You learned all about the circulatory system in high school, right? So you know all about the heart, blood and veins. But do you remember the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is not well known, but a critical part of the body — you have twice as much lymph fluid as blood! It is a network of tissues and organs that rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials; it is part of your natural sewage treatment system. A primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph fluid. Lymph is a fluid that contains white blood cells that are instrumental in fighting infection all throughout the body. Thus, a healthy lymphatic system is key to a healthy body.
Below are common symptoms of a congested lymphatic system (John Douillard):
- Rings get tight on fingers
- Soreness and/or stiffness in the morning
- Feeling tired
- Bloating / Holding on to water
- Itchy skin
- Weight gain and extra belly fat
- Swollen glands
- Low immunity
- Brain fog
- Breast swelling or soreness with each cycle
- Dry skin
- Mild rash or acne
- Mild headaches
- Elevated histamine and irritation due to common environmental allergens
- Occasional constipation, diarrhea, and/or mucus in the stool
Although there are many reasons why the lymphatic system and lymph nodes may become congested, these can be paired down to three major causes According to John Douillard.
1. Stress has been identified as the cause of about 80% of all chronic health issues. The chemistry of stress is degenerative and lymph congesting.
2. Digestive imbalances may irritate intestinal villi, which is a classic reason for lymph congestion. As the majority of the lymph in the body surrounds the gut (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissues – GALT), the quality of the villi are critical for proper lymph flow, detoxification, assimilation, and immunity.
3. Iodine deficiency is also a common cause of lymphatic congestion. Iodine helps to mitigate the effects of a toxic environment and supports the lymphatic system at the cellular level.
How to Improve Lymph Health
1. Exercise: The best way to get the lymphatic system moving is to exercise, and the best type of exercise is rebounding. Rebounding is jumping on a small or large trampoline. Do this for 10-20 minutes a day.
2. Near Infrared Sauna: Sauna therapy allows the body to sweat while in parasympathetic nervous system mode, so toxins are being sweated out. The circulation/release of toxins, the regeneration of tissues, and the heat all work together to improve lymphatic flow.
3. Yin Yoga: Yin Yoga requires poses to be held anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes. The change in gravity one experiences in these poses and the differences in pressure help to improve lymphatic flow. Try this video when you have an hour to spare.
4. Walking: It is important to get the body moving and the lungs functioning. Walking is something everyone can do outside or at home. Just take a break and walk. Breathe as deep as possible while walking.
5. Legs up on the Wall: That is right. Laying down with the legs straight up against the wall will improve flow in the legs. It will also encourage the elimination of toxins and aid in going to sleep.
6. Lymphatic Drainage Massage: Physically help the lymph’s to drain with a massage. Check it out in the video below!
7. Standing Desk: Sitting down all day is not good for lymphatic fluid flow. A standing desk makes it easier for everything to flow and allows for more natural movement during the day.
8. Hydrotherapy Showers: Hydrotherapy showers are just a shower where hot and cold water are used alternatively. Towards the end of your shower, just switch the water quickly from hot to cold a couple of times.
Here is a link for more information on hydrotherapy showers.
9. Dry Skin Brushing: Just brushing the skin with a natural bristle brush improves lymphatic flow. Read this article for all the details and a video to show you how!
10. Deep Breathing: Deep breathing promotes lymph flow. Your lungs pump your lymphatic fluid. The Budwig Center has a great breathing exercise everyone should follow.
- Stretching the arms to both sides then move your ARMS up while breathing in (through the nose) and at the same time make circles with your HANDS (deep breath from the lungs, not the stomach, the expansion of the lungs squeezes the thoracic duct and creates more flow). Hold your breath shortly.
- Next, move your ARMS down while breathing out (through the mouth) and makes circles with your HANDS as you move the arms down.
- After doing this a few times you may feel a bit light-headed which is a sign your body is dispelling toxins. You will need to stop at that point. With time, you will be able to do this for longer.
- Think in your mind as you are doing this exercise: ‘wash the cells, feed the cells, purify the cells’ to help pump out the toxins.’
11. Eat Healthy and Drink Water: Did I mention “drink water”? Dehydration is a leading cause of lymphatic system congestion. Drink plenty of water to keep it moving. Also, it is important to remove processed foods from one’s diet to keep as many toxins out as possible. Eat warm soups in the winter and cooling foods in the summer. Also, try eating raw fruit on an empty stomach rather than having any food in your stomach. (Collective Evolution)
When food isn’t a food: Have you tried castor oil? This amazing natural remedy will unclog your lymph nodes. But don’t eat it! Used topically, castor oil can impart some amazing health benefits, including a functioning lymphatic system.