When I was a child and complained of a sore throat my mother would always check the lymph glands around my neck to see if they were swollen. Ask someone where their lymph glands are most and people will point to the glands alongside their neck.
Lymph and Natural Immunity
Most people have very little understanding of where the lymph system is or how the lymph system functions. The lymph system actually runs throughout our bodies and plays a vital role in sweeping toxins away (acting as a filter) and ensuring immunity stays strong. The lymph also helps with the absorption and transport of fats.
Love Your Lymph and it will Love You Back!
The healthier your lymph system is the healthier you will be and the faster your body can respond to invading infection. Technically speaking the lymph is where T-helper cells are found. These cells help identify invaders and support the body’s natural immune system.
Another way the lymph helps aid in immunity is through a special type of cell called the endothelial cell. Endothelial cells line your digestive tract can actually sense the type of bacteria that are present in your digestive tract. Using this perception, instructions are then given to form lymph tissue that is specific to keeping that particular foreign type of cell in check. This helps provide protection form viruses. If this system gets out of balance our digestive system is more prone to become a friendly host for pathogenic bacteria such as Candida and h. pylori.
Once again we see how the health of our GUT impacts overall health!
Lymph circulation relies on body motion and muscle contraction. This is why it’s common for inactive people to experience edema, pain between the shoulder blades, headaches at the base of the neck, snoring/sleep apnea, notice their hands or arm “falling asleep”, have frequent earache and congestion or a sense of overall fatigue.
Does any of this sound familiar?
According to Dr. Byron Richards, BCCN, “ Half of your lymphatics are actually around your digestive tract and work to maintain proper immune response to whatever is in your gut. Constipation in your digestive tract causes a back up in your internal lymphatics, as there is no place for new trash to flow.
Gut health is vital to lymph function and internal lymph flow. Lymph trash flows into a major vein, and then to your liver for processing, then mostly through your gallbladder, into your gut, and out. A problem anywhere along this functional lineup of trash handlers causes a rebound effect, like dominoes falling in the wrong direction. “
How to Improve Lymph Flow
- Any exercise will get the lymph flowing but exercises that have a slight bounce to them work the best. Walking, running, or any sport where you do these is good.
- If you have a min-trampoline (re-bounder) you can gently bounce on that for five or ten minutes a day.
- If you do not have a re-bounder you can simply bounce by lifting your heals off the ground and then back down as you stand with your arms at your side.
- Deep belly breathing and stretching through yoga, tai chi and qi gong are all excellent ways to get the lymph flowing again.
- You can also do self-lymph massage by gently using your fingertips (palms for larger areas) along the inside of your thighs, groin, shoulder blades and neck.
- You can also work with a specialist in lymph massage to help you drain your lymph. This is especially helpful to those with cancer and autoimmune diseases like RA and fibromyalgia.
- Dry brushing the skin using a special natural bristle brush also helps get lymph moving. Start with the legs or arms and sweep towards the heart.
- To help relief congestion; try gently tapping alongside your nasal passages and on your cheek bones. And, be sure to drink plenty of filtered water (at least 50 oz. a day).
Foods and Nutrients to Support Lymph and Immunity
All foods and nutrients that help support gallbladder, liver and improve digestive health will support the lymph. All foods that are rich in anti-oxidents and phytonutrients are excellent to support lymph health.
- Drink fresh lemon juice in warm or room temperature water.
- Leafy greens and green foods like chlorella and spirulina
- Fresh organic blueberries, blackberries and strawberries
- Essential fatty acids; flax-seed oil, hemp and chia seeds
Other Helpful Nutrients
- Proteolytic enzymes, especially bromelain (found in pineapple) and papain (found in papaya) which are anti-inflammatory nutrients.
- Quercetin acts as an anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. Found in deep, dark red and purple fruits. Red grapes, blueberries, red apples, red cherries and blackberries.
- Oregano oil has anti-microbial properties.
Additional Recommended Reading:
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