Lessons in Lymphatic Health

Lessons in Lymphatic Health

If you ask someone where their lymphatic system is and what it does you will most likely get a quizzical look. In fact, the lymphatic system was and in a way still is a mystery to conventional medicine. However, only in the past few decades has this essential part of the human anatomy become a consideration by western doctors.

It is quite surprising for conventional medicine to only now bring to light another part of the body long ignored when traditional medicine has always treated the lymph with great importance.

Referred to as a “global liquid,” “white blood” (according to Hippocrates), “Raja” (Ayurvedic), or defined as the circulation of the “water element” through the kidney, the lymph has always been part of the bigger picture for traditional medicine.

The Work

The lymphatic system is made up of glands, lymph nodes (mainly found under the arms, in the abdomen and around the neck), bone marrow, the spleen, thymus and tonsils.

“The lymphatic system’s primary function is to transport lymph, which is a clear, colorless fluid that contains white blood cells, helping to rid the body of toxins, wastes, and other unwanted materials including airborne pollutants, food additives, drugs (of any kind), pesticides, etc. The lymph system also absorbs fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system, delivering the nutrients to the body’s cells.”

Pretty important work for a mostly overlooked anatomical network.

Happy Lymph, Happy Life

Maintaining a healthy lymphatic system should be a major consideration. Yet, no one ever seems to talk about it.

You may be doing some of these already and not even know it helps but here are ways to improve lymph functioning:

H2O-It – Make it water, all the time. When you are dehydrated your lymph suffers. There’s really no reason to drink anything else (no, milk is not as great as you may think but that’s another subject). Soda and other sugar, preservative, dye laden beverages considerably tax the lymphatic system. 6-8 ounces of clean water per day should do the trick.

Eat Responsibly – C’mon, stop eating junk. Live, fresh foods will always offer great systemic benefits and when it comes to lymph, this is even more essential. Jarred pears are not fresh, choose fruits and vegetables consumed as either cleaned and raw or lightly cooked as well as legumes.

Move Your Groove – The lymphatic system does not have its own volition. That means that it needs other means to pump waste fluid, nutrition and cells through your system. This is where exercise comes into play. Through regular movement the muscular system becomes responsible for assisting lymph transport. So get off your butt and get moving.

In Your Nose, Out Your Mouth – Deep breathing is a major component of assisting the pumping action of lymph to transport toxins into the blood before they’re detoxified by the liver.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage – A lymphatic drainage massage opens stagnant lymph nodes and moves sluggish fluid that could be causing a toxic systemic backup. This is especially helpful for those who have had lymph nodes removed due to cancer treatment. Note: It is a very light massage as anything too deep causes the lymph nodes to close. Talk to your doctor about this massage technique.

Depressurize – By sitting in a sauna you sweat out toxins relieving the lymphatic system for a short while.

Herbal Support 

There are a handful of lymph supporting herbs able to assist in cleansing the system. Here are a few to consider but do make sure you check with your doctor before using.

  • Astragalus – The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) reports Astragalus to contain antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties.
  • Burdock – UMMC also found this root to contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.
  • Echinacea – “The Clayton College of Natural Health Herb Guide points out that it is also a natural blood purifier and enhances the function of the immune system by helping move white blood cells into areas of infection.”
  • Pokeroot – A natural lymphatic stimulant and cleanser (large quantities can be toxic, check with your doctor or herbal practitioner).

Treat your lymphatic system with the utmost care and you may reap great benefits in overall systemic health.