What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is very complex and it is made up lymphoid organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, lymph capillaries, and lymph vessels that make and transport lymph fluid from tissues to the circulatory system. It is a major part of the immune system. The three main functions of the immune system are to:
- remove excess fluid from bodily tissues
- absorb fatty acids and subsequently transport fat as chyle to the circulatory system
- produce immune cells such as lymphocytes and monocytes
The lymphatic system is not a close system and the movement of the lymph fluid moves with low pressure due to functions such as peristalsis, valves, and the milking action of skeletal muscles. Lymph fluid only ever travels in one direction.
As the lymph fluid moves through the body, it collects waste products and toxins and disposes of them through the bladder, bowel, lungs, and skin. The lymphatic system is vital for both detoxification and the immune system, and if it is not working properly, then a wide range of illnesses can develop.
Signs that the lymphatic system is not functioning properly include swelling or edema, swollen glands, a tendency for infections or viruses, recurring tonsillitis or sore throats, and a tendency for constipation.
Manual Lymph Drainage for the Lymphatic System
Manual lymph drainage is a massage technique that uses circular movements on the lymph nodes. The movements act as a type of external pump that pulls lymphatic fluid through the lymph channels and enhances the release of toxins. This type of massage is not the same as traditional massage as the movements are specifically designed to increase the flow of lymph. Manual lymph drainage is a gentle technique as too much pressure on the lymph nodes can cause thickening.
Light Beam Therapy and the Lymphatic System Light beam therapy, as the name suggests, uses light beam generators in order to break up any blockages in the lymph. In this therapy, the practitioner focuses the device on the areas of the body where the lymph is blocked. The energy generated breaks up the clusters of lymph protein molecules, thus unclogging any lymph fluid that may have stagnated. Light beam therapy is often used in conjunction with lymph massage and it is very useful for lymphedema.
Dry Skin Brushing and the Lymphatic System
The skin is the largest organ in the body and it both absorbs and eliminates substances, from good substances such as vitamins and minerals to bad substances such as toxins. Dry skin brushing is actually based on acupuncture, which recognises that there are nerve points spread all over the skin that can be used therapeutically. Dry skin brushing applies friction to these points, thus invigorating the entire nervous system so that everything in the body benefits. Dry skin brushing helps to move the lymph fluid through the lymph vessels.
Herbal Wraps and the Lymphatic System
Body wraps that use essential oils made from herbs can help to stimulate the circulation of lymph fluid. Herbs that stimulate stagnant lymph and help its circulation include rosemary, eucalyptus, sage, and juniper. Herbs that detoxify the lymph include Irish moss, aloe powder, buckthorn, ginger, bayberry, and seaweed.
Exercise and the Lymphatic System
Exercise is vital for a healthy lymphatic system. Regular exercise creates vigorous motion in the body, and this is necessary for stimulating waste disposal and the flow of lymphatic fluid.