What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is an organ system in vertebrates that is part of the immune system, and complementary to the circulatory system. It consists of a large network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, lymphatic organs, and lymphoid tissues. The vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph back towards the heart, for re-circulation throughout the body. It is a unidirectional low-pressure network of vessels that run parallel to blood vessels and are found in all regions of the body except the central nervous system and bone marrow.
Lymphatic system and the circulatory system
Unlike the circulatory system that is a closed system, the lymphatic system is open. The human circulatory system processes an average of 20 litres of blood per day through capillary filtration, (which removes plasma from the blood.)
Roughly 17 liters of the filtered blood is reabsorbed directly into the blood vessels, while the remaining three liters are left in the interstitial fluid. There are two main functions of the lymphatic system.
One of the main functions of the lymphatic system is to provide an accessory return route to the blood for the surplus three liters. The other main function of the lymphatic system is immune defense.
Lymphatic system and the immune system
These vessels cleanse nearly every cell in your body by removing toxins, metabolic waste, and more. Lymphatic fluid helps to deliver vital white blood cells throughout the body which help to fight disease.
The lymphatic system protects your body against infections, maintains the balance of fluid between blood and tissues, and absorbs fats in your digestive system. It is your best defense against getting sick. Proper lymphatic drainage benefits the whole body, so when your lymphatic system gets clogged, issues begin to manifest.
What About a Clogged Lymphatic System?
Just like clogged drains, the lymphatic system can become clogged. When this happens the lymph fluid is not allowed to flow freely. A clogged lymphatic system results in adverse health reactions like the build of toxins that leads to a compromised immune system.
There are a variety of reasons the lymphatic system becomes clogged. Too many toxins are a primary factor, while poor diet and overexposure to environmental toxins can also overload your system.
Here are a few other factors that lead to a clogged lymphatic system:
- Lack of movement / stagnant lifestyle
- Lack of sleep
- Emotional trauma
Symptoms of a Clogged Lymphatic System
A clogged lymphatic system can range from mild symptoms to severe health consequences. Stagnant lymph fluid can be stored in your system for a period, but over time it will become too toxic for the body to manage. Extreme blockage causes lymph fluid to build up and leads to swelling around the tissue in what is called lymphedema. But there are other symptoms that are red flags of a clogged lymphatic system.
These symptoms include:
- Muscle cramping, tissue swelling
- Mental fuzziness
- Worsened allergies and food sensitivities
- Headaches and migraines
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Frequent cold and flu infections
- Menstrual cramps
- Breast tenderness and fibrocystic breasts
- Loss of appetite
How to improve the lymphatic system?
Exercise / movement;
Exercise and movement of the body is extremly important, as the lymphatic system does not have a pump. Scientists have now confirmed how important daily exercise and movement is to the lymphatic system.
Dry brushing your body before a shower boosts circulation, stimulates the lymph nodes, and helps your body remove waste. Use a natural bristled brush and brush towards your heart in small strokes. Dont forget to pay special attention to the abdomen, chest, and behind the neck.
Lifestyle and diet;
- Stress plays a major role in a sluggish lymphatic system. When you are in a state of stress, i.e. thought or traumatic situation (out of your control) your body's production of red blood cells starts to increase. Not only can excessive stress severely compromise the lymphatic system, the lymphatic system is also directly innervated by the fight-or-flight, sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic stress initially helps the lymph remove toxic particles from the stressed area.
- Diet plays another major role in the function of our lymphatic system. The more processed, "low fat," artificial sugars and genetically lab modified food, the more toxins your body has to get rid of. A well balanced diet with its base consisting of high quality protein from local farmers, high quality fats and locally obtained seasonal produce, is how we keep a healthy functioning lymphatic system.
- World-renowned pediatrician and family wellness expert Dr. William Sears recommends supplementing your diet with vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc (in whole food form) to help boost your immune system.
- Herbal supplements; with newly emerging research showing that they may help to boost T cell production and support the immune system include Dandelion root, Astragalus, Calendula, Nettle, Garlic, Echinacea and Ginseng. Try our lymphatic support herbal tea.
- Supporting your body's natural ability to process and eliminate waste is another great way of keeping your lymphatic system working efficiently. Try our lymphatic support herbal tea, to support your body's natural detox process.