You might be inclined to think that flushing the toxins and waste out of your body is what happens when you go to the bathroom.But the entire process doesn’t start with the toilet – it actually ENDS there.
Now, where it starts is at the cellular level… when toxins and infectious agents move out of cells and into something called ‘lymphatic fluid.’ That fluid is your body’s wastewater, and it gets circulated away from your vital organs and ‘locked up’ to be dealt with later.
To be honest, I’m not sure if most people even know that there’s a ‘system’ of lymphatics inside our bodies – it’s a great secret to many. There’s a common misunderstanding that the lymph nodes are just stand-alone ‘glands’ in the body that get swollen when
you get a sore throat.
But the lymphatic system is of far greater importance, with far-reaching effects throughout your body! Because if that stuff doesn’t get picked up and moved out of the cells, it opens the door for disease to come walking right in.
Thus, keeping the lymph moving on a daily basis is crucial to a healthy body for many potential reasons – including immune support, infection control, as well as toxin removal.
Send your disease risk down the drain
I believe that all diseases are, in some way, caused by toxins and infections – and so I’ve learned to have an incredible respect for the lymphatic system, which can make sure these toxins are efficiently excreted and infections are efficiently killed.
The lymphatic system is the body’s drainage system. It’s responsible for taking the ‘excess’ fluid that’s generated every day from the organs all over the body (even including the 30 feet of the intestines) and forcing it out.
This is your body’s true waste removal mechanism – not the final stage of ‘evacuation’ that you’re probably far more familiar with. The lymph system plays an integral role in contributing to a free-flowing and flawless working immune system. It involves a ragtag team of organs, including the spleen, thymus, tonsils, adenoids, and parts of the gut.
These organs aid in the process of providing ammunition and protection from the infections that are found in the excess fluid, by signalling a ‘call to arms’ in the form of white blood cell soldiers called Lymphocytes.
Lymphocytes are transported through the bloodstream to help whichever area of the body is overwhelmed with infection. They have an easier time destroying these harmful organisms once they’re trapped in the 500 to 600 lymph nodes in the body – which is why they swell up when you’re battling an infection.
If you could imagine what this system might be like, it would resemble the underground pipes of our homes and cities. The human body has set up check points along the way to slow down, analyse, and process certain crucial elements of these ‘excess fluids’ (that is, infections or cancer cells).
These small checkpoints are the lymph nodes; and if there’s too much infection to process, they’ll swell for a period of time – and that’s when you finally notice it. But don’t let your drain get clogged.
When things are bad with your lymph, they’re very bad.
There are a ton of consequences and symptoms of sluggish lymph that can range from fatigue, swelling, weight gain, weak immune system (repeated infections/colds/flus), joint pain, nausea, breast swelling or tenderness, and an overall feeling of unwellness (toxicity).
It’s obvious when the lymph in the head and neck is overwhelmed, because the lymph nodes in the neck and throat area get swollen. But the scary part is that you could have slightly swollen lymph glands in your armpits, groin, or even your stomach… and never feel them.
But you don’t have to wait till the waste has built all the way up and your glands are ‘swollen’ – because just like a lot of things with the human body, glands swell when the worst situations are occurring, like an infection or cancer.
And if the lymphatic system is already overwhelmed or sluggish, it makes my job of killing infections and dredging the body of ‘gunk’ (toxins) almost impossible to do without side effects.
Move around, or the waste won’t move out
As with most processes in the human body, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why it’s so important to have a clean and freely flowing lymphatic system.
And I’ve learned that giving this system even just a little attention will go a long way in preventing and treating disease, as well as promoting wellness.
It’s important to note that the lymphatic system does not have an official engine or ‘pump,’ the way your heart moves blood throughout your body.
Instead, the lymphatic system’s movement and flow is dependent upon motion and movements that are only under your control – like walking, exercise and deep breathing.
Actively moving lymph is of paramount importance, because things are much more likely to get backed up if you lead a sedentary life. But all it takes is getting your body moving for at
least 20 minutes of exercise, a few times a week.
Here are some other simple things that you can do to ensure a clean lymphatic system:
- Rebounding: You can buy a cheap mini trampoline and lightly bounce up and down a few times a week. This is one of my favourites, because it can work wonders to efficiently move lymph and blood while sparing your joints the pounding on the pavement.
- Sweating: Removing toxins by sweating will give the lymph a break. Some people use sauna therapy to get the body to perspire, but working up a sweat by exercising will kill two birds with one stone.
- Deep breathing: Just taking long, slow deep breaths through your nose, holding your breath for a second or two, and then slowly releasing the air through slightly pursed lips can force the lungs and muscles of the chest to move the lymph in the entire chest area.
- Contrast showers: You can force fluid shifts in the body by taking a hot shower for a few minutes, abruptly changing the water temperature to cold for few minutes, and then alternating back and forth a few times.
- Lymphatic massage: Some massage therapists specialize in moving the lymph in the whole body by gently massaging over and with the flow of lymph in the body. After a mastectomy, for example, lymph can build up in the arm of the breast that was operated on, which can cause infection. LDM can help relieve the discomfort in breast cancer patients, and it can
help other areas or other health issues as well.
- Herbal supplements: My two favourite secret weapons for lymphatic flow come from a company in Florida called Nutramedix. You can find their liquid products Pinella and Burbur, which are both great lymphatic ‘movers’, at www. nutramedix.com.
Really, anything that speeds the lymphatic drainage process up – or eases it – is a positive momentum builder for your system. One of the most intriguing contributors to the lymphatic system is the fact that the gut contributes its own huge load to the drainage system, with a special kind of lymph called ‘chyle’.
In fact, the lymphatic system of the gut it is so special, important, and unique that it has its own name: the GALT (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue).
What you eat… how you digest… and the balance of your good versus bad gut ‘bugs’ are all huge contributors to the lymphatic system and to ‘freeing’ your lymphatic ‘flow’.
Finally, make sure that your immune system is strong, and decrease the toxic load in your body, liver, and colon so good health can prevail.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 10, Issue 9 • September 2016
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.