13 Ways to Improve Lymph Node and Lymphatic System Health
Many people have heard the term “lymph node” and fewer have heard of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes often get your attention when you’re sick, and they swell up as they fight off infections. People generally see the lymph nodes as a source of pain and congestion without really appreciating the role not only the nodes play but the entire lymphatic system plays in one’s overall health.
That is why the lymphatic system is the middle child of the bodily system. As a middle child, myself, I truly empathize with the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system works behind the scenes with literally every organ and system in the body but often receives no credit for its role in the bodily family. It seems to only get your attention when it’s in trouble…
Ok, clearly, I have some repressed emotional issues to work out regarding my birth order, but this often overlooked system often holds the key to obtaining true wellness. It may not be as smart as the brain, as massive as the liver, or as cute as the heart, but dang, the lymphatic system truly connects all relatives together, making for a perfect little family.
So, What Does Your Lymphatic System Do?
Your lymphatic system essentially acts as the body's sewage system and security system all in one. Ok, so, it’s not the most glamorous job, and often, the circulatory system and intestines receive all the fame and glory pertaining to these jobs. However, the lymphatic system does more for your entire sanitation and defense system than you ever realized.
Cellular waste creates the lymph fluid as well as fluid that leached out of your blood capillaries. Essentially, waste that exceeds the carryon size and weight limit to continue on through the vascular system becomes a checked bag. The checked bags travel via the plane's underbelly, aka, your lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system sorts the good from the bad and recycles the good back into the vascular system. The viruses, cancer cells, bacteria and other harmful matter get attacked and disarmed by white blood cells within the lymph nodes, and once the cells are deemed harmless, they get to join the vascular system to continue on with its journey.
The lymph system also absorbs the fat and fatty acids within the digestive tract, sending the fat to the bloodstream for cellular nutrition. This intricate system also regulates bodily fluids.
Can you imagine if the sewage system in your home quit working. Worse yet, what if your sewage system backed up in your home? The system you neglected to acknowledge all those years suddenly gets your attention, right?
Reminds me of when I started a grease fire in my mom’s kitchen. No one realized I was up early making breakfast until a fire suddenly erupted.
Anatomy of the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system contains lymph nodes, which act as filtration hubs. We often feel these nodes on our neck, chest, armpits, groin, and knees. The lymph node cells filter through the materials within the lymph and quietly destroy any shady characters.
For example, when the President speaks at a venue, the secret service stealthily scans the space and binds, gags, and removes all dodgy suspects. The lymph nodes do the same thing. They disarm viruses, bacteria, foreign matter, waste, and more while keeping the healthy fluid moving on through your system. The cuffed bad dudes eventually enter the bloodstream where the liver and kidneys take it from there.
The vast system contains ducts, capillaries and vessels, the rivers, that carry interstitial fluid, which is a fancy term for the fluid around your cells. Ducts act as levees, preventing the lymph fluid from flowing in reverse. Other organs such as the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and even your bone marrow make up the lymphatic system.
Also, one of the more important revelations for lymph fans and relatively recent discoveries was that of the glymphatic system. The glymphatic system is essentially the waste removal means of the central nervous system. The brain, a big ball of fat, stores toxins and other devious fellas that wreak havoc on our cognitive abilities and lead to neurological issues. The discovery of the glymphatic system helps us understand how the brain detoxes to rid itself of harmful invaders.
The lymphatic system is a closed loop system, and unlike the other systems of your body, such as the circulatory system, which has a fancy-schmancy heart to move blood around, this system does not contain a pump to move fluid around your body. This fact is crucial when trying to understand how it works and how to care for the system that quietly does so much for you.
Athletes, Why Should You Care?
Endurance athletes generate a massive amount of cellular waste. Pushing the body to its limits and the need for efficient energy conversion leaves a tremendous amount of debris. Their tissues break down and need nutrients to repair more often than most.
In addition, athletes are not immune to the toxic exposure the rest of the population experiences, so not only do athletes generate more metabolic waste and must efficiently access and generate energy and nutrients, but they also must detox heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and destructive microbes.
Efficiently removing cellular waste and toxins prevents disease from settling in your organs, joints, and other cells. A neglected lymphatic system may not show signs of dysfunction immediately, so a proactive approach to your lymphatic health comes highly recommended by the doctors at Apogee Wellness!
Signs of a Distressed Lymphatic System
Waking up with puffy eyes and swollen lymph nodes obviously indicates stagnation within your lymphatic system, but many do now know the following also represents your lymphatic system’s distress signals:
Stiffness upon waking
Inability to lose weight
Swelling in the hands and/or feet
General inflammation and water retention
Your lymphatic system helps detox the body, so symptoms of a toxic terrain further illuminates the need for intentional lymphatic care.
13 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic Health
Move Your Body - As Dr. Perry Nickelston with Stop Chasing Pain, LLC says, you must move your body in more ways more often.
Deep Belly Breathing - Deep belly breathing expands your diaphragm and acts as a pump to stimulate the lymph nodes located near the gastrointestinal tract.
Lymphatic Massage - Manual manipulation of the lymphatic system requires a specific sequence to move the lymph in the proper direction for elimination. Much like skimming fat droplets off the top of water, a gentle approach will move the delicate fluid successfully.
Properly Nourish - Eating organic, whole foods with anti-inflammatory properties such as a diet rich in nutrients, omega 3 fatty acids, natural antiviral and anti-microbial properties, and pectins will greatly improve your lymph node and lymphatic health.
Hydrate - The Lymph system is primarily water. Drinking plenty of clean, filtered water helps move the lymph and prevent stagnation.
Dry Brushing - The majority of the lymphatic system is located near the surface of the skin, so dry brushing in a systematic manner helps gently and effectively move the fluid for draining.
Herbs and Supplements - We at Apogee Wellness find herbs and other supplements effective at stimulating and supporting the lymph system. We often discover one’s body needs Cellcore’s LymphActiv and Supreme Nutrition Products’ Manjistha and Takesumi herbs to naturally support the lymphatic’s attempt to detox. Other herbs such as Astragalus, Cleavers, Red Clover, Echinacea, Burdock, Goldenseal, and Elderberry, among others, assist this vital system.
Sauna - We often neglect the important role our skin plays in the detox process. Sweating allows toxins to leave the body through the skin, which moves fluid and lightens the toxic load on our entire system.
Gua sha - This ancient technique that uses, typically, a jade stone to gently massage the face, neck, and body for lymphatic drainage.
Infrared - Infrared lasers, light therapy systems, and saunas help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing at the cellular level.
Rebounding - The act of rebounding uses gravity as a pump for the lymphatic system.
Submersion in Water - From taking a bath to swimming in a body of water, the water compresses your body, and again, acts as an external pump to gently move the lymphatic fluid through the system.
Work with a CPK Practitioner - Although we all have the same organs and bodily systems, our needs vastly differ from one person to another, so working with a practitioner that can best determine your individual needs for optimal lymphatic health, will get you to wellness and keep you there.
Hopefully, this post convinced you to stop ignoring your middle child and your lymphatic system. Your lymph nodes and entire lymphatic system plays a crucial role in your wellness journey yet is often neglected. Given our intense toxic load and an athlete’s physical, energetic, and nutritional demands, intentional lymphatic care holds the key to one’s peak performance, recovery, and wellness.
As for my repressed middle child issues, there’s always the NET technique for that! Thank you for your concern. It’s nice to be noticed.