Can Lymphatic Drainage Therapy Relieve Meniere’s Symptoms?
By Mike Spencer
Founder of Menieres-Help.Com Supporting sufferers since 2004
Researcher and author of Managing Meniere’s Disease – How to Live Symptom Free and The Need for Balance – Dealing with the Causes of Meniere’s
“Experience has shown that improving the rheology (the ability to flow or be deformed ) and Lymphatic drainage flow also improves the symptoms. These patients usually exhibit clearly discernable paravertebral muscle tension in the neck region.Treatment always begins with draining the cervical Lymph nodes of the neck, beginning with the nape, and head. After that specialized therapeutic techniques are applied to the ear, inner ear along with internal oral drainage.The extensor musculature of the back is also treated. Treatment time is around 45 minutes, with daily sessions at first. After about two weeks 2-3 sessions per week are enough. The attacks will become less frequent and less severe.”
“I have systemic autoimmune problems affecting my joints, thyroid, digestive tract and I’ve been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome which is autoimmune and affects eyes, mouth etc. The lymphatic drainage therapy positively affected all of these to a lesser degree.
After one year, I returned for a hearing test. My left ear was completely normal. I could hear in my right ear at 25 decibels and could distinguish words at 98%. I continue to have mild tinnitus in the right ear.
At two years, I have maintained the improvement. The downside is that I find I must continue the lymphatic drainage therapy to maintain the improvement—although on a greatly reduced schedule. And, insurance won’t pay for it.”
I trawled the FB Meniere’s groups to see if anyone was commenting about Manual Lymphatic drainage. I found a few posts but not many comments. The comments were mixed in terms of results:
One post showed a video regarding a self MLD technique (see video below). Some comments on this post were:
“ Just gave it a shot while I was watching it. First up, I did feel a relief of pressure in my ears. Prior to starting I had a lot of pressure but low level dizziness. The pressure seems to have reduced but dizziness has increased a lot.”
“I tried it and it took a lot of pressure off my ears they don’t feel as full and my tinnitus has eased off a little And my head doesn’t feel as foggy.”
“I have, for the past year or so. I use it whenever my ears feel too full. It seems to help.”
FB Comments regarding MLD therapy on other posts:
“I already get MLD for a lymph condition I have in my arms and legs. No help for my MD.“
“I tried it and had terrible headache might Ave just been a coincidence.”
From Menieres disease UK forum:
“About a month ago I entered the best vestibular health I have ever had (with Vitamin supplements, massage, osteopathy, low salt diet and manual lymphatic drainage)”
The Lymphatic system drains and filters lymph circulating around the body. Unwanted contaminants are cleansed and clean fluid re-enters the blood stream. Primary lymphoid organs include the thymus, bone marrow and fetal liver.
Bone marrow and the thymus are vital to the immune system. Dysfunction in the thymus leads to problems with T-cell regulation. T-cell regulation has been linked to Meniere’s disease. Read more on T-cells and Meniere’s here.
If lymphatic fluid, lymph, is not drained and filtered properly it will re-enter the blood stream contaminated. Its primary re-entry point is in the base of the neck on the left. If contaminants are not drained they will accumulate locally around the body and can cause states of dis-ease.
Could the endolymphatic sac be one of these accumulation points?
Could the constant elevated immune response to that accumulation of contaminants in the endolymphatic sac be what results in Meniere’s symptoms? Could the fluctuations in symptoms be a result of partial drainage at times and more accumulation and blockage at others? Could natural remission be a result of enough of these contaminants being drained properly at that time?
After all it is believed that approximately one-third of Meniere’s disease cases seem to be of an autoimmune origin. It is generally accepted that blockage or over production of endolymph within the ear is the cause of hydrops. If, as studies show the inner ear has a drainage system to the lymph nodes then ‘drainage’, or the lack of it, would seem an obvious candidate for cause and treatment.
It would make a lot of sense, and something to consider despite the somewhat hypothetical nature of the questions.
You can look at all science and possibilities but the simple fact that if there is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the inner ear and manipulative massage can help drain that fluid away then pressure should reduce within the ear.
In theory and from the claims of therapists who practice MLD it would make perfect sense that this could help reduce symptoms. But as yet we have very little evidence of this available in the way of first hand accounts from sufferers.
MLD is a specialized technique but you can also practice self lymphatic drainage massage. Watch the video below for self massage for the ear.
(see comments from FB above regarding this video)
Some comments on youtube under this video:
“this worked great!!! i first boiled a pot of water and let the steam cover my face and ear for 5 min allowing the steam to open things up a bit then followed massage techniques on this video, (doing 2 rounds of the massages in one evening).. My ear was feeling full and had tinnitus.. ALL has cleared up!! AND tinnitus gone!!! Thanks so much for posting this video :))”
“Absolutely amazing! I was able to clear my clogged ear by following your instructions.”
“It worked for me! I get tinnitus because of stress and tension in the neck area, and this definitely helped a lot with that.”
“This worked for me! I can hear much better now. Thanks!”
“Thanks, now I’m not dizzy anymore. My ear was bothering me because of my allergies. Now, if I can only stop my ears from buzzing.”
The video below is not directly related to the lymphatic system, but claims this technique can help reduce tinnitus headache, vertigo and sinus congestion. Perhaps by combining the two techniques in these videos you can find some quick relief from your symptoms in times of increased pressure.
NOTE: It would be well worth reading the comments under this video on youtube for advice and perspective and some less positive remarks. It seems technique is important. You could make things worse if you pull too hard, but below is a small selection of the many positive comments.
Not a cure for Meniere’s and highly unlikely to be a permanent fix for tinnitus related to Meniere’s. However, if this can give relief when allergies and sinuses are increasing your symptoms, it is well worth trying. Strangely enough, there is certainly more positive feedback found regarding this odd little trick than for MLD.
“absolutely brilliant. Suffering with Migraines and vertigo for yrs and now I feel much better.”
“My ear crackled or popped, it did not hurt at all. Immediately my sinus’ started draining! I always have thick drainage in my throat, constantly clearing it… NOTHING is hanging back there for me to clear! This is freaking incredible.”
“Vertigo is the worst thing ever! Used the techniques and stopped it!”
“I haven’t been able to really breathe through my left nostril for years. My sinuses are terrible. It worked almost instantly! Thank you!”
“I’m a truck driver and have had tinnitus for some time. I tried this technique and it calmed the tinnitus in my right ear almost immediately. Thank you”
“I have suffered with Ménière’s disease for years. I’ll try anything. I did feel a pressure release and something draining. Hopefully this is what I needed.”
“It worked for me! Thank you”
“Holy crap it works!”
“I tried this and the tinnitus volume immediately lowered. That’s quite amazing.”
“Dr. Mendel thank you this has helped get rid of my vertigo. Wow!”
One final note that may give credence theoretically to the benefits of manual lymphatic drainage, the importance of the lymphatic system, the fact that there may be a blockage and also the relevance of the sinuses.
Below is a short excerpt from my own Meniere’s story. I had been almost symptom free for several years. I say almost because I still had hearing loss at that time but then this happened:
“While playing football I broke my cheek bone and eye socket in a clash of heads. It was on the same side as my affected ear and after the initial stunning blow and minutes of intensely heavy pain, blood started pouring down through my left sinus and out of my nose. The blow severed nerves between my eye socket and cheek bone and that left my teeth numb. I was very lucky that the nerves somehow fixed themselves.
The shock was that only minutes after the clash of heads my sinuses felt clearer than I could remember and all my hearing returned! I was so happily surprised that I almost forgot about the painful injury.
For four or five years I had believed, ever since my endolymphatic shunt implant that the hearing in my left ear had been damaged permanently. The hearing only lasted for a few weeks but it had me asking more and more questions.
I had been hearing of so many others regaining their hearing while on the supplements and knew it was possible but in my case, after years with the worst symptoms it had fluctuated then abruptly after the shunt operation it seemed doomed to a permanent low level.
Had the blow moved some skeletal alignment, had it unblocked some tubes, what was going on?”
The blood that was pouring out of my nose was mixed with a clear fluid – lymph!
So, Can Lymphatic Drainage Therapy Relieve Meniere’s Symptoms?
I believe it is worth considering as a valid treatment option. As always with any treatment or therapy, it can depend very much on the practitioner as to whether you get results or not. So second and third opinions are always worth it.
Help other sufferers. We have no first hand accounts that any of this helps so if you have experience with MLD or either of these techniques, email Mike at email@example.com or tell us all about it in the comments box below.