If you’re constantly getting sick, feel tired all the time, or have trouble losing weight, you may want to think about cleansing your lymphatic system.
Learning how to naturally cleanse the lymphatic system isn’t as hard as it might sound. There are many practical things you can do today to help give your lymphatic system the help it needs.
If you’re interested in preventing disease and cleansing your body of toxins, pollutants, additives, and chemicals, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
The lymphatic system functions primarily to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
The lymphatic system is also involved in fluid recovery and lipid absorption.
Unlike our circulatory system, our lymphatic system does not have a “pump”. With the circulatory system, blood is pumped throughout the body by means of a constantly beating heart.
The lymphatic system, on the other hand, has no heart to pump it. It depends on daily movement on our behalf to help shuttle lymph fluid around the body.
The tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system. They’re all connected by a web of lymphatic vessels which, in a sense, is like a second circulatory system of the body.
The lymph nodes themselves are made up of sinuses filled with immunological cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, that both identify and eliminate viruses, bacteria, cell debris, cancer cells, and other foreign substances that invade our body.
Each part or segment of the body drains into a specific pack of lymph nodes. Neighboring areas which drain into different lymph nodes are separated by so-called watersheds. The image below from Science of Massage illustrates the lymphatic system with the location of the main watersheds.
Each watershed drains to a particular region of lymph nodes.
After the lymph fluid passes through these nodes it enters larger lymphatic trunks within the body.
After traveling through the lymphatic trunks, the lymph fluid empties into the subclavian vein at the base of the neck (1).
What Causes Blockages in the Lymphatic System?
When determining what causes blockages in the lymphatic system, you need to think about certain stressors or deficiencies that interfere with this system.
The lymphatic system is delicate, so if you’re exposing yourself to any of the stressors or deficiencies mentioned below, you might want to brainstorm ways of eliminating or remedying them.
Stress can put quite a toll on the lymphatic system.
According to the Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology, chronic exposure to large surges of cortisol, the stress hormone, can physically cause the lymphoid tissue to atrophy.
It is well known that extended periods of stress can wreak havoc on the immune system. Since our lymphatic system is essentially our immune system, you can see why stress and this system are closely linked.
Stress has also been found to remodel the lymphatic system to help cancer spread. Yikes!
Australian scientists discovered that in mice, stress remodels drainage vessels around a tumor, forming “highways” for metastatic cancer cells (2).
The researchers discovered that stress hormones remodeled the architecture of the lymphatic vessels around the tumors – more vessels grew and were wider, allowing more liquid to flow. This remodeled network also let cancer cells spread to lymph nodes more easily.
But when the stressed-out mice were given beta-blockers to reduce stress, lymphatic remodeling was reduced and so was the spread of metastatic cancer cells.
While we all experience stressful events in our life, finding ways to help reduce the level of stress when times get tough can help protect your body against disease.
Here are some recommendations to help reduce stress in your life:
- Exercise: lowers your body’s stress hormones like cortisol in the long-run. Even just walking for 15-30 minutes a day is enough to lower these stress hormones.
- Sleep: not getting enough sleep will dramatically increase your body’s stress hormones. Check out my article on the top 10 fundamental ways to help improve your sleep for some great tips on getting a good night’s rest every night.
- Supplements: some natural herbs and supplements are known to reduce anxiety and stress. Ashwagandha, lemon balm, and valerian are a few key herbs that any chronically-stressed out individual should consider taking.
- Reduce Caffeine Intake: caffeine is known to raise cortisol levels. Try to reduce your intake to one cup in the morning, and if you’re having trouble quitting, consider weaning yourself off with some yerba maté.
- Write it Down: one way to get things off your mind and stress less is to write things down in a journal or piece of paper. You can also write down what you’re grateful for to help re-wire your thoughts.
If you’re iodine deficient, your lymphatic system might be congested.
Iodine protects us from a toxic environment and supports the lymph at the cellular level.
Making sure you’re getting enough iodine in your diet is important, especially if you don’t eat table salt that often has iodine added to it.
Iodine is found abundantly in seaweed products like kelp, nori, wakame, and dulse.
Pesticides & Food Additives
Preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, and food additives like refined sugar, chemicals, and colorings all put a strain on the lymphatic system.
Consuming non-organic, highly-processed sugary and fatty foods simply creates an even larger workload for your lymphatic system.
This will eventually prevent it from properly filtering toxins and bacteria, which can eventually lead to chronic disease.
If you don’t have the funds to eat all organic, only purchase organic foods from the “Dirty Dozen” list.
Reduce your consumption of processed foods and replace them with fresh, whole fruit and vegetables.
Smoking & Second-Hand Smoke
This relates back to the toxin concept.
Smoking increases your body’s receptivity to developing fungal or viral infections, parasites, ulcers, cancer, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and many more issues.
Smoking depresses the body’s immune response, and since our immune system is essentially our lymphatic system, then smoking directly impacts the way our lymphatic system functions.
Prescription drugs are toxic to the body.
They contain harmful chemicals and dyes and these compounds suppress the immune system.
Asking your doctor if you can safely wean yourself off any prescription drugs could help pave the way for a healthier lymphatic system.
Animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy contribute to a sluggish lymphatic system.
Animal products have a very low pH, meaning they are more acidic than say a fruit or vegetable.
Our lymphatic system doesn’t function as well in a body that harbors more acidic by-products. These acids clog up the lymphatic vessels and interfere with the ability of the lymph to properly drain.
The flow of our lymphatic system is smoother when given foods that assist in helping clear the “drains”. These foods include pretty much any fruit and vegetable, as well as nuts and seeds.
In addition, meat, dairy, and eggs contain hormones (either synthetic or natural). These hormones interrupt the processing of our own hormones, whereby our lymphatic system is largely involved.
How to Naturally Cleanse the Lymphatic System
Here are eight different things you can do to get your lymphatic system back on track to reveal a healthier, vibrant you!
1. Focus on Foods
Eating a proper diet rich in fruit and vegetables is essential to ensuring your lymphatic system is clean and flowing free.
- Leafy Greens
Green leafy vegetables and herbs are an excellent way to enrich your system with chlorophyll. This molecule helps to purify your blood, which in turn cleanses your lymph.
- Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruit have wonderful astringent properties that help increase lymph flow and remove any blockages. Melons are great for helping alkalinize the body, while berries are packed with antioxidants that keep our immune system strong. A body that is better equipped to fight against disease takes a lot of stress off the lymphatic system.
- Healthy Fats
Eating healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds is also important to ensure we get enough essential fatty acids that help protect and nourish our lymphatic system.
2. Hydrate Yourself
When was the last time you drank a glass of water? If the answer was hours ago, you might want to go fill up a cup.
Proper hydration allows lymphatic fluid to flow more freely throughout the vessels. Without enough water in our body, that fluid stays stuck and stagnant.
Because our lymphatic system requires a constant supply of fluid, drinking at least 3-4 liters of purified or filtered water daily will help to keep it functioning at its best!
3. Lymphatic Massage
Massaging is a great way to encourage natural drainage of the lymph from the tissue spaces in your body.
Studies have shown that lymphatic massage can increase the volume of lymph flow by as much as 20 times, vastly increasing the system’s ability to remove toxins and infectious materials as well (3).
Exercising, or “playing” as I like to call it (doing things you love while you are in motion) is critical to keeping your lymph system open and flowing!
When your muscles move, they also help move and pump the lymph within its vessels.
Walking, yoga, running, swimming, stretching and strength training are wonderful ways to keep the lymph flowing.
Dancing (with lots of up and down movement) or rebounding is particularly helpful because the vertical motion of the exercise opens and closes the one-way valves that comprise the lymphatic system (and can increase lymph flow by up to 15-30 times!).
5. Start Rebounding
Lymphatic fluid is completely dependent on physical exercise to move, and it is particularly fond of the gravitational force of up-and-down exercises.
What would be the best up-and-down exercise? Jumping on a trampoline!
While many of us can’t afford or find the space for a giant trampoline, there are smaller trampolines that can be used inside the house.
These mini-trampolines, or rebounders, causes the lymphatic system’s one-way valves to open and close, increasing lymph flow.
6. Dry Brushing
Dry brushing helps increase circulation and helps improve your skin tone if you suffer from cellulite.
Brushing your skin while it’s dry helps to boost slower-than-average lymph.
All you need is a dry brush, and a dry body to get started!
Starting on your arms, or legs, brush toward your heart with long strokes. Do this for 5 minutes all over your body before going into the shower.
7. Deep Breathing
Breathing deep is very important. Why?
Proper movement of air through the lungs helps move and pump fluid through the lymphatic system while providing it with fresh oxygen.
Becoming conscious of your breathing throughout the day and getting out of the habit of shallow breathing is a great way to start.
You can do this laying on the floor with your legs relaxed over the edge of a couch or bed. Hold one hand over your chest, and one on your belly. Take a deep breath in, and let it all out. On the inhale, focus on breathing from only your belly, so that your hand on your belly moves upward, while the hand on your chest stays still (your chest shouldn’t be moving). Continue doing this for 5-10 deep breaths.
8. Consider Taking A Lymphatic Supplement
The lymphatic system can also be supported and flushed with herbs and supplements that target the lymphatic system directly.
One supplement I’ve been using recently is called Lymphatic Support by Microbe Formulas.
This Lymphatic Support supplement is comprised of a variety of natural ingredients, coupled with bio-active carbon molecules, to create the lymphatic motion needed to support drainage.
This supplement includes slippery elm bark, which functions as a mild diuretic, Astragalus root, which supports the liver and lymphatic system, Graviola, and Chuchuhuasi, which provides adrenal support.
Additionally, they’ve also added turkey rhubarb, sheep sorrel, and burdock root, whose anthraquinones, tannins, and plant sterols have antioxidant properties, and other immune system-supporting properties. Burdock root, specifically, has been shown to be particularly effective in supporting the body’s efforts to remove biofilm.
This blend of natural ingredients plus the bio-active carbon allows for effective detoxification coupled with binding and die-off symptom mitigation. This means your detox efforts are optimized while your progression toward overall wellness is maximized.