that has become stagnant tends to get thick – like Jello. ELT changes the consistency of stuck lymph so that it is more similar to water.
One way to envision congested (“stuck”) lymph is to imagine clothes in a dryer that have had no fabric softener. They stick together in a clump and are hard to separate.
Imagine that fabric softener were added to those clothes. They will now come apart easily.
Electro-Lymphatic Therapy makes lymph to where it does not tick to itself. Changed to a more fluid state it is easier for the lymph to get where it needs to go in the body.
Even if we don’t have a cut finger, this process is constantly underway. We are always being exposed to germs through our nose and mouth. The nearest lymph nodes (where germs are broken down) to these areas are in the neck. This is why a doctor feels a patient’s neck as one way to determine if he or she is sick.
How Lymph Becomes “Stuck”
Lymph does not have a large pump to move it along like the blood which has the heart. Instead, lymph relies primarily on movement of the body to cause it to flow.
Body movement doesn’t have to be on the magnitude of an olympic event to get lymph moving. Just walking, putting away groceries, doing laundry, and there similar everyday tasks are sufficient. Of course, the more you move, the better.
Breathing and the pulsing of blood through arteries also help to move lymph, but they are not enough to keep the lymphatic system truly healthy.
Most of us spend a great deal of time not moving. Sitting in traffic, working at a desk, and watching TV are all sedentary things we find ourselves doing a majority of the time. If we don’t get in at least a walk once a day, our lymph starts to “gum up.”
To further complicate the matter, we do not hydrate ourselves properly. WE don’t drink enough water and then we consume sugar and caffeine which further use up or deplete what water we have.
Being dehydrated is a major factor in lymph stagnation. If all of the functions of our body are competing for water that is in short supply, everything ends up getting a water ration instead of what is needed. So, none of our body processes that require water end up functioning at 100%.
Wearing Tight Clothing
Tight clothing like bras and tight waistbands restrict the flow of lymph causing a backup like a traffic jam. When there is a choke point, everything behind it comes to a stop.
When these and other factors like a poor diet are all taken into account, lymph becomes less fluid-like and more Jello-like.
If you have ever tried sucking Jello through a straw, then that will give you an idea of how hard it is for thick lymph to flow in the body. That’s why it’s called “stuck lymph.”
Benefits of Electro-Lymphatic Therapy
Trying to Move Congested (“Stuck”) Lymph
The most commonly used therapy for moving lymph is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), which is sometimes also called “lymphatic massage.” It’s a great method which can be very beneficial, but it is limited to moving lymph in whatever state it is in – watery or Jello-like.
You can force Jello through a straw, but it isn’t necessarily easy.
Makes Lymph More Fluid
One of the primary benefits of Electro-Lymphatic Therapy is that it addresses this issue head on. ELT causes lymph to become unstuck and more watery. Lymph can then flow better.
When lymph (also called lymphatic fluid) is flowing properly, all kinds of processes in the body are impacted.
One of the most profound things people notice is the detoxification effect. Since lymph is what transports away the wastes normally produced by the body, freeing up the lymphatic pathways and getting lymph flowing properly causes a backlog of waste throughout the body to be purged.
It is possible that people might feel a bit icky the next day, because all of that waste goes straight to the bloodstream (like it should). If someone is really stuck, it may be a lot for their body to handle all at once. DRINKING LOTS OF WATER before and after the session helps this immensely.
Not everyone has this type of reaction, and it those that do get it find that it isn’t bad. They just feel a bit under the weather for a day and then it’s gone and they feel much better than they did before their ELT session. Talk about understanding the true value of effective lymphatic drainage!
Feeling Energized and Refreshed
Most people who have had Electro-Lymphatic Therapy feel energized, invigorated, and refreshed – sometimes as soon as the session ends. Sometimes it takes until the next day. Everyone is a little different, but most people have this positive response.
Better Immune Response
Having a properly functioning lymphatic system means that the cells that are part of the immune system can get where they need to go. This is both in terms of fighting off invading germs and monitoring for their presence.
Electro-Lymphatic Therapy also stimulates the immune system to produce more cells that protect us.
Another major function of the lymphatic system is to return fluid to our circulatory system (our bloodstream).
In a normally functioning body, blood is pumped from the heart to our organs and out to our extremities (hands and feet) through arteries. When blood reaches its destination, arteries transition to veins through tiny little vessels called “capillaries.”
It is at the capillaries where fluid containing nutrients seeps out and carbon dioxide seeps in to be returned to the lungs so that we can breathe it out.
The fluid that seeps out of the capillaries delivers nutrients, then picks up large protein and waste molecules from the surrounding tissues. To complete its function, it must return to the bloodstream.
Since the fluid now has big molecules attached to it, it can’t make it back into the capillaries because the openings (like pores) are too small. It needs another route to return from the tissues.
This is where the lymphatic system comes into play. The lymphatic system has the ability to reabsorb the fluid and large molecules.
What Causes Chronic Swelling?
In people who have chronic swelling, usually something in the lymphatic system isn’t functioning properly. This can be caused by a number of things, one of which is stuck lymph.
Other causes may include not enough lymph nodes (for example, after cancer surgery where lymph nodes are often removed). This leads to a backup in lymphatic fluid in the area served by those lymph nodes. They are part of the exit route for the lymph, and without them fluid gets stuck.
It’s like having part of a main highway wash out in a storm. Everyone is trying to get home from work, but the route is no longer available.
Injury to the lymphatic system through trauma can impair the ability of the body to remove fluid from part of the body. (This does not mean that all injuries that become swollen are lymphatic issues. If the swelling goes down, that is just normal inflammation. If it persists indefinitely, then it could be lymphatic injury.)
Another cause of swelling can be chronic venous insufficiency where the valves in veins aren’t functioning properly causing more pressure at the capillaries. As the blood rushes backwards in the veins, this forces out more fluid at the capillaries than the lymphatic system can handle.
It is kind of like using a dixie cup to carry water expelled by a garden hose. If given enough time, the dixie cup could handle the water from a garden hose one small cup at a time. However, it can’t keep up with a running garden hose that is never shut off.
In all of these cases, Electro-Lymphatic Therapy can help reduce swelling by increasing the efficiency of the lymphatic system. In terms of the analogy above, it’s like using a bucket instead of a dixie cup to move water from a running garden hose.