Keeping your lymphatic system healthy the natural way

Your lymphatic system is your body’s second circulatory system and forms a network through your body. Its job is to clean up the mess made by other systems and to return excess tissue fluid to the blood.

From the natural viewpoint, it is understood that a healthy lymphatic function supports every other system in your body, including the immune, digestive, detoxification and nervous systems. If your lymphatic system isn’t working efficiently it gets over loaded with toxins and increases the risk of poor health. In fact many believe that poor lymphatic function underlies many health conditions from acne to cancer.

Lymph is a clear, alkaline fluid containing proteins, substances like urea and glucose, and particularly water. It’s formed in tissue spaces all over the body and gathered into small vessels that carry it around. These lymph vessels look like small veins and have a one way valve system, which unlike blood can only flow in the direction of your thorax – the area below your neck and above your waist. The lymph drains through a number of nodes before returning to the blood. These filter out bacteria preventing it entering the bloodstream. When lymph does enter the blood, it is thought that it can cause serious health problems. 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.

Most of us don’t think much about our lymph function until something goes wrong – usually when an infection causes a swollen lymph node – but there are things you can do to avoid this and ensure your lymphatic system stays healthy. The following natural ways to support your lymph function should be a part of every woman’s health habits:

Clean up your diet: Reduce your body’s toxic burden by avoiding processed food, eating organic when possible, and eliminating simple sugars, saturated fats found in dairy, pastries and red meat. The idea here is that the less waste your lymph has to deal with, the more easily it will flow.


Drink plenty of filtered or mineral water: At least six to eight glasses per day. Your body needs hydration to keep the fluids running!


Consider regular visits to a lymph drainage massage therapist: This is a wonderful and healthy way to pamper yourself (and your internal organs).


Practice deep breathing:  Breathing deeply from the diaphragm, not shallowly from the chest, and through the nose rather than the mouth, is one of the best ways to move lymph fluid through your body.


Get regular physical exercise: Unlike your heart, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump action and depends on your body’s musculature movement (the lungs, muscles etc) to shift lymph around your body, which is why regular exercise is so crucial. As well as exercise in general, specific activities such as trampolining and shaking your body as in dancing are beneficial. Jumping on a rebounder, or mini-trampoline, just five minutes a day is a great way to get your lymph system pumping. Walking, stretching, t’ai chi, yoga, Pilates, and other activities are helpful, too — especially if you do them every day. Or find an activity that suits you. Some women prefer ballroom dancing, others swimming. What’s important is that you make it a regular part of your life.


Don’t be afraid to sweat! A weekly sauna or steam bath is a pleasant way to facilitate a healthy sweat, and sweating helps detoxify the body and so supports lymphatic function. Avoid aluminium-based antiperspirants (they block sweating and add to your toxic load) and choose natural deodorants instead.


Avoid restrictive clothing that press on your lymph nodes: Under wires and over tight bras, jeans, and skirts can impede lymph flow. Try to go bra-free for at least 12 hours a day, and don’t sleep in one. If this is uncomfortable for you, consider buying a camisole.


Skin brush: A five minute skin brush before a bath or shower will reduce congestion. Always brush towards the heart – the direction of lymph flow.


Consider acupuncture: Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine are far ahead of their Western counterparts when it comes to ‘unsticking’ the lymph system. As a treatment or preventative, acupuncture can be a great way to keep things moving. It can also help alleviate discomfort that may arise while you are detoxing.

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