About Me

My photo
I have actively practiced as a Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) and massage therapist since 1993 with special interest and training in the Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) technique. My experience is with lymphedema disease, edema in general, pre- and post-surgery massage, cosmetic surgery edema  and more.   My search for a low or non impact movement modality led me to become a certified trainer in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® I have found it to be a helpful movement modality to stimulate the Lymphatic system and other stagnation out of the body. The Gyrotonic method is the base for movement sessions used at the office. Palliative care is another direction of great interest, as many of my clients are in disease states.  My mission is to provide compassionate care and resources for my clients.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Without your being aware of it most of the time, your internal organs are constantly moving. Much of the movement is due to the mechanics of breathing.

The diaphragm is the most important breathing muscle. It is a dome-shaped muscle that sits across the middle of your trunk, dividing the chest from the abdomen. The outside edge of the diaphragm -- circular in shape -- attaches to the bottom of the ribs. In the center of the diaphragm is a tendon that attaches to the lower spine.

The connective tissue of the diaphragm attaches to the connective tissue of your lungs. When the diaphragm contracts and flattens, it pulls on the lungs making more room for air, and you automatically inhale. When the diaphragm relaxes and moves up toward the lungs, it forces air out of your lungs and you exhale.

At the same time, the diaphragm forces all the abdominal organs -- not only the intestines but also the stomach, spleen, liver and gallbladder -- to move. Your organs are covered in a layer of connective tissue which is lubricated by tissue fluid. Because of the tissue fluid, your organs can slide against each other smoothly. When you inhale, the diaphragm forces your abdominal organs down and forward. When you exhale, the diaphragm moves up allowing the organs to move easily back into their resting position. This constant movement massages the organs, helps them function as they should, and stimulates the deep circulation of lymph in the abdomen.

Adhesions -- scar tissue between layers of connective tissue -- can prevent that freedom of movement between the organs, which can cause pain and other abdominal symptoms. If your organs are “stuck” due to adhesions, it affects your breathing. If your breathing is shallow or constricted, it affects your organs.  Massage can help release adhesions in the abdomen, restoring freedom of movement to the organs and improving your ability to breathe, AND massage can free up your breathing muscles, not only the diaphragm but also all the other muscles that affect breathing, so that you breathe deeply and more easily, and empty your lungs completely with each exhalation.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Abdominal Massage

Abdominal massage, as the name indicates, is massage that focuses on the abdomen. Generally it is a slow, careful and detailed massage with the therapist working gently through all the layers of the abdomen, from the skin and superficial muscles to the intestines, other abdominal organs and the deep muscles.

The purpose of abdominal massage is to release cramped muscles, improve lymph circulation on both the superficial and deep levels, remove adhesions and contractures and stimulate peristalsis in the intestines.

The muscles of the abdomen are considered to be the core muscles of the body. They contribute to both balance and movement, and connect the lower limbs to the hips and spine. If the muscles of the abdomen are relaxed and toned, your posture is better, you have greater freedom of movement and more stability. Tight muscles in the abdomen cause low back pain, awkward balance and more stress on the hips, knees and back.

Superficial and deep lymph circulation meet in the abdomen. Most of your lymphatic vessels are superficial, just under the skin, and help to protect you from invasive disease-causing organisms. At two important locations -- in the nodes located in the neck and in the abdomen -- superficial lymph vessels connect to deep lymph vessels, which also drain the internal organs. Abdominal lymph massage helps to stimulate movement of lymph through both levels and helps to empty lymph out of the largest lymph vessel -- the thoracic duct -- back into the blood stream.

Layers of tissue in the abdomen -- muscles, connective tissue and organs -- are lubricated and meant to slide easily against each other. An adhesion is scar tissue between two layers, preventing them from moving easily. Adhesions are due to infection, dehydration, injury, surgery or radiation. Abdominal massage helps to release adhesions and to help abdominal tissues slide freely against each other again.

An important benefit of abdominal massage is that it stimulates peristalsis. Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction of smooth muscle cells in the walls of vessels and intestines. On the microscopic level abdominal massage helps to stimulate lymphatic peristalsis, which is also called the lymphatic pump. This gets lymph vessels to working on their own, moving lymph fluid through the nodes and back into circulation. On a larger level, abdominal massage helps to stimulate intestinal peristalsis, which can help if you have constipation or intestinal spasms.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Immune-Supporting Herbs

Can herbs help stimulate your immune system? Herbalists have long said so, and now in many cases scientific research is validating the herbal tradition.

For instance, Dr. L Sheng and colleagues, authors of a report in a 2010 journal "Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology," confirm that cordyceps sinensis, a medicinal mushroom, does strengthen cells in your immune system. (1) In a 2010 article in "Pharmaceutical Biology," the authors reported that trichosanthin, extracted from tianhua, a traditional Chinese medicine, helped to prevent growth of lung cancer cells. (2)

Authors of an article published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" in 2010 report that bupleurum root increases the ability of macrophages -- immune cells -- to destroy disease-causing organisms. (3)  There are many more medicinal herbs that can stimulate your immune system, and much scientific research to validate the herbs.

However, there are some concerns you should consider before taking medicinal herbs, including quality control and standardized doses in the production of herb supplements, interactions with other medications and allergies. Herbal supplements come in widely different strengths and are prepared in different ways by different companies. Standardized doses help you to choose an effective dose without overdosing.

Interactions with prescribed or over-the-counter medications as well as with other herbs can cause serious health problems. For instance, capsicum can increase the absorption of certain asthma medications, sedatives and antidepressants, as well as ACE inhibitors used for high blood pressure and heart or kidney failure. Don quai and Co-Q-10 can increase your risk of bleeding if you take blood thinning medications. Echinacea combined with certain common medications can cause liver damage.(4)

Research herbs before taking them. Find out the correct way to take the herb ( for example, tea, extract, powdered herb, internally, externally) and the correct dose. Learn whether there are any dangerous interactions with other medications or other herbs. Treat herbal supplements as you would prescribed medications.  If you are pregnant or nursing or have a serious or chronic illness, talk to your doctor about which herbs might help you and how you should take them.

  1. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Sept. 2010
  2. Pharmaceutical Biology, November 2010
  3. Journal of Ethnopharmacology"
  4. Listing of Herbs/Interactions

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How Often Should I have Massage?

The answer varies depending on your reason for having massage. If you are having massage to relax, reduce stress and refresh your spirits, schedule a massage whenever it is convenient for you, as often as you like.

If you are having deep tissue massage, wait at least three days before having the same kind of massage on the same area of the body. Light to moderate pressure massage styles such as Swedish massage or lymph drainage massage are safe every day.

If you are having a therapeutic massage -- for pain or swelling, for instance -- you'll need to talk with your therapist about how long the results last. If you feel better for three days and then the pain comes back, schedule another massage. You'll be able to spread out the time between massages longer and longer as you heal. If you are getting lymph drainage massage for a condition such as lymphedema disease, you'll want to have a massage every day until the results last a full 24 hours. Then you can schedule every other day, until the results last 48 hours, and so on. Conditions such as lymphedema disease respond more slowly than ordinary edema or pain.

Can MLD Be Harmful?

For the most part lymphatic drainage massage is safe. However as with all massage therapies there are some contraindications. For lymphatic massage specifically, these include acute inflammation, malignant tumors, thrombosis and major heart problems. However, it is safe and beneficial for many other serious health problems, including cancer. Consult your doctor for specific concerns, and discuss your concerns with your massage therapist as well. For instance, your doctor may tell you lymph massage is beneficial during radiation therapy but may want you to hold off during chemotherapy. You, your doctor and your therapist should work as a team if you have a serious illness.

Who Benefits from Lymph Drainage Massage?

There are many health problems that may result from congested and stagnant lymph drainage. Here is partial list of conditions that may improve with increased lymph flow: arthritis, post-breast-cancer lymphedema, cellulite, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, HIV, sinus problems, sluggishness, frequent colds or flu, congested lungs, wrinkles, vertigo, edema, toxin accumulation, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney problems, lupus, lymphedema, neck & shoulder stiffness, premenstrual syndrome, polyps, skin disorders and stress.

MLD promotes the healing of fractures, torn ligaments, sprains and lessens the pain, promotes healing of wounds and burns and improves the appearance of old scars minimizes or reduces stretch marks. Lymphatic drainage massage can help to stimulate the immune system and metabolism for healthy weight loss. The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in the body's ability to heal from injury and to ward off disease.

What is Manual Lymph Drainage Massage

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a gentle manual technique used to help increase lymph flow. It is a very relaxing, non oiled massage modality. Some would say that MLD is not a massage at all, but rather a gentle skin stretching technique used to mimic the Lymphatic system's natural movement. The movement is relaxing to the point of being almost hypnotic. The body switches into parasympathetic nervous system which is extremely relaxing as well as where our bodies go to do our own healing and resting.
MLD is the gold standard of treatment for Lymphedema. And is also used in managing Lipoedema.