Lymphatic System

The Lymphatic System is the most underrated part of our circulatory system. The Lymphatic or “Lymph” System, commonly known as the “second circulatory system” of the body. It is a complicated network of vessels, ducts, and nodes that filters and moves fluid between the cells and tissues. Our body contains about 50% more lymphatic fluid than blood. When functioning properly it effectively cleanses the tissues, aids in cellular repair and eliminates toxins,  yet sadly many health care practitioners rarely consider the critical role the lymphatic system plays in preventing disease and keeping us healthy.

The lymph system is the body’s primary waste elimination system and functions as the body’s primary means of immune defense. Some refer to the lymphatic system as the “garbage disposal system”of the body. It contains over 600 “collection sites” called lymph nodes and has a network of vessels more extensive than the blood system. The lymph node is an immune related organ. Its role is a filtration and purification station for the lymph fluid. The lymph node is also a place for disabling and destroying bacteria and toxins.

As a circulatory system, optimal flow must be maintained within the lymphatic system. Unlike the blood, whose circulation is driven by the pumping heart, the lymph does not have its own pump. It is propelled by three means: the movement of muscles, the nerves which create subtle pulsations, and the fluid pressure within the system. Therefore physical movement and deep breathing are vital to stimulate natural lymphatic drainage.

The lymph fluid contains lymphocytes, which act like little “Pacman” as they go about their work of gobbling up all the garbage in our bodies. The cellular debris is then expelled through the lymphatic system. If the lymphatic system is congested, the lymphocytes can no longer do their job and our bodies become a virtual junkyard.

If unhealthy conditions lead to sluggish lymph flow, fluid can concentrate in specific areas “edema/swelling” or if function is impaired through the entire system it can result in “congestion”. When this state of congestion is long lasting, blockages can form and cause a backup of the lymphatic flow, almost like a freeway backing up. When this happens, cellular waste cannot effectively be released from the body as a whole and from specific areas such as injury sites. Therefore the immune system may not be able to function optimally. Healthy lymph fluid should have the consistency of thin fluid like milk but congested lymph becomes more like yogurt.

It becomes evident how poor lymphatic drainage can contribute to a wide range of dysfunction, numerous diseases and a lack of overall vitality.