The lymphatic system. As one of my esteemed mentors calls it – the Cinderella system. Why? Because it's the most untapped and undervalued system in our body.
We've failed to recognise its most pure and real power in human health, pain, and disease. And when you consider that the lymphatic vessels in one grown human body stretch around the globe four times (more than 100,000 miles), you begin to understand just how critical this system is.
We also have three times more lymph than we do blood! It's a system which, until now, we've failed to understand fully. I'm hoping to shine a little light on the potential and possibility it could bring to your world.
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So, what is our lymphatic system? It's essentially our body's sewage and clearance system. Our lymphatic vessels lay the foundation for our body's drainage platform to keep the inside of our body sparkling and clean.
Liken it to our own sewage system. When we flush the toilet the waste products get flushed down drain pipes that go through a carefully designed system that enables the waste to be eliminated effectively and efficiently. If there was to be a blockage form at some juncture, the waste would accumulate, block up, and the system would eventually fail. Until the blockage is cleared we'd see and smell the overflow. Our lymphatic system works in just the same way.
Our lymph nodes (often referred to as glands) will block up with toxins, waste products, pathogens, inflammatory proteins, and the like. The more toxins and immune-system fighting that goes on in our body the more likely we will have blocked up lymph nodes; the more blocked up lymph nodes we have the more pain and disease we'll encounter. When lymph nodes no longer lend to the fluency and fluidity of the lymphatic system, we become a toxic, complicated mess.
Our lymphatic system flows in one direction only; upwards towards the heart. If there's blockage it can create a backlog and traffic jam – just as a home sewage system would. One thing that will unblock it is lymphatic stimulation via someone trained in unblocking the lymphatic pathways.
Diaphragmatic breathing and movement are our lymphatic system pumps. It's just another reason why both of those things are crucial to our health and sense of vitality. If we don't move or we exercise shallow breathing (something many of us aren't aware we do) our lymphatic fluid will become motionless, and like water in a pond, will stagnate.
It's why we can feel so heavy and lethargic if we sit still for too long – think sitting at a desk or long car journeys. However, if we have blockages in lymphatic nodes, movement or diaphragmatic breathing can't undo the blockage - only lymphatic stimulation can do that.
As well as ridding our body of toxins our lymphatic system also carries our immune system cells. When our body detects some foreign invader or particle our body immediately mounts an immune response by releasing proteins and chemicals that help to chase down the offender.
A lymphatic blockage doesn't just help with the drainage of toxins and waste, but also with transporting our fighting power around our bodies.
Possibly the most important thing in all of this is that our drainage capabilities are necessary before supply. If we can't drain we build up toxicity. Toxicity increases inflammation. Inflamed cells are hard and rigid and all the good stuff that our cells need to be healthy - oxygen, nutrients etc – can't efficiently access the cell.
How might this manifest in real life? We're often told we're deficient in nutrients. But it's more likely that the body hasn't been able to absorb the nutrients – for the reasons stated above.
What can lymphatic stimulation help? I guess I take a step back here and say that the gut, inflammation, our immune system and our lymphatic system all work together. If there's a problem with one, there'll be a problem with another.
Nothing in the body works alone. In knowing this, and knowing how many things the gut alone can influence (mood disorders, migraines, skin issues, allergies, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disease, recurrent infections, low energy, pain and so on), the lymphatic system influences all of these things.
Although there are a few instances where lymphatic stimulation is contraindicated (for example DVT, cancer), we should embark on a maintenance protocol. Chronic disease and inflammation is becoming prevalent but boosting the immune-fighting and toxic-drainage capacities of our bodies will keep us healthier.
• Corinne Austin is a Northland movement and health coach (firstname.lastname@example.org).