When we hear “circulatory system,” most of us probably think of the blood vascular system, comprising the heart and blood vessels. However, the body has another, often overlooked circulatory system: the lymphatic system. And I can tell you that it plays an important role in our health.
The lymphatic system includes lymphoid organs that transport lymph, a clear, colorless fluid composed of infection-fighting white blood cells and an intestinal fluid called chyle that contains proteins and fats. The primary lymphoid organs are the thymus and bone marrow, and secondary lymphoid organs include the spleen, appendix, tonsils and lymph nodes.
Our bodies have hundreds of lymph nodes. Some are situated deep in our lungs and hearts, and others are closer to the surface in the groin, armpits and neck. Each lymph node is connected to lymphatic vessels, which are similar to the blood vascular system’s veins and capillaries.
How it Works
The lymphatic system has two main functions:
- Draining fluid – As blood circulates through the body, blood plasma leaks through the thin walls of the capillaries into tissues. This escaped plasma is called interstitial or extracellular fluid, and it delivers oxygen, glucose, amino acids and other nutrients to the tissue cells. Most of the fluid soon re-enters the bloodstream and continues circulating; however, a small amount is left behind, becoming lymph. The lymphatic system then kicks in to remove the lymph from the tissues and return it to the bloodstream via lymphatic vessels.
- Fighting infection – The organs and tissues of the lymphatic system also produce white blood cells called lymphocytes. These help protect the body against infection by eliminating disease-causing microorganisms.
Potential Health Problems
When the lymphatic system is not working properly, fluids and toxins build up in the body. This weakens our immune systems and puts us at risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.
Symptoms of a sluggish lymphatic system include headaches, bloating, body rigidity, cold extremities and skin concerns. Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin are also a sign that something is amiss.
Some of the most common diseases of the lymphatic system include cancer, lymphedema (an uncomfortable or even painful swelling caused by lymph node blockage), lymphadenopathy (lymph node enlargement caused by infection, inflammation or cancer), and inflammatory and autoimmune conditions (such as lupus and Castleman disease).
Improvement Techniques and Therapies
Clearly, none of these symptoms or diseases are desirable. That’s why I encourage everyone to care for their whole selves, including their lymphatic system, before any of these symptoms occur.
However, we often don’t see people until the trouble has already presented itself. Hope is not lost, though. Because we understand the crucial connection between total-body health, cancer healing and the lymphatic system, we offer numerous treatments aimed to strengthen the lymphatic system’s function, including the following:
- Detoxification: Lead and other toxic pollutants are found everywhere: in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and even in our food supply. As we now know, these toxins can overwhelm our lymphatic systems, saturate our lymph, and become stagnant in our bodies. As a result, detoxification is an important complementary therapy to support healing. At Hope4Cancer, we employ several detoxification therapies, including biological dentistry, near infrared sauna, coffee enemas and juice fasting.
- Hydration and Alkalization: Our bodies constantly work to maintain a delicate acid-alkaline balance, which directly affects both healthy and cancerous cells. When food nutrients reach our kidneys, they produce more of either ammonium (acidic) or bicarbonate (alkaline). For optimal cellular health, our blood must be slightly alkaline. The problem is that most Americans’ diets are highly acidic, leading to issues such as inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, chronic diseases and even cancer. Moreover, lymphatic vessels at the site of the intestines are easily susceptible to destruction from unhealthy diets. At Hope4Cancer, we offer a full-spectrum nutrition program. We promote a diet that’s as alkaline and as close to Mother Nature as possible to keep our bodies in harmony. Because hydration is also important (as the lymphatic system is primarily composed of water), we also provide our patients with plenty of alkaline and lemon water.
- Exercise: Exercise is a great way to improve lymphatic system function. When we don’t move our bodies, our muscles become toxic and oxygen-starved—a recipe for disaster. To help our patients avoid this, we encourage daily exercise at Hope4Cancer. As the body moves against gravity during circulation-boosting activities, such as bouncing on a trampoline or vibration therapy, the lymphatic system is stimulated to circulate lymph. And because the lymphatic system relies on strong muscles in the body to push lymph through the body and return it to the blood vascular system, muscle-building exercises are also beneficial.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy: PEMF devices deliver health-enhancing electromagnetic frequencies to the body in pulses. The energy from the PEMF can permeate every cell of the body, stimulating body repair at multiple levels. The benefits include a reduction in pain and inflammation, as well as a stimulated lymphatic system.
- Massage: Massage therapy, which involves manual manipulation of muscles and soft tissues, increases circulation and improves immune function. Certain massage techniques can also promote the flow and drainage of lymph throughout the body.
- Gut health: Medical evidence suggests that cancer is a disease partly caused by infectious agents, including fungi, viruses, bacteria and lesser-known pathogens. Restoring a balance favoring healthy microflora in the body, particularly the gut, is of great importance in restoring the body – including the lymphatic system – to a healthy state. At Hope4Cancer, we treat antimicrobial therapy as an integral part of cancer treatment, and we provide nutrition that aims to restore the balance of healthy microbes in the body.
In short: Don’t overlook your lymphatic system. It is a vital part of keeping your body healthy. Start caring for it today!