The lymphatic system is the most under appreciated part of our circulatory system. Twice as extensive as the arterial blood supply, the lymph system is also an essential part of the immune system – fighting infection and keeping us healthy.
The lymph system is like our body’s built in sanitation system – the plumbing that carries away and filters out the poisonous waste products from every cell, tissue, and organ in your body. Tiny lymphatic capillaries collect cellular waste and proteins, carry it through the vessels, and deliver it to the lymph nodes which produce powerful lymphocytes to destroy viruses and bacteria.
As a part of the circulatory system, optimal flow must be maintained for optimal health. Unlike blood which is pumped by the heart, however, lymph fluid does not have it’s own pump. It is propelled by three means: the movement of muscles, the nerves which create subtle pulsations, and the fluid pressure within the system. Physical movement, deep breathing, optimal nervous system function, and proper fluid levels are vital to stimulate lymphatic drainage.
Similar to blood vessels, lymph vessels branch throughout the body and culminate at nodes. Some nodes are located near the surface of the skin and thus easily accessible through touch, while others are deeper within the body. There are a total of more than 600 lymph nodes within the body, but there are four major nodes; two are superficial and two are deeper within the body.
Superficial Lymph Nodes
Axillary Nodes: located under each arm; is fed by the lymph vessels of the arms, chest, back, and breast tissue.
Inguinal Nodes: located at the bend of the hip; is fed by the lymph vessels of the legs, lower abdomen, gluteal region, and external genitals.
Deep Lymph Nodes
Superclavicular Nodes: located at the neck, just above the collarbone; is fed by the lymph vessels of the head and shoulders.
Deep Abdominal/Pelvic Nodes: located deep within the abdomen; is fed by the lymph vessels of the lower extremities, abdomen, and genitalia.
Furthermore, a series of organs also contribute to this system.
Tonsils & Adenoids: small masses of lymph tissue located in the back of the throat (tonsils) and within the nasal passage (adenoids) to protect the respiratory and digestive systems from bacteria and viruses.
Thymus: a small gland under your breastbone, this organ is where T-cells mature. T-cells help destroy infected or cancerous cells.
Spleen: located on the left side of the body, the spleen is the largest lymphatic organ. It controls the amount of red blood cells and helps to fight infection by detecting potentially dangerous bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms, creating white blood cells and producing antibodies to kill the offenders and stop infection from spreading.
Liver: cleanser of the blood, the liver collects the waste collected by the lymph system and prepares it to be eliminated from the body.
Healthy cells = a Healthy body
If you’re working towards better health and wellness, then the lymphatic system is your “man.” However, if you find that your detoxing efforts result in feelings of sluggishness, sickness, and fatigue, its likely because your lymphatic system isn’t able to keep up with the junk that your body is trying to unload and your kidneys and liver are being overworked.
If the lymph system is bogged down and clogged up, all that waste is left sitting in your body, effectively stalling your immune system and your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infection. Furthermore, over taxing organs like the kidneys and liver. Symptoms above as well as swollen lymph nodes are a sign of stopped up lymph fluid and overbearing infection so attack this gently and be sure to support your immune system with clean foods, lots of water, and plenty of moderate exercise.
[Read more about A Problematic Lymphatic and How to Avoid a Static Lymphatic]
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