Lymphatic System-Staying Healthy
When we review the Lymphatic System, we first need to look at the Circulatory System and how it relates to the Lymphatic system. The body’s circulatory system is made of an intricate weave of blood vessels that transport blood throughout the body which is pumped through this system by the heart. The circulatory system delivers the blood throughout the body.
So that we don’t leave out the red blood cells, they pick up oxygen and drop off carbon dioxide at the lungs. Blood is made up of plasma and formed elements. The plasma moves out of the capillaries and into the tissues. The circulatory system works in both directions, up and down.
Once out of the capillaries, this fluid surrounding the tissues is called interstitial fluid. The flow of plasma in and out of the vessels provides a means for delivering cell nutrients, and takes away cell wastes. However, not all the plasma that flows out of the capillaries flow back into the capillaries and this is where the Lymphatic system comes into play.
The excess is drained out of the tissues and into the lymphatic system. When the interstitial fluid moves into the lymphatic system, it is now referred to as lymphatic fluid.
Along with providing drainage for interstitial fluid, the lymphatic system plays a key role in the body’s defense system. Similar to the circulatory system, the lymphatic system consists of a series of vessels for transporting lymphatic fluid and lymphatic cells. However, unlike the circulatory system that flows both up and down throughout the body, the lymphatic system flows one direction, up. The Lymph vessels are located next to the blood vessels. There is no pump like the heart to move the lymphatic fluid around. The lymphatic system relies on the movement of the whole organism, powered by muscle contractions, to keep the lymph flowing. The lymphatic system carries its fluid in one direction, towards the heart.
The lymphatic system ties into the immune system and is an intricate part of the immune system. The immune system relies on every system of the body.
White Blood Cells
The body is made up of trillions of living cells. When bacteria or pathogen enters the blood stream, the white blood cells surround and destroy the bad bacteria, leaving the living cell intact.
The main task of our overall immune system is to know and differentiate “us” from pathogens. The plasma membranes of the body’s cells are different than those of the invaders. One of the main jobs of white blood cells is to identify the invaders. The plasma membranes have molecules that act as a unique identifier that other cells recognize. The healthy cells of your body have a unique identifier. This keeps the white blood cells from creating havoc by beating up on your own cells. In some instances, the white blood cells get confused and begin to attack the cells, referred to auto-immune syndrome or more commonly auto-immune disease.
Antibodies into Action
When invaders multiply quickly in the body, antibodies go into action. Lymphocytes are white blood cells (cytes) that live within the lymphatic system. There are two main types of lymphocytes, the T-cells and B-cells. The T-cells eat host (us) cells that have been invaded by viruses. The B-cells make and disperse antibodies that kill the invading viruses. The antibodies are little proteins that stick to a specific antigen and promote the destruction of that antigen.
Cleaning Our Lymphatic System
Lymphatic cleansing is essential for good health since the human lymphatic system plays a key role in the wellbeing of the body and sometimes needs a boost.
The lymphatic system forms a core part of the body's immune system and is also responsible for bringing nutrients to as well as wastes away from cells. Maintaining a healthy immune system is vital to our health and wellbeing. There are several steps we can take to help us along.
Diet and Nutrition
Food that we eat can sometimes help in the smooth flow and functioning of the lymph or it can have the opposite affect by hampering the flow of lymph in the human body. To assist in cleansing the lymphatic system, you could start by trying to avoid as many foods as you can that contain chemicals, artificial flavoring agents, artificial colors, preservatives, and stabilizing agents which is often found in processed food. Avoid artificial sweeteners for “low-cal” or “diet” foods, they neither contribute to losing weight or maintain any health agenda. The more we consume food that is not fresh, the more we can congest or block the lymphatic fluid from flowing freely in the human lymphatic system.
Attempt to stay away from food that isn’t easily digested. This includes food containing too much fat, animal protein, sugars and carbohydrates. Food that is sweet to taste and is white, food produced using white flour, such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice consume a lot of energy to digest, energy which could have helped clean up the lymphatic system. These food items also wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels.
Lymphatic cleansing is not just about what we can do, but also about what we should not do, or, in this case, what we should not eat.
In addition to the above, drink plenty of water every day. If you can drink warm water this can help dissolve certain stubborn waste products accumulated across various body parts. Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces a day is best. An example: I weight 120 lbs. I drink 60 ounces a day. It is probably the most basic form of bodily and lymphatic detoxing and one of the best. Our bodies are made up of around 70% fluid and we need to maintain that fluid level in our bodies to assist with maintaining homeostasis. Exercise
This is the best form of detoxification as far as the lymphatic system is concerned. The lymphatic system is responsible for fighting infections so it’s so important to keep the lymphatic system and movement is key. Exercise helps keep the movement of lymphatic fluid at its maximum and ensures a lot of toxins are flushed out by sweating. It improves blood circulation, strengthens the heart and oxygenates cells. Exercise is the best and most natural form of lymphatic cleansing. I’ve found that a small trampoline is helpful also to get the lymphatic system flowing. Some may not be able to stand but are able to do knee and arm bends. Whether sitting or standing, these movements are helpful. The inside of our knees and at the bend of our elbows are lymph nodes that are stimulated with these movements.
An important and natural support for our bodies is herbs. From astragalus, Echinacea, goldenseal, pokeroot, wild indigo root, burdock, and red clover, they are excellent herbs that will help cleanse the lymphatic system and flush out toxins accumulated in the lymph. Others herbs that can be instituted into your everyday meals are organic fresh or dried rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, and mints. All herbal products should be taken in conjunction with an organic food diet or food which is free of all chemical products and substances. You can make teas, add to your food dishes, add to salves and herbal oils. Skin Brushing
This is another natural lymphatic cleansing and detoxification method which helps clean the lymph system. The lymph system contains many minute vessels that have one-way valves (upwards) which help release the waste products from various tissues. These waste products are then released from the lymphatic system into the bloodstream.
Skin brushing will help move the various waste products efficiently and speedily upwards along the lymphatic system and into the blood stream, thereby cleansing the lymphatic system quickly. All you require is a regular soft bristle brush with a longish handle which will help you reach various parts of your body without straining yourself too much. It is best to do skin brushing after you've had your bath with longish strokes, moving upwards towards your heart region. Body / Lymphatic Massages
Massage therapy can play a big role in health. Massage helps stimulate the lymph nodes and flush out all the waste products accumulated, as a result of cell metabolism along with excess fluid and microorganisms. The “M” Technique massage, a form of aromatic massage involving soft strokes of three, is stimulating to the lymphatic system as well as a release of emotional and mental build up. This technique is often used for bedridden patients or hospice patients.
It’s a technique I love using on my clients. It brings them to a beautiful calm state as well as moving the fluid along.
During manual massages, the lymphatic system is stimulated and will help facilitate the free and smooth flow of lymphatic fluid or lymph, thereby contributing to a strong immune system. Starting at the ankles and moving slowly upwards, the benefits are not only supportive to the lymph system but our overall health.
Essential Oils and Lymph Inflammation
Several issues can be addressed with essential oils. For lymphatic inflammation, consider a blend of Lavender Lavendula angustifolia and Juniper berry Juniperus communis added with a carrier at 2% or 18 drops per ounce of carrier. Massage along the lymphatic vessel, starting at the ankles and working up towards the heart.
Using the above mentioned technique, stimulate the lymphatic system by using Cypress Cupressus sempervirens, Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum, Grapefruit Citrus paradisi, Sweet Orange Citrus sinensis or Geranium Pelargonium roseum x asperum alone or blend 2-3 and.
To stimulate the nodes, consider Rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis ct. 1,8 cineole, Ravensara Ravensara aromatica, Niaouli Melaleuca quinquenervia, Pine (any) or Tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia at the node sites (see chart). Always check safety on all essential oils prior to use.
In addition, to strengthen the lymphatic system, consider massaging Vetiver Chrysopogon zizanioides or Vetiver zizanioides or Tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil.
This is one of the best detox baths along with assisting in balancing your ph and magnesium. Start with a tablespoon of jojoba oil. Add 2-3 drops of Lavender. Add your jojoba to ½ cup Epsom salts. Add your Epsom salts and ¼ cup peroxide, baking soda, and if you have it, white sage powder to your bath water. Soak for at least 20-30 minutes, making your water hot enough to sweat but not too hot as to burn the body. Rinse after in slightly cooler water to bring the body temperature back down slowly. Drink plenty of water during and after.
The human lymphatic system plays a key role in maintaining and obtaining good health. Regular lymphatic cleansing and detoxing can go a long way towards improving your level of health, immunity and vitality.
Robert Tisserand, Second Edition Essential Oil Safety, Page 170 (check)
Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/multimedia/circulatory-system/vid-20084745
Linalool Inhibits LPS-Induced Inflammation in BV2 Microglia Cells by Activating Nrf2. (n.d.).
Zimmermann, K. A. (2016, March 13). Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions & Diseases.
Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual, pg. 455
Dr. Jean Valnet, The Practice of Aromatherapy; Lymphatism; pgs. 45, 95, 96, 151, 153, 172
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