Healthy Bytes #2: The Lymph System

I have been reading a great deal lately about the importance of the lymph glands and our health. An article in Well Being Journal from Jan. 2014 provided a great deal of background info. I plan to go to a practitioner who specializes in the lymph glands, so this info should be helpful when I go for my first visit, and maybe will stimulate your interest in this all-too-often-ignored system in our bodies.

To see a larger , readable version of this chart of the lymphatic system, go to:

Here are some quotes from the article on cleansing the lymphatic system:

  1. “However, the lymph system is an essential part of the immune system; it is the lymph system that removes waste from cells throughout the body.”
  2. The lymph system’s… “main organ is the spleen…serving as the regeneration center of blood; it breaks down aged red blood cells and deposits their released iron for development of new hemoglobin.”
  3. Symptoms of “insufficient lymph circulation are edema, under-eye puffiness, swollen legs of ankles, and cellulite.”
  4. Corwin S. West, N.D., “believes that trapped blood proteins around cells are the primary cause of fluid retention and increased pressure in the body resulting in pain, nutritive cell damage, premature aging, and even death.”

One of my main interests as a nutrition educator and natural foods cook is how to aid the work of the lymph system through diet, and this is what the articles states:

1. Lots of raw foods (fruits & veggies), which will improve “lymph circulation by raising the level of cell vitality throughout the body.”

2  “In addition, raw foods strengthen capillary walls, reducing the quantity of blood plasma that seeps through them into the spaces between the cells. ”

3. Take digestive enzymes between meals instead of with meals. “Digestive enzymes on an empty stomach help dissolves excess protein and fat in the system, further freeing the lymph of trapped proteins.”



4. Lymph-stimulating herbs (from the sidebars of the article)” echinacea, red root, colorful calendula and calendula ointment, cleavers (tea)mullein, poke root, red clover, chaparral, Oregon grape root, dandelion (blood cleansing herb), nettles, burdock root, devil’s claw, and yellow dock root are all listed as support for the lymph glands. (I plan to ask about which herbs are recommended when I visit the person doing the lymph cleanse.)

5. Include unrefined sea salt from reliable sources in your diet. “…..a  salt-free diet interferes with lymph circulation by causing the body to collect salt and retain ‘edema fluid’.” ake sure you use only sea salt with no additives, as in Morton’s Sea Salt.)

6. Deep breathing from the diaphragm, often taught in yoga or martial arts classes. This kind of breathing “stimulates lymph circulation by creating a vacuum effect, which pulls lymph through the system.”

7. Massage– massage the lymph glands on either side of the neck (just below each ear, just above the neck, and under the jaw) for clogged sinuses. Also helps with eye-puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. In the shower, you can direct cold water (to stimulate lymph drainage) by massaging up and down the inner side of your legs and in circular movements around the abdomen, inner arms, and armpit.  Also, use a dry vegetable brush to brush your skin from the feet upwards to the back and then the abdomen.

8. Rebounding – jumping on a trampoline (with caution!) can clean the lymph system better than any other exercise, according to the article, with Linda Brooks (certified reboundologist who claims that “rebounding is the most efficient way to stimulate lymph circulation.”)

9. Applying castor oil packs to your abdomen for about 90 minutes. (This involves soaking a piece of flannel with castor oil and placing it on your abdomen with a cloth between your abdomen and the castor oil pack, and a cloth over the pack. Then apply a heating pad every other night or three days on, two days off. (I would check this out with a naturopathic/homeopathic practitioner.)

Finally, the last paragraph in the article by CJ Puotinen, (research journalist as well as a health and wellness coach) is very indicative of how little is known about the all-inclusive lymph system:

“Whatever your condition or lifestyle, you can improve your health and well-being by nourishing and stimulating your body’s overworked, underappreciated, misunderstood system. Your lymph will save your life.”

Note: These are recommendations I found in the article, but before trying anything new, check with your doctor. es

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