The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is the most underrated part of our circulatory system. Our body contains about 50% more lymphatic fluid than blood, yet sadly many health-care practitioners rarely consider the critical role the lymphatic system plays in preventing disease and keeping us healthy.
The lymph system is the body’s primary waste elimination system and functions as the body’s primary means of immune defence. It contains over 600 “collection sites” called lymph nodes and has a network of collection vessels more extensive than the blood system.
As a circulatory system, optimal flow must be maintained within the lymphatic system. Unlike the blood, whose circulation is driven by the pumping of the heart, the lymph does not have its own pump. It is propelled by three means: the movement of muscles, the nerves which create subtle pulsations, and the fluid pressure within the system. Lymph fluid is cleansed by the liver, kidneys, and heart. It eliminates its toxic load through the elimination channels of the body – urine, bowel, skin and lungs.
The lymph fluid contains lymphocytes, these guys are like the original “Pacman” as they go about their work gobbling up all the garbage in our bodies and expelling it through the lymph system. If the lymph system is congested, the lymphocytes can’t do their job and our bodies become a virtual junk yard.
The lymph node is an immune related organ, it’s role is as a filtration and purification station for lymph fluid and a place for disabling and destroying bacteria, toxins etc.
If conditions lead to sluggish lymph flow, fluid can concentrate in specific areas (oedema/swelling), or impaired function along the entire lymph system can result (congestion). When this state of congestion is long lasting, blockages can form and cause a backup in the flow of lymphatic fluid. Consequently, toxic cellular waste cannot effectively be released from the body as a whole or from specific areas such as injury sites and therefore the immune system may not function at its optimum. A good analogy is, where as healthy lymph should be a thin fluid like milk, in congested lymph it becomes like cottage cheese.
Some causes of lymphatic congestion are poor lifestyle such as inactivity and improper diet, infections, injuries and surgery (scar tissue and adhesions), emotional stress states, environmental toxins, hormone imbalance, and the normal ageing processes. It becomes evident how poor lymphatic drainage can contribute to a wide range of dysfunctions and a lack of vitality.
An impaired lymphatic system often results in:
• Fibrocystic and tender breasts
• Oedema and excess water retention
• Auto-immune conditions
• Digestive complaints
• Poor circulation
• Loss of energy
• Heart Disease
• Colds, flu and sinus problems
Blockages can occur from normal life stressors such as:
• Insufficient diet
• Lack of exercise
• Tight-fitting clothing, including ties, bras, underwear and pantyhose
• Bumps, bruises and other injuries
• Exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides
• Impaired circulation
• Food allergies or sensitivities
Treating the lymphatic system is an excellent prevention technique or it can assist in any healing program.