You may have noticed on some spa menus Lymphatic Drainage massage and wondered what it is. To be honest, there’s not many spas that actually offer this very important treatment for your health. This very gentle massage helps to remove toxins from the body through the lymphatic system. I’m sure you know by now how important it is to get those nasty toxins out of your body as soon as possible to prevent health problems.


What is the lymphatic drainage system?

There are hundreds of lymph nodes in the human body located deep inside the body, such as around the lungs and heart, or closer to the surface, like under the arm or groin. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.

The primary functions of the lymphatic system:

  • Transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
  • Maintain the balance of fluid in blood versus the tissues
  • Form part of the body’s immune system and helping to fight against foreign bodies such as bacteria
  • Facilitate the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients in the digestive system


The lymphatic system primarily consists of lymphatic vessels, which are similar to the circulatory system’s veins and capillaries. The vessels are connected to lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system.

Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is not a closed system. The human circulatory system processes an average of 20 liters of blood per day through capillary filtration, which removes plasma while leaving the blood cells. Roughly 17 liters of the filtered plasma are reabsorbed directly into the blood vessels, while the remaining three liters remain in the interstitial fluid. One of the main functions of the lymph system is to provide an accessory return route to the blood for the surplus three liters.

Unlike blood, which flows throughout the body in a continuous loop, lymph flows in only one direction – upward toward the neck. Lymphatic vessels connect to two subclavian veins, which are located on either side of the neck near the collarbones, and the fluid re-enters the circulatory system.



The thymus is a primary lymphoid organ and the site of maturation for T cells, the lymphocytes of the adaptive immune system. The thymus increases in size from birth in response to postnatal antigen stimulation, then to puberty and regresses thereafter. The loss or lack of the thymus results in severe immunodeficiency and subsequent high susceptibility to infection.

The thymus is largest and most active during the neonatal and pre-adolescent periods. By the early teens, the thymus begins to atrophy and thymic stroma is mostly replaced by adipose tissue. Nevertheless, residual T lymphopoiesis continues throughout adult life.



The spleen, which is located on the left side of the body just above the kidney, is the largest lymphatic organ. It controls the amount of red blood cells and blood storage in the body, and helps to fight infection. If the spleen detects potentially dangerous bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms in the blood, it – along with the lymph nodes – creates white blood cells called lymphocytes, which act as defenders against invaders.

The lymphocytes produce antibodies to kill the foreign microorganisms and stop infections from spreading. Humans can live without a spleen, although people who have lost their spleen to disease or injury are more prone to infections.

The main functions of the spleen are:

  1. To produce immune cells to fight antigens
  2. To remove particulate matter and aged blood cells, mainly erythrocytes
  3. To produce blood cells during fetal life


Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes are gathered in clusters in the neck, under the chin, in the armpits and in the groin. The lymph nodes will swell and become tender when infection is in the body allowing time for the T-cells to multiply to fight the infection. I’m sure you’ve all experienced having swollen tonsils (if you still have them) at the onset of perhaps the flu or an infection.

Lymph nodes are responsible for filtering lymph and providing part of the adaptive immune response to new pathogens.

Key points about the lymphatic system.

  • The lymphatic system has three main roles: it is part of our immune system, maintains fluid balance and is essential for the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients.


Getting the toxins out

Now that we know what the lymphatic system is and how it works, this is where lymphatic drainage massage comes into play. Unlike the circulatory system the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to eliminate those three liters of plasma that fail to absorb back into the system. How do you get that plasma out of body? With massage or upper body exercise, especially the chest and neck stretches, such as swimming, rowing or pulling the arms down with weights.

Lymphatic drainage massage is quite specific in moving the lymph towards the lymph nodes where it can be eliminated. Because the lymph fluid is just under the skin only a very gentle massage is needed to transport the fluid. Often a gentle pumping motion is used to move the lymph. The practitioner must massage in the direction of the groin, armpits and neck. The main lymph duct is in the neck on the right side above the collarbone. Dry brushing is often used in the massage, not requiring massage oil.

You’re probably wondering if good old Balinese massage will work. Balinese massage is designed for relaxation and muscle tension relief. The massage itself will help to move the lymph fluid provided the therapist follows the old rule of thumb, massage towards the heart. But for those who prefer a gentle massage lymphatic drainage is perfect for you. Massage is good for your health!


Where can you find lymphatic drainage massage? I’ve tried all of these spas, which are good.

  • Ayusha Wellness – Ubud 0361-361 975454
  • Cocoon Medical Spa – Seminyak 081338814388 & – Ubud  0811382241
  • Sundari Day Spa – Seminyak 0361-735 073
  • Taksu Spa – Ubud 0361 479 2525
  • The Nest – Sanur 0361-938 1523


Get a copy of Shari’s book The Spa Guru’s Home Spa of home spa recipes from Bali available on Amazon as e-book or hard cover. 

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