One of the most overlooked, yet important systems in the body is the lymphatic system. It is one of two major circulatory systems (the other being cardiovascular) and is just as important to take care of.
The lymphatic system, or lymph system as it is also called, is a system made up of glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland, and tonsils. It washes our body’s cells and carries the body’s cellular sewage away from the tissues to the blood, where it can be filtered by two of the body’s main detoxification organs: the liver and kidneys.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is comparable to drains. If you can remember the last time your kitchen sink clogged up and began emanating putrid smells, then this is what I’m talking about. When the drains aren’t working, things start building up and it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
So naturally, when this happens, we call the plumber and they come fix the drains and get them working again. However, when our own drainage system (the lymphatic system) becomes plugged, we can’t just call a plumber – we need to take our health into our own hands.
A congested lymphatic system can lead to serious illnesses and chronic disease. If we don’t take the necessary steps to ensure our lymphatic system is running well, our immune system will remain weakened and naturally, we’ll get sick.
The lymphatic system works by absorbing excess fluids, fats, and toxins from our tissues and into the blood where it can eventually be filtered out by the liver and kidneys.
Unfortunately, the lymphatic system usually has a hard time filtering out these substances due to a major increase in nutritional deficiencies, inactivity, and consuming too many toxins (whether that be from our food, air, or water).
Signs your lymphatic system is clogged
You might have a clogged lymphatic system if you suffer from the following conditions:
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, itchy & dry skin, etc.)
- Pain disorders (arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, etc.)
- Unexplained injuries
- Cold hands and feet
- Brain fog
- Water retention
- Excess weight or cellulite
- Chronic fatigue
- Sinus infections
- Digestive disorders
- Enlarged lymph nodes
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, you need a serious cleanse!
How to get the lymph flowing smoothly
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of lymphatic congestion, it might be time to decongest. Here are 11 ways you can get your lymph finally flowing smoothly again!
1. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things if you want to keep your lymphatic system clean. The lymphatic system needs water to run properly. After all, lymph fluid is primarily made of water and must be hydrated to function and flow. Drinking at least 1 liter of warm lemon water in the morning is a great way to get the lymphatic system moving to help expel toxins. Drinking another 2 liters throughout the day is enough to keep your body clean and clear.
The lymphatic system relies on the contraction and relaxation of the muscles and joints to move lymph fluid. Exercising increases oxygen supply to tissues and cells, and helps circulate toxins so they end up where they need to be – the kidneys for proper excretion. Some of the best forms of exercise for the lymphatic system are rebounding (bouncing on a mini trampoline), dancing, yoga, swimming and believe it or not, laughing!
3. Breathe deeply
Breathing deeply is another great form of exercise for the lymphatic system, as well as your lungs. Since our bodies have three times more lymph fluid than blood, this exercise becomes important in order to shuttle toxins into the blood so that they can be detoxified by the liver and kidneys.
4. Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing is a technique commonly utilized in Ayurveda for assisting in lymphatic flow and boosting circulation. You simply take a dry brush with coarse bristle and brush the skin towards the heart. This stimulates the sweat glands, opens pores, and gets rid of dead skin cells. It also encourages the movement of lymph and blood in underlying organs and tissues of the body, which helps clear built-up toxins. As a result, it can be beneficial in improving skin conditions and reducing cellulite.
We all love a good massage, and here’s just one more reason why. A lymphatic massage is a special form of massage that specifically targets the flow of lymph in the body. It uses a specific amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate the lymph, encouraging its movement towards the heart for the drainage of fluid and waste. Lymphatic massage has shown in studies to push up to 78 percent of stagnant lymph back into circulation. This mobilizes toxins for clearance, lessening the burden on the lymphatic system.
6. Alternate hot and cold showers
Alternating hot and cold showers is actually very beneficial when it comes to cleansing the lymphatic system. The hot water helps dilate the blood vessels, and the cold contracts them. This creates a natural “pump” action that forces stagnant lymph fluid to be shuttled to the liver and kidneys for excretion.
7. Herbal remedies
There are lots of herbal remedies that can help the lymphatic system heal like essiac tea, milk thistle, astragalus, echinacea, goldenseal, pokeroot tea, wild indigo root tea and manjistha tea. These herbal remedies can help boost your lymphatic system by fighting inflammation, boosting the immune system and purifying the blood.
8. Anti-inflammatory diet
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats will ensure you keep your immune system healthy. It will also help ensure a healthy lymphatic system, considering lymphatic vessels exist at the site of the intestines and are easily susceptible to destruction from unhealthy diets. A sluggish digestive tract = a congested lymphatic system.
Try to consume a wide array of leafy green vegetables and herbs, fresh ripe fruit, and red foods like berries, pomegranate, cherries, cranberries, and beets. Beets are particularly great at cleansing the lymphatic system because they clean the delicate villi in the intestinal tract. The lymphatic vessels originate right at the point of where the villi begin, so keeping the digestive tract clear of toxic food matter is crucial to a healthy functioning lymphatic system.
9. Avoid tight-fitting clothes
Avoiding tight fitting clothes will allow lymphatic vessels to run more smoothly. Wearing tight-fitting clothes puts too much pressure on lymphatic vessels and prevents them from working properly. It is particularly important to keep this in mind when wearing anything around the breasts, arms and chest – do not constrict lymphatic flow.
10. Cope with stress
Lymphatic congestion increases when you are emotionally or physically stressed. Keeping your daily stress to a minimum is necessary to minimize its effects on the lymphatic system, digestion, and overall health. Spend more time in nature, and uptake some yin yoga or meditation. Take time to slow down, pause, and remain calm in situations that might otherwise get you all riled up.
11. Detox your environment
Reducing your exposure to chemicals in food, air, personal care products, and water is incredibly important. Try to swap out your laundry detergent, beauty products, home cleaning products, synthetic fragrances and anything else you use for more natural versions. Your lymph will love you for it!