What is the lymphatic system? It’s a critical part of the immune system, vital for protecting us from illness and damaging, disease-causing inflammation. Essentially, the lymphatic system is the the body’s inner “drainage system,” a network of blood vessels and lymph nodes that carry fluids from tissues around the body into the blood and vice versa.
The lymphatic system has the primary role of protecting the body against outside threats — such as infections, bacteria and cancer cells — while helping keep fluid levels in balance.
The best way to protect the complex series of criss-crossing lymphatic vessels and “nodes” that span almost the entire body (every one except for the central nervous system) is to eat a healing diet, exercise and take steps to detoxify the body naturally.
Lymphatic vessels carry fluid that is managed through “valves,” which stop fluid from traveling the wrong way, similar to how blood flow works within the arteries and veins. In fact, the lymphatic system is very similar to the circulatory system made up of branches of veins, arteries and capillaries — both bring essential fluids around the whole body and are vital for keeping us alive.
In comparison to veins, lymph vessels are much smaller, and instead of bringing blood throughout the body, the lymphatic system carries a liquid called lymph, which stores our while blood cells. (1) Lymph is a clear, watery fluid and also carries protein molecules, salts, glucose and other substances, along with bacteria, throughout the body.
A COMPLICATED NETWORK of fluid-filled nodes, vessels, glands and organs, the lymphatic system touches almost every part of the body. Although we may not feel or see it, it’s one of the most important (and often forgotten) systems of the human body. Just like the liver, kidneys, and mouth, it’s important to give the lymph the attention it deserves.
The lymphatic system’s main function is to cleanse toxins and protect against harmful invaders. It works by carrying our body’s waste away from the tissues and into the bloodstream. It tackles toxins that are introduced to the body from both external means (food, air, personal care products, water) as well as internal ones (damaged proteins and cellular/metabolic waste), making it a key detoxification pathway. Once the toxins enter the bloodstream, they are purified through the largest lymphatic tissue in the body, the spleen. The spleen is our main immune defense, fighting infection, holding a reserve of red and white blood cells and destroying worn-out red blood cells in the body.
Through lymph nodes and the lymphatic network, your immune cells can travel around fighting pathogens, such as bacteria and mold, and preventing disease and infection. This is why keeping your lymphatic system functioning properly is directly related to the overall health of the body: a stronger lymphatic system means a more resilient and reactive immune response and defense.
The problem is that, unlike blood, lymph does not have a pump. It relies on the relaxation and the contraction of the muscles and joints to move it. Your lymphatic system can easily become stagnant, especially when it becomes overwhelmed with toxic debris. This not only leads impaired immunity and disease, but the development of cellulite, edema (fluid retention), chronic pain and fatty deposits.
Ignoring the health of your lymphatic system means your immunity is going to suffer, and you’re more likely to deal with common illnesses and even long-term health problems. Here are five ways to boost your immune system and, moreover, support a healthy lymphatic system:
1. Reduce Inflammation and Improve Circulation
Eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking, getting enough sleep and reducing stress are all critical for lowering oxidative stress and halting the body’s natural detoxification processes. The circulatory system and lymphatic system rely on one another.
While blood circulates around the body via blood vessels, some fluid naturally leaks out and makes its way into tissue. This is a normal process that brings nutrients, water and proteins to cells. The fluid also gathers cells’ waste products, like bacteria or even dead or damaged cells like cancer cells.
Tissues located around the body can become inflamed and painful when circulation slows and inflammation builds. A healthy lymphatic system nourishes muscle, joint and other tissue because lymph vessels have tiny openings that let gases, water and nutrients pass through to surrounding cells (called interstitial fluid). The fluid then drains back into the lymph vessels, then goes to the lymph glands to be filtered and finally to a larger lymphatic vessel located at the base of the neck called the thoracic duct.
The thoracic duct dumps cleaned lymph fluid back into the blood, and on and on the cycle goes — which is why circulation is important for keeping the system running smoothly, otherwise tissue can become swollen with excess waste. To keep circulation pumping and the lymphatic system functioning optimally, it’s important to load up on all the essential nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and antioxidants, you need.
2. Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The more nutrient-dense your diet, and the less chemicals entering your body, the better your lymphatic system can work.
Cfs Disease, How To Get Rid Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, How To Overcome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex and debilitating disorder characterized by profound fatigue. The daily strain individuals suffer as a result of the condition is not mitigated with bed rest, and mental and physical activity can worsen its symptoms. Health can deteriorate to the point where the individual is bedridden.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is partially attributed to “central sensitization”. Genetic, biological, psychological and infectious mechanisms have been proposed, but the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome is not yet well understood and there may be several causes, including:
• Immune system diseases
• Interaction with toxins
• Tense situations
• Genetic disorders
• A combination of factors
CFS affects several body systems, and symptoms may include:
• Chronic debilitating exhaustion
• Impaired memory and / or mental concentration
• Muscle pain
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Flu-like symptoms including muscle aches, headaches, chronic cough, and nausea
• Poor quality of sleep
• Joint pain without redness or swelling
• Muscle pain
• Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
• Sore throat
• Feeling unwell after physical activities or exercise
Because chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disease, living with the disorder can be difficult. Daily lives are interrupted, and major lifestyle changes are necessary to adapt to limitations. Patients experience many difficulties, which include:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms, Cure Cfs, Chronic Fatigue Symptoms, Cfs Syndrome. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder with its main characteristic being extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by any specific underlying medical condition.
Clinically, medications are only available to control the symptoms and not to cure the condition. It is an illness that creates physical and emotional struggles, and can lead to disability. Diagnosing CFS is quite difficult because symptoms often mimic other conditions and illnesses. There is no single test to diagnose CFS.
When you begin to find yourself tired, day after day and your fatigue does not go away, it is time to take notice that something may be wrong. Close monitoring of your physical symptoms, daily activity and sleep levels are necessary to help your doctor rule out other health problems.
CFS Symptoms Aside from its central symptom, which is how chronic fatigue syndrome derives its name, the disorder has eight official symptoms, which are:
• Impaired concentration or memory
• Profound exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after mental or physical exercise
• Unrefreshing sleep
• Headache of a new type, severity or pattern
• Joint pain that travels from one joint to another without redness or swelling
• Unexplained muscle pain
• Enlarged lymph nodes
• Sore throat
With CFS, individuals can suffer a number of flu-like symptoms including nausea, chronic cough, headaches, and muscle aches. Irritable bowel syndrome may develop, sleep can become unreshing and lymph nodes in the armpits or neck can become tender.
The lymphatic system is crucial for protecting us from cancer formation. When cancer cells break away from a tumor, they can get trapped inside of a nearby lymph node, which is why swollen lymph nodes are a potential sign that a cancerous tumor could be lurking (although this isn’t always the case). Many times doctors will check the lymph nodes for swelling and abnormalities when they test a patient for cancer or investigate whether existing cancer has spread.
A very important job of the immune system is creating lymphocytes, some of which make antibodies, which are proteins that destroy germs and stop infections or mutated cells from spreading. In some instances, this process doesn’t work quickly enough to fight free radical damage and stop cancer from spreading. Or malfunctions and mutated cells can start to multiply very quickly and spread.
Cancer can either start within the lymph nodes (called lymphoma), or it can spread there from somewhere else. Cancer cells that have broken away from a tumor can travel to other areas of the body through the blood or lymph fluid, where they reach other organs and continue to multiply.
Most of the time the body takes care of this process and is able to destroy small amounts of mutated cells or escaped cancerous cells before they start spreading, but it only takes a small amount of mutated cancerous cells to make their way to another part of the body before they can form new tumors (called metastasis). This can become painful and noticeable very quickly if lymph nodes become enlarged (sometimes they are big and tender enough to feel with your fingers by pushing on the skin).
Cancer found in the lymph nodes affects how the cancer is treated and what cancer “stage” someone is at. A surgeon might remove a lymph node if it becomes infected with cancer cells (called a biopsy), or if it’s too late because the cancer has spread, other treatments like chemo or radiation might be needed.
When the lymphatic system becomes overly stressed, symptoms and signs can include:
swelling in lymph nodes (like throat, armpits or groin)
muscle aches and pains
sore throats and getting colds more often
frequent infections or viruses
and even cancer formation
The body protects us from infection and illness by trapping microbes found in our tissues (mostly bacteria we pick up from the environment) and sending them to the lymph nodes, where they become “trapped.” This keeps the bacteria from spreading and causing further problems like viruses. Once the bacteria are trapped, lymphocytes attack and kill the bacteria.
Lymph nodes swell if you have an infection or virus — even if cancer cells are detected — because lymphocyte production increases. This is essentially how inflammation occurs. Sometimes it’s noticeable when a lymph node is inflamed, such as glandular fever, which is an illness where lymph nodes become tender. Other diseases that impact the lymphatic system include:
Lymphomas — a type cancer that starts in the lymph nodes when lymphocytes undergo changes and then multiply and form a tumors, the tumor can spread to other parts of the body
Hodgkin’s disease — cancer of the lymphatic system
Oedema (also called edema) — water retention and swelling caused by trapped fluid within the tissues
Tonsillitis — infection of the tonsils in the throat, often resulting in swollen tonsils needing to be removed
Lymphadenopathy — the lymph nodes become swollen or enlarged due to infection, sometimes several at once can swell and cause pain
Lymphadenitis — inflammation of the lymph nodes caused by an infection of the tissue, usually a bacterial infection and often in the throat. Lymphangitis is another infection of the lymphatic system, which affects the lymphatic vessels rather than the nodes.
How to Diagnose Lymphoma flow cytometry test for lymphoma
Lymphoma is a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. They are generally divided into 2 groups, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, although the term non-Hodgkin lymphoma encapsulates a variety of lymphomas. Both general types of lymphoma have similar basic symptoms, so if you spot them you won't initially know what type of lymphoma might be developing. Lymphoma is properly diagnosed by identifying common symptoms and then getting a medical diagnosis. In order to give a proper diagnosis, your doctor will run a variety of tests on you, typically including imaging and a biopsy of one of your lymph nodes.
Here’s how the lymphatic system works to protect us from becoming sick: We come into contact with various types of microbes, bacteria and toxins every day that enter our bodies and make their way into the lymphatic fluid. Eventually, the fluid containing these organisms can get trapped inside lymph nodes, which is where the immune system “attacks” any perceived threats by attempting to destroy them with white blood cells.
Inside the lymph nodes (which look like small, bean-shaped structures), bacteria are filtered out and white blood cells are produced, used up as part of our defensive mechanism, and then replenished.
Another important role of the lymphatic system is keeping bodily fluids in balance. When the lymphatic system works properly, we don’t experience any painful swelling or abnormal water retention.
Our blood vessels and lymphatic vessels seep fluid into and out of surrounding tissue so the fluid can be drained. Extra fluid is eliminated from the body, which stops tissue from swelling or puffing up — however, when we are stick or injured, fluids build up in the damaged area, which is why throbbing and pain occur.
You’ve probably experienced swollen lymph nodes at some point when you’ve been sick, especially the ones located near the throat or genitals that can be triggered by common infections (urinary tract infections, strep throat, colds or sore throats, etc.).
Lymph nodes are found around the body, some of the most prominent locations being the throat, groin, armpits, chest and abdomen. Lymph nodes are located close to major arteries since the lymphatic system connects to the blood flow to keep the blood clean. Within the lymph nodes is where the immune cells are created, which are critical for fighting infections and healing wounds.
These days, the manual acceleration of lymph drainage is mainly used by practitioners to reduce the size of lymphedemas, even though the main function of the lymphatic system is detoxification and disposal of metabolic waste. The compromised quality of the air, water, food, etc., causes significant accumulations of metabolic waste products in our body, some of which are toxic. In many cases, this accumulation of toxins causes us to feel low energy levels, fatigue, mood swings (the clinical symptoms of which are often confused with depression by physicians) fatigue, etc. There is no doubt that lymph drainage is a powerful method for lymphedema reduction, but I also believe we should offer lymph drainage to our clients as a detoxification program. Clients who receive full-body medical massage regularly (for example, on a weekly basis) should be getting a lymph drainage session every fifth treatment. I do not advise therapists to incorporate techniques of full-body massage with lymph drainage techniques, as this can cause severe reactions such as headache, dizziness, nausea, etc. Detoxification causes a significant improvement in the power and function of the immune system. I personally see regular lymph drainage sessions incorporated with full-body stress management massage as no less important than immunization against the flu virus and other infections. Immunizations sometimes do not protect people from contracting the flu, for example. A consistent detoxification program has proven very effective in protecting humans from infections.
The main function of the lymphatic system is detoxification, but it also plays an important role in immunity. Lymph is an extracellular fluid that enters the lymphatic vessels and is mixed with cellular elements. The lymphatic system starts at the lymphatic sacs in the extracellular spaces.
Lymph nodes are a part of your immune system. The immune system protects you from infection and other diseases. It includes your spleen, bone marrow, thymus, tonsils, adenoids, the lymph channels and the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are in the neck, behind the ears, under the jaws and chin, under the armpits and in the groin. Exercise is a key factor for the proper function of the lymph nodes and the circulation of the lymphatic fluid throughout the body.
Functions of the Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are rounded masses of lymphatic tissue encapsulated in a connective tissue. They play important functions in helping your immune system defend your body against diseases. Lymph nodes filter lymphatic fluid, and produce and store white blood cells. A tender, swollen lymph node is usually a sign of infection. It also means that the lymph nodes are working harder to produce more white cells to defend against the infection.
Lymphatic Fluid Circulation
Lymphatic fluid circulates through the lymph vessels that pass between the muscles of your body. Unlike the heart that pumps blood through the blood vessels, lymph vessels are blind-ended. They travel in only one direction and have no pump to move and circulate lymph throughout the body. Instead, lymph vessels are squeezed by your muscles when you move. Therefore, exercise plays a vital role in lymphatic fluid circulation.
Effects of Exercise
Exercise has many benefits, including stimulation of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system depends on physical activity to circulate the lymphatic fluid throughout the body, and collect and help the body eliminate toxins and other waste products. Vigorous exercise and actions such as coughing, sneezing and abdominal contractions on forceful exhalation will aid the flow of lymphatic fluid.
Systemic enzymes help to restore lymphatic transport capacity and break down undesired excess proteins that contribute to swelling and inflammation. Systemic enzymes also remove debris throughout the body that slow down circulation.
Oregano oil supports digestion and the immune system. Oregano oil is absorbed directly into the lymphatic system from the digestive tract. The powerful antioxidants and antimicrobial properties can help clear up the intestinal lymph capillaries. Oregano oil also contains terpenes that dissolve fatty sludge in the lymph system and in the gall bladder.
Burdock is a powerful multi-system detoxifier that supports the liver, kidneys, digestion, and the lymphatic and endocrine systems. According to the University of Michigan Health System, burdock a blood and lymph purifier.
Wild indigo stimulates the glandular and lymphatic systems. This herb is an antimicrobial immune system modulator and lymphagogue that helps regulate immune and inflammatory responses.
Licorice root is one of the most broad-spectrum natural detoxifying agents known to herbalists. It has been said to gently rid the body of over 1,000 known toxins.
Goldenseal and astragalus are excellent lymphatic system and blood cleansers that also boost the immune system.
Echinacea alleviates congestion and swelling in the body, and it boosts the immune system. Echinacea will ward off bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Echinacea helps strengthen certain kinds of cells in the lymph nodes called macrophages, which are responsible for getting the toxins out of the lymph.
Water, while not a food, is vital to life. A lack of water inhibits lymph from flowing smoothly.
Cranberries emulsify fat, which helps break down excess fat so the lymphatic vessels can carry it away. Cranberry also helps the kidneys, which helps with overall hydration. Avoid cranberry juice that has any added ingredients, and try to get some fresh, whole cranberries to juice whenever possible.
Leafy greens are cleansing. Chlorophyll, the green nutrient that captures sunlight, has powerful cleansing properties and beneficial effects on the blood and thus on lymph fluid as well. Look for dark greens like kale, spinach, wheat grass, barley grass, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, broccoli, and mustard greens.
Garlic boosts immune function, chelates heavy metals and some other toxins, and kills harmful microbes. Anything that boosts immune function will take a load off of the lymphatic system.
Ginger reduces inflammation, and like garlic, ginger is also antimicrobial.
Turmeric is related to ginger. It also helps reduce inflammation, thins the blood, improves circulation, and is a well known and very effective cancer fighter.
Fresh produce has many different benefits for the lymphatic system and the whole body, but enzymes are critical to good health. More enzymes in the diet means more enzymes are available to the body to break down food and fibrin, which allows for easier flow of blood and lymph.