A well functioning Lymphatic system is essential to health, and yet it is an area that is often not discussed. So what is the fuss then? Well if you don’t realise the importance of the lymphatic system and you don’t know that there are things you can do to support it… then you might be needlessly suffering with pain or stiffness or excess weight or swollen limbs. So first we need to understand what the lymphatic system is, how it works and what it does. Then next week we can dig into what happens when the lymphatic system isn’t working well and what you can do, at home, to support your own healing journey.
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Have you ever been told that you have a sluggish lymphatic system or that your body just holds water? Maybe you take a diuretic? Maybe you struggle to lose weight? Or notice that you often have swelling in your ankles or the extremities of your limbs?
If so please keep watching and I’ll share a little bit about the lymphatic system and how it could be an answer for you
Hi, I’m Alexis Weidland, osteopathic at BlossomingMe. As an osteopath, I focus on optimising movement of fluid. This helps to reduce pain and swelling as well as increase healing. It supports lymphedema after surgery and Cancer Treatments and it improves all areas of Health.
Cells are filled with fluid and our cells are also bathed in fluid – this is the extracellular space. The cells take their nutrients from here as well as leaving their waste metabolites behind. It’s now actually been shown that the health of this environment, the extracellular space, is a major factor in the signaling process of healthy …signaling process of cells and not just that, but it’s able to switch on and off genes. So it’s of vital importance to our health. Some of this fluid is returned directly to the venous system where it goes through the kidneys and is filtered and then removed. Some however, stays behind in this extracellular space and that is where the lymphatic system is responsible for mopping up this excess and ensuring correct balance.
So if debris and excess fluid are not mopped up properly by this clever little waste system then we can get oedema, which is swelling… in a specific location. This can be short term, such as at the end of pregnancy, we notice it in women’s ankles or it could be long-term and chronic. This often happens for example when the lymphatic system is actually damaged after radiation or surgery and this can lead to a chronic condition that we call lymphedema.
So what then is our lymphatic system and how does it work?
Well, the lymphatic system is like a network of tiny tubes or roads. It has nodules or nodes, uh, like collecting stations; and organs that are like the building and maintenance depots. The roads carry the lymphatic truss … sorry the lymphatic trucks with waste, toxins, pathogens, and debris to the collecting stations. The collecting stations are small areas where the lymphatic fluid collects and waits and in this location our innate and acquired immune system begin to do their jobs and they neutralize and inactivate pathogens before it’s then…before it’s then drained into the lymph… sorry… into the venous system and from there it’s moved through the kidneys and filtered further and then removed. The organs or the Depots in this analogy, are the monitoring system and they detect and respond to pathogens and malignant cells. And this is also where our lymphocytes and macrophages or white blood cells, that do the fighting of the infection and that help assist with tissue healing, are actually produced.
So the lymphatic system then is made up of:
The lymphatic trucks
or the lymph fluid, which contains water; proteins; fats; sugars; salts or electrolytes; and the immune cells.
The lymphatic vessels
in this analogy are the roads, in which the fluid travels.
The primary lymphoid organs
are the building and maintenance depots in this analogy, and this is where the B and T lymphocytes are produced. So these include the Bone Marrow and the Thymus Gland.
The Secondary Lymphoid Organs
are the collecting stations in this analogy and this includes the Thymus, the Spleen, the Lymph Nodes, the Adenoids, the Tonsils, the Appendix and in the gut we’ve got the Mesenteric Lymph Nodes as well as the Peyer’s Patches. And this is where three of main functions occur…
3 Main Functions of the Secondary Lymphoid Tissues
So in our secondary system we have the maturation of our lymphocytes; we have the collection and filtration of the lymph tissue… sorry of the lymph fluid; and we have the immune activity. And when our immune system is activated this is where we get an extra collection of the lymph tissue that’s active …sorry again, lymph fluid which is active in our nodes and this causes the swelling that is characteristic and present in many infections and illnesses.
So what functions exactly does the lymph system perform
As I’ve I’ve touched on these so I’m going to just expand a little further…
first the lymphatic system is a major part of our immune system. Both the innate and the acquired immune functions occur within the lymphatic system. So the body neutralises and engulfs basic unwatered particles allowing them to be safely removed, this is our innate response. And then the acquired immune response identifies and remembers specific bacteria and viruses and inactivates them in a targeted manner.
Our immune cells including the macrophages and B and T lymphocytes and they are produced in our lymphatic tissues they mature in our lymphatic tissues and they’re active then, within this Lymphatic Road Network.
Second the absorption of fats and fat soluble nutrients from the intestines is made possible within the lymphatic tissues itself in the small intestine.
The lymphatic system monitors and balances our extracellular fluid allowing the cells to be nourished and not sitting in waste – avoiding toxin and waste buildup and debris that just gets in the way – essentially, is toxic. Further it ensures that the electrolyte balance is maintained and this allows proper hydration of the cells. This well-balanced, nutrient-rich pool allows the cells to access nutrients when they need it as well as effectively removes the waste, just like an efficient rubbish service on our roads in our cities. So they use the roads to keep our houses, or our cells as well as the city, or our body clean. So the lymphatics are then essential for hydration of the cells as well as cellular nutrition and waste removal.
The third essential role of our lymphatic system is the fluid balance and Flow, what I mean by this is when the lymphatic system is working properly the amount of extracellular fluid is enough to keep the cells nourished and safe without there being any excess and and swelling or toxic sludge around the cells. The lymphatic system works in conjunction with our circulatory system; our liver; our kidneys; and our endocrine or hormone systems to keep this fluid balance in our body and when the fluid is kept moving effectively everything is on the healthy side but when this doesn’t work so well and the fluid doesn’t move quickly enough there isn’t enough turnaround, so you get congestion, you end up with swelling. This as I just said is like a form of congestion, and stagnation of fluid which leads to an accumulation of debris or unwanted waste and metabolites as well as pathogens and this reduces the cell’s ability to perform its everyday tasks as well as its ability to heal; it also increases exposure to inflammatory chemicals which will lead to inflammation and pain; and further it increases the likelihood of infection.
The buildup of fluid also adds to the strain on our heart, as the volume of water sits in our extracellular space and limbs instead of in the arteries. This creates thicker blood which is harder to push around. This increased resistance means a higher blood pressure.
So finally as a sort of a combination of all of those it shows that the lymphatic system is an integral part of our natural detoxification system. It acts as a filter; it carries wastes and toxins and debris; it inactivates pathogens; and it helps to transport them for elimination.
As you can see, the lymphatic system performs functions that are vital to our everyday existence and it supports or in fact is essential to the healthy functioning of our circulatory system, our cellular health and hydration and nutrition, our immune system, and our detoxification.
So if you hold fluid or if you have heavy, swollen limbs or if you have trouble losing weight or if you generally have pain and inflammatory states. Then working to support your lymphatic system is essential.
I hope that you found this informative and helpful and if so I’d love you to please comment or like or share .
if you have any questions please make sure to comment those so I can assist you
And if you’d be interested in accessing my 5 ways to Move your lymph guide ,please comment YES and I’ll DM you.
Thank you so much for watching, next week I’ll be discussing a little bit further about the, um, what affects our lymphatic system and how do we know if it’s not working properly… Until then, bye for now.
Interested in further reading?
Find out how Mitochondria are important in the health of each cell… another foundational part of True Health
About Blossoming Me
BlossomingMe offers a fully integrated approach to your wellbeing. Located on Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Sarah is our Cranio-sacral and Remedial Massage Therapist and health and lifestyle coach. She can help relieve those problematic knots, tightness and other specific ailments to promote a healthy recovery. These complementary massage therapies can be combined to suit your needs, and include: craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, acupressure, reiki, remedial, swedish, and body-mind-massage.
Our qualified Osteopath, Alexis, offers a drug free, minimally invasive, “hands on” treatment focusing on the musculoskeletal system with its associated muscles, tendons, ligaments, membranes, bones and joints. Alexis takes a functional approach. This means that she focuses on the way a component (body part, tissue or group of tissues) performs its role, as well as the way the body works, performs and integrates as a whole. Our team can support you to improve your posture and therefore your overall health.
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ional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health professional before you make any changes to your health regime, before dealing with new symptoms, and, if something you have read here has raised any questions or concerns regarding your situation.