Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lymph Health...a Detox Key

Our bodies have two major fluid transport systems; the blood or cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system. Let’s talk now about the less well known of these two systems.

Your Lymphatic system plays a major role in detoxification of your body.  Remember the painful knots in your neck, armpit, or groin when you feel under the weather?  Those are your lymph nodes swelling as your immune system works overtime.  This system is made up of approximately 600-700 lymph nodes interconnected with lymph vessels that carry clear fluid called lymph. Unlike the blood, which flows in a constant loop, the lymph is supposed to flow in one direction: always up and towards the neck/heart. Lymphatic vessels connect to the subclavian veins, which are located on either side of the neck near the collarbones, and the fluid re-enters the circulatory system at this point.

The lymphatic system plays key roles in helping the body to maintain fluid balance. Key components of this system include the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and tonsils and adenoids.
The spleen is located on the left side of the body just above the left kidney. It is the largest lymphatic organ. 

  • It controls the amount of red blood cells and blood storage in the body
  • Helps to fight infection. 
  • Removes old red blood cells and processes them for excretion.
The thymus is made up of a collection of lymph node type nodules located at the top of the breast bone.  The Thymus: 
  • Produces hormones which support T cell development--playing a major role in the body’s white blood cell immune defense system.
  • Collects and returns tissue fluid to the blood – maintains fluid balance.
  • Filters and destroys bacteria, viruses and removes toxins 
The tonsils and adenoids are located in the back of the throat. Tonsils are large clusters of lymphatic cells found in the pharynx. They are one of the body's first line of defense aginst bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth or nose.

The lymph nodes act as filters along the lymphatic route towards the heart. They filter the lymph and also produce lymphocytes that attack and destroy invaders such as cancer cells, bacteria, and viruses. 

The lymph is a clear, watery fluid composed of interstitial fluid, proteins, and micro-organisms. Lymph is formed when plasma leaves the body's cells after it has delivered its nutrients and removed debris from inside the cell. Most of this fluid returns to the venous circulation. The remainder becomes lymph.

Some of the most common diseases of the lymphatic system are: 
  • Lymphadenopathy-enlargement of the lymph nodes
  • Lymphedema-swelling due to lymph node blockage 
  • Anemia if the spleen is overactive
  • Cancers involving the lymphatic system. 
So how do we keep this intricate system healthy?

The most important thing you can do is exercise and drink plenty of good clean water! Simple and cheap, yet so many of us don’t do this. A good brisk walk will help the lymph in your lower extremities be pushed up and towards your heart and filtered out.

The lymph system does not have a pump like the cardiovascular system, so it is dependent on your muscles moving to push the lymph around.

For individuals that exercise is not appropriate, lymphatic massage may help tremendously to help their body stay healthy. Adequate lymph flow is imperative to health.

Other ways to support this system would be to add in essential oils to massage along the lymphatic vessel path. Most lymph vessels follow the line of the bones. Using an oil that is known for supporting the immune system, gently massage towards the heart, to support lymph flow and boost the fighting power of the lymphocytes.

One of my favorite powerful lymphatic massages to do for my family when their systems are struggling is the Raindrop Technique. The spinal cord is the key messenger pathway for electrical communication through the body, and there are loads of lymph nodes located along the spinal column. Use this light touch feathering technique, layering 9 power house oils that are traditionally revered for their immune supporting abilities, and you will help a body’s immune defenses in unparalleled ways.

For a simple quick Raindrop follow this recipe to make “Raindrop in a bottle”.  Check out this site if you'd like to know why I only recommend Young Living Essential Oils.

25 drops of Valor

10 drops of Oregano
5 drops of Peppermint
5 drops of Basil
5 drops of Thyme
5 drops of Cypress
5 drops of Wintergreen
5 drops of Marjoram
5 drops of Aroma Siez

Apply along the instep of the feet and along the spine as needed to support wellness.

A favorite way to get the lymphatic fluid pumping is getting the garden ready to wake up from it's winter nap.  There are numerous "chores" that benefit mind and body with productive movement.
  • Building cold frames
  • Spreading and turning in compost
  • Building new compost piles
  • Expanding beds
  • Applying organic amendments like
    • bio-char or wood ashes from the stove
    • bone meal
    • rock powders
    • manures that aren't 'hot'--rabbit, goat, cow or composted horse, chicken.
  • Starting your plants in sunny windows
The kids and I planted the tomatoes we saved last summer just a few days ago.  Here is how to save seeds if you'd like to start making your own family heirloom.

What's your favorite lymph circulating outdoor activity?

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