AT HOME WITH // Lisa Gainsley
I first found out about Lisa's work through my friend Alison Oswold of Plumbline Studios, and while lymphatic health is something I've been aware of for quite some time- it wasn't until finding Lisa that I really started to appreciate the importance.
Her work inspires you to take your health quite literally into your own hands and get in touch with your lymphatic system in a way that is easy, approachable, and truly inspiring.
This interview is full of so much good information. Lymphatic health is vital to overall health and needs to be getting much more attention!
1- Your 3-word bio.
Author, Lymph-lover, Joy-seeker
2- Tell us briefly about your background and how you got into lymphatic health?
The short answer is I got hooked on lymphatic massage in massage school in the early 90's when I was living in the Bay Area. I never felt anything like it! It was so soothing, transportive and deeply healing. Lymphatic massage helped improve my acne and digestion, and the treatments transported me to a feeling of lightness and ease. The long answer is I became a health seeker at the age of 13 when I lost my mother to cancer. Her loss fueled a desire in me to seek ways to live well, before disease takes root. When she was sick, she did all the western treatments like brain surgery, chemo, radiation, etc. But as a family we learned meditation, visualization, and cooked macrobiotic foods. This was the 1980's so it was quite fringe at the time, but it didn't feel that way. It felt normal- and a natural way to assist my mother through her discomfort. Once I learned that lymphatic massage can be helpful for people who've gone through cancer treatment, I knew I had found my life’s calling.
3- I love that you are a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, and that you have a background working with cancer patients. I feel like a lot of people who are talking about the lymph don't have your level of expertise. Do you have any recommendations for people who are looking to deepen their understanding of the lymphatic system or pursue it professionally?
I would say start with my book, THE BOOK OF LYMPH; Self-Care Practices to Enhance Immunity, Health & Beauty. I wrote it as a beginner’s guide to help you understand your lymphatic system and it gives you concrete tools on how to engage your lymph system to enjoy better overall health.
For someone who wants to work a little deeper, I created an online digital course called The Lymphatic Masterclass. I would love for EVERYONE to join this online community! Not only will you get access to videos and tutorials and strategies on how to improve lymph function, boost your immune system, drain toxins and reduce pain, inflammation, but I hold monthly live group zooms and there's a community forum where I answer all your burning questions. I love to help people and this format allows me to work with people from all over the world and see how lymphatic techniques transform their lives.
You can also follow me on Instagram: @thelymphaticmessage I'm always posting free tips on how to improve your lymphatic health.
4- For those who don't know, what is lymphatic massage?
A lymphatic massage is a gentle, rhythmic treatment that follows the pathway of the lymph system, moving fluid to clusters of lymph nodes (where white blood cells do their work, which is instrumental in detoxing) to reduce inflammation, puffiness and enhance the immune system. Your lymphatic system plays a number of critical roles in your body. It’s an essential part of your immune system, often referred to as the "highway" of your immune system" because it produces and matures white blood cells. The Lymph system filters out bacteria and toxins- it has the power to destroy harmful pathogens that can cause disease. It also aids your digestive system by absorbing excess fat and fatty acids from your gut and transporting them back to your bloodstream, where they act as fuel to your cells. The lymph vessels that surround your small intestine are the first line of defense against ford borne illness. The lymph system also maintains your body's fluid balance, which is why when you get a lymphatic drainage treatment you will experience less inflammation in your body. Not only is lymphatic drainage wonderful for aesthetic reasons, (thinner thighs, glowing skin, defined jawline,) but it's very beneficial for your health too!
5- The thing that I love about your book, and work is that it feels very approachable and tangible. If you could pick one of your exercises/ techniques to do every day, what would it be? Is that possible?
Oh gosh, I think I could narrow it down to 3!
The glowing skin/ face massage is the easiest to master and you will notice a difference in your appearance right away. The fine lines on your face will smooth out and you will look more relaxed and vibrant.
I do the armpit/ breast massage a lot because I think breast health is so important! And it's been super beneficial for people this past year who get inflamed either from getting covid or the vaccine.
Lastly, I do the abdominal massage most evenings before I go to sleep. It's great to reduce bloating, improve digestion, and getting good sleep. Gut health is key to overall health and this abdominal massage sequence is beneficial to gut health because it helps the motility of the vital organs in the abdomen.
6- What are the top 3 things you recommend doing in tandem with lymphatic care?
Exercise/ movement, deep diaphragmatic breathing, Getting a good night's sleep, eating well, reducing stress, Cutting out the toxins in your beauty & household products, and Incorporating JOY into your life. I know, that's more than 3- but they're easy ones, right?
7- Do you have a personal lymph care routine that you do daily?
See above. I do some form of lymphatic self-massage almost every day. I try to move my body, exercise 4-5 days a week, and I really cut down on the stress in my life, which is huge. Most people forget how inflammatory stress is! And we know inflammation is at the root of most chronic illnesses, so I make a real effort on that front- even toxic relationships- I don't engage in. Who needs those unnecessary energy sucks?! I prioritize getting a good night's sleep. I eat well, I follow the Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet as often as possible, but I allow myself to indulge when I'm out with friends or at dinner parties. I allow myself to dream, create and I give myself un-obligated free time to explore. I learned how beneficial free time is during my travels in my 20's.
8- Can you share with us a testimonial that has been exceptionally meaningful to you and/or your business?
I get testimonials from folks every day! Most people love the ones from my famous clients like Larry David, Selma Blair and Freida Pinto. But the DMs in my Instagram account are full of regular folks telling me that the lymphatic self-massage has alleviated issues like monthly menstrual cramps, migraines, breast pain, post-surgery healing, feeling normal again after cancer treatment, improved their constipation, better sleep, given them a more defined jawline and better skin, it's helped them overcome their sexual trauma, someone even wrote me that the techniques helped her PTSD & anxiety from the explosion in Beirut! These testimonials MAKE MY DAY every day- and it's why I continue to do the work I do.
9- What are your favorite foods that support lymph health? OMG there's so many! Here's a list from a project I worked on recently- grab what you like!
I love purple staining foods like purple cabbage, beets, berries, and cranberries (which promote metabolic function to break down excess fat), cherries, goji berries, plums, and watermelon because they contain powerful antioxidants and vitamins C and K, and most are rich in selenium. Also, leafy greens. Dark green vegetables contain the nutrient chlorophyll, which has cleansing properties and beneficial effects on your blood and lymph flow. These include broccoli, kale, spinach, dandelion greens, mustard greens, wheatgrass, and turnip greens.
Seaweed. Sea vegetables contain fiber and wonderful minerals that aid in weight loss and gut health. Seaweed is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, and iron and is a good source of iodine, which helps thyroid function. Mushrooms! These are a powerful antioxidant, as they are rich in selenium, which prevents cellular damage, as well as some B vitamins and vitamin C. They’re good for immune support, digestion, healthy cell growth and turnover, and preventing damage to cells and tissues. Digestive enzymes and bitters can help your body break down your food more quickly and clear out stagnant toxins that may be building up in your intestines. Some good examples are licorice root, fennel, burdock root, basil, ginger, dandelion, peppermint, cinnamon, and probiotics), pith of a grapefruit or orange peel (citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, and limes contain enzymes and vitamin C that support your digestion and are good for your liver. In particular, the white pith of a peel contains diosmin, a plant chemical that can increase lymphatic microcirculation and improve the health of your veins. Diosmin is also known as a phlebotonic, a therapeutic agent used to improve blood vessel function), basil (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, reduces stress & depression, aid in memory, promotes blood circulation, & mint (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, beneficial for digestion, rich in phosphorus, calcium and vitamins like C, D, E and A which improve the body's immune system, good for mouth & gum health) , and cucumber (antioxidant, high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese, as well as flavonoids, triterpenes and lignans that have anti-inflammatory properties, good for hydration, kidney health, brain health, can be beneficial to help weight loss and promote radiant skin), Pineapple and papaya. These contain bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory digestive aid.
Foods rich in Vitamin B6. These help fight inflammation and increase white blood cells and T lymphocytes. You can get this vitamin from bananas, salmon, turkey, tuna, potatoes, chickpeas, avocados, and hazelnuts.
Pectin. This is a type of starch called a polysaccharide, which is found in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. It has anti-inflammatory properties that nourish the microbiome, repair the lining of the gut, help resolve loose stools, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and bind to mercury to help the kidneys process it more quickly. Sources of pectin include citrus fruits, bananas, berries, passion fruit, peaches, and tomatoes, as well as vegetables such as beets, cabbage, carrots, green beans, parsnips, and peas.
Garlic and onions. These contain compounds with powerful medicinal benefits for the blood and immune system. They’ve been used for centuries for their antibiotic and antiviral properties, making them useful when you have a cold or a virus. Garlic has been shown to be helpful for the heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, and osteoarthritis. Onions also have antifungal properties and contain cancer-preventing compounds; they’re rich in quercetin (a flavonoid antioxidant), an anti-inflammatory that fights free radicals. Even though garlic can be helpful to stimulate the lymphatic system, though, be sure not to use too much of it, as it can cause stomach distress in some people when not used sparingly.
Green tea. This has so many benefits! It’s a potent antioxidant that prevents cell damage and fights cancer. It’s rich in polyphenols known to reduce inflammation and help your heart by increasing the level of antioxidants in the blood. It improves blood flow and is commonly used in lymphatic drainage to help with weight loss as it increases metabolism. Caffeine, which is contained in green tea, is also a major ingredient of anti-cellulite oil. The catechin compounds in green tea also help protect the neurons in the brain.
Raw vegetables and fruits. They contain enzymes and antioxidants that help your body break down toxins so they can get moved out more efficiently.
Herbs: There are so many, so here's my top 5: Ginger: Anti-inflammatory. Immune and respiratory support. Great for digestion. Good for circulation, Turmeric: The active ingredient is curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, used to improve risk of cancer and heart disease. Also improves brain function, memory and arthritis and mood.
Nettle: Antioxidant. Immune support. Rich in vitamins A, B. C, chlorophyll, calcium, and zinc. Great for respiratory health, sinus support. Good for adrenals, stress, urinary tract. Good for joint health and athletic recovery. Used to prevent cancer. Burdock: Immune support, influences lymph, blood and liver detoxifier, good source of iron and magnesium.
10- What are some ways that you personally take care of yourself?
Travel, facials, massage, baths, lying on my infrared biomat, reading, writing, yoga, exercise, love, friendship, family, creativity, nature.
11- Lastly, what are your favorite things to do that have nothing to do with the lymphatic system?!