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Lymph Love with Leah Levitan

Podcast Cover Image - The Less Stressed Life Podcast Episode #263 Lymph Love with Leah Levitan Image of Christa Biegler & Image of Leah Levitan

This week on The Less Stressed Life Podcast, I am joined by Leah Levitan. We dive into all things related to the lymphatic system, including signs and symptoms of lymph stagnation, how to facilitate lymph drainage, and the importance of minerals for lymph drainage.


  • Lymph nodes versus Lymph symptoms
  • Definition of Lymph drainage
  • What makes lymph stagnant
  • Symptoms and signs of lymph stagnation
  • The importance of minerals for lymph drainage



  • Where to start with lymph drainage
  • How to continue to move the lymph if you are injured or bedridden



Leah is a licensed massage therapist, Vodder Method certified lymphatic drainage specialist, massage therapist instructor, and online educator. 

In her Austin clinic, she assists and supports women as they navigate their unique healing journeys. She approaches the body with brain-based myofascial bodywork and Manual Lymphatic Drainage to harness the healing power of the lymphatic system. that has proven to be a valuable missing miss to their migraine, autoimmune, chronic fatigue, EDS, hormone imbalance, and endometriosis symptoms. 

She is the founder of Lymph Love Club, which started out in 2020, with some silly videos that contained tips and tricks for her clients to help them keep up the lymph work at home. The response was overwhelming and it turns out that chronic folks who've slipped through the cracks of traditional medicine also needed this information and were ready to learn about, rebuild trust, and take ownership of their body's innate healing capabilities. 

With all the healing journeys she's witnessed firsthand, she started to build out her first online course (Intro To Lymph Flow) and has become a women's health + self-love advocate in the process. Through her own self-healing journey of transitioning off of birth control and reversing her dense breast tissue with MLD, she's helped raise awareness about breast and reproductive health to help others gain autonomy in their healing.


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Leah (00:01):
I know lymph nodes are really scary, but I definitely try to share the message of if you find one, you know, we can't just go to the big C, like everybody kind of freaks out. But stress can cause our lymph nodes to swell.

Christa (00:16):
Stress is the inflammation that robs us of life, energy, and happiness. Our typical solutions for gut health and hormone balance have let a lot of us down we're overmedicated and underserved at the less trust life. We are a community of health savvy women exploring solutions outside of our traditional western medicine toolbox and training to raise the bar and change our stories. Each week our hope is that you leave our sessions inspired to learn, grow, and share these stories to raise the bar in your life and home.

Access to functional or specialized medicine testing and standard blood work is a big piece of personalizing care plans to help our clients succeed. But getting accounts with multiple labs and ordering and tracking results from many different web portals slows efficiency by bogging us down in admin work. This is why I'm completely obsessed with our podcast sponsor rupa Health. It's a single portal that allows you to order from over 20 specialty labs in one incredibly simple dashboard. I'm talking less than 30 seconds to set up your free account and about 30 seconds to order the labs you need. All the results are in one place and I can securely send clients their results with a click of a button. A big advantage for our clients is that standard blood work can be ordered for almost two-thirds less than other direct to consumer lab sites. Rupa is a lab concierge, so they send the lab invoices on your behalf of a client, pays for their own labs.

They help them get set up with a lab draw, navigate testing questions, and they provide the requisition forms. It's literally a dream Go sign it for free to help streamline your practice and simplify ordering labs for your [email protected]. That's RUPA and let them know I sent you when you sign up. You can also check out the show notes for this episode for a short video walkthrough of how I use Rupa Health in my own practice. All right. Today on the less stress life we have Leah Levitan, who is a licensed massage therapist and a Vader method certified lymphatic drainage specialist, massage therapy instructor and online educator in her Austin clinic. She assists and supports women as they navigate their unique healing journeys. She approaches the body with a brain based myofascial body work and manual lymphatic drainage to harness the healing tower of the lymphatic system.

This has often been a missing piece to migraines, autoimmune, chronic fatigue, estan, low syndrome hormone imbalance and endometriosis symptoms. And those are like no small beans, no small potatoes right there. She is the founder of the Lymph Love Club, which started out in 2020 with some silly videos that contain tips and tricks for her clients to help them keep up the lymph work at home. The response was overwhelming and it turns out that chronic folks who slipped through the cracks of traditional medicine also needed this information. Were ready to learn about rebuild, trust and take ownership of their bodies innate healing capabilities. With all the healing journeys she's witnessed firsthand, she started to build out her first course online Intro to Lymph flow and has become a woman's health and self-love advocate in the process through her own self healing journey, transitioning off birth control and reversing dense breast tissue with manual lymphatic drainage. She's helped raise awareness about breast and reproductive health to help others gain autonomy in their healing. So not really a mouthful, but that was like a lot of stuff, a lot of amazing work. Welcome Leah.

Leah (03:38):
Hello. Thank you so much for having me.

Christa (03:40):
And as an aside, Leah and I are gonna meet in real life in very soon, maybe this podcast will come up before that in October in Austin where we're both presenting at our mutual friend Kaley's event Restore and Reconnect, which is like an outdoor event of yoga and breath work and the Leah talking about body work and just a lot of TED talks. I feel you can some and some mineral nourishment, which I know you wanna talk about mineral. So let's, we'll get to that too. But first I always think let's get to know you a little bit and let's understand your story. Why did you get into lymphatic drainage? How did this all start? Why did you delve into lymphatic drainage? What were you seeing in practice? Well,

Leah (04:19):
I've done body work now and it was a little more traditional to begin with kind of mastering certain levels, you know, fascia, muscles, tendons, all that stuff. But just as my career progressed, there were certain people that I just wasn't able to help because I didn't understand what chronic inflammation was <laugh>. So you know, I would just be working on somebody who would have bursitis or arthritis or you know, I had a few cases of like rheumatoid arthritis and basically I just didn't know how to help those people beyond, you know, let me just like mash on you a little bit. So I'm sort of like a forever learner. I'll never stop. I can't, it's quite the addiction. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, but I found Dr. Perry. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I stopped chasing pain and just such a fan girl. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But you know, hearing him talk about the lymphatic system and how important it was, his podcast sort of like opened up this portal and it made me realize like, oh man, my mom's a breast cancer survivor. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, my brother has a rare autoimmune, my sister has lymphedema. Like all this stuff that just, I had never really even thought about it because I was sort of looking at, you know, a layer. Right.

Christa (05:34):
You hadn't thought that all of those things are so connected.

Leah (05:36):
Yes. So I just, you know, people would ask for referrals or ask what it was and I would just be like, I don't know what lymphatic drainage is. I have no idea. So the more that my clients asked about it, I think, oh, that was sort of the beginning of this next round of it kind of coming into its own light and getting the well-deserved attention <laugh> mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that it needed. So yeah, I took the plunge, I got certified and I've been doing that ever since. And basically I gave up the hands on like, you know, the deeper body work because my body was talking to me and lymphatic drainage is so gentle and intuitive so it's a lot easier on my body. But also I kind of realized I was getting a lot of like emotional releases on the table that had not, not happened really that often before. Mm. So I was like, Ooh,

Christa (06:23):
With the lighter touch.

Leah (06:24):
Yeah. I was like, this is like a huge energy mover for people. Like this is different <laugh>. Mm-Hmm.

Christa (06:30):
<Affirmative>. Well, on the note of Dr. Perry, who I've not had yet, but I have a client right now who she was working with someone else and she started on protocol stuff and like just things hit the fan like everything broke essentially would be how she would describe it. It was a hot mess in summary. And for some reason she flew across the country and saw Dr. Perry and he was, and she said like 24 hours he changed my life and opened up drainage and detoxification and limp support and she saw him a couple times and that kind of got her on her feet again. I mean I can't remember all the situation, but she was having all kinds of horrific like I cannot really live my life type things going on. Like all of just kind of like when things are upside down or there's a lot of, depending on training or principles or whatever, there's a lot of different things like you might say like stagnant lymph or we might say stagnant lymph, we might say sluggish drainage, detoxification.

There's some old energy medicine that I first learned that was like, you're blocked or switched or whatever. And I feel like it's got a lot of like similar undertones. So she went to him, went home, did some of these things at home and now she's, you know, picking up this other corner. I would call this like the structural corner when I always think of that healing triad, like the structural corner is as important or more important or they're all, you know, equally important or all have different priority. The structural corner at the emotional corner and then the nutritional corner which has its own thing. But I think of that as the, sometimes you gotta tip things right back up besides, it's funny that that's how you are inspired as well and now you're like a full on lymph advocate <laugh> online and no one talks about lymph. It's like the underrated thing that you mentioned for a paragraph in med school and had a little bit of a claim to fame maybe in the eighties and no one's talked about for 40 years. So on that note, people may have a little bit of knowledge about lymph or they may have heard of it before, but can you just give us the 1 0 1 on lymph and lymph drainage a little bit?

Leah (08:20):
Yeah, for sure. So let's just go over like a brief summary of what our lymphatic system is. It's basically our immune system. So many multidimensional layers of protection, whether it's mucus or the immune cells that kind of travel in the lymphatic fluid itself. But I heard a really great analogy that kind of compared it to like a, like an apartment building. You know, the organs are each individual apartment and they need fresh water that we can drink. And then we also need pipes that we can flush our waste out of. So you know, each story, each level. And then we've got the penthouse at the top. That's our brain, that's the main floor. But each organ is one of those apartments. And so we've got, you know, the cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system that work kind of, you know, in concert, but they are totally separate and you know, people kind of call it like, yeah our, our sewer system if you will.

But it's not responsible for detoxification. That's gonna be the detox organs. So you know, colon, we've got the, I'm like spacing out right now because today's just been the longest day ever. So we've got skin, skin, love is colon, kidneys, <laugh>, it all works together. And the lymphatic drainage portion of that, there is no pump for our lymphatic system. There are some little smooth muscles that kinda line the vessels that the nervous system can kind of tick, you know, probably about 10 to 12 times a minute. But the lymphatic drainage, especially the type that I'm certified in, it kind of switches the nervous system to the parasympathetic. So that's gonna dilate those lymphatic vessels and increase flow throughout the whole body. It's distinguished by opening the head and neck to create a vacuum where our lymphatic fluid goes back into our bloodstream. And so you kind of poke around in there and whoosh, you know, it starts to move from the hands and the feet. My clients often experience like tingles in the crown of the head where it's kind of starting to gravitate. It's very much like in nature with water sheds. You know how every drop of rainwater somehow finds its way to the ocean. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So it's like little become big. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, but it usually starts right on the surface of the skin and then just goes into deeper and deeper channels.

Christa (10:43):
So thinking about this analogy, the lymph is, is it appropriate to say that the lymph is mostly the pipes of fluid or not really and then with like the head or the brain there's not really a starting place or is there a starting place? Cause I heard you just talk about there is no pump but the nervous system is the only thing that can influence like the movement potential aside from like actual movement of your body, right?

Leah (11:08):
Yeah. The muscle activation will kind of do like a push pull for it and then it also gets like a little bit of like a kickback from neighboring like veins and arteries. So like the pulse, you know, it'll kind of piggyback on that.

Christa (11:22):
So what makes lymph stagnant and how do we know that or what are some outward more obvious signs that lymph is stagnant?

Leah (11:32):
Well as you know, nutrition is like such a big part of it, right? And then our modern culture, like we're very active by nature but we're very sedentary by culture. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So that muscle activation, getting our heart rate up, moving our body, that's gonna be like the no brainer way to move it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. And so I think that the lymphatic health, you know, it kind of coming to the forefront is really great in this time when a lot of us just, we are spending a lot of time seated, which kind of puts a kink in our water pipes, you know, if you will. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and it just, we end up getting a lot of very preventable things. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> just from being pretty sedentary.

Christa (12:13):
Give me some examples of some of those preventable things for those signs of hey lymph is backed up or lymph might be backed up but here are some of the other things that you see kind of that are connected to that.

Leah (12:25):
Oh yeah. Okay. So when it comes to like the connective tissue in our body, it can really adapt to what we do the most with it. So fascia it'll get pretty tight. We get pretty wound up by not kind of elongating and stretching those things. Mineral deficiency, I'll go over like some potential signs and symptoms here in a minute, but it's, you know, like arterial sclerosis where it's like the thickening and hardening of arteries. There's six choke points in the body where that tends to happen, which will be in the abdomen, the neck, the backs of our knees, our elbows a little bit and those are like little hotspot like clusters of lymphatic activity and they kind of hang out around the joints because we're designed to move and we're designed to move those joints and help those lymph nodes, you know, massage them and help that lymph move.

But some signs of that stagnant lymph is gonna be fluid retention. People deal a lot with that. You know, I have a lot of people asking like, and my feet and my ankles are swelling, my lower legs, they feel heavy, they feel painful. Varicose veins, spider veins cuz that's kind of like a little hint of that cardiovascular like you know, not flowing as it could. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we've got some brain fog fatigue, you know, you get enough sleep but you never feel rested. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> when you feel stuck and stagnant. It's an intuitive thing when you feel it you are <laugh> because lymph is such an energetic thing too.

Christa (13:56):
Yeah. I always think of it as fluid, but you brought up mucus which obviously like you know, has this viscosity of fluid but I never think about that being part of the lymph system. Before you brought that up I always just think about imaginary fluid. I mean actually since you kind of you come with this mild faci history, you know like what are the layers here? Like the fasc is are kind of right below like, I mean how is doing my fascial stuff and lymph stuff like very super different. They're both body work, they're, they're in the umbrella of body work but they're different systems And what does that look like to you when you're choosing? Am I doing my fascial release or am I doing lymph drainage stuff?

Leah (14:36):
Yeah, well when you're doing lymphatic drainage, you know the type that's really gonna move it the most is when you're working with the skin and not really on it. So if the skin that you're working on feels really tough and stiff and you know just stuck, we kind of need to loosen that up a little bit just to allow for it to flow a little bit more freely. So myofascial release doesn't actually like drain lymphatic fluid the way that you kind of have to mosey it on down and kind of work and shimmy it along the line but it just allows for it to flow more freely.

Christa (15:13):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I always think when I am thinking about things that are affected by the lymph system, so you brought up some areas that I don't think of. You brought up the abdomen, the back of the knees, the elbows, those are the only, I think you said back of neck and I think I

Leah (15:27):
And the neck. Yeah. Just like kind of in the right behind the collarbone here, that's actually like the terminus. So that's where a lot of fluid structures meet and so that's where kind of everything goes back into the bloodstream.

Christa (15:41):
Hmm. This is different than how I think of, I think of like lymph nodes more so being collected in the armpits, in the groin, et cetera. So when I see like skin rashes presenting in those areas, I was think oh well you need to support your lymph but you're describing some very different areas. But what's interesting about that is that these are also places that like we get skin issues sometimes that's not right or wrong, it's just like an interesting observation and I don't know if it's really this related or not related. They're both methods of moving toxins. I feel, correct me if I'm wrong please at any time but I'd love to hear like one question that may come out of that is lymph nodes versus lymph system. Is there anything to differentiate there as we're trying to understand this kind of imaginary system that you know, that people don't really talk a lot about is we try to like make it

Leah (16:24):
Tangible. I know I started out and I was like, I gave the analogy and I'm like wait, but you didn't actually tell 'em, you know, just like a brief rundown. So that one's on meat. That's all right. So, so the lymph nodes are gonna be the little organs. Those are where that fight goes down. And so the lymphatic vessels, those are like our pipes. So that's where lymph kind of flows through and they'll go in one side of the lymph node and then they'll come out the other side. And this is kind of the, the filtration stations if you will. Mm. And when a lymph node swells that's with that immune cell division so that it can kind of take over and you know, kick ITSs ass.

Christa (17:06):
Yeah. I've only really seen like we're familiar with swollen lymph nodes from the perspective of like in the front of our neck. Right. Kind of under our jaw line. We're familiar with that. I've only really seen in clients other lymph nodes swelling. It's like it's gotta be kind of severe to me if people can see their lymph node sticking outta their neck and I've mostly seen that with like mold stuff. Where are some of the places that you see? Maybe that's like what you see mostly, right? Cuz that's the area that you're in. Maybe you don't, I don't know how often if people come and say like I see this lymph nodes or I feel this stuff swollen in my armpit. I think that the part of the question is that's severe <laugh>, so how do we like get to before severe as well. But how often are you seeing it where that's really swollen? And then I wanna get into like being a little more proactive cause that's our audience.

Leah (17:49):
Yeah. It's interesting because you can never really predict where a swollen lymph node will occur, but it is very common for them to be in the face or the neck because of, it's such a high concentration for lymph nodes. They're like a third of them are in our head and neck. We've probably got about six to 700. And so a third of them are in our head and neck. We've got 30 in each armpit. So a lot of times, you know, it'll be pretty common for somebody to find one there. They're doing like a breast exam and they just, they're poking around right. <Laugh> mm-hmm <affirmative>, we touch our face a lot. We touch our breast tissue a lot or we should. And so yeah, I would say head and neck and armpits and then the occasional groin lymph node that can happen too. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But I know lymph nodes are really scary. But I definitely try to share the message of if you find one, you know, we can't just go to the big C <laugh>.

Christa (18:43):
Yeah. Right,

Leah (18:44):
Right. Like everybody kinda freaks out. Right. But stress can cause our lymph nodes to swell. Well

Christa (18:50):
It makes sense.

Leah (18:50):
Yeah. Makes

Christa (18:51):
It makes sense. Cause when you have stress we, our immune system gets depressed and when our immune system's depressed it's like gotta try to fight cuz something is now invited in, right?

Leah (18:59):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>

Christa (19:00):
Like it's a perfect domino it seems.

Leah (19:03):
And there's also some constriction that goes on there with the stress. Mm. I mean just like nervous system stuff, you know, just the same way that when you're in the parasympathetic it can dilate and allow for more flow. It can do the opposite. When we're stressed we're kind of, you know, frozen. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. Yeah. And

Christa (19:21):
Well I know you wanted to talk a little bit how minerals planned all of this and when I think about expansion and construction I think of minerals as well. So you know I to talk about minerals all the time, but I don't think about it in context of limp. So tell me how you're seeing that play into or how like that plays into your work or how you look at this overall big picture.

Leah (19:40):
Yeah, so minerals are not something that I heavily considered even, you know, two years ago, a year ago when I started listening to Amanda's podcast, which is where I heard your sweet voice and your episode and then I, and then I found your podcast. But it was just one of those where I didn't really know what minerals were <laugh>. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> or I mean, you know what they are. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, but it's, you get like a brief rundown and you're like, oh man, they're really, really important. So a lot of the fluid retention that I see it seems like as soon as I, I'm like on the adrenal cocktail party train now. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and I just, I tell all my clients to have an adrenal cocktail, you know, a couple times a day for a couple days after or like leading up to and then after their sessions mm-hmm <affirmative> because most of us are deficient.

Right. So and most of us are that high stress. Yeah. Thank you. Stress. Yeah. Once I like learned the building blocks of that adrenal cocktail and why those particular minerals were so important and how we burn through them faster when we're stressed. I just felt like I wanted to talk about that today because you know when people are just, they're feeling swollen and puffy like oh man, my face all this stuff like my lymph must be backed up. They don't even really think about, you know, they're thinking like let's go straight to the thing that can drain the fluid. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. But if they're not addressing the minerals, what ends up happening is that fluid is just gonna come back. Mm. Because it's having a hard time, right. The protein's getting built up in the tissue and it's not getting pulled down into those little channels because our fluid layer, you know, before lymph becomes lymph, it's interstitial fluid. So it's like that soup that bathes our cells and it doesn't become lymph until it goes down into the lymphatic collectors and like goes down into the little channels. So it's just one of those where we think about this, these like little physiological changes and you're like, oh man, well moving it's cool but how do we prevent more fluid from backing up? Like let's, let's optimize here

Christa (21:37):
<Laugh>. Yeah that makes me think about, that's such an interesting point before it's lymph, it's interstitial fluid and then it goes down into these little emphatic connector is, so that makes me think about all of the nutrients it needs to do its job and how it's nutrient dense. So what's kind of the composition of lymph?

Leah (21:55):
Well it's mostly water but it's like compare it to like the, like ocean water a lot. You know, it's like nutrients and salt but it's mostly like long chain fatty acid or long chain fatty stuff and primarily water. Interesting. And yeah

Christa (22:14):
So I wanna hear multiple things. I wanna get into cosmetic versus clinical lymph stuff because you know, here's the things we think about with lymph externally. And then I wanna talk about some things I do with clients internally if they're having fluid retention. So I have a couple supplements but I do talk about like outward movement, right? So I'm kinda looking at both of those. Stereotypically what is talked about in the lymph world is like dry brushing, rebounding, I don't know what else you can fill in the blanks. And then probably a year or two ago I became more educated in gua, which is essentially like the traditional Chinese medicine version of what PTs now use for scraping, which is just like a smooth surface with some oil and that is a little bit more of a cosmetic thing. And so you brought up cosmetic versus clinical and I think it'd be really good to talk about the difference here and what does lymph drainage look like? What are some modalities of lymph drainage like so is it remounting, is it dry brushing? Personally for my skin clients like dry brushing is not always a great fit cuz those brushes are really bristly and hard and uncomfortable and I, I don't even really recommend it super commonly for this reason. Cause it's like herd of adopt if you don't really enjoy something it's like I'm not gonna do that. Right.

Leah (23:26):
Absolutely Hurts look

Christa (23:28):
Like hurts. Yeah. It's like that was uncomfortable. And so then I buy all the brushes, I'm like well this one's nice but you can only get it at Christmas time. <Laugh>. So what does lymph drainage look like in everyday capacity? Maybe like can you paint a picture for us of common things? What you think works better or worse or you know, or if you think we're not really even doing lymph stuff justice and we should be doing different things.

Leah (23:52):
Mm. Well I don't wanna say that we're, it's like

Christa (23:55):

Leah (23:55):
Questions there. We can't do lymph injustice, I'll tell you that Right. Anytime that you find a moment to take a breath to yourself and to do it with intention, you're doing your lymphatic system some good, you're changing the pressure in your ribcage using your diaphragm, you're moving lymph in your abdomen. So that's a really good easy thing that you can deal. But to back it up a little bit for guha, so gu Shaw's been around for a really long time and it wasn't always cosmetic. Only in the last like, I don't even know 20 years, 25 years, eh, somebody's gonna beat me up over that. But <laugh> only in like a, a very short amount of time did people actually start using it on like for beauty and cosmetic. So you're addressing the fascia cuz you'd mentioned PTs use it for scraping mm-hmm <affirmative>. So there is a very clinical use for it and I love it.

It's great. So in terms of the clinical versus cosmetic, you know there's a lot of like sweeping upwards or like lifting or, or kind of mm-hmm <affirmative> swirling. And so you know, when it comes to aestheticians kind of teaching this stuff, they're really trying to teach you how to loosen up the muscles, loosen up the fascia, kind of get all the blood flowing and then it's in terms of like draining, that's why it works so well is like you are draining fluid. But a lot of it, it's like people are watching and they're kind of confused and a lot of times they're going in the wrong direction cuz lymph can only move in one direction. There's like little, little flaps that kind of keep it from backflow mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so it's great. It's a wonderful design and yeah so people just kind of get their wires crossed and they're not really sure what they're doing. So everything that I teach on my Instagram and a lot of people that I kind of will shout out and like share content with, they're really trying to just make sure that like, hey, you're always going in the right direction. Everything that I'm showing you is always going to be like, you know, moving lymph in some way.

Christa (25:49):
So we're on an audio. Tell us, paint the picture of moving lymph in the right direction. What direction do you move it to?

Leah (25:55):
Well it's interesting because you know, a lot of times the consensus is like it's always moving towards your heart and generally speaking that's true. But lymph will gravitate from the back of the body towards the front. So sometimes it'll move laterally and just kind of understanding which way that river is flowing is really helpful. Hmm. Because anything for the face, it's always gonna be like lifting. Right? But those are draining downwards towards the heart.

Christa (26:20):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So you can't mess it up, is that what you're saying? Or you can't really mess it up.

Leah (26:23):
You can't mess it up in the sense of like anything that we're doing for our body with the intention of like I'm caring for it, I'm nurturing it, maybe you're not moving lymphatic fluid as well as you wanna be or as efficiently as you wanna be. But I never, I never wanna say that somebody's doing it wrong. And I feel like you'd had asked something about the difference in modalities of lymphatic drainage. So I'm certified in Vadder, there's a few subcategories of Vadder, Chile, Casey Smith, but those are gonna be like clinical grade, the stuff they use in hospitals, physical therapy offices, stuff like that. But Vadder is kind of like the category that that falls under. And then you've got like older, more ancient modalities. So like Brazilian or Maya abdominal massage, those are gonna be like the deeper tissue lymphatic treatments or like wood therapy. Sometimes people will like use a wood board on the abdomen and it's just, you know, with the rise in popularity of the lymphatic stuff, there's just a lot of people that are, it's almost like a cash grab. I hate to say it,

Christa (27:29):
<Laugh>, I had a massage last week and I was like, huh. Usually when you press that, which I hadn't been there in a few months, but I was like, usually when you press in my belly I don't even really notice anything. And she's like, Oh yeah your lymph is congested right here and there's like a spot where it drains. And I was like, I have no idea if that was accurate or no, I know nothing. I know nothing <laugh>, but it could get congested. I mean you brought up those other areas where it gets congested. She brought up that when you're sitting, which I think that's the thing is like we sit and so we're not in movement and lymph is about movement. I mean that's like the one sentence version unless I'm wrong, which is I could be totally wrong but Well

Leah (28:01):
There's definitely a nutritional component, right? Yeah. Like if we're just like eating a lot of saturated fats and things like that, it, it kind of just adds to that burden of well the liver will contribute a lot of lymphatic fluid, that spot that your massage therapist was pressing in your abdomen. So we've got like a little sack there, the cchi and then that is like the thoracic duct. So the thoracic duct is like the main pipe that brings all of the lymphatic fluid from the abdominal compartment and the lower body like from the tippy toes to the groin to the pelvic area, like all that stuff. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and it brings it back up through the diaphragm, through the rib cage and back into the bloodstream behind the collarbones, that terminus area we talked about. And and yeah liver

Christa (28:45):
Going define gravity.

Leah (28:47):
Yes it has toy gravity all the way all the way up. But that's why our breath is so important, you know? Mm. Taking control of our breath and taking some intentional move breaths as often as we can is gonna be really helpful for moving fluid in the lower body.

Christa (29:01):
Yeah, that's a really good reminder. Thanks for bringing that up again. When you brought that up the first time I thought of her saying that it was stuck right there at that spot. I was like, well maybe I'm not breathing very, very broadly. I better, I better get after some longer session breath work. On that note, longer session. So we were working toward talking about modalities, we talked about outward signs, lymph was stagnant a little bit. Some of the really overt ones. I talked a little bit about kind of some things I see in skin. We talked about client story. I would like to hear actually any fun client stories that you have seen with moving lymph before we get into some practical things we can do. You brought up, hey when I'm moving li and like it's a lot, a lot lighter, I'm seeing a lot more emotional release. So just tell us some cool things that you have seen from supporting lymph.

Leah (29:47):
Well I get a lot of breast cancer survivors. Physical scars kind of create a barrier for our, for our lymph because once those are kind of severed in the body kind of has to plaster it all back together. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, it's kind of like building a dam in a river, right? Like the water will always kind of find a way around but it has to find an alternative route. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So lymphatic drainage is exceptional for postoperative care because it reduces the development of scar tissue and then it helps those, it's called lymph angiogenesis so it like, you know, the lymphatic vessels can regenerate, which is so cool. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. But yeah the scar tissue in the breast area from the mastectomies that can really rattle people's cages a lot because it's such a traumatic thing to have surgery and to have breast tissue cut off and you know, and then if you go one step further and get implants then you're going into surgery a second time. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So it's a lot on people and I work a lot with people's like endometriosis cases.

Christa (30:46):
The what happens when you work on endometriosis for people? What do they see happening?

Leah (30:51):
It's usually just basically I take people through like a series of sessions that I've kind of developed a protocol but it can be a little bit different. Sometimes if somebody has like a C-section scar or something like that, we'll find an alternative that works best for them. So it's kind of like a trial and error situation and basically it just, we try to time it right before they ovulate and that decreases inflammation in the pelvic lymph nodes. So just a lot less pain, a lot less swelling and bloating around their period. And it just makes us, you know, either shorter or lighter. It's been really interesting too cause in terms of like detoxing, we can detox down there too <laugh>. So people you know kind of having some wild descriptions of their mucosa changing and the mucus and some discharge and variations in like what exits our body. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> in terms of like waste material,

Christa (31:50):
Right? Yeah. There's a lot of waste material that wasn't getting out for the cause of endometriosis in the first time place. So

Leah (31:56):

Christa (31:56):
Really a lot of what some of those really hard things that you work on, there's a lot of chronic waste material. Could make that statement a little bit about cancer. I try not talk about cancer <laugh> in some ways but we're having cellular divide of these diseased and damaged cells and so if we're not able to collect like essentially if we were not able to clean things up, you know if we have stagnation or we're not able to clean things up, anything could happen. Right? Yeah. It's not a scary thing but anything could happen potentially.

Leah (32:19):
That's right.

Christa (32:20):
Interesting. I know you brought up EER stand syndrome, which is not many people talk about so I'm curious about that. You you brought that one up. I'm like hey let's bring out the random not it's not, I'm sorry if you have eds, it's not super random but it's less talked about that's for sure. <Laugh>, it's interesting that you brought that particular one up.

Leah (32:37):
Yeah, well I sympathized with that population deeply because I feel like they fall through the cracks a lot. Totally. And even with massage it's like it's so hard to get a diagnosis. It's so hard to get treatment. It's so hard to find a massage therapist because a lot of them are like nervous that they're gonna get hurt, you know, maybe pulled or pulled on too much EDS is like laxity in the joints so it's people can get injured just going to get, just trying to get some body work. But the lymphatic component and the myofascial because we're not manipulating the bones so the joints too much with the myofascial but cuz they still have a lot of tension, you know they're just having to kind of guard every movement that they make because everything hurts and might injure them. But there's also so many layers to eds that a lot of them have pots or for sure all, there's most of the cases they have got like chronic inflammation, all of their lymph nodes are swollen.

I mean you know everything under the jaw, everything in the neck. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So the lymphatic drainage has just been really, really powerful for them. We've got like a really awesome PT here in Austin who special like it's all he does is eds and so we kind of co-managed people and it just started, I met him at like a networking event and he sent me one person and then he sent me another one and then that person met somebody in a support group and they sent me that person and slowly I sort of like becoming like the EDS lady in town. I don't know, word got out. So a lot of my clients have EDS and they're just, it's just, it's an important one. Tugs in heartstrings a little bit.

Christa (34:15):
Oh totally. You brought up the pots seems to go in tandem with that a lot all the time. Elo, Danlos and pots and then sometimes you see mass cell stuff. So I definitely think in terms of like supporting that drainage and detoxification, I think there's often like some chronic toxic burden there for sure. That's how I see it from my corner <laugh> my corner of the world over here. So it's great that they have some, I think anytime you can be doing exogenous or body work or something externally when you're over sensitive or very sensitive to lots of things, that's great. But for everyone else, where do you start with lymph drainage to start to see changes? What would you recommend someone start with and how long should they do it to say, Hmm, I'm looking to see if this is helpful. Where should you

Leah (35:03):
Start? I think some of the basic lymph movers are gonna be starting with our head and neck because of the high concentration of lymph nodes. Whenever you're like starting to practice lymphatic drainage, start with your head and neck, it's where you start anyway but that's where you're gonna feel it the most. I mean a lot of people with headaches, migraines, tension, headaches, jaw pain, you know we're all like grinding our gears as we're typing away on our computers. Yeah. And just like neck and shoulder pain, all that stuff is gonna be really, really beneficial. And then you know, everything that drains from our brain that dumps down into the cervical lymph nodes in the neck. So it's really great for that brain fog, fatigue kind of stuff Helps with sleep. You had mentioned rebounding. Rebounding is a really excellent way to move your lymph because it uses gravity and that jumping up and down it moves lymph in that one direction that it goes in. So I think NASA did a really hefty study on this because astronauts blood and lymph just went crazy in space <laugh>. And so they just discovered how amazing it was to have them jump on trampolines to kind of like get that, you know, keep everything moving in the right direction.

Christa (36:22):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. Interesting. What would you say to someone who is bedridden has an injury and they're like stuck without a lot of movement for a while, What can they do?

Leah (36:31):
Yeah, so lymphatic taping is really good. KT tape. You can actually use tape on some of the choke points, whether it be, you know, abdomen, ribcage back of the knee or inside corner of the knee. That can be something very low effort. Maybe a dry brush with like a very long handle would be good for people with mobility issues. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> vibration plates. I have many clients that stand by vibration and it doesn't even have to be a plate, right? Like you can get a vibration plate and it'll be great for your lower body. You can just sit or stand there with your legs on it. But even those like little vibe balls, you know the vibrating balls that you roll on, I know that I feel like everybody's got one of those. I

Christa (37:17):
Don don't but my husband just bought himself wanted to sit with in in his equipment and he's like, Oh it's so great and so I'll have to let him know. He said Great, Good job honey.

Leah (37:27):
Well I bet like everybody in the sense of like anybody who's like making gadgets, <laugh> like every company has like a vibration ball I feel like cuz I was gonna suggest one and then I was like, no, everybody makes one. You can get one from anywhere. Rock tape is great cuz they make the vibe balls and the KT tape for the lymphatic taping. But you can take like one of those little balls and kind of put it just like on your neck or in right behind the collar bones where that lymph comes back. I've got this like little face brush that I wash my face with mm-hmm <affirmative> and that vibrates. And sometimes I'll just kind of leave it on my skin for longer <laugh> than it should be. You know? Cause I'm just like, I feel it in my sinuses. Or I'll like, I'll put it under my chin and I'm like, I am moving kind of doing like little sweeping towards my ears if I'm under the jaw line. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> or from the ear to the collarbone, I'll kind of do a couple passes there. So anything like that is gonna be, you know, pretty doable for a lot of people. And especially when that chronic fatigue is there where it's like people don't have the energy to walk and

Christa (38:32):
Well I think those are good. Their body tools for anyone, to be honest, that made me think of you don't really notice that those muscles are potentially sore until you start rubbing a ball. Like one of those balls. Not even a vibrating ball, but I've used essentially yoga balls, essentially a lacrosse ball. Like I think when you rub that up and down on the front of your neck or kind of behind it, you're like ge, I did not even know there was any issue here until I start rubbing it there and then I can, it's like barking at you or whatever. So there's, I think that can be really, those were all really simple options. I've never heard of it called lymphatic taping before. Does it look like how we think of taping and it's just in those main pieces or is it a little different?

Leah (39:10):
So the way you can do main pieces, they're usually just like a little bit smaller but then it almost looks like a little octopus or something. There's like a piece of tape that you take. I actually have, I have some right here. So there's like a little, this is probably about, you know, the size of my finger, just a piece of tape that I cut down and I rounded the edges. This would be something that I would use to maybe tape somebody's vagus nerve for stimulation. The largest lymph node in the neck is also right there. So that's kind of some low hanging fruit where it's just like, hey I just want to kind of do a all in one combo. But you can take the tape and cut it into strips and that, you know, one side is solid, you don't cut all the way through, but you get these like little tails that you can kind of attach to the skin and like a little octopus looking thing. And what that does is it casts like a wider net, if you will, to kind of like lift the tissue up. And so that's helpful for those tight fascia spots and things like that. It just makes it easier.

Christa (40:10):
I didn't think that putting a piece of tape on the vagus nerve would count as vaus nerve stimulation. Is it because it's kind of like lifting or what is it? Is it bringing awareness to the area? Like what are all the mechanisms of what's happening

Leah (40:22):
There? Yeah, I mean brain and skin just talk to each other. Mm. It's like that sensation of the tape on the skin immediately sends a message to the brain of like, pay attention here. Mm. So you know, a lot of times people use like athletic taping. I wouldn't be surprised if one day that it was like athletes couldn't use it in professional sports because it just like turns up the volume of the brain. Like the communication to that area.

Christa (40:46):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, I was just gonna say like I don't wanna misstate this, but I didn't realize that tape was mostly, someone else had told me this recently like oh that KT tape, that's mostly for like awareness of that area. Not for like any particularly excellent. Like it's not actually doing a lot of function. It's for like bringing awareness to the area. I'm like, oh I didn't, no idea.

Leah (41:06):
It's true <laugh>. Yeah, no idea. No, there's like such a brain component, right? Like they always a but but for the lymphatic taping, you know when we're doing those little fingers across the skin, that really does lift. And they did a study where they put a guy's lower leg in like a wooden cast and did an mri. Like they did an MRI and then they took him out, put a piece of tape on there, KT tape on the back of his calf and then put him him back in the mri and it actually showed an expansion of the calf compartment. Hmm. So there is like some lifting mechanism there. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, but it's like how it helps us move better that's all like brain, skin baby. Mm-Hmm

Christa (41:47):
<Affirmative>. It's fascinating. Yeah. Very, very interesting. So we've covered mostly exogenous lymph stuff today. Briefly touched on like nutrition in terms of minerals and then when I have people that have backup, you know, sometimes I'll go 'em certain herbs, Turkey rhubarb, slippery album, some of those things help burdock with lymph. Is that anything that you ever use in your practice? Do you ever look at herbs or other things internally or just adrenal cocktails, which I think is actually better <laugh> in some ways or more holistic and more sustainable long term.

Leah (42:18):
So we actually have like a natural pharmacy right around the corner from my office. So a lot of times I will kind of like send people that way. And so some of the easier ones are like Siberian Gin Sing or Ashwaganda Cleavers are really nice. They come into season in Austin about twice a year. And mind, you

Christa (42:38):
Know what cleaver is?

Leah (42:39):
Oh they're like, it's called like Velcro grass <laugh>. It like sticks to your pant legs and sticks to animal fur. That stuff is delicious and it's insanely good for you. So good for your lymphatic system. I actually did a story last like in the spring when they were just like taking over my backyard. I basically, I forged as much as I could. I with gloves, <laugh>, I muddled it and I juiced it. Put a little bit of like honey and lemon juice in there and then you drink it. It's just like the most beautiful color green, you strain it, obviously you're not gonna be in that, you know, backyard track

Christa (43:16):
Stuff. Right. I'm just imagining how you do this when it's like trying to get it off your leg and it's sticking to you

Leah (43:23):
But it's so good. And something like that that's so simple where you find something in your backyard that you can utilize. That's is neat.

Christa (43:31):
Yeah, that's kind of my it's like how I feel about my holy grail right now. It's like I just wanna be able to go pick things in my yard and understand it and use it however I wanna use it. That's a, that's a beautiful feeling. Yeah, beautiful

Leah (43:43):
Feeling. Yeah's really good too. That one's not something that I can, that I can find very easily in an urban area like Austin, but you know, get to the outskirts. Oh and chi shot. I will sometimes recommend Sheila shot for people. Mm-Hmm

Christa (44:00):
<Affirmative>. Yeah for sure a good one. Cool. Well is there anything you wanna tell a person who's like, man, I've been kind of curious about lymphatic drainage and detox and I'm trying to decide if it's something I should be doing. Like what would you say to this person today?

Leah (44:15):
Well in terms of detoxification, detoxing is never the first step, right? We wanna be trying to optimize our body's function, but we also want to be avoiding environmental toxins at the same time <laugh>. So that's like a really, really great way to kind of the whole like trust your body thing is just make sure that toxic burden is going down. And then as you're kind of supporting your liver and your kidneys with nutrition and and minerals and all that stuff. But I would try Vader. I would try to find a massage therapist or a physical therapist who is certified in VA. And I only say that because if someone is kind of in a phase of their life where they are not feeling great, that the deeper modalities might just be like a little too much for them. Especially if they've got history of trauma, you know, chronic illness, chronic fatigue, things like that.

It's gonna be really hard on our nervous system to experience the deeper modalities cuz I don't wanna say they're wrong. They work, you know, you see those before and after flat tummy pictures and you're like, Yeah, I'm going to the beach next weekend. But the reality is that this is such big medicine and it doesn't have to hurt. It should never hurt. And in my mind, because we are using the nervous system as like a propeller, so it's like it's the pressure of a nickel on your skin and you just might have something bubble outta you that you weren't really prepared to deal with. And you're gonna feel like that burden has been lifted off your shoulders. But if you go to a deeper modality, it's gonna be hard to shed some of that emotional stuff because it's just gonna hurt and it's gonna be distracting. Right. You can't really delve inwardly if it's like a little too intense. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So when you're searching for a lymphatic drainage person, try to put that keyword in there, vadder manual, lymphatic drainage near me as opposed to lymphatic drainage because vadder technically that is manual lymphatic drainage. And so that's where that name comes from is like the school and the modality and you know, this whole philosophy and the way that this has been pretty heavily researched as it was being developed, you know, like 90 years ago.

Christa (46:29):
So I like the concept of nervous system as a propeller. I think that's a way to describe how you were talking about the nervous system's implica, I mean that is what you're describing, but you were bringing up how the nervous system kind of make or break a little bit. It's kind of a little bit of an engine for limp being able to move in addition to movement. Absolutely. You said there's little twitches. I feel like we just really got started on the topic of lymph. So where can people find you online?

Leah (46:53):
You can find me at Lymph Love Club on I'm on the Gram. I think that's where I'm most active. I'm going to start trying harder with my TikTok, so you can find me on TikTok. I would like to do something a little bit different that I'm not doing on Instagram there. But yeah, stay tuned for that. I've got a YouTube as well and I'll send you a link. I don't have that hundred subscribers to give me my custom, you know, love club. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, that's how not active on YouTube. I am <laugh> <laugh>, but I have so many people ask me and I know that there is something to be said for like broadening my reach and my teach.

Christa (47:36):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to be able to also see what you're describing. And so at Lymph Love Club, if you need a tangible tool that says you have a free dry brush guide there. Yes.

Leah (47:45):

Christa (47:46):
Well Leah, thanks so much for coming on today and I'll see you very, very soon.

Leah (47:49):
Awesome. I can't wait to meet you and thanks for having me.

Christa (47:54):
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