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Season 4 Episode 4:

Lymphatic Drainage and Massage: The Truth about Detoxification, Drainage and Our Immune System with Leah Levitan

Episode Summary

Detoxing has become a popular trend for improving health, but is it being done in a way that’s actually effective and not harmful? Leah Levitan, a lymphatic drainage expert whose holistic healing journey began with her mother’s battle with breast cancer, joins Michelle to dispel common misconceptions, explain the role our lymphatic system plays in toxin removal, and underline the importance of movement and nutrition in the detoxification process.

We discuss:

  • What the lymphatic system is and how it serves as an accessory to liver and kidney function [7:23]
  • What happens to the lymphatic system when detox organs fail [9:06]
  • Lymphatic drainage-how it actually works and what is happening in the body [11:00]
  • The impact of simple movement on lymphatic drainage and health [14:55]
  • The critical importance of supporting detox with nutrients and movement [20:27]
  • How the lymphatic system is connected to our nervous system and impacted by thoughts and emotions [27:11]
  • Fascia and it’s critical role in the body’s cohesion and flexibility [35:47]
  • The function of the lymphatic system in digestion [41:26]
  • Is castor oil effective for drainage and detoxification? [49:06]
  • Why habit stacking with multiple detox methods may be doing more harm than good [51:43]
  • Traditional massage vs lymphatic massage- is there a place for both? [53:33]

Thank you to our episode sponsors:


Connect with Leah:

Instagram: @lymphloveclub

Website: https://www.lymphloveclub.com/

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Lymphatic Drainage and Massage: The Truth about Detoxification, Drainage and Our Immune System with Leah Levitan


It is always my goal on every episode of Quiet the diet to understand what messages we're getting from the wellness space. One of the messages we're getting when it comes to social media, when it comes to practitioners, is that we need to kind of optimize our detox and drainage pathways. I've been seeing this so much online, and often what I'm seeing doesn't feel real, I guess is the word I would use.

Michelle S [00:01:43]:
It feels like a lot of flagrant language without substance, and I wanted to bring you actual information on drainage today on detoxification from none other than Leah Levitan of Lymph Love Club. Leah is not just any massage therapist. She has committed herself to fully understanding how the human body's ecosystem works. Founder of Lymph Love Club, an online lymph learning platform with Go at your own pace courses, and the owner of align massage and lymphatics in Austin, Texas. Her goal is to help clients and students heal beyond what they thought was possible by using a system of their own body that most have never heard of. In this episode, we talk about lymphatic massage, lymphatic drainage, and how our lymph system is so intricately involved with our nervous system, our immune system, and what it really means to detox and drain. We took all of the myth out of it and gave you the real truth in this episode, and I am so excited to share it with you. Enjoy.

Michelle S [00:02:53]:
I am here today with the amazing Leah levitan, and I cannot wait to have you here because I am so eager to not only pick your brain, but I'm kind of using you as a tool to help us myth bust a little bit of what's going on in the lymphatic world. As lymphatic drainage, lymphatic massage has become so popular. I know you have been in this field for a very long time, and you have tremendous insights. So, leah, I'm so excited to have you here today. I'm so excited to be here.

Leah Levitan [00:03:18]:
Thank you for having me. Yay.

Michelle S [00:03:20]:
Okay, before we even get started, and just so you know, up until this point, they'll have heard your intro and a lot more about you. But I want to hear from you kind of how you got into this very specific massage space, detox space that is the world of lymphatics. I want to hear your journey, a little bit of how you got here.

Leah Levitan [00:03:37]:
Yeah. Well, I think one of the first things that started with the lymphatic stuff was when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 1998. She was doing a lot of holistic alternative things after she had a lumpectomy. So she was doing dry brushing and coffee enemas and juice fasting and all this stuff that, I mean, before the Internet was really as, like, readily open with resources and alternatives and things like that. So we think coffee enemas are pretty far out now. It's really far out. In 98.

Michelle S [00:04:10]:
Oh, my gosh.

Leah Levitan [00:04:10]:
Was it when I was like, eleven? But really, I think dry brushing was probably the first thing that I ever did for my lymphatic health. So it sort of started with mirroring her and being like, I need to take care of my body, you know, natural.

Michelle S [00:04:25]:

Leah Levitan [00:04:26]:
But, yeah, I got into massage therapy. I feel like I've always done some form of massage since I was about six. I feel like I've always just sort of laid hands on people. And so it's, I sort of inevitably found that path after years of bartending and serving and slinging drinks inside the ranch. I was like, I feel like I want to serve people, but in a different way.

Michelle S [00:04:47]:

Leah Levitan [00:04:48]:
And I got into massage, and it was probably like six years before I found the lymphatic stuff, which was through doctor Perry Nicholson of stop chasing pain. So once I found that dude and, like, saw his passion, I was just like, holy shit. I've never seen anyone care about anything more than this guy cares about the lymphatic system.

Michelle S [00:05:08]:
Let's only reference icons in the health space as being dudes. That's hilarious. Like, that dude really did it.

Leah Levitan [00:05:14]:
That's awesome.

Michelle S [00:05:15]:
Yes, exactly.

Leah Levitan [00:05:16]:
He did it, and he's been doing it for so long. So it's like, here I came with my online because I found it, and I felt like I was immediately taken with. It was just like, I need to share this with the world, and I don't know how. And so I just, like, you know, started exploring, like, starting lymph love club and sharing videos. Originally, it started with, like, sharing them for my clients, like, as homework for them to do at home. And then, you know, the lymph. The lymph stuff, it's just really trendy right now. So I think.

Michelle S [00:05:44]:
But you were ahead of the trend. I have to just give you full credit. You were way ahead of the trend. I feel even though, like you said, there was, even in 1998, there was talks and understanding of this kind of part of our bodies, and we're going to talk about what we think of as when people think of lymph fluid or a lymphatic system, what it actually is versus the public perception. But there was some of that, but now it's really hitting the forefront, and we see it, I think, a lot with dry brushing, which is now becoming more, I guess, mainstream popularized, although many holistic and eastern practitioners have been using dry brushing for the entirety of their lives, of course. But in America or in western culture, I think it's becoming more popular in very recent years, it seems like.

Leah Levitan [00:06:27]:
Absolutely. And in the US specifically, too, because it started in Europe, and they've been doing it in Europe for a really long time. And then it kind of spread to Brazil and sort of led to other alternative modalities, like brazilian lymphatic, which is definitely different than the type of training that I have, which is in the botter method.

Michelle S [00:06:47]:

Leah Levitan [00:06:48]:
Yeah, so it finally got to America. We're always just a little.

Michelle S [00:06:52]:
Just a little late, you know, a little being, like, 50 ish years. A little bit. Just a tiny bit late. Just our lifetimes late, otherwise. Yes. So I think for a lot of people, the lymphatic system, or lymph fluid, is very commonly misunderstood. And the context we usually see it in is, again, these massages or things like that on the most basic level. Leah, can you explain to us what is lymph fluid? What is our lymphatic system? What does it do? And visually, how can we understand it?

What is the lymphatic system and what does it do?

Leah Levitan [00:07:23]:
Absolutely. That's a really great question, too, because I think a lot of people aren't quite sure because they call it the invisible system, and it feels very invisible sometimes. So everybody's familiar with their cardiovascular system. The other half of that vascular system is going to be the lymphatic system. So the cardiovascular system has the heart that pumps blood to and from our tissue, delivering oxygen and nutrients, and it uses arteries and banks. So for the lymphatic system, it is primarily water, and it carries the immune cells of our immune system. So it transports and stores these cells and the fluid that flows through these little tunnels that get all over our body. They're pretty much everywhere except our hair and our nails.

Leah Levitan [00:08:04]:
So we're pretty rich, we're pretty saturated. This stuff is flowing in and out of these lymph nodes. We've got these little tiny organs of our immune system, these lymph nodes that are clustered in our major joints. The fluid is really picking up the things that don't belong in our body. These can be environmental toxins, dead, damaged, dying cells. It's starting there at the cellular level, as blood is pushing all this stuff in. What happens to that stuff when our body's done with it? The lymphatic system comes in, sweeps everything up, sends everything through the channels, and it goes through these lymph nodes. It'll go in one side of the lymph node, out the other side, and it'll do this hundreds of times throughout the body until it gets recycled back into our bloodstream as plasma.

Leah Levitan [00:08:50]:
Not all of it gets recycled, but a large majority of it does. So what doesn't go back in as plasma is actually eliminated from the body. The lymphatic system does not detoxify our body. It is actually, you know, that is up to our liver, our kidneys, our colon, our lungs, and our skin.

Michelle S [00:09:06]:
That's hugely important, what you just said. So my vision of what people think happens, first of all, on the lowest understanding of detox, is that you do a juice cleanse, and then it just soaks up everything bad and pushes it out of your poop. Like, that's my non scientific thing that I see the most. Then people do have this understanding that our liver and our kidneys have a huge detox capacity and are hugely important in this process. And what I think people think is, okay, our liver will get rid of toxins or something like that. As we know, it's a much more detailed repackaging and conjugation process and all these different steps that it takes, basically, to neutralize toxins and then eliminate them. So where I'm hearing lymph comes in is if there is recirculated toxins or something like that, is it that some of those toxins can leak into the lymph, or the lymph is actively picking up the debris from that process, basically, because it's not an inherent part of that process. Like you're saying, that's really the recirculation through the blood.

Michelle S [00:10:07]:
But tell us about that. A little scientific detail. And nugget.

Leah Levitan [00:10:11]:
Yeah. So it's like the lymphatic system has a special relationship with each and every detox organ. So it's like, it's working with the kidneys to maintain fluid levels. It's working with the liver because we've got a special type of lymphatic tissue inside of our intestines that actually deliver the digestive fats from the foods that we eat. So there's like a really cool relationship.

Michelle S [00:10:30]:
There, but it's like a. It's almost like an excess. It's an accessory system, but one that is extremely important. It's not what you would like. You said it's not the site of detoxification, but it is essential for detoxification, too. At the same time? At the same time.

Leah Levitan [00:10:46]:
Oh, yes.

What is lymphatic drainage?

Michelle S [00:10:48]:
And we're going to talk all about that, too. So when people are saying lymphatic drainage, what are, what do you people think they're saying? And what are they doing actually? What is actually meant by lymphatic drainage?

Leah Levitan [00:11:00]:
Well, drainage is happening all the time. Every deep, intentional breath that you take with your diaphragm is changing the pressure in your abdomen. We've got this large lymphatic structure. It sort of starts with, like, how lymph is formed, like, in that capillary bed. It's sort of like water falls in nature. You know, rain comes down, and it sort of gets delivered to little creeks and streams that turn into larger rivers that eventually end up in the ocean. So our ocean is in our abdomen, and so that umbrella shaped diaphragm is sort of gently stroking the front of this, like, giant duct that's, like, attached to the front of our spine. And so drainage is always happening.

Leah Levitan [00:11:41]:
Our lymphatic system is never not working. If it wasn't, we would be dead. But it does slow down. And the viscosity of our lymph is really important, too. You mentioned something about. So our lymph, the clear fluid that sort of flows through the system is primarily made of water. It's very similar component to seawater, actually. It's salty and it's full of nutrients, and there's even some hormones in there, and then it's got all this, like, garb, you know, that we've.

Leah Levitan [00:12:09]:
That we're trying to flush from the cells. And when our detox organs are not functioning as optimally as they should be, things are lagging, and things are not getting out of the lymphatic system. Things are not getting detoxed by the body. So they're just sort of getting recycled back in there, and the lymphatic fluid will pick it back up again. And it's just this domino effect of dysfunction. Primarily, the people that we see in my office in Austin, they've got all these chronic issues. A lot of them have never heard of their lymphatic system. They've never heard of lymphatic drainage.

Leah Levitan [00:12:42]:
So it's a lot of education. But the drainage aspect of the lymphatic component is it's always happening. It's just like a physiological thing. But manual lymphatic drainage, the type of light skin technique that we use and have used for the last 90 years, it's not new, but the last 90 years, we just. It's using the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system and the power of our nervous system. So it's both the therapist moving this lymphatic fluid that sits just beneath the surface of the skin, and we're using the client's breath, and we're using the nervous system as like a propeller to sort of dilate the lymphatic vessels to increase that lymphatic flow, that drainage. But that's sort of like the differentiator between drainage and detox. It's like we can drain stuff, but can we actually eliminate the shit from our body?

Michelle S [00:13:31]:
Exactly right. And also, detox is a highly nutrient dependent process. The organs that detox require a very high nutrient demand. So oftentimes. Also, as you're saying, components of our lymph are minerals. Like, if we don't have those minerals or those vitamins or amino acids to be able to pursue the detox process, what I'm hearing is you're just going to be recirculating the same stuff anyway. So you need detox processes to be in place, and you need drainage to be in place, essentially, yeah, absolutely.

Leah Levitan [00:14:02]:
And I think it has a lot to do with our sedentary culture. Our lymphatic system doesn't have, like a pump per se. It does have, like, a pulse, but it's very slow. It's like similar to the cerebral spinal fluid. It's like ten to twelve beats a minute. Our heart is like, the heart is the pump for the, for the cardiovascular system. So the pump for the lymphatic system is primarily muscle activation.

Would you say that movement is one of the most important components when you're engaging in a detox especially a medical level detox?

Michelle S [00:14:28]:
And would you say that a mistake people might be making in when they're detoxing from mold or doing any of these fun parasite cleanses, all these functional medicine fun things that doctors are really, I think, pushing, sometimes unnecessarily and too hard. Would you say that movement is one of the most important components when you're engaging on a detox or, you know, especially a medical level detox? Would you say movement in general is important?

Leah Levitan [00:14:55]:
Yes, absolutely. And it doesn't like movement and exercise are. I don't mean for those terms to be interchangeable. Like exercise is 4% of our day, so what are we doing the other 96%? So movement really comes down to just moving the body in natural ways that it already does. Breathing is a movement, doing chores is a movement. And movement can be really hard for people that have chronic conditions. So it's one of those where you have to take the pressure off yourself when you're in that healing process to be like, I'm not, I'm not getting in the gym. The gym isn't happening, so how can I show up for my lymphatic system and not feel like I'm already not doing enough before I even start? So.

Leah Levitan [00:15:40]:

Michelle S [00:15:41]:
And it's also, it's a really tricky game with movement when it comes to chronic illness because especially I work with, you know, I've had personal experience with and work with MCAS clients, pots, dysautonomia clients and. Well, of course you do. And we're definitely going to talk about that too, especially because of long COVID. I think a lot of these conditions have cropped up a lot and it's really relevant to the work that you do. So I definitely want to talk about that too. But movement can feel bad, but you need it kind of, when you're in a state of chronic illness. So it's like you sometimes have to like a little tiny bit, push past what's comfortable and then it feels better. But that doesn't mean lifting a bunch of weights when you can't stand up because you're so dizzy.

Michelle S [00:16:23]:
That's not, that's not what we're talking about. But I totally agree with you that making movement a part of your life is much more essential, almost than making exercise a part of your life, especially when your priorities have to be set there, they have to be, like, set the right way.

Leah Levitan [00:16:37]:
Absolutely. Yeah. I feel like I recommend to my clients most often would be yoga because yoga is designed to be simple. And I feel like eastern medicine, they sort of, like, knew what was up before they could even quantify, like, how. How things worked. Right. So lymphatic, like, yoga really dilates our lymphatic vessels because it puts us in the parasympathetic, and then we're very tied to our breath with this. So yoga, walking, swimming, I mean, even.

Leah Levitan [00:17:05]:
Even just being in the water and walking underneath is going to be really helpful because the weight of the water almost mirrors the pressure of our lymphatic system. So it just, it doesn't have to be, like, big, loud, hard, complicated movements. You don't have to.

Michelle S [00:17:21]:
Yeah, I don't know.

Leah Levitan [00:17:22]:
Just don't have to be hard.

Michelle S [00:17:23]:
It doesn't have to be. And also, I think, like you said, walking and yoga and these things, which are, you know, I have a lot of clients who are very aggressive, type a New Yorkers. I love them. You know, I do. I understand them. I understand them better than anyone. It's the life I've lived my whole life. But I think for them, they feel like if I'm not doing hardcore exercise, I'd rather just do nothing.

Michelle S [00:17:44]:
Because it's like they get in their head about it a little bit where it's like, what's the point of walking? What's the point? Point? But the point is, like, that's kind of where the magic sauce is, to be honest with you. Like, you actually have to do movement outside of just exercise. Thank you for that. Differentiator between movement and exercise, too, by the way.

Leah Levitan [00:17:58]:
Oh, yeah. I've got something to add to the walking aspect. So just by design, we've got these lymph. The lymph nodes are clustered in, like, our armpits and our hips. And so it's like, when we move, it's designed to sort of, like, push and pull and squish and mush these lymph node clusters. So what happens if we sit at a desk all day and we never raise our arms above our head? What happens to those 30 to 50 lymph nodes in each armpit? They're not really getting the nutritional, the nutritional movement of natural movement. So I love that.

Michelle S [00:18:40]:
It's important. It is, yeah. And I think, you know, what's so powerful, and I know you must notice this in your clients, too, is that I'll have clients, like, kind of push themselves to just go on little walks again, nothing dangerous. Like, little what? Things like that. And then eventually I'll notice that even during sessions, they're kind of moving a little more. And I'm like, that's interesting that your body starts to ask you to do those things after a little bit of time. Like, movement begets movement. Like, I think that's what's really important is that, like, the more that you move, the more that your body will invite you, I feel like, to move more.

Michelle S [00:19:14]:
Do you agree with that? Have you seen that?

Leah Levitan [00:19:16]:
Oh, absolutely. And in myself as well. It's like, exercise is something that's always been sort of hard for me. I'll be in a. I'll be in the zone, and I'm, like, doing all the things, and I'm showing up and I'm like, yeah, I'm getting a six pack. It's happening. And then for whatever reason, I, like, get half a six pack. And I'm like, all right, cool.

Leah Levitan [00:19:33]:
I'm like, I'm good. I can skip a workout today. Like, I look good. And then I'm realizing as I'm, like, aging, I'm like, ooh, I gotta, like, stay on top of just functional strength for my job because it's physically demanding.

Michelle S [00:19:49]:
Extremely physically demanding.

Leah Levitan [00:19:51]:
You forget about the, like, physical aspect of, like, what we want our bodies to look like or what we think our bodies should look like. Like, from a cultural perspective, too. It's, like, different everywhere you go, and it's just wild. So it's been a mindset shift for me about, like, what movement actually is, what it's for. It's what we were born to do. You know, it's what our body is designed to do. And it feels like. It's, like, honoring that process.

Leah Levitan [00:20:18]:
But, yeah, definitely see this. I see the struggle. Feel the struggle.

Michelle S [00:20:22]:
It's. We're all in it together. Come on. We're all in it together.

Leah Levitan [00:20:26]:
What I see with a lot of.

Michelle S [00:20:27]:
Clients is that they will have gone to these functional medicine doctors or allopathic doctors, and they'll go on these really hardcore detox protocols, and they don't have the movement in place or they don't have the nutrients in place, and then they get very sick. And, you know, a lot of times doctors will say it's just a herx reaction. It's a herx number reaction. You have to sit it out. And I'm like, but if you are not, if you don't have the nutrients to support detox and you don't have the movement to support detox, and you don't have the flow to support detox. You are going to keep recirculating those toxins and you are going to feel ill. And it is because you're ill, it's not because your body's fighting through it, which, of course, a herxemer reaction is real and a detox reaction is real. But can you speak into that a little bit too, of like, maybe people you've seen limited by lack of lymph flow or lymph movement in their healing journey when it comes to detoxing specifically?

Advice for people with lack of lymph flow or lymph movement in their healing journey when it comes to detoxing specifically

Leah Levitan [00:21:19]:
Yeah. And I think it just goes back to that piece of. Of people feeling like they can't do the things that society's telling them to do, which is exercise. So it's really one of those where I'll work with clients to be like, hey, let's get you some tools. You know, I'm not a huge fan of tools, but when it comes to chronic conditions or disabilities of any kind, it's like, no shame in using things that are going to support your lymphatic health. So usually that's going to be like a vibration plate.

Michelle S [00:21:51]:
I was going to ask you about vibration plates. I'm so glad you said that. I have one. I want to hear if I should be using it or not.

Leah Levitan [00:21:56]:
Well, hell yeah, you should be using it. It's great. Our cells love vibration. They love it. It's the whole thing with sound healing. I'm going to be incorporating sound baths and tuning forks into my practice soon. And it's because I've experienced that and felt the vibration and just been like, damn. Like the vibration of our cells, which are, you know, let's.

Leah Levitan [00:22:19]:
Let's just talk about the water component of our body. We're mostly made of water, and whenever you put vibration of water together, some really, really cool shit happens. So it's just one of those where, yes, vibration is definitely. It's a movement for. For the cells in our body. And. And movement is information to our body, so it tells our cells how to respond and how to act based on the mechanical forces that we place upon our body. So vibration is a great option.

Michelle S [00:22:52]:
Let's. I want to get really nerdy for a second. You mentioned something about dilation before of our lymph. So in people with pots, dysautonomia, one of the issues that they have is too much vasodilation without vasoconstriction. But our blood vessels, like you said, have a pump. It's a little bit different, is there ever too much, like, dilation of our lymph fluid? Or is it that your goal is always to get things kind of moving more flowy and more freely? It's a really weird question. I don't even know if it is easy to.

Leah Levitan [00:23:25]:
It makes sense. Yeah, it made sense. So I do have, we do have a lot of, like, pots and eds folks that come in, and usually they'll have both. And pots has, like, such a huge range, right. There are people that really can't even go from sitting to standing without feeling like they're going to fall down to people that live, like, a pretty relatively normal life. And I have the whole spectrum of those clients. I'm like, cool.

Michelle S [00:23:48]:
I got people where I'm like, take your time getting up, because you might feel light headed after lymphatic drainage.

Leah Levitan [00:23:56]:
But so the lining of lymphatic vessel, there's smooth muscle. So it's like the same muscle that's governed by the nervous system. And so it is very reactive. Lymphatic vessels are structured like this. They're not like veins, but they have a similar component where they have these little, like, back flaps that sort of prevent backflow. So lymphatic fluid only flows in one direction, or it really only should. So we've got these little flaps that sort of keep them from going backwards, and there are these little functional units that sort of make up lymphatic vessels. And that's where it gets, that's where they're different from veins.

Leah Levitan [00:24:34]:
And so it's like these little, I like to do this. It's like these things contract and push this lymphatic fluid along. And because it's governed by our nervous system, it just opening and dilating things is never going to, like, over flood the system, at least for people that have, like, a complete and functioning lymphatic system. There are conditions out there known as lymphedema, and this is dysfunction of the lymphatic system. Whether it's. It may be damaged or people were born with malformations or they're missing parts, they have too many parts, and that can really impact our lymphatic flow. And a lot of people have this.

Michelle S [00:25:11]:
Condition, and it's not very well known in diagnosing lymphedema. Is it something where they would actually be able to identify what parts of their lymph system aren't working? Or is it just the appearance of edema that is the diagnostic criteria?

Leah Levitan [00:25:24]:
Well, it's really hard to get a diagnosis because most doctors don't know what it is. They're sort of, you know, they've got these patients that are coming to them, they've got fluid retention, and they don't know why they're doing all these tests. And they're like, well, I mean, your heart's good, so it's not really your heart. It's not, you know, your blood pressure is good.

Michelle S [00:25:44]:
Everything's good. Right.

Leah Levitan [00:25:46]:

Michelle S [00:25:46]:
And that's. That's important. That's the question I'm also kind of going at in my head is, of course, people who have dysautonomia of any kind, which just, I guess walking it back for people who are new to this phrase, would be dysfunction of your autonomic nervous system, which we see dysautonomia symptoms very commonly related to heart rate changes. So there's this really interesting thing where people who have dysautonomia, or Potts syndrome, which is thought of as a potential kind of downstream effect of long COVID or things like that, they have, we would call it, like, circulation, blood flow, blood pumping issues, essentially. So what I'm angling at with Leah and what she's explaining so beautifully is, is the blood flow issue the same as the lymph flow issue? Basically. And that's what I. And understanding that people who do have pots and dysautonomia, definitely, if there's any blood flow changes, do get symptoms. So I'm assuming that in the beginning of their work with you, they might feel a little bit weird and, like, you'll notice that and know that just because you're changing fluid flow in the body.

Leah Levitan [00:26:50]:
Yeah, well, we're also lowering the blood pressure, too. I mean, just because we're switching to the parasympathetic and people are getting in that rest and digest, it's so interesting to hear people's stomachs just start digesting their food. And, you know, a lot of. There's a lot of, like, gut magic to the lymphatic stuff. It's a heavy concentration.

Michelle S [00:27:11]:
Gut magic and nervous system magic, from what you're saying. Tell me really briefly, because we know that the nervous system, or if you've been, if you've heard other podcasts of mine, we would know by now that the nervous system directs smooth muscle contraction. The nervous system directs blood flow. The nervous system does all these things. Tell me more about how the nervous system interfaces specifically with the lymph system.

How the nervous system is connected with the lymph system

Leah Levitan [00:27:30]:
Well, that's a really great question. There's still so much for us to learn, because there's a lot of, like, immune surveillance and immune system stuff that's governed by the nervous system that we still don't understand. We have a lymphatic system in our brain, and we're peeling back the layers and learning more and more that there's separate components. There's the glymphatic system, and then there's the meningeal lymphatic structures and how lymphatic fluid is cleaning our brain and how it flushes out the cerebral spinal fluid and just our nervous system, there's lymph at work there, and we still haven't even put our finger on it. So what we do know is that, yeah, our lymphatic system is always responding to our thoughts and our emotions, I mean, just as our cardiovascular is. So they kind of work, you know, they work in concert, and it has a lot to do with protecting the body. So the immune response, the immune surveillance, and then, you know, functioning with whenever we've got some sort of like, physical or emotional trauma to the body.

Michelle S [00:28:43]:
One important aspect of health that comes up in almost every quiet the diet podcast episodes is the relationship between our gut and our brain. We refer to this oftentimes as our gut brain axis. And for a long time, we've understood that IB's symptoms are related. Two, the stress that we experience. I'm so excited to talk to you today about today's podcast sponsor, Nerva. As you all know, I'm on a mission to share any whole body strategy to help manage and, when possible, reverse chronic symptoms that I've seen work in my client population. Both my clients and also our amazing lead, dietitian Nikki, have experienced tremendous benefits from Nerva. Nerva is a gut directed hypnotherapy app, which means that while you're at home, you can listen to hypnotherapies that are specifically designed to help manage IB's symptoms.

Michelle S [00:29:41]:
This mobile app has helped over 100,000 IBS patients address the miscommunication between the gut and the brain. Gut directed hypnotherapy has been proven to work just as well as a low FODMAP diet in managing IBS. Our goal with our clients is always to reduce the need for long term elimination diets and provide any strategy that might be supportive. That's low risk and high efficacy, and that's just what Nerva is. So with their six week program of listening to gut directed hypnotherapies from an app right from your home, they've seen incredible success in reducing IBS symptoms instead of targeting stress from a meditation perspective that's more open ended and not as targeted, Nerva has carefully curated and crafted these research driven hypnotherapies to specifically target IBS elated nervous system related symptoms. As a quiet the diet listener, you are eligible to have a seven day free trial of Nerva, which you can see down in the link below. I couldn't recommend Nerva more for our listeners and our clients. It has been so effective in helping to manage IBS symptoms and for our clients to have something that is able to be done from the comfort and safety of their homes is really a game changer.

Michelle S [00:31:06]:
So for that reason, we are extra excited to have Nerva as our sponsor this season.

Absolutely. So it's like, you know, people feel a lot when I'm, when I'm super, I would say pushy with clients that they should get lymphatic massage. And if they're in Austin, there's my number one practitioner sitting with us right now. I would recommend, but also virtually, you work with people in courses and of course we're going to talk about that too. But I have pushed clients before to get lymphatic massage when I do also feel like spiritually or physically, they're holding on too much. Like it's. That's, it's like, that's, I guess, like the most high level, non scientific way of explaining it is like you're just holding on to everything.

Michelle S [00:31:44]:
And it's like sometimes just the. I don't know, the catalyst that the body needs to start to release. I want to know how you've experienced. I know you've experienced this in client sessions, but can you, like, feel that release? Is it something that's tangible for you, or is it more spiritual? Intuitive?

Leah Levitan [00:32:01]:
It's both. So just in regards to what the client might be feeling, lymphatic work is really subtle. It's very gentle pressure for the most part. And so what people usually feel is just like, their sinuses are draining, they're swallowing a lot, their stomach is making these noises. Maybe they just feel like a little flush or clearance of fluid. Maybe it's warm, maybe it's cool. It can be both. If somebody's got inflammation in their legs when we flush it, that's going to be a cooling sensation.

Leah Levitan [00:32:29]:
Sometimes people feel like tingling when lymph is forming, so that's pretty cool too. But for me, yes. It's so crazy. When I first started doing lymphatic drainage, it's kind of like, when I first started doing massage, you don't have anything to compare it to. You just put your hands on somebody and you're like, is this. Is this muscle tight? I think it's tight. It feels. I've probably touched about five bodies, and I think this is pretty tight.

Leah Levitan [00:32:55]:
But then five becomes ten and ten becomes 101. Hundred becomes a thousand. And once you've touched 1000 different bodies, it's a lot easier. It's a lot easier to be like, okay, I know what I'm feeling, and my senses are heightened. So once I started working with the lymphatic system, it was. I had gotten there with the muscles and the fascia and all that stuff, but then it was like a whole new set of senses to start working with the lymphatics because the pressure is so light. So now it just. I feel like if I touch my fingertips just barely together, I can feel the pulse of my heartbeat.

Leah Levitan [00:33:31]:
And it's so f strong. It's really strong. So it's like. It's almost like a little. It's almost like a little too sensitive. Just, like, very sensitive to sound. It's very interesting. But, yes, I can feel fluid.

Leah Levitan [00:33:47]:
I can feel sometimes. This is especially common in the face and the abdomen. So where I feel it the most is I'll be working underneath the cheeks, and there's a little, you know, there's a little cavity there. We've got some. We've got a lymph node there, and the trigeminal nerve kind of comes out of a hole, like, some holes there. And so I will usually, like, place my fingers on people's cheek there, and I'll just apply enough pressure and just kind of, like, wait there and let my fingers, like, sink into the tissue. And then all of a sudden, like, the bottom will drop out, and it's like, almost like a toilet flushing or something. You're just like, my fingers just go whomp, like, into the tissue even further, and I'm like, okay, we did it.

Leah Levitan [00:34:30]:
So it's pretty wild. And the spiritual aspect is, I don't know. I've never had any training in energy work, but I know it's real. I feel it. It's just as scientific as the physical.

Michelle S [00:34:44]:
In my end, energy medicine is so well studied at this point that it's. But it's so interesting because I knew you'd have that answer, that there's an intuition aspect of this, because while you can feel it, you're also. This is a deeply energetic exchange that's going on too and energy is, in my scientific opinion, quite tangible also. So you're having that physical that you can really feel and the energetic that you can also feel during it, too. So it has to be. I'm sure it's a bonding experience to have to give lymphatic massages to.

Leah Levitan [00:35:15]:
Yeah, the therapeutic relationship is really sacred. It's great. It is.

Michelle S [00:35:20]:
It's really powerful. So, okay, I had also. You had mentioned fascia before, and I just want to roll back to that. When we think of, like, classic. When we think of classic, we're rolling because we're moving. Arlen, when we. This is on YouTube, so they will say, and we can leave that line in so that people will actually go watch the YouTube. When we think of classic, like, understanding of movement of the body and even chiropractic medicine and things like that, fascia kind of comes up.

Michelle S [00:35:47]:
Muscle always comes up. Differentiate fascia for us from, again, what is commonly understood and what you think of when you hear of fascia.

Leah Levitan [00:35:55]:
When I think of fascia, I think of pantyhose and oranges. Do tell. Can you expand into that? So if you look at an orange, you know, it's got this outer layer, and then you open it up, and there's this white, fluffy pith, and then you pull out each individual wedge, and you pull the skin off of those wedges, and there's individual sacks of orange juice. And this, like, we are nature. We might live separate from it, but we are nature. And so this fascia, it creates a level of separation, but it also holds everything together. And it's the organ of form. It gives our body its shape.

Leah Levitan [00:36:44]:
It is hardwired to our nervous system. It contracts and relaxes upon our thoughts and emotions. And it's sort of the environment where our lymphatic system lives. So it's suspended. It's suspended in this matrix and just sort of holds. It holds everything in place. Nothing in our body is ever just washing around, like, helplessly. Everything is so well organized.

Leah Levitan [00:37:14]:
And it's just. It's an incredible design.

Michelle S [00:37:17]:
The best design, the most complex design of anything ever. So.

Leah Levitan [00:37:22]:
Oh, and then the pantyhose.

Michelle S [00:37:23]:
Oh, yeah, I got oranges. Wear pantyhose.

Leah Levitan [00:37:26]:
Tell me. I got the oranges. Okay, so with the pantyhose, it, like. Because our fascia, it sort of dictates our. It dictates our shape. And our body. Our body is never out of shape. It simply becomes the shape of our environment.

Leah Levitan [00:37:39]:
That is a quote by Katie Bowman. She's a human biomechanist. She just, like, studies the movement of living organisms. It's so cool. She's written so many books, and I've learned so much from her, but she didn't. She doesn't actually do the pantyhose thing. It's just, like, something that stuck with me from school, but it's like when you get a run in your pantyhose, it just kind of keeps going. And so this three dimensional matrix that makes up our fascia.

Leah Levitan [00:38:04]:
I do myofascial release. There's no oil, there's no lotion. I see so many weird videos of people calling something myofascial release, but I think John Barnes old school myofascial release is the one and only if you're looking to get more education on that. But, yeah, it's like this seam that just sort of, like, goes somewhere else. It just keeps on, you know, just keeps tightening. So there's just these. These fascial lines that give our body strength and flexibility. For example, if somebody has a shoulder issue, say they have a mastectomy scar, well, their shoulder isn't really going to be able to move as it used to, because that scar tissue has created a break in that fascia.

Leah Levitan [00:38:51]:
The body plastered it all back together, but it isn't the same. You know, these fibers aren't. Now, these fibers aren't running alongside each other now. Now they're sort of scattered and sporadic, and so that really impacts the movement in the rest of the body. And so that's just, like, one example of how our stuff gets all hitched up and. Yeah, just like, it's like pantyhose and.

Michelle S [00:39:15]:
Of course, it's just like pantyhose and oranges. I think also for people who have had surgeries, that the message I want to take away is, I'm assuming that you can rewire and or re institute, reconstitute flow again after that, but it might be different than it was before. Is that true? Like, if there is scar tissue or something like that?

Leah Levitan [00:39:34]:
Yeah. So we used to think that scar, that lymphatic vessels, which absolutely do grow back after they've been severed.

Michelle S [00:39:41]:

Leah Levitan [00:39:41]:
Yeah. Regeneration, I think it. Yeah. Lymph angiogenesis is what it's called.

Michelle S [00:39:46]:
So Genesis do love it.

Leah Levitan [00:39:48]:
Yeah, they do come back, but we thought that they didn't exist in scar tissue. But now, thanks to more scientific research about the lymphatic system, we do know that lymphatic vessels can pass through scar tissue. But obviously, it's not going to be the amount that it was before. But the message and the takeaway is that it doesn't matter how old a scar is, it doesn't matter how limiting the movement is. If you've got blood and lymph in that area, which you probably do, that it can always be better. So I do a lot of scar tissue work and that's part of, like, that myofascial release is kind of where is this scar tethering and impacting somebody's movement or their lymphatic flow? And how can we, like, unjam that 100%?

Michelle S [00:40:39]:
And I'm going to ask you a kind of what I think might be a triggering question. But the reason I'm asking is because it's triggering. Yeah, I'm going to get you bad with the trigger. How when you talk about form, when you talk about fascia, when you talk about holding on to things, how does weight play into the kind of conversation for you when it comes to all of this? Like with extreme sensitivity, obviously, as I know you'll always take, and you are like very anti diet culture and very, you know, like, I don't know, normal, I guess, like you obviously are. But I do want to talk about how form fascia and our limb fluid and feeling like we're retaining too much fluid and all these things kind of play into weight and what you've seen in your work and how you kind of navigate these different worlds, because I'm sure you get questions about weight all the time, too.

Leah Levitan [00:41:26]:
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, the lymphatic system in the gastrointestinal tract, like, transports digestive fats from our food to the liver, like we talked about earlier. And so there are fats in our lymphatic fluid that's floating around. And again, when people body, they're not able to detox as well. They're not moving their lymph as well. It really changes the viscosity of the lymph and it becomes a little bit thicker. It has like a viscosity to it already, but it almost gets to just almost like a mucusy viscosity. And so it just makes it really hard for our body to heal in that type of environment.

Leah Levitan [00:42:10]:
But obviously, we see, I try to meet people where they are and it's always a process, you know?

Michelle S [00:42:17]:
Yeah, I think, you know, a lot of times people say if I, you know, they'll go to doctors or dietitians and the dietitians will say, you can't lose weight until you release your trauma or something. You have to go to a trauma therapist instead or something like that. I think there's probably some interplay here with that viscosity and with the body holding on to fluid or holding on to weight. What can influence the viscosity of that? I know you mentioned some things, but what can influence stagnation in our lymph fluid or viscosity?

Leah Levitan [00:42:45]:
Well, it just goes back to the functionality of our detox organs, the toxic burden that our body is under, and then those environmental things like getting natural sunlight and how we manage our stress and what we're eating and how much sleep we're getting. It's like our normal stuff.

Michelle S [00:43:05]:
It's the same stuff.

Leah Levitan [00:43:06]:
It's so interesting because it really is. It's the foundational shit that's going to heal your lymphatic system beyond, like, dry brushing. Like, dry brushing is. It's so superficial. Like, it's. It's literally superficial.

Michelle S [00:43:20]:
It's on your skin. Exactly.

Leah Levitan [00:43:22]:
It just moves the lymph that sits just beneath the surface of the skin. It doesn't do anything for our deep lymphatic structures because we have a superficial lymphatic system, and we have a deep lymphatic system. And so, you know, we gotta. When we're stressed, we're just breathing really shallowly, and. And we were forgetting to breathe. And then there goes our pump. There goes our one pump for the lymphatic system. For the main pump.

Leah Levitan [00:43:46]:
Not the one pump, but the main.

Michelle S [00:43:48]:
And also just saying that sentence alone, that, like, movement and breath as being a part of your actual life all day, is going to influence you a lot more than if you take 15 minutes and do some dry brushing or something like that, where that's nice, but it's never the sprinkles on top of the ice cream that makes the difference. It's always the base. Like, it always has to be those foundations. And it's funny because no matter what, anytime I bring an all practitioner on the podcast, which is every practitioner, because I would never have anyone on who's not awesome. But you all always say the same thing, which is that it's the acts of being human, it's the acts of being alive that make the biggest difference versus the fancy supplements you take versus doing those different things.

Leah Levitan [00:44:28]:
Yeah, the being versus the doing, for sure.

Michelle S [00:44:32]:
Do you believe in any of those lymph supplements as a sprinkle approach? I know, like, cell cores, like lymphatic. How do you feel about any?

Leah Levitan [00:44:40]:
I take the biotoxin as needed. The biotoxin by self care, but I definitely, I try not to shill that stuff on people because they see that on, like, every other. It's also very, like, health and wellness influencer account out there, so I don't need to add to the noise 100%.

Michelle S [00:45:00]:
So there are some that can. Everything we're talking about is just adding some facilitation. There are things that are real to facilitate, but at the base of things, you have to be a person still. You still have to be a person before you add the fun stuff on top. I will also say that not speaking specifically about one company or another, but any kind of intense detoxifiers, if you don't have that basis and foundation to be able to detox or drain, it's like, you can't drain if you can't detox, and you can't detox if you can't drain. And you kind of have to have everything in place in order to move forward. And most people are just jumping into heavy duty supplements and really not understanding what the downstream effects of that are.

Leah Levitan [00:45:38]:
Yeah, and they're so expensive, but also, like, plants, back to, like, back to, like, we are nature, and nature knows best. Like, plants are really helpful. And there's so many herbs out there, like calendula. I love calendula cleavers. Cleavers grow in most places, and they're considered a weed. Like, they only come around twice a year, I think, in, like, the spring and the fall. But they're just man. Like, sometimes they grow in my backyard.

Leah Levitan [00:46:07]:
It's called beautiful velcro grass. And I'll juice it. I'll, like, I'll muddle it. I'll add some lemon and some honey and then strain it. And I share, you know, I share recipes like that sometimes because it's important to remember, like, oh, okay. Like, I can, I can just get some cleavers or some red clover or some calendula. I'm gonna. I'm gonna massage my body with calendula oil instead of, like, neutrogena or whatever the.

Leah Levitan [00:46:34]:
It's like, whatever we're putting on our skin is definitely gonna, you know, it's nice and absorbed in there, so it better be good.

Michelle S [00:46:42]:
Exactly. So I also want to talk about a practice that I have is I do abyanga, which is oil massage and ayurvedic method. How do you feel about oils on the skin? And let's talk about castor oil, too. I know this is so popular now. People are putting it in their eyes. They're putting it everywhere. They're very excited. I know, exactly.

Leah Levitan [00:46:57]:
People are very excited about castor oil. Not familiar with the eye wash, actually.

Michelle S [00:47:02]:
This is something that many ophthalmologists actually sign off on, too. It's been used for a very long time. But I'm also like, this is a nutrition podcast, and also, this is not medical or nutrition advice, but castor oil has really made its way into the mainstream. I think, in some ways, joyously, Abianga has also made its way. Tell us about how you feel, like oils versus lotions and all those things on the skin and how they influence our lymph and our movement.

Leah Levitan [00:47:27]:
Well, I think, first and foremost, the act of putting something on your skin is probably going to do more for your lymph versus, like, the thing that you're putting on. Obviously, we want these things to be as clean as possible with as few, you know, shit that isn't good for us, which the list is an eternal. It's an eternal list, and we just keep adding to it instead of taking away. But it really is like, you know, the mushing and squishing of putting something on that really helps. And I've kind of had, like, some skin issues just as I age. I'm 38 and experiencing, like, some dry skin and some, like, hormonal stuff. When I came off birth control a couple years ago, and I was doing some oil cleansing that was really helpful for my skin, but apparently it's not. It's not ideal for all skin types.

Leah Levitan [00:48:19]:
So oil can be really heavy, and it can clog people's pain pores, or there's. Or somebody, you know, their skin might drink it up. So. Absolutely, I'm all for it, you know, versus lotion. If somebody has to use lotion, it really is just like how you put it on. I tell people to be lymph tensional.

Michelle S [00:48:38]:
I love being lymph tensional. I love that so much. And I also think it's very funny how controversial it seems to put oil on your skin when we're used to putting lotion, which, like, there's no components of lotion that exist within our body, but of course, our body is like oil and water and all these things that, like, you know, our heads, our hair gets greasy, like, we're releasing oils and all these things. Do you find castor oil effective for supporting detoxification or drainage? Is it something you use in your practice?

Leah Levitan [00:49:06]:
So I don't use castor oil in my practice, but it is something that I recommend for people. Sometimes. I will do an occasional castor oil pack, and I'll usually kind of couple that biotoxin from silk. Or, like, when I do that just to sort of, like, I need a little support bit. But it is. I understand, like, why people don't use them or aren't consistent because it is so messy.

Michelle S [00:49:32]:
Messy, exactly.

Leah Levitan [00:49:34]:
It's good to get, like, a good castor oil pack. I see, like, flannel, handmade ones on etsy that have, like, a flaxseed heating pad that fits right in there. So you could do, like, heat and castor oil with, you know, a homemade castor oil pack that you can wash, that you'll have forever. It might be $80, but you'll have it again. You'll have it forever. And. And the straps that kind of go on there, they really reduce. Reduce that, like, messiness so that it is a little bit more accessible.

Leah Levitan [00:50:06]:
But in terms of accessibility, you could use, like, old t shirts, an old t shirt.

Michelle S [00:50:11]:
Literally anything. Yeah. Do you. But. And you also feel like. So this is an interesting question. Lymph fluid can be moved through movement, and it also can be moved through anything that can. Like, there's catalysts for it.

Michelle S [00:50:24]:
Right. Like, and anything that influences the viscosity to make it more dilated. So it's not only that you have to move it manually. You can almost. This is a weird thing to say, but your mind can move it, too, because your nervous system influences it. So really, you don't have to only do dry brushing, like you said. Are those superficial things? Anything that's helping to support the body not being in stagnation in a metaphoric way or a physical way is going to help move the lymph, too.

Leah Levitan [00:50:50]:
Mm hmm. I feel like I call people, like, lymph Jedi sometimes, and I'm like, if you want to become a lymph Jedi, that sort of. That nervous system component is part of that. It's like, yeah, lymph mind control is pretty cool. I love that. But, yeah, gravity, we haven't really talked about, like, legs up the wall or rebounding. Both those things are really great for our lymph, and it's. It's sort of an external thing that's happening.

Michelle S [00:51:19]:
What would you, as a. As a lymph specialist, the queen of lymph, as I might say, what would you never do on a daily basis? Like, what do you feel like? Are the things that people are doing that might be really harming them, that are maybe unconscious? It could. Again, it could be just literally sitting all day or sitting in stress. Is there anything that you would be, like, I just definitely would not recommend that. It also could be a drastic thing that you don't think is safe or something.

Leah Levitan [00:51:43]:
Yeah, well, I think people try to go, they go big, right. To sort of, like, make up for the things that they're not doing. So I find that people will often try to, like, habit stack as many things as they can. So something as simple as, like, dry brushing, for instance. People will sometimes couple those with, like, a hot shower or hot bath or infrared sauna. And the physiological changes that occur when there's temperature change, whether it's too hot or too cold, it'll kind of cause the lymphatic vessels to spasm a little bit. So it kind of slows our lymph down. So it's interesting.

Leah Levitan [00:52:22]:
It's just interesting to see people kind of pair these things together. So if you're going to dry brush, you know, before a shower, which is totally fine, I would just say alternate between hot and cold. If you're going to dry brush when you're doing it, like an infrared session that day, maybe dry brush before, like, way before or after? Way after. You know, when I say way after, I meant, I mean, like five minutes, but not just, like, get out and, like, start going. And then. Yeah, you're right about the sitting. Right? You're right about the sitting. That's another big one.

Michelle S [00:52:55]:
It's just like with anything else with our health, not applying, don't go from zero to 100. Don't apply too much force, because there's always a rebound effect in the body. Anything you apply force will come back with you with an opposing force. So always going gentle and slow. And then I guess the other kind of last question I have for you, too, before we talk about how these amazing people can work with the amazing leah, is when you kind of think back on your journey of going through traditional massage and things like that, do you feel like there's both a place for traditional massage and lymphatic massage, or are you, like, all in on lymphatics and you're like, this is what massage is supposed to be about. How do you feel about that?

Leah Levitan [00:53:33]:
Oh, that's so interesting, because, I mean, I love the lymphatic stuff so much that I'm like, it feels like just a higher rung than traditional massage. Just like a deeper, more meaningful approach to the body is always the goal or it should always be the goal. So I did feel like my work was, while impactful and helpful for pain relief and moving better and, you know, a good rush of hormones and really calming for the nervous system. Like, yes, there's so many benefits to traditional massage, and it's totally fine if that there isn't a lymphatic component. I would never say that there's not enough benefits for traditional massage that people should for a way to do it right.

Michelle S [00:54:17]:
It's not dangerous or anything to majoritatively, you know, or anything like that. Yeah, yeah.

Leah Levitan [00:54:21]:
But they are very different things. And the lymphatic, you know, the lymphatic aspect, it really has to come. The massage therapist, like, if they're going to do it, they really need the training to do it. Otherwise they're going to try to do it. They're going to think they're doing it and they're not doing it. You either you're doing it or you're not doing it.

Michelle S [00:54:40]:
Exactly right. They might be doing some energy exchange or they might be doing something, but they're not doing it. You're either accessing the fluid and moving it or you're not. I mean, that's pretty much it. Yeah.

Leah Levitan [00:54:51]:
Yeah. It's easy. It's very easy to do, but it is very, uh, it's very specialized. Like, it's a very precise technique. So it's just like, you know, I recall, like, one of the first sessions that I did where I asked my friend who certified, I had a client that had knee surgery, and they had swelling in their knee. And I was just like, can you, like, send me some videos or, like, tell me what to do? I'm trying to, like, drain this fluid. And I worked with that client probably like three or four times, and I just knew that I wasn't doing it. Like, I knew I wasn't doing it.

Michelle S [00:55:25]:
I was trying.

Leah Levitan [00:55:25]:
I was copying the things that I was looking at on the screen because you're like, damn, that's easy. Anybody could do that. But I didn't understand the anatomy or physiology of the lymphatics. And that component, like, adds something else.

Michelle S [00:55:38]:
Typical massage is working with musculature normally. I mean, that's the difference is that it's working with the fluid or the muscles. It's like, a little bit. I'm assuming it has different targets, but I do feel. I'm pretty biased, but I do feel like I feel very different after a lymphatic massage versus a massage massage. And I often feel very sore after a kind of classical massage, but I don't feel that way after lymphatic massage. Even though you guys go to town, you're really, you're getting in there, like, I feel like the lymphatic massages I've had there, it's gentle, but you're moving things. Like, things are really happening.

Michelle S [00:56:13]:
But I don't feel like I have the same level of, like, soreness and maybe just because I have a hypermobile body, but. So massages are not always safe for me, but lymphatic massages do feel a little more safe for me and more helpful, to be honest with you. That's just in full transparency.

Leah Levitan [00:56:26]:
Oh, that's awesome. Yeah, I definitely. I do both. I feel like I use, like, an integrative approach. So I'll sort of flip flop back and forth between working with the muscles and the fascia and the tendons and the joints, and then creating space and opportunity for that lymphatic flow to occur, like, more optimally. So we really need. I think that we need both traditional and lymphatic, and I think that it should be mandatory for every massage therapist to know how to do it.

Michelle S [00:56:59]:
That's your. That's just me.

Leah Levitan [00:57:00]:
That's my goal.

Michelle S [00:57:02]:
Exactly. That's your only. It's just a big system wide change to change, like, billions, like, I don't know, millions and millions of people. It's fine. It'll be easy for you. It's for you, leah, you got this. All right. How can these people, who are going to be thirsty for more leah time, find you, work with you, tell us all the ways that they can sign up to work with you and move forward in their lymph Jedi ways.

Leah Levitan [00:57:23]:
Yes. Well, if you're in Austin, Texas, you can come see us in person at align massage and lymphatics. We're located in the medical district in central Austin. And also, if you want to get your lymph, learn on online. Cause it's 2023, baby. You can do that? I've got courses. I'm not wearing my lymph suit today, as you can see, but I actually wear a lymphatic system suit that I made to sort of show you guys, like, where this stuff is, what we're targeting. There's anatomy and physiology.

Leah Levitan [00:57:57]:
There's a little section on fascia and how to kind of hack that a little bit, and then just, like, some lifestyle support things. So I've got, like, a large course that is. I feel like lymph 101, full body lymphatic drainage with special attention to the. The head and neck and the abdomen, because those are the most important areas to focus on. And then I have a smaller course that's really designed for people that are experiencing pelvic pain. A lot of the clients that we see, they have endometriosis or fibroids, or they've got gut stuff. Anything that's happening in your abdominal compartment, your pelvic bowl, there's so many lymph nodes there. And so this course is, like, a little bit smaller, a little more targeted.

Leah Levitan [00:58:40]:
There's still anatomy and physiology, but it's really just the lymphatic drainage for. For the pelvis and the abdomen. So pick your poison, you know, five and a half hours. You got five and a half hours. You got 90 minutes. I've got those. And we'll be rolling out some new courses at the end of the year that are a little bit shorter and more easily digestive. Digestible.

Leah Levitan [00:58:59]:
And, yeah, I don't know, someday we'll do some virtual, like, one on one stuff.

Michelle S [00:59:05]:
Oh, that's awesome.

Leah Levitan [00:59:06]:
But it's still learning how to. How to help people in that virtual setting. Like, I can meet with somebody just as we're meeting now, and I can show people how to do stuff, but it's like there is an intake process to get people's health history.

Michelle S [00:59:22]:
Physical practice. It's a very manual physical practice again. And you also. Are you. There is a huge energy exchange that's happening from a physical sim. I always said I was lucky to be a dietitian who can see clients virtually, because the only thing I need is them and speaking. And I also intuit a little bit in the sessions, too. So I'll be like, oh, I feel burning in your chest.

Michelle S [00:59:42]:
Are you feeling reflux? Like what? You know, like, I can feel those things. But your hands are, like, your weapon, you know, like, that's that you really do have to be with people. But it sounds like your courses, like, limp love club, which, of course, we're going to put all the links to everything in the show notes that you'll see below. But those are more to teach people how to self heal and self manipulate, it sounds like, versus the work that you do is the hands on work, which I totally understand. And there's a huge need for.

Leah Levitan [01:00:09]:
Yeah, yeah. Self lymphatic drainage. It feels really confusing because everybody, this is the information age. Everybody wants to share what they know, their version of what they saw. And once somebody is, you know, posting something a little bit off because they're not super familiar with what they're doing in the first place, it just. It spreads so quickly, and it's so hard to get, like, good information where it's like, where it's right and it's not even about being, like, right or wrong. It's just. It goes back to, like, massage therapists, like, trying to do it when they don't have the training.

Leah Levitan [01:00:42]:
It's like we're either doing it or we're not doing it. It's not hard, but you really have to take the time to learn it, and then it just opens up all these amazing portals to healing that we didn't even know were possible, because this.

Michelle S [01:00:55]:
System is just so cool. Yeah, it is. It is. And I think saying that lymph is mysterious or it's different for everyone is misleading, and it's also a cop out because it is scientific, it is factual, and you can feel it and you can test it, and you can do all these things. That testing is a little hard, but there are ways to understand what's going on. There's assessments and everything like that. So I think that people who are like, everything is lymphatic drainage. And it's like, no, it's not.

Michelle S [01:01:24]:
Everything is not lymphatic drainage. Like, massage is not lymphatic drainage. All of these things. So I think it is a very hot space right now with Gua Sha especially, and it's become very a thing, lymphatic drainage and drainage in general, that is deeply misunderstood. So I'm just so glad that we went to the ultimate basic level in this for people to understand so that they also, when they're learning information, will understand. Does this align with that basic understanding that we have about this?

Leah Levitan [01:01:50]:
Yeah, yeah. Is that dollar 100 tool, like, really going to do the thing that it says it does? And do I even need that fuck tool? Exactly.

Michelle S [01:01:58]:
When you have, like, your hands, that might actually be as effective or not more effective and you can do at home, but we do have to learn it. Like, it's not something where you're just like, let me buy one of those tools. Even just buying one of those tools, you still could be going in the wrong direction, not applying the right amount of pressure. Like it is. It's not completely innate. Like, it is something that you actually have to learn. And I like that you said that, too. Versus the massage, where it's like, it's not just happening.

Michelle S [01:02:19]:
It's either happening or it's not happening.

Leah Levitan [01:02:21]:
Yeah, yeah. It happens naturally, but it's like, if you're really going to do. If you're really going to do it and boost that fluid, return back into the cardiovascular system and help your body make more lymphatic fluid. You know, there's a little. There's just, like, a little zhuzhing that needs to happen.

Michelle S [01:02:37]:
Exactly. And you're the zhuzh, so thank you so freaking much for today. I feel like you myth busted. You gave us the basics, and you gave us your amazing personality, so I cannot thank you enough. And all the ways you can find Leah, aka the lymph love club queen, are going to be in the show notes too. How you can work with Leah. And I can't wait to see you in Austin in a couple months.

Leah Levitan [01:02:56]:
We're gonna have a poll. I can't wait. Yes.

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