Our Person of the Month for this issue of JMS is Dr. Bruno Chikly, MD, DO, LMT. Majority of our readers are familiar with the basic principles of Lymph Drainage Techniques, or maybe even practicing it for some time. There are a lot of classes on Lymphatic drainage offered around the country, but if you would like to learn from the best clinical and scientific mind you have to at least once work with Dr. Chikly. He exhibits unprecedented depth of clinical thinking and expertise which can’t be missed.

Editor in Chief, Dr. Ross Turchaninov 


Here is JMS’ interview with:


Dr. Bruno Chikly, MD, DO, LMT

JMS: How did you get interested in the clinical application of Massage Therapy?

Dr. Chikly: When I was 12 years old, my passion was initially ignited while studying martial arts, Aikido, in Paris.  The master came directly from Japan and taught us an acupressure technique called Shiatsu. It was extraordinary because he did not tell us anything. We had to discover on our own the traditional points and meridians without any maps.  This helped me to develop my appreciation for the human body early on. It also gave me a great feeling for well-being. I wanted to help give health to people, so I went to medical school.
Trained practitioners often told me that I had amazing hands.  Their encouragement helped to direct me away from medicine and more towards manual therapy and osteopathy.
        At the end of medical school I did my thesis on one of the few manual modalities scientifically documented and used in hospitals: manual lymphatic drainage therapy.  I received a medal from the Faculty of Medicine for this thesis.
        After that, someone asked me to help them with classes on lymphatic drainage.  Very soon I began to feel the specific rhythm of lymph in the same way that osteopaths feel the cranial rhythm.
The good thing was that we scientifically knew where the lymph rhythm was coming from. I could easily explain this. There are muscular, contractile units in the large lymphatic vessels called the collectors.  These muscular units have been called “lymphangions” – little hearts within lymphatic vessels.  They were discovered in 1961 and are still not known by most of the medical community. A parenthesis is not in the physiology books yet, but these little muscles are a 4th type of muscle: they are a mix of cardiac, skeletal and smooth muscle.  
        From this point on, I developed a special way of lymph flow palpation, and fortunately it was backed by a lot of science. I received many requests and I slowly developed, I believe, the first school in the world to teach how to palpate and work with the specific rhythms, depth and quality of the lymph flow, consistent with scientific discoveries.  The Chikly Health Institute came to life.

JMS:  Please educate our readers on the critical importance of lymph drainage for the normal functioning of tissues and organs.

Dr. Chikly: It took me 15 years to understand some of the crucial roles of the lymphatic system in the body and I am still learning every day.  Even though I wrote “Silent Waves,” a book described as the first extensive book on the lymphatic system in North America, with more than 470 pages. Honestly, it is still quite a mysterious system as it touches many aspects of our body, mind and spirit. 
         We know we have one way for the blood to leave the heart, but two ways for the blood to return, the lymphatic and venous systems.  The venous system is quite interesting and another passion of mine.  It is not well studied in manual therapy but the venous system appears very early in the embryo and stores 60% of the body’s blood volume. Very early in life, the blood vessels are quite leaky and carry a lot of white corpuscles.  You could say at the very beginning, the cardiovascular system behaves as a primitive lymphatic system. A few years ago it was confirmed that the lymphatic vessels are actually specialized veins.

         In adults the lymphatic systems have few known functions including:
1. Tissue fluid homeostasis
2. Conduit for immune cells trafficking and site of antigen/antibody reactions.   ·      
3. Transports large molecules: proteins, fats and lipids
4. Recaptures cells, products of tissue metabolism, pathogens and plasma components, debris that have often escaped from the blood vascular compartment,
5. Transports physiologically active materials such as hormones and enzymes
6. Secrets become some physiologically active components: cytokines, nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins.  

        The lymphatic system also works very closely with the microbiote.  I pay special attention to drain the small and large intestines of the viscera. I believe we were also the first school to use the lymphatic system and extracellular fluid to drain the central nervous system for neurodegeneration. We can drain the dura and pia layers of the meninges more directly, as they contain lymph vessels, and the brain parenchyma itself indirectly.

JMS: You are a world expert on Lymph Drainage Therapy and its clinical applications. Please briefly describe its basic principles.

Dr. Chikly: We could keep it brief and mention:
1. It activates fluid circulation of most body fluids as most body fluids are connected: lymph, blood capillaries, veins, interstitial liquids, cerebrospinal and synovial fluid, etc. Clinically it helps to “reroute” stagnant fluid (edema, primary and secondary lymphedema) in skin, mucosa, muscles, viscera, joints, cranial sutures, periosteum, chambers of the eyes, cochlea, etc.
2. It can drain toxins, macromolecules (proteins in edema), fat.
3. It stimulates the immune system and can help in prevention or treatment of chronic or subacute inflammatory processes.
4. It stimulates the parasympathetic system, supporting relaxation, restoration and balance of vagal activities.
5. It reduces pain by inhibiting nociceptors.   Practitioners from pain clinics often tell us they tried many methods without finding real success for their clients.  However, when they discovered lymph, they are often amazed as they genuinely begin to have the results they had hoped for.
6. It can reduce muscle spasms (voluntary and involuntary)

JMS: Please tell our readers more about your research and educational projects in the USA and around the world

Dr. Chikly: We have about 12,000 students in North America and a few more in Europe and around the world. The fluid dynamics program addresses lymphatic and interstitial fluids as well as other body fluids. For example, the Chikly Health Institute has special orthopedic classes where we teach how to release every joint in the body using a very gentle non-invasive synovial rhythm. 
         We also have classes with applications for the viscera of the thorax, abdomen and pelvis using lympho-fascia release (LFR), which is a very powerful technique that combines and releases together the fascia and fluid of a lesion. We are also reorganizing our program with bandaging for lymphedema. 
         Recently I have created classes for specific pathologies, which are not very osteopathic because we don’t often work with recipes in osteopathy. For example, I was amazed to discover a simple protocol to address chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and chronic neuroinflammations. This class (LCFS-FM) unifies the assessment of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia into 5 simple areas to assess and to treat. The treatment is usually 1 to 3 sessions and takes about 15-20 minutes if there are no other pathologies.
         I also developed the brain therapy curriculum initially for concussions, motor vehicle accident, sport concussions and also for soldiers suffering from dangerous bomb blasts.
         In the brain therapy curriculum we also developed in the last 2 years a quick and efficient protocol for allergies.
         My recent class and my passion is working with the bone marrow motility and mobility.  The next class called Brain, Cranial Rhythm and Bone Marrow (BCRB) is open to cranial therapists that work with the cranial rhythm.  It teaches control, modulation and treatment of the cranial rhythm via the bone marrow.         
         I have three or four classes on the back burner. One combines specific lymph and brain techniques for autism. Another uses an embryological release of the ligaments in the body.  Ligaments are very important and are foundational to our physical stability. Very often pain felt in an articulation is coming from a ligament in a lesion.  I have many more topics of research but I hope in the future to combine a class with my wife who has taught Heart Centered Therapy for 24 years, which address the emotional component of disease. 

JMS: What is your favorite type of bodywork?

Dr. Chikly: Honestly I don’t have a favorite.  I have principles I use for everyone.  I try to find the key in each patient. Is the problem coming from a specific body system, articular, nervous system, fascia and connective tissue, muscular, cardiovascular, etc.  I assess to see if it is more an energetic, dietetic or emotional/mental problem, and when I identify where the problem is I try to use the least invasive approach first. 
         If the door of self-healing, self-regulating is closed, I try to find the right key to open the door that is most natural and requires minimal effort. This way, I hope to move closer to the reason why the door is locked and this often protects the person from side affect and negative reactions.

JMS: What advice can you give to our readers?

Dr. Chikly: What we often tell our students is to use their left and right brain: to use anatomical techniques, but also to open their heart. Don’t just treat a tissue but embrace the whole human being. When we work with the fluid, it is easy and natural to treat it with honor and love. It has a dramatic effect in the treatment and it is the way things should be. One of the natural tendencies of mammals is to care and to love.
        My secret in bodywork: I genuinely love the body and its physiology, the brain, the fluids in the body…and they know it.

JMS: Thank you! Good luck in your important work!


        Dr. Chikly is a graduate of the medical school at Saint Antoine Hospital in France, where his internship in general medicine included training in endocrinology, surgery, neurology and psychiatry. He is president of the Chikly Health Institute (CHI) in Scottsdale AZ.
        He is an international seminar leader, lecturer and writer. He is the author of Silent Waves: The Theory and Practice of Lymph Drainage Therapy, the first extensive book published in North America on the lymphatic system and is writing a book on Osteopathy and the brain.
He is a registered DO from France and lives in Arizona with his wife Alaya. Website: ChiklyInstitute.com

Category: Person of the Month