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What is the Lymphatic System and how does it benefit us?

November 6, 2017

The Lymphatic System is little understood but a vital body system. It is our fluid waste system and forms part of our immune system. The fluid that flows through our Lymphatic System is what causes swelling. When we have a strain, like a sprained ankle when swelling occurs, it is our lymphatic system that produces that fluid/swelling. When you have a blister, it is lymph fluid in the blister. When you have puffy eyes, it's due to a build up of fluid from the lymphatic system. And, when you have surgery, it is lymphatic fluid that makes that swelling.


The Lymphatic System is formed of numerous microscopic lymphatic vessels, most of which are just under the skin surface. These vessels and lymph nodes work to rid our tissues of fluid and infection. The Lymphatic System works in conjunction with our circulatory system. Fluid filters out of the vein and capillary walls into the surrounding tissues. In this fluid there are white blood cells, proteins, hormones and toxins.


The lymphatic ‘collectors’ collect this fluid which is then transported through a network of vessels to the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are like filtration stations. They filter the fluid, producing immune cells called lymphocytes which target and destroy any damaging cells. The cleansed fluid is then recirculated into the lymphatic system, which eventually spills back into the circulatory system at our collar bones. This is a continual process that keeps our skin and body tissues healthy.


Unlike the circulatory system - our blood system - which has the heart to pump blood through our veins and arteries, the lymphatic system relies upon muscle movement to encourage lymph flow. The flow of the fluid through the vessels causes a muscular impulse in a chamber, which propels the fluid further through the system. If we become stressed, or have a trauma - be it psychological, emotional or physical, our lymphatic system doesn't function as efficiently as it should. Lymphatic fluid accumulates and stagnate and we can become unwell. It is therefore important to keep moving, to exercise regularly and to drink plenty of water. 


Lymphatic Massage, or Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a specialised form of massage which help stimulate the lymphatic system. This massage has lots of health benefits, such as:

  1. immune system improvement,

  2. reduces bloating,

  3. reduces swelling - particularly after injury or surgery

  4. reduces puffy eyes,

  5. helps with detoxing the tissues,

  6. reduces stress,

  7. improves sleep,

  8. helps with relaxation,

  9. makes you feel good, 

  10. and, because the lymphatic system transports hormones - in this instance LH, the Luteinising Hormone responsible for conception, women having IVF have been known to benefit from lymphatic massage.


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