Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2018
Written by 

Lymphatic drainage: A matter of health or illness

By now, most of us realize that we live in a toxic world. Much of our food carries pesticides and herbicides, the air we breathe contains high levels of pollutants, and our drinking water may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like lead, fluoride, chlorine or PCBs. As author Rachel Carson already described some 50 years ago, “For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals from the moment of conception until death.”

When the body must deal with these assaults, along with others like stress and sleep issues, its immune system becomes depleted. This state leaves us vulnerable to a number of illnesses.

Enter the lymphatic system. Despite its critical importance in the body, it is rarely discussed. Breast Cancer Awareness Month feels like an appropriate time to share some basics about how important lymphatic drainage is for general health.

In case you weren’t aware, the lymphatic system aids in our ability to maintain optimal levels of health and wellness. Its functions include: acting as the body’s main immune defense, managing the elimination of toxins from the body, keeping bodily fluid levels in balance, and being the primary system for waste elimination via the colon, among other roles.

This network of lymph nodes, ducts and vessels — including the adenoids, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and tonsils — carries extra “lymph” fluid from the body’s tissues, through a cleansing process, and back to the bloodstream. Lymph is a clear, sometimes white fluid that is made up of white blood cells and chyle (intestinal fluid with proteins and fats) that leaks out of our blood capillaries.

Lymph nodes are grouped into clusters and found in the armpit, neck and groin, and along other lymphatic pathways. They work by capturing lymph, removing foreign substances like toxins and bacteria, and sending it on its way back to the bloodstream via lymph vessels.

Since the lymphatic system lacks a pumping system, the body relies on daily vigorous activity so that our muscle contractions force movement of lymph. When lymphatic drainage becomes congested or blocked due to excessive waste (pathogens, dead blood cells, toxins, etc.), it completely overwhelms the immune system, making us more susceptible to a wide variety of health issues.

As you can see, a large toxic burden can negatively affect this valuable body system, so it is important to support it! Exercise regularly, eat healthy as often as possible and hydrate adequately. Dry skin brushing can also help to stimulate the lymphatic system. In addition, there are lymph detox products and drops to help keep it cleansed and healthy.

Since pain, lymphedema and loss of motion are late side effects related to breast cancer treatment, some massage therapists offer lymphatic drainage massage. It is designed to reduce lymphatic congestion by increasing the rate of lymphatic flow. Of course, this therapy should be cleared by a physician.

So, there you have it, the 411 on the lymphatic system. Now, what are you waiting for? Go get that lymph flowing!

Theresa Groskopp, CN

Theresa Groskopp, a licensed certified nutritionist, is the founder and president of Natural Healthy Concepts, which has a retail location at 310 N. Westhill Blvd. in Appleton. She firmly believes that the foundation of health and wellness lies in proper nutrition. To supplement proper nutrition, Natural Healthy Concepts carries a wide variety of pharmaceutical grade supplements, homeopathic remedies and herbs — all of which are derived from the highest quality ingredients. The store also offers a nice selection of natural health products, including nontoxic sunscreens!

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