Loving Your Lymph

I often say that the lymphatic system is the most underutilized and under-appreciated system of the body. As your own personal waste disposal and recycling system, your lymphatic system spans the entire body and is interconnected with the circulatory and immune system. The lymphatic system consists of various tubes and cleansing stations that move lymphatic fluid or lymph throughout the body along with the spleen, thymus, GALT [gut associated lymphoid tissue] and tonsils. Lymph consists of fluids from cells, minerals, fats, proteins, bacteria, viruses and foreign particles. The cleansing stations – lymph nodes – house white blood cells that mount a response to any infections or cancers brewing in the body. Lymph nodes are typically the size of a kidney bean and yet they are actively surveying the body at all times. When they come across an intruder, the amount of white blood cells increase and the lymph node itself swells as the body fights to keep you well.

 

The direction of lymph is a one-way street that relies on nearby blood vessels, deep breathing or muscle contraction for movement. Lymph naturally tends to move slower however, if there is too much debris and not enough movement, lymph can become congested. This is best explained by using the metaphor of a bus route; we ideally want just as many people exiting the bus as people entering the bus. If there are too many people on the bus, your lymphatic system becomes overwhelmed and congested. This can also cause lymph nodes to swell and it can lead to any of the following:

  • Acne and other skin concerns like rashes or itchy skin
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Clogged ears or chronic earaches
  • Brain fog
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throats
  • Chronic sinus congestion
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Puffiness

 

Ways to support your lymph:

  • Deep breathing
  • Contrast showers (alternating hot and cold in the shower)
  • Castor oil packs
  • Jumping into cold lakes (my personal favourite)
  • Dry skin brushing
  • Rebounding
  • Exercise
  • Using herbs to move lymph – top choices are cleavers, calendula, dandelion
  • Lymphatic massage

 

Neither of the above are exhaustive lists as lymphatic congestion and release is a really rich area of discussion. However, I hope this intrigues you enough to consider this amazing system that harbours amazing healing potential.  As we…eventually…move into spring, show your lymphatic system some love and thank it for its endless work in keeping you well!

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