The well-being of every individual depends on the health of the lymphatic system.
Most of us know little about the lymph system. We're familiar with the lymph nodes located in the armpits and the groin, and have a vague notion that swelling of the nodes is a danger signal, but that's it.
The human body has two circulatory systems. These are the cardiovascular system (which is visible as blood flows through the vessels) and the lymphatic system (which is invisible as the clear lymph flows through lymphatic vessels).
Did you know that the lymph system is twice the size of our other circulatory system? Twice as much lymph as blood is present in our bodies, and we have twice as many lymph vessels as blood vessels.
Functions of the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system works in close cooperation with other body systems to perform these important functions:
- The lymphatic system aids the immune system in destroying pathogens and filtering waste so that the lymph can be safely returned to the circulatory system.
- To remove excess fluid, waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, cancer cells, and toxins from these cells and the tissue spaces between them.
- The lymphatic system also works with the circulatory system to deliver nutrients, oxygen, and hormones from the blood to the cells that make up the tissues of the body.
What Makes Up the Lymphatic System?
The lymph system is a network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that produce and transport a watery liquid called lymph from tissues to the bloodstream. The lymphatic system includes the bone marrow, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and thymus.
Lymph is a clear-to-white fluid made of:
- Fluid from the intestines called chyle, which contains proteins and fats
- White blood cells, especially lymphocytes, the cells that attack bacteria in the blood
This fluid distributes immune cells and other factors throughout the body. It also interacts with the blood circulatory system to drain fluid from cells and tissues.
The lymphatic system contains immune cells called lymphocytes, which protect the body against antigens (viruses, bacteria, etc.) that invade the body. Precursor cells in the bone marrow produce lymphocytes. B-lymphocytes (B-cells) mature in the bone marrow. T-lymphocytes (T-cells) mature in the thymus gland.
Besides providing a home for lymphocytes (B-cells and T-cells), the ducts of the lymphatic system provide transportation for proteins, fats, and other substances in the lymph.
Lymph nodes are the filters of lymph; the spleen is a filter of blood.
Tonsils are clumps of tissue on both sides of the throat that help fight infections. Adenoids are lumpy clusters of spongy tissue that sit at the back of the nasal cavity and are above the roof of the mouth. Like tonsils, adenoids help keep your body healthy by trapping harmful bacteria and viruses that you breathe in or swallow. Adenoids also contain cells that make antibodies to help your body fight infections.
Now that we know the function and a little about the composition of the lymphatic system, let's get a better understanding of this "cellular toxin disposal system."
Understanding the Lymphatic System
As most readers probably know, much of the body is made up of water. Part of the water is in the bloodstream, but far more resides in the lymphatic system. Our cells are located in a sea of lymph, a pale fluid. The lymphatic vessels run parallel to the blood veins in the body. The vessels of the lymph system are filled with a fluid called lymph that is collected from the space between the cells in the body. The lymph fluids feed the cells of the body by transporting various nutrients such as salts, minerals, and proteins to every cell of the body. Likewise, lymph fluid carries cell wastes and debris that accumulate from normal cell function away from the cells and turns them over to the blood. The blood shuttles the wastes to the kidneys, lungs, colon, and skin for elimination. The lymph system can be thought of as the cellular toxin disposal system.
Lymph flows slowly upward through the body to the top of the chest at a rate approximating 3 quarts per day. Lymph collects, is filtered in, and then passes from nodes within the system. There are over six hundred lymph nodes in our bodies; some nodes are located just above the bend in the elbow. Twenty (20) to thirty (30) large nodes are clustered deep within the underarm and upper chest regions. Lymph from the legs and genitals collects in and drains through a large collection of nodes in the groin. Lymph fluid also flows down from the head through the neck. Lymph from the nose, lips, and teeth drain through lymph nodes in the floor of the mouth. Other nodes are found in the tonsils and adenoids. This is a one-directional flow. They engulf and destroy many foreign and toxic particles. Lymph nodes also contain B lymphocytes that produce antibodies to protect the body from future viruses, bacteria, yeast, and other organisms.
In a healthy state, lymph nodes are about the size of almonds. However, when they are overloaded with excess toxins, they swell and become painful. This occurs when the body experiences colds and infections. The lymph system is vital in helping to fight disease.
Lymphatics are found in every part of the body except the central nervous system. The major parts of the system are the bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland, lymph nodes, and the tonsils. Other organs, including the heart, lungs, intestines, liver, and skin also contain lymphatic tissue.
As stated earlier but bears repeating, the lymphatic system has three interrelated functions: it is responsible for the removal of interstitial fluid (the fluid found in the intercellular spaces); it bathes and surrounds the cells of the body, providing a means of delivering materials to the cells (intercellular communication) and removal of metabolic waste from tissues; AND it transports immune cells to and from the lymph nodes. The lymph system transports antigen-presenting cells (APCs), such as dendritic cells, to the lymph nodes where an immune response is stimulated.
Why Detox Your Lymph System?
The lymph system has been little recognized nor researched until the latter half of this century. Indeed, in 1900, the structure and action of the lymph system remained largely undefined. Even within the past 10 years, most students would not have gained an awareness that organs such as the tonsils, adenoids, thymus, and spleen were part of the lymphatic system. Nor would they have learned that the lymph system is often the first line of immunological defense against harmful bacteria, toxin concentrations and oxygen starvation of one's cells.
When the lymphatic system is flowing freely, everything is fine. When it backs up, however, there's trouble. The consequences can be serious, even life-threatening. Not only are the building, repair and waste disposal systems affected by a disruption, the body's defenses against foreign substances are also impaired. In addition to filtering out toxic materials, the lymph nodes also produce substances that fight off invading viruses and bacteria and destroy abnormal cells that develop within the body, such as cancer cells. In addition to being part of the body's plumbing and repair system, the lymphatics are an essential part of our immune system.
Clearing the lymphatic system can substantially reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, or blockage of the arteries. Cleansing the lymphatic system allows the body to more efficiently clear excess cholesterol out of the arteries. That makes perfect sense, of course. It's like draining dirty water backed-up in your kitchen sink by unclogging the drain pipe or using a plunger to unstop the toilet. The other way to reduce the cholesterol in the arteries, of course, is to lower the intake of cholesterol-containing and cholesterol-producing foods in the diet.
The study of lymphatic drainage of various organs is important to maintain a healthy immune system!
The lymphatic system, because of its physical proximity to many tissues of the body is responsible for carrying immune cells between the various parts of the body. Problems associated with the lymphatic system can cause swelling and other detrimental symptoms. Additionally, problems with this system can impair the body's ability to fight infections.
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that occurs when lymphocytes--white blood cells that help protect the body from infection and disease--begin behaving abnormally. Abnormal lymphocytes may divide faster than normal cells or they may live longer than they are supposed to live.
Lymphoma may develop in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood or other organs.
There are two main types of lymphomas:
- Hodgkin lymphoma is an uncommon form of lymphoma.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the more common form of lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas begin when a type of white blood cell, called a T cell or B cell, becomes abnormal. The cell divides again and again, making more and more abnormal cells. These abnormal cells can spread to almost any other part of the body.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can cause many symptoms, such as:
- Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Soaking night sweats
- Coughing, trouble breathing or chest pain
- Weakness and tiredness that don't go away
- Pain, swelling or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
Certain symptoms are not specific to lymphoma and are, in fact, similar to those of many other illnesses. People often first go to the doctor because they think they have a cold, the flu or some other respiratory infection that does not go away.
There are also many reasons for enlarged benign lymph nodes. Lymph nodes can increase or decrease in size for many reasons, including response to treatment, immune activation against lymphoma, infection or the resolving of infection, and so on. Swollen glands, common to many illnesses, is an example of nodes enlarging in response to a pathogen.
Lymphedema is a condition that occurs when the lymphatic drainage system is impaired to the extent that the amount of lymphatic fluid within a given area exceeds the capacity of the lymphatic transport system to remove it. Lymphedema is a chronic condition and once an individual is at risk of developing it, this risk remains throughout life. The onset of the swelling can be sudden, or gradual.
The swelling of lymphedema is caused by the inability of lymph to drain normally and this produces tissues that are swollen with protein-rich stagnant lymph. When there is even the slightest break in the skin, bacteria can enter and thrive in this fluid. Here they reproduce quickly and cause serious infections that spread rapidly.
The two principle types of lymphedema are primary and secondary lymphedema. Primary lymphedema (PLE) is a genetic disorder in which lymphatic vessels fail to develop properly. Secondary lymphedema (SLE) is an acquired disorder caused by damage to the lymphatic system. Cancer treatment is the largest single cause of SLE; however it can also be due to injuries, surgery, burns, scars, and obesity.
SLE usually develops adjacent to lymphatic structures that have been removed or damaged. Although the most commonly diagnosed cases occur in the arms and legs, lymphedema also affects other body parts and are named for the affected area or for the cause.
Improving Your Lymph System
A rebounder or mini-trampoline is an excellent form of exercise for lymphatic drainage. However, if you are not conditioned to vigorous exercise, be sure to begin doing only light movement, preferably your feet not leaving the surface. You should also only exercise for a brief time - five minutes a day is good.
Ladies, avoid restrictive or tight-fitting clothing that press on your lymph nodes. Underwire and tight-fitting exercise bras can impede lymph flow. Try to go bra-free at least 12 hours a day. Never sleep in a bra.
It goes without saying that a healthy diet, drinking plenty of good filtered water, reducing stress, physical exercise, and deep breathing are all ways to help improve the functioning of your lymphs, as well as all systems in your body.
What To Do
You learned earlier that you should keep your lymph system detoxed. Now you have an even better understanding why it is also important to keep your "gut" cleansed and detoxed. A digestive tract that has parasites, fungus, bacteria, etc. puts additional stress on the lymph system, therefore creating further toxicity in the body.
If you're wondering what to do now, we recommend Lymphomyosot. Lymphomyosot, formerly known as Lyphosot, safely and effectively stimulates the lymphatic organs and supports the detoxification function of the lymphatic system. It is a homeopathic preparation often used in conjunction with cleansing regimes. It directly targets the lymphatic system, liquefying lymph fluid and therefore aiding in the detoxification process. It is an excellent adjunct to any cleansing protocol or can be taken alone. It is effective for lymphedema, tonsillitis, glandular swelling, and much more. Read more about it at our store.
Wishing you the best in health,
The Wolfe Clinic