I found the attached article on the Lymph System in Women to Women newsletter written by Marcelle Pick, OB/Gyn NP founder of the Clinic in Maine. I have added some of my own comments below.
In summary it talks about how the lymph system is recognized in Europe and the Far East and how it supports every other body system, e.g. immune, digestive, detoxification, and nervous systems. While here in America, we only think of it when something goes wrong, e.g. swollen lymph node or even worse, lymphoma. (My comment: Many of us know women who have had breast cancer and had some of their lymph nodes removed around their armpit area resulting in lymphedema (their arms get all swollen up and the lymph can’t drain on their own since some of their lymph nodes were removed). That is why breast cancer patients often need lymph drainage massage.)
The author adds that “The reality is that you have twice as much lymph fluid in your body as blood. The lymph continuously bathes each cell and drains away the detritus in a circulatory system powered only by your breathing and movement. If the movement of the lymph stopped entirely you would die in a matter of hours.” (my emphasis)
She gives a detailed anatomy of the lymph system so I won’t repeat it except to say that a crucial function of the lymph tissue is to generate and store white blood cells (lymphocytes) that fight infection. The main lymph organs are bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland and tonsils. Most of the lymph tissue surrounds the intestines. It even has a name GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue).
The purpose of the lymph system is to transport this lymph fluid through the vessels picking up waste materials (e.g. dead cells, perhaps a live infection) and then moving through 500 lymph nodes whose purpose is to filter out the bacteria and viruses.
The lymphatic system has no central pump (like the blood system). It depends on muscle movement and manual manipulation. Deep breathing also helps. The skin, liver, kidney, bladder and intestines need to be performing well so that the lymph does not get overwhelmed with waste products. (My comment: It is great to do cleanses, such as a liver or colon or kidney detox cleanse you would get from a health store as long as you keep in mind that it will cleanse the liver, colon or kidney, etc but that it will not specifically cleanse the 7th channel of elimination – the lymph system. Remember those toxins that are being eliminated from the liver or colon or kidney or whatever need a way to exit the body – it leaves the body via the lymph system. Therefore you don’t want the lymph system to be all clogged up or stagnant to begin with.)
The lymph system can get blocked up from surgery, illness, toxins, and lack of activity. (My comment: stress also blocks up the lymph system despite a perfect diet and exercise.) She adds “Because lymph cleanses nearly every cell in your body, symptoms of chronic lymph blockage are diverse but can include worsened allergies and food sensitivities, frequent cold and flu infections, joint pain, headaches and migraines, menstrual cramps, arthritis, fibrocystic breasts, breast tenderness, sinusitis, loss of appetite and GI issues, muscle cramping, tissue swelling, fatigue, mental fuzziness, mood irregularities, depression, parasites, skin breakouts, acne, and cellulite. In general, you may feel tired and toxic, with a heaviness in your abdomen. In Chinese medicine, practitioners call this “excessive damp” that undermines your whole health.
Stagnant lymph can also interfere with the system’s ability to cleanse more potentially hazardous concerns, such as bacteria and cancerous or diseased cells from organ tissue. Viral infections, bacteria, and cancerous or mutagenic cells move through the lymph fluid, where they are targeted and destroyed in the lymph nodes — when the system is adequate to the task.”
Constipation, diarrhea and other digestive issues affect the lymphatic system’s ability to do its job. It can play a role in cellulite too, according to this author. Toxins accumulate in the pockets of fat. One needs to improve the circulation of lymph to these cellulite ridden areas and reduce toxic load.
This is where lymphatic drainage massage will help. She strongly recommends this be done. You also need to clean up your diet, do a colon cleanse/nutritional detox along with supplements for the liver. Look into your food sensitivities and avoid eating foods that aggravate you. Take different supplements like probiotics, etc (My comment: check out live blood analysis to see if you have candida, parasites, bacteria, liver,lung,colon toxicity, digestion issues, etc). Exercise, deep breathe, drink lots of water, sweat. She also recommends acupuncture which I personally suggest to everyone. She adds you need to look at your emotional stuff too “Your lymph can become blocked when you are feeling stuck or unable to express yourself. “