The Elusive Lymphatic system, why is it important to look after it and how can I keep it healthy?

Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Articles | 0 comments

The storage of toxins and the congestion of the lymphatic system creeps up on us throughout life. Our environment and the infections and diseases we have encountered all leave their mark. For many of us out system can become acidic over time and low levels of inflammation in our systems can be the trigger or even cause disease states including arthritis, heart disease and cancers. Ongoing problems such as fatigue, sinus problems, digestive problems and respiratory problems may arise as a result of a congested and toxic system.
There are a number of things that we can do to help get our lymphatic system working more effectively, but if you are pregnant, have any heart problems or other serious health conditions you may want to check with your GP first:

1 – Exercise

Start gently if you are not used to it. Daily walking for 15 minutes is great. Work it up slowly increasing time and pace as it feels comfortable for you. You have lymphatic pumps in the heels and under the big toe so walking is great stimulation for the lymphatics. Also using the calf muscles really helps to stimulate flow in your lower legs so if standing still then keep standing on tip toes or just keep moving to keep those muscles working. If you want to do something more vigorous then using a mini trampoline is great for some general cardiac and respiratory stimulation and really gets the lymphatic system pumping too.

2 – Deep breathing

This follows on from exercise with that increased heart rate you will begin to breath more quickly and deeply. But, if you are not able to take much exercise then deep breathing exercises can also be a
great way to help lymphatic flow. The changes in pressure in the chest cavity when breathing actually stimulate the deep main lymph vessel that comes up through the centre of the body and empties the lymph and all those tissue toxins into the blood to be filtered out by the kidneys. Look up some deep breathing exercises on the internet or through yoga classes and make it a habit in your daily routine. Increasing the flow of air and bringing all that oxygen into your system will do your whole system good.

3 – Dry brushing

Use a soft natural bristle brush on your skin preferably first thing in the morning before a shower. Lightly brush in stroking movements towards your heart. Start with the shoulders and then work down the arms although the direction of the brushing is always inwards towards the shoulders and chest. Then brush the legs starting at the tops of the thighs and working down to the feet. Again the direction of the stroking/brushing is upwards towards the centre of the body. If it feels comfortable you can also brush up over the torso towards the heart and/or towards the armpits.

If you follow this with a warm shower you can also try finishing with the water at a cooler temperature to stimulate the blood flow which has a knock on effect on lymphatic flow too.

4 – Drink plenty of water

If you have a choice, then drink filtered or spring water to reduce any excess of chlorine or fluoride that is sometimes added to our tap water. Keeping your tissues well hydrated does help toxins and waste to be washed away more effectively. It will also reduce the effects of local inflammation and help with any drug metabolism if you are taking any regular medication. Don’t be tempted to drink huge amounts of water in one go just because you have fallen short of your quota! This will tend to stimulate the kidneys to get rid of the excess and send you to the loo rather than allow your tissues to soak it up. A little and often makes the water more available to your body. And although pure water is better if you really don’t like it then add a small amount of lemon juice or a good raw honey.

5 – Eat good whole foods, organic where possible

Avoid things like sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined and processed foods, preservatives and artificial additives/colours.
Add more foods that are cleansing and will support the lymphatic and immune systems including green veg, fruit, garlic, ginger, turmeric, avocados and nuts, especially almonds and walnuts. There are also some herbs and supplements that can support the lymphatic/immune system including Echinacea, Wild Indigo, St Johns Wort, Borage and German Chamomile (take advice from a medical herbalist if using herbal tinctures).
6 – Minimise exposure to pollutants

This can be easier said than done but try to avoid spending too much time breathing in heavily polluted air by walking and exercising away from heavy traffic. In the home avoid air fresheners and minimise exposure to chemicals through cleaning products and personal care and make up. This means your system just has less to process and cope with in the first place.

7 – Avoid tight clothing

We tend to think of a ‘tourniquet’ cutting of the blood circulation but any tight clothing can have a similar effect on the lymphatic system and can trap toxins and compound congestion in certain areas of the body.
This is really important for breast health in women where underwired and badly fitting bras can seriously impede lymphatic drainage from the breast tissue. Over time this actually lays down scar tissue and may contribute to breast health problems. Very tight underpants can cause problems for men and women in the groin/inguinal area. If you notice a ring around your ankles when you take off your socks, then they are also too tight! The lower legs and feet can be the first area to be affected by congestion in the lymphatic due to gravity and the distance from the heart. So try and find some socks with soft tops, if they don’t leave a ring around your ankle when you take them off then they should be fine.

8 – Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Last but not least get yourself a really good lymphatic massage. If it is done properly it is one of the gentlest and most relaxing massages, you can have. If someone uses pressure or it is in anyway painful then they are doing it wrong! To find someone properly qualified look up MLDuk to find a list of practitioners.

This massage is simply beyond anything that normal physiology can achieve. It can move fluid around the system at 10-50 times its normal speed. This is almost like power washing your lymphatic system. In areas of long term congestion or inflammation this can take a little while to shift but the detoxification that can be achieved is unique.
On top of this, clinical studies have shown it reduces pain, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, and stimulates deep relaxation through direct effects on the brain waves and the autonomic nervous system. This is a truly remarkable and therapeutic treatment that has been around for decades but in this country has been largely overlooked.

In addition to all of the above, MLD has benefits with the following
Sinus infections/catarrh
Healing after surgery or injury
Reducing swelling and bruising
Deep detoxification
Optimising the immune system
Chronic congestive and inflammatory conditions
Chronic pain

If you have any questions about MLD then email or call me