What is the Lymphatic System?
You may be wondering, “what is the lymphatic system”? I know that, for me, I have seldom thought much about it. I’ve heard of others having cancer moving into the lymph nodes and that was pretty much a death sentence. It has much to do with our immune system so it’s important that we make sure we are giving it some attention.
But what is it?
It’s like an additional circulatory system that moves vital hormones and such throughout the body. The lymphatic system consists of all the lymphatic vessels and lymph organs. For example, the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, as well as, lymphatic tissue found in the small intestine and throat (adenoids, tonsils). It works together with the blood-producing system in the bone marrow, thereby playing a vital role in immune responses to protect the body from various pathogens. It also helps transport nutrients and waste products in the body.
While it is like the circulatory system, it has no pump. Fluids are pumped throughout the body by our movement. This is why your doctor has probably stressed that even though moving your body may be painful or fatiguing, you must try to move your body at least small amounts every day.
Signs That Your Lymphatic System is Backed Up
According to Branch Basics,
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. If the lymph is not flowing well, the cells are poisoned from their own waste and the lymph fluid becomes a toxic cesspool, resulting in fatigue, swelling, infection, inflammation, disease, and more symptoms (see below). A combination of a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and a toxic environment all contribute to this backup. Rapid improvements in the quality of the cells and blood occur once easy lifestyle changes are made so that the lymphatic system is activated and working efficiently.
Symptoms of a Back-up Lymphatic System
Branch Basics lists the following as symptoms of a backed-up Lymph system. This sounds a lot like fibromyalgia to me.
- Brain fog
- Swollen lymph nodes or tonsils
- Lack of energy
- Recurrent sore throats
- Morning mucous
- Mucous drainage (especially after dairy or flour)
- Fluid backup in the ear (especially in children)
- Ear popping and ringing
- Reduced ability to fight infection (frequent cold or flu)
- Constipation or slugging bowel function
- Inability to lose weight
- Soreness or stiffness in the morning
- Bloating, swelling, or heaviness in extremities
- Arms or hands fall asleep while sleeping
- Pain, pressure, or stiffness along your spine and shoulders
- Sore breast or breast swelling with your menstrual cycle
- Itchy skin
- Acne, dry skin or other skin issues
Learn more of the causes at their website.
Keep Those Vessels Flowing
There are many ways that we can naturally help our body keep those lymphatic vessels clear and moving. I’m no expert here. I am just learning about some of this so I’m going to refer you to those who are more of an expert or at least have found success in using some of these practices.
Here are a few simple things we can do:
STOP CHEMICAL EXPOSURE
The number of chemicals in our households is exorbitant. It can be overwhelming but just start small and work on removing harsh chemicals from your house. You won’t regret it. IN the meantime, get some rubber gloves to protect your hands. Most cleaning can actually be done with water and a microfiber cloth, like Norwex.
Take moments throughout the day to stop and breathe. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold it. Slowly release your breath through your mouth. There are tons of apps you can download to help you learn to do this.. even remind you to do it. My Fitbit app actually has an app for this. My Faithful FInishlines also gives instruction for breathing in their free Foundations Course. Also, if you are a Silver Sneakers member, there are on-demand videos to teach you how to do it properly. If you have none of these options, it’s YouTube to the rescue.
Who would have thought that you need to learn to breathe properly?
NEXT… DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Hydration is vitally important for our bodies. And seriously, it needs to be clear pure water. There is really no exception to this. Sodas don’t count; they actually dehydrate you. To know how much water you need, as a basic rule, take your weight in pounds, divide this in half. That is how many ounces you need each day. You can also tell from your urine if you are getting enough to drink.
It may seem like this is a lot of water, I wrote a post a while back on ways to get enough water.
Dry skin brushing promotes lymphatic drainage of toxic waste, which results in many benefits for your immunity. It refreshes your skin and reduces cellulite. Begin a habit of dry brushing a few minutes before your shower or bath using a natural bristle brush. Here’s a great explanation from the Cleveland Clinic. The following video explains how to do it. She also talks about Rebounding which is another helpful thing to do.
ALTERNATE HOT AND COLD IN THE SHOWER
– LOL! Some of us do this without even trying. Does your plumbing system draw the cold water away when someone turns the water on in the kitchen or flushes the toilet? Anyway, yes this is actually good for your lymphatic system. Alternate hot and cold water for 90 seconds to several minutes. Be sure to end with the cold. NOTE: Avoid this if you are pregnant or have a heart issue.
Follow this link to Fibromyalgia Resources for more information on this.
MOVE YOUR BODY
We already know that a sedentary lifestyle is no good for us. If you sit most of the day try to at least stand up and stretch every hour. Talk a brisk walk during your breaks. Do a minute of jumping jacks or running in place. It will make a big difference. I have started the practice of modified jumping jacks (this white girl can’t jump LOL) just before my shower.
I have mentioned Faithful Finish Lines earlier. But they offer directed exercise and workouts that are very helpful. Kris also has chronic pain so she is very empathic. She shows many ways to modify the exercise workout so that anyone can do it. I promise it is good stuff. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Try this free 5-day Fitness Challenge. Just Ten Minutes a Day
There are other things we can do but this is a very good place to start. I’ll leave the research to you. Check out Branch Basics. The link is under Resources below.
Let’s Get Flushing Those Vessels!
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.