The Ayurvedic system of medicine calls the lymph system as the kapha or mucous carrying system. Lymph contains most of the elements in blood i.e. plasma, amino acids, glucose, fats, hormones, enzymes, salts and lymphocytes which fight infection. It acts as a transport medium between cells and the blood stream. It also aids circulation by maintaining the balance of the fluids in the body. The massage technique is pointed towards increasing lymph flow in the body by applying pressure at the marma (vital) points as described in the Sushruta Samhita. Increasing the kapha activity by massage is purported to increase the nourishment of the body and give proper stimulation to joints and body tissues.
If lymph flow is increased by massage, then there are several likely processes, which may be involved. Lymph possesses a relatively large amount of the amino acid-tryptophan. This subsequently causes a parallel increase in the neurotransmitter (chemical between nerve endings), serotonin. Serotonin has been implicated in several psychiatric diseases with low levels of its metabolite found by researchers in depression, hallucinations, headaches, anxiety and irritability. So, massage is beneficial in treating these conditions. Another inter- esting point is that lymph contains approximately 30 times as much histaminase (an enzyme which breaks the allergy and acidity causing histamine) as in blood. So, the pathological conditions where histamine is involved, like painful and swollen tissue areas, gastric irritation, headaches, skin allergies, can be treated with lymphatic massage in order to provide increased supply of histaminase.