What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system a critical part of the body. An uncommonly known fact is that you have twice as much lymph fluid as blood coursing throughout your whole body! The lymphatic system is a network of vessels, tissues and organs that rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials, and is essentially part of your natural refuse treatment system.
A primary function is to transport lymph fluid throughout your body which carries white blood cells instrumental in fighting infection wherever needed. Thus, a healthy lymphatic system is a major key to a healthy body.
Common symptoms of a congested, sub-functioning lymphatic system:
- Finger swelling
- Body soreness and/or stiffness in the morning
- Frequently feeling tired
- Retaining water
- Itchy, dry skin
- Weight gain and extra belly fat
- Swollen glands
- Poor immunity
- Brain fog/foggy thinking
- Breast swelling or soreness with each menstrual cycle (in women)
- Mild rash or acne
- Hypersensitivity to foods, topicals, etc
- Mild headaches
- Elevated histamine levels (as with congestion & allergies)
- Occasional constipation, diarrhea, and/or mucus in the stool
As you can see, there are many reasons why the lymphatic system and lymph nodes may become congested. It is theorized by many that there are 3 main reasons for this.
- STRESS: has been identified as the cause of about 80% of all chronic health issues. The chemistry of stress can be degenerative throughout the entire body and cause congestion in the lymphatics.
- DIGESTIVE IMBALANCES may irritate intestinal villi of the large intestince, which is a classic reason for lymphatic congestion. As the majority of the lymph in the body surrounds the gut (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissues – GALT), the quality of the villi are critical for proper lymph flow, detoxification, assimilation, and immunity.
- IODINE DEFICIENCY is also a common cause of lymphatic congestion. Iodine helps to deal with the effects of a toxic environment and supports the lymphatic system at the cellular level.
10 Ways You Can Improve Lymphatic System Health
- EXERCISE: The best way to get the lymphatic system moving is to exercise. Any exercise will help, but especially helpful seems to be rebounding using a small trampoline 10-20 minutes a day. It is important to get the body moving and the lungs functioning. Walking is something everyone can do outside or at home, and can be an excellent way to improve lymphatic circulation. Just take a break and walk while focusing on deep breathing.
- NEAR INFRARED SAUNAS: Sauna therapy allows the body to sweat while in parasympathetic nervous system mode, which promotes the removal of toxins through sweat glands. When saunas are used regularly, the release of toxins, the regeneration of tissues, and the heat all work together to improve lymphatic flow.
- YIN YOGA: Yin Yoga requires poses to be held anywhere from 3-10 minutes. The change in gravity experienced with the poses, the differences in pressure and focus on quality breathing techniques help to improve lymphatic flow.
- LEGS RAISED UP A WALL: Laying down with the legs straight up against the wall will improve circulation of blood and lymph in the legs. It will also encourage the elimination of toxins and induce sleep.
- LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE MASSAGE: Many massage therapists are well trained in the art of lymphatic drainage. With regular assistance, your body can reap the rewards of not only better lymph circulation but significant relaxation as well.
- USING A STANDING DESK: Sitting down all day is not good for lymphatic fluid circulation. A standing desk makes it easier for everything to flow and allows for more natural movement during the day. If having a special desk like this isn’t a possibility, figure out ways to incorporate more standing and movement into your work day.
- HYDROTHERAPY SHOWERS: Hydrotherapy showers are showers where hot and cold water are used alternately. Towards the end of your shower, just switch the water quickly from hot to cold a couple of times. This can be quite intimidating to consider, but doing this a couple of times per week can be very invigorating, and of course good for improving lymphatic circulation.
- SKIN BRUSHING: Using a loofah before or during a shower can instantly help with lymph movement as well as blood circulation and skin cell exfoliation. It is an excellent healthy addition to your daily routine.
- DEEP BREATHING: Deep breathing promotes lymph flow because as your lungs pump air, they also move your lymphatic fluid as well as involve rib movements which move fluids. There are many benefits of conscious deep breathing, but this is an easy way to influence your lymphatic system.
- Eat Healthfully and Drink Plenty of Clean Water: Dehydration is a leading cause of lymphatic system congestion. Drink plenty of clean water to keep fluids adequate and moving. It is also important to remove processed foods from your diet to keep as many toxins out as possible. Eat warm drinks and soups in the winter and cooling foods in the summer.
If you’d like to investigate your health concerns that may include issues with lymphatic system function, contact me at AcuPlus for a free 15 minute phone consultation to determine if further intervention might be useful.