Not many people have heard of the Lymphatic System. However, our lymphatic system is fundamental to our health and well-being. It is a major part of our immune system. It transports good and bad cells to lymph nodes, which produce lymphocytes - immune cells - which target and destroy any damaging cells, like bacteria and viruses. It is responsible for the transport of energy producing cells to and from the blood stream, it transports hormones responsible for reproduction and for making us feel good. It filters out the bad stuff that makes us unwell. It is, quite simply, something we cannot live without. And, a damaged lymphatic system causes sickness and disease.
This vitally important body system, our lymphatic system, covers every part of our bodies, from the tips of our fingers and the tips of our toes, to the tops of our heads - and everywhere in between. Lymphatic vessels surround each and every organ in our bodies. Anywhere there are veins and blood vessels, there will be lymphatic vessels. It’s main job is to ‘cleanse’ our body tissues, internally and externally. It is our own, personal army, fighting foreign invaders, and warding off threats from external or internal baddies.
With this in mind, it seems logical and sensible then that we look after our protecting army - our Lymphatic System. However, because most of us have never heard of the lymphatic system, we don’t understand the importance to us, to our body and our future health, of looking after our Lymph.
There are various things which will compromise the efficient functioning of this vital body system; this system that keeps us healthy and wards off disease. In this day and age of technology, we are surrounded by things that ‘make life easier’ for us. However, in reality, these things are contributing to the increase in obesity, and the diseases that obesity contributes to like diabetes and heart disease. Lack of movement, due to these gadgets that are supposed to make life easier, causes ‘stagnant’ fluid to accumulate in the tissues. If this fluid isn’t being filtered and cleansed by our lymphatic system, our army becomes less able to fight our invader. We become more susceptible to infection and disease.
Do you ever wonder why you might be getting recurrent infections? Why you have continuous colds? I regularly hear of people who are suffering recurrent infections. Mostly, these people are in ongoing, stressful situations. They are either self-employed and juggling running their business with children and running a home, or in high powered, corporate jobs. Our lives now are fast paced and each of us seem to be chasing our tails, to maintain some sort of work/life balance. However, in my experience, it is extremely difficult to get that balance right. We are all living in a stressful world - if not of our own doing, then you only have to listen to the news and hear what is happening politically around the world, and that, although you may not be aware of it, contributes to our stress levels.
So, how does all of this impact our lymphatic system? Our lymphatic system is one directional. Unlike our circulatory system - our blood system - which is constantly being pumped around our bodies by our hearts, our lymphatic system relies upon movement; muscle movement. Lack of muscle movement means our lymphatic system isn’t functioning like it should. As an example, think of an elderly person who sits in a chair all day - their legs and feet are mostly swollen. That is stagnant fluid. And, if that elderly person gets a cut or scratch on their swollen leg, that cut or scratch won’t heal because the immune cells cannot fight the ‘gunk’ in the swelling. So, it’s the same if you aren’t moving or exercising regularly. Stagnant fluid builds up in your tissues because it isn’t being transported to the ‘filtration stations’ - lymph nodes. Then, if a sneaky little bacteria gets in, it will thrive because your personal army cannot get to the bacteria because it’s blocked by the gunky fluid helping that bacteria survive. I hope that’s making sense. When this happens, it is the perfect time to have external help. Having Lymphatic Massage or Manual Lymphatic Drainage, performed by a qualified therapist, will stimulate the lymphatic system. This specialist form of massage encourages fluid into the lymphatic system and helps move the stagnant fluid out of the tissues towards the lymph nodes, so they can do their job of cleaning out the bad stuff. This process produces immune cells and so improves your immunity and increases the members in your fighting army. So, when you find you aren’t moving as much as you’d like, or you’re going through a prolonged period of stress, then Lymphatic Massage has boundless benefits in helping your army get bigger and fight better.
How does stress affect our lymphatic system? Well, let’s put it this way: 90% of the patients I see have had cancer. Nearly ALL of those patients would say that their cancer diagnosis followed a traumatic event, or a prolonged period of stress. Now, I know that most people suffer from stress at various times in their lives. I, for one, am not good at coping with stress. However, over time, I have learned to recongise the signs and can remove myself from that situation by spending time with friends or family, going for walks and generally trying to not get bogged down and swallowed up by that stress. Stress hormones affect the functioning of the lymphatics. Cortisol, which is produced in a stressful situation and causes our ‘fight or flight’ response, is, in small doses, good. However, in prolonged periods of stress, excess cortisol causes our adrenal gland to enlarge, producing more cortisol, which causes our lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes to atrophy - they get smaller. This means the transport efficacy and efficiency of the lymph through the lymphatic system is compromised. Plus, the same amount of immune cells aren’t being produced. Once again, our internal, personal army isn’t able to do its job of protecting us properly. Now you know why, after long periods of stress, it’s common to become ill.
What are most people’s answer to being ill? They go to the doctor and get tablets. It’s what we’re accustomed to do. It’s what everyone does. It’s the ‘easy’ solution, isn’t it? Well, in a word - NO! Taking tablets isn’t solution. Why is taking a tablet, a chemically manufactured tablet, the easy solution? You are simply adding chemicals to your body. Would you not much rather look after your body’s own protective army - your lymphatic system, rather than take a tablet? I know I would. But then, I have the luxury of knowledge and of understanding what makes my lymphatic system work and of how to keep my personal army fighting for me. I sincerely hope that after reading this, you will also have a better understanding of what your lymphatic system is and to how important it is to look after it.
If you’d like to find out how I can help you look after your Lymphatic System, then message to arrange an appointment. If you are prone to infections, get in contact before the seasons change and there are more bacteria and viruses floating around. Making changes is easy.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.