The lymphatic system is one of the most overlooked yet significant systems in the body. It is one of two major circulatory systems (the other being cardiovascular), and is just as important to take care of.
The lymphatic system runs throughout the entire body, helping remove waste from every cell and regulating the immune system. It is a complex network of nodes, ducts and vessels, and also includes the spleen, thymus, adenoids and tonsils.
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 (aka. 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 impaired 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 (too much sitting), 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
I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated when we’re wanting to keep our lymphatic system clean. The lymphatic system requires water to flow properly. After all, lymph fluid is primarily composed of water and must be hydrated to function and flow. Drinking at least 1 litre of warm lemon water in the morning is a great way to get the lymphatic system moving to help expel toxins. Drinking another 2 litres throughout the day is enough to keep your body clean and clear (a total of 3-4 litres of water a day is what I recommend).
Unlike the heart, which has its own built-in pump, our 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! Laughter, similar to deep breathing as I will describe below, helps move the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, which helps push lymph through the vessels.
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
Try dry skin brushing using a natural bristle brush before you go into the shower. Brush your dry skin in circular motions upward from the feet to the torso and from the fingers to the chest. You want to work in the same direction as your lymph flows – toward the heart. Dry skin brushing increases circulation and helps improve skin tone if you suffer from cellulite.
One of the best ways of encouraging natural drainage of the lymph from the tissue spaces in your body. In fact, one full-body massage can increase the volume of lymph flow by up to 20 times, making it easier for the body to remove toxins, bacteria and viruses. Plus, it can relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue and pain. Try to find massage techniques that focus on the connective tissue. This will help promote the flow and drainage of lymph throughout the body.
6. Alternate Hot and Cold Showers
Alternating hot and cold showers is actually quite 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. It is a great solution to get your lymph to start flowing properly again.
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
Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats will ensure you keep your immune system strong. 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 scrub 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 garments like socks and underwire bras puts too much restriction 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 we are physically or emotionally stressed. Keeping your daily stress to a minimum is important 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
Keeping your environment clean and clear of toxic substances is my last tip I have for you. The lymph has to deal with the body’s “waste products” that we pick up from our outside environment, as well as the processing of dead waste matter inside the body from basic metabolic processes. 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 (like Febreeze or scented candles) and anything else you use for more natural versions. Your lymph will love you for it!