I, like you, may not really give much thought to my home’s plumbing; until an uncomfortable issue arises. Clogged pipes, poor drainage—oh, what a mess that can be. The lymphatic system, like your home’s plumbing, is the drainage system of the body. Through its complex construction of lymph fluid, nodes, ducts and lymphoid tissues such as the tonsils, spleen, appendix, and thymus gland, the lymphatic system works to keep our bodies healthy. The systemic functions of the lymphatics:
- Balance-By balancing fluids in the tissues, collecting fluid near tissues and organs and returning it to the blood stream, this process prevents fluid from building up and causing swelling.
- Filtration-This system filters lymph by attacking any bacteria or virus when lymph fluid enters the lymph nodes and filters blood through the spleen by replacing old blood cells with new blood cells, and carrying away cell debris
- Fights infection-Using specialized white blood cells, called lymphocytes, that are produced in the lymph, the lymphatic system fervently works around the clock to combat sneaky toxins and infections.
Unlike the circulatory system, there is not a pump to keep the flow of fluid and debris through the vessels. Instead, this system depends on muscle movement and compression to help with flow. Any lymphatic congestion is an underlying issue in chronic pain and inflammation. So how can we relieve any congestion that might present as tender and swollen nodes in the neck, breast, arm pits, or groin?
- Movement– Inactivity creates lymphatic stagnation. Exercise as a gentle walk or gentle bouncing on a mini trampoline are excellent ways to keep lymphatic fluid moving.
- Hydration-In dehydration, up to 70% of water loss is inside the cells, but approximately 20% is from lymph. When you are thirsty, it may be due to congested lymph fluid.
- Deep Breathing-Deep breathing compresses the thoracic cavity which creates a pumping action in the lymph system. Sobbing and laughing work similarly. Proverbs 17:22 says laughter is a good medicine. Not only does laughter increase oxygen flow, it also creates lymphatic drainage.
- Massage-Massaging an area can help improve lymph flow, ease pain and promote healing.
Along with these lifestyle tips to increase lymphatic flow, there are some herbs that are very helpful as well.
- Cleavers-This herb is soothing to the lymphatic system and helps ease congestion and lessen swelling
- Red Clover-This herb strengthens the lymph system, improves lymph flow, and aids swollen lymph nodes. This herb is particularly helpful for inflammation in the mammary glands.
- Echinacea-This is a powerful lymphatic cleanser and immune system stimulant. It is helpful for swollen lymph nodes due to infection.
Just like with any other body system, lifestyle changes and quality supplements can be helpful in keeping this powerful system working well so you can continue to stay healthy. Here at The Healthpatch we are happy to help you with any of your natural health needs.
Health and Blessings,
Kimberly Anderson, ND
For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, OK 73130, call 405-736-1030, e-mail [email protected], or visit TheHeathPatch.com.