The lymphatic system is vital to every individual
Lymph is a colourless, watery fluid, rich in white blood cells called lymphocytes. It also contains other good products that are essential to feed the tissues such as water, sugars, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, salts, any these that are not used by the cells in the tissues are picked up by the lymph system for recirculation.
Lymph contains waste products from cells, and at times germs or toxins that somehow got into the tissues, damaged or abnormal cells, (including cancer cells), as lymph passes through the lymph nodes they trap the germs and damaged or abnormal cells, and activate immune responses to help your body get rid of them. We have approx. 600 lymph nodes in the body, found under the skin at the neck, arm pit and groin and deep in the core of the body.
What is its function?
The lymphatic system does different things, acting as a one-way drainage system, moving fluid and many waste products from body tissues through lymph nodes (for filtering and destroying bacteria and viruses) before delivering everything into the blood circulation. The body then passes these waste products out with other waste via the kidneys/bladder (urine) and bowel (stool) protecting us from infection and disease and assisting the work of the body’s immune system.
The G-lymphatic system is a recently discovered macroscopic waste clearance system that utilises a unique system to promote efficient elimination of soluble proteins and metabolites from the central nervous system. Besides waste elimination, the G-lymphatic system may also function to help distribute non-waste compounds, such as glucose, lipids, amino acids back to the circulatory system for re-circulation. Intriguingly, this system functions mainly during sleep and is largely disengaged during wakefulness.
The biological need for sleep across all species may therefore reflect that the brain must enter a state of activity that enables elimination of potentially neurotoxic waste products, including β-amyloid proteins (considered to be a significant contribution to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease)
What restricts lymph flow causing swelling?
The Lymph system does not have a pump of its own (unlike the blood system which has the heart to keep blood circulating) and so for lymph to move …we need to move!
Tight clothes (such as tight bra straps, over tight belts, jeans etc), tight jewellery, not moving / sedentary lifestyle will impede or restrict the flow of lymph. If we change these influences the restriction in flow will be reversed.
Tumours obstructing from outside the system or indeed inside the system
What helps lymph flow?
Movements such as yoga, walking, swimming, tai chi, Pilates, aqua gym, hydration, techniques help push lymph to its final destination ..the heart, and then it all starts all over again. Intestinal movement (peristalsis) and gravity also help.
The lymph nodes connected to the stomach, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, large and small colons, and other vital organs are located just under the diaphragm – over 60% of all lymph nodes in total and the movement of lymph as it passes through the core of the body is significantly influenced by diaphragmatic (tummy) breathing.
We produce approx. 5 litres of lymph per day (more when we exercise) half of water content is absorbed by the lymph nodes and going directly to the circulating veins , so essentially we need to deliver 2 – 2.5 litres returning to the heart over 24 hrs as a cleansed product… all assistance in movement welcome.
In treatment sessions; Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) increases the natural flow of lymph and compression facilitates absorption by increasing tissue pressure.