(and, WHY your Lymphatic System deserves alllll of the love.)
If you are on the ‘gram & are AWESOME enough to follow our herbal shop, Flourishing Fern, you know Jack and I were hit with THE FUNK over my bday/ Summer Solstice 2022.
I was blessed to learn I was exposed prior to the confirmation of the double dark red line. I have some AMAZING herbalist mentors and access to some AMAZING MD’s so I was prepared for our anticipated needs.
What I was unprepared for was the recovery.
(And, the fact that I would need a pound of cherries and large, gooey Crumbl Cookies every day for 14 days straight.)
Obviously, I was focused on supporting my immune system while the virus waged war on my system. But, what I didn’t realize the importance of the lymphatic system. Did you know it is a crucial part in the prevention long side effects experienced by many people?
What IS the Lymphatic System & what does it do?
The lymphatic system is the part of the body designed to engage in ‘cellular’ self-defense. It is a network of small vessels (or tubes) that drain lymph from all over the body. It consists of a large network of vessels, nodes, organs & tissues, the lymphatic system makes up the part of our immune system where it produces, stores and carries white blood cells to fight infection and disease.
Remember, white blood cells, also known as lymphocytes, are CRUCIAL for proper immune response.
The lymphatic system consists of bone marrow, the spleen, thymus, tonsils & adenoids, mucus membranes, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels (vessels carry both lymph and white blood cells around the body.)
While the immune system defends the body from foreign materials such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and protists, the lymphatic system learns how to ID, tag and process foreign presences by either neutralizing them or destroying them.
It is THE one system most clearly connected to what we describe as “immunity.” While 2 separate systems, the immune and lymphatic systems share several organs and work interdependently.
For example, all cells of the immune system are created in the bone marrow from starter cells (stem cells) that eventually turn into specific cell types like red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells. The spleen detects faulty red blood cells and can filter unwelcome microorganisms from our blood. The thymus makes and trains special white blood cells that help the immune system fight disease and infection. Tonsils & adenoids trap germs entering in through the nose and mouth.
Mucus membranes provide the first line of defense against antigens. They line our nose, mouth, lungs and stomach…
(Did anyone else just have an Ah-HA! moment regarding the importance of GUT HEALTH???)
We have hundreds of Lymph nodes throughout the body. They are connected to one another by lymph vessels. Lymph vessels are a network of small tubes that drain lymph from all over the body. They act as our filtration system, removing substances that flow through lymphatic fluid from node to node which house white blood cells that help the body fight infection and disease.
Finally, lymphatic fluid. It just sound gross, doesn’t it?
Simply put, it is the collection of excess fluid that (and other substances) that drains from our cells and tissues. It transports white blood cells, kicking ass and taking names all throughout the body.
Why support the lymphatic System?
Over time, the immune system can not only become weakened but it may go awry and surface as any one of many auto-immune conditions. Supporting the lymphatic system keeps things moving to prevent a build up of toxins that may contribute to a variety of conditions.
This system acts as the drainage (sewage) system for our other body systems but it’s inability to pump itself can create stagnation which can lead to a build up of waste and toxins. Lymphatic congestion is the result of stagnant lymph flow which can result in sickness.
According to AyurHerbs.com, there are several causes & symptoms of Lymphatic Congestion:
- Digestive Imbalance
- Poor Diet & Exercise Habits
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Infections & Disease
Unsure if you need to provide some LOVE to your lymph?
Symptoms may include:
- Bloating and Water Retention
- Join Stiffness
- Brain Fog
- Dry and/or Itchy skin
- Weight Gain
- Chronic cold, sinusitis, sore throat & ear issues
- Cold Extremities
- Swollen Glands
Spring time is usually my favorite time to focus on the lymph system. However, my body needed some extra love after our bout of sickness. And, as I learned from my studies of Ayurvedic Medicine, ALWAYS turn to the lymphatic system first.
How to support the Lymphatic System.
Think flow and movement when considering how you can support your lymphatic system. This can be accomplished with foods and herbs but there are several things you can do to offer support.
Water!! We all know we should be drinking our water. But, drinking water flushes out your lymphatic system- so, STAY HYDRATED!!! For tips on How to Add More water to your routine, check out my blog post ALLLL about it!
Speaking of water. Have you heard of Hydrotherapy??? Hydrotherapy is the use of hot and cold water PLUS steam to stimulate the capillaries into opening and releasing the toxins. This can be done at a spa or in your own home. Just be sure to drink plenty of water and take precautions- some people may feel lightheaded switching between hot & cold. Take it slow!
Daily Movement. Walking daily provides a host of benefits while also moving the lymph and protecting against stagnation. Another effective method is trampolining (hello 80’s!) or jumping rope. Both help to stimulate the pumping method of this crucial body system!
Dry Brushing. Are you familiar with Dry Brushing? Dry brushing is a gentle body massage with a stiff, dry brush. Dry brushing should be done daily, preferably in the mornings as dry brushing can energize some people.
I start at the base of my feet and make long, circular motions moving in the direction of the heart. I always spend extra time on my calves and thighs before moving to stomach, back and torso. Finally, I focus on the fingertips and forearms brushing my way to the heart.
Dry brushing may also improve the appearance of cellulite while boosting circulation, assisting with lymphatic drainage and exfoliating dead skin.
Breathwork. Moving the breath via the practice of deep breathing keeps lymph flowing at an ideal pace while, also, carrying oxygen to the body. In the West, breathwork is not something most of us are often taught as a means to connecting with and understanding how to manage our health through breathwork.
Integrative Breathwork Coach, Traci Mahan, notes:
Traci offers a 30 minute exploration call via her website while providing unlimited resources and information in her Facebook Group, Women’s Wellness Advantage Community. Check it out- you will be glad you did!
Lymphatic Massage. Massage provides full body movement and the Ayurvedic lymphatic massage known as Rasa Dhatu Cleaning is believed to help the lymphatic system drain waste from the body, regulate the immune system and enhance antioxidant activity within the body.
Herbs that Support the Lymphatic System
Foods that Support the Lymphatic System
What you eat may contribute to the functionality of your system. Some foods may harm the system but the following foods are said to offer support.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. AVC is high in potassium and known to be used as a remedy that breaks up mucus & supports lymphatic drainage and boosts immunity. Take 2 TBSP in water up to 3 times a day.
- Green Leafy vegetables.
- Cruciferous veggies.
- Citrus Fruits. Vitamin C assists the lymphatic system in draining.
- Seeds- pumpkin, chia and hemp.
- Omega 3’s.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
So there you have it! ALLLLLL of the reasons you should be giving that lymphatic system the LOVE and care it deserves.
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