When toxins and waste products stagnate in our bodies, they clog up their only exit ramp from our lymph systems. And they eventually progress to infection and illness. While puffy eyes, ear aches, weight gain, bloating, swollen ankles, and a stuffed-up head may not seem to have a common source, all of these symptoms indicate the presence of a stagnant Lymph node system. And the dynamic lymph, which should be flushing out these bad elements, slows, or simply stops working altogether.
The lymphatic system is composed of primary lymphoid organs, including bone marrow and the thymus, that create special immune system cells called lymphocytes; and secondary lymphoid organs which include lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils and certain tissue in various mucous membrane layers in the body, i.e. the bowel. It is in these organs where the immune system fights off germs and foreign substances. The lymph nodes act as filters and swollen or painful lymph nodes are a sign that the immune system is active, and most likely fighting an infection.
How Important is the Lymphatic System?
The Lymph system is our bodies’ liquid garbage disposal. It picks up waste products formed from all the chemical reactions needed to keep you alive and escorts them out of your body. While the Lymph system is analogous to blood, in that they’re both liquids circulating in our body, the lymph has no organ pump and only moves one way to flush toxins. It is 95% interstitial fluid (water), but filled with immune cells, protein, fats and other substances, this fluid is all around and between your cells. The remaining 5% are toxins, environmental chemicals and heavy metals that need to be flushed from our bodies to prevent damage or chronic ailments.
About 80% of the immune system resides in the gastrointestinal system and GI tract. The tonsils, thymus, and spleen also contain lymphatic tissue and are part of our immune cell factory. The Lymph messengers make their way to collection centers (the nodes), merge and join a more extensive, denser network of vessels that eventually morph into lymphatic ducts; and finally exit through our bladder, bowel, and sweat, flushing the toxins from our bodies.
What Can My Lymphatic System Do for Me?
Our lymph system detoxifies our body, neutralizing microbes and other toxic substances and returns excess protein molecules and fluid back to circulation. It also absorbs lipids (fatty substances) and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D and E) from your GI tract and sends them into your bloodstream and cells. Because the Lymph system is so vital, you need to keep your lymph flowing freely.
What Can I Do for My Lymphatic System?
Watch for symptoms that may signal lymph blockages such as swollen ankles, puffy eyes and congested head, painful and hard swellings (especially in neck, armpits, groin area), constipation, mucus and phlegm production, bloated stomach or extremities, stiff or painful joints, excessive sweating, chronic sinus infections, eczema, brain fog, chronic headaches and sluggishness. But wait, there’s more. Other culprits that could contribute to lymphatic blockage; microbial infection, cellulitis, lymph node removal, surgery, radiation therapy, tumor, injury or parasitic infection are all capable of wreaking havoc on your lymph system. These symptoms may also indicate a health problem unrelated to your lymphatic system so always check with your healthcare provider.
Most importantly, without a properly functioning lymphatic system, we would drown in your own waste products. To a less extreme, you could develop chronically bloated extremities that can lead to more serious health complications. By flushing out all the toxins, a natural lymphatic detox can unclog our lymphatic system and promote lymphatic flow that can reset our bodies for optimum health.
Be proactive and get your Lymph system flowing again flushing the toxins out of your body. Exercise. Movement makes a difference in lymphatic function. Just by walking and stretching you can stimulate the Lymph through muscle contraction. Breathe. Deep breathing and meditation squeezing the lymph from even the tiniest interstitial areas and push the toxins toward the exit ducts. Drink Water. BecauseLymph is mostly water. And because all of life’s chemistry happens in water, dehydration makes it very difficult for our cells to function. Follow a diet regimen that maximizes your nutrients and minimizes toxins. Be sure to include anti-inflammatory foodslike leafy greens, healthy fats, and nutrient rich seafood and high-fiber foods that add bulk and binds waste and toxins to keep them flowing in the lymph and the large intestines. And avoid sugar to keep inflammation down. Medium chain triglycerides (like coconut oil) are an excellent resource for those with an already challenged Lymph system, as they bypass the lymph because they need no bile for transport, while flushing toxins.
Here are some herbal solutions that may help you maintain a healthy lymph system.
Turkey Rhubarb is an Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, antivirus immune-enhancing herb. This herbs contains chemicals called anthraquinones, a yellow crystalline compound obtained by oxidation of anthracene a colorless crystalline aromatic hydrocarbon also found in Aloe Vera. This helps the lymph system move toxins.
The tannins in Sheep Sorrel have many lymph-supporting characteristics including, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant. If you are suffering from a sinus infection and producing a lot of mucus, the tannins in Sheep Sorrel can be very effective. Normally, this herb will not dry up mucus, but if the source of the mucus production is sinusitis caused by a fungal infection, this herb works well.
Burdock Root goes back thousands of years in Asian herbal applications, especially when used to recharge lymph organs. Because Burdock root works as a diuretic, flushing toxins out of your body while acting as an antioxidant and antibacterial, it is beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure, gout, liver disease and to control blood sugar. For your lymph detox, include burdock root to relieve any spleen and tonsil swelling or infection and recharge your lymph organs.
Astragalus Root has been used medicinally in Ancient China for thousands of years and is a great lymph detox booster, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiparasitic that can protect blood vessels and lower cholesterol. Because of the complexities of the lymphatic system Astragalus lends itself to lymphatic drainage issues when used as an expectorant and as a diuretic. Astragalus may also be helpful for diarrhea and upper respiratory infections, both of which may signal lymph drainage problems. This root also contains saponins (a naturally occurring glucoside that is characterized by a soapy lather) which play an essential role in its expectorant function.
The origin of Slippery Elm Bark is a native North American tree, the Slippery (Red) Elm. The inner bark contains astringent, antifungal tannins, similar to sheep sorrel, and can thus can promote lymph detox in much the same way Sheep Sorrel does; especially for sinusitis or lung congestion. Slippery Elm bark also provides a soft fiber called mucilage. When combined with water that is already present in your body, it soothes inflamed tissues and mucous membranes by forming a jelly-like protective coating. This coating helps soothes sore throats and ease discomfort caused by ulcers.
Graviola, a tropical rain forest tree, also known as soursop or pawpaw that is commonly used in Rain Forest areas, such as Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. Graviola is a safe, reliable resource that offers many lymph support qualities. It is an Anti-parasitic, Anti-malarial, Astringent, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-microbial, Antioxidant that also works well to relieve pain. Because it has so many uses, all parts of the tree are used for various applications.
All of the graviola tree – leaves, fruit, bark, roots, and seeds – are used for one or more of these reasons.
And I haven’t even mentioned the large class of chemicals called acetogenins (natural compounds found in plants that are derived from fatty acids and show biological properties beneficial for human health).
The Liquid Herbal Formula, Lymphatic System is a wonderful blend of Prickly Ash bark, Sarsaparilla root, Poke root, Stillingia, Burdock root, Red Clover blossom, Barberry root bark, Peach Tree bark , Licorice root, Echinacea root, Pau d’Arco Bark, Cayenne Pepper, Astragalus root and Chaparral leaf. Below is brief description of the ingredients.
Prickly Ash Bark is an excellent alternative circulatory stimulant for the entire lymphatic. The herb is essential for chronic problems of the skin when there is poor circulation, such as varicose veins, rheumatism (RA), and other inflammation of the muscles, joints, and connective tissue.
Sarsaparilla root is considered to be a blood tonic and a good alterative herb for chronic skin irritation related to systemic circulatory. The herb binds to toxins and heavy metals, and helps to detoxify the body. Herbalists often use Sarsaparilla root along with Burdock root to help restore proper function of the blood, liver, and kidneys.
Poke root is beneficial for all glands but it is most often used to support the lymph system, particularly in cases with swollen lymph nodes. The herbal tincture is most effective for maladies of the throat, and as a powerful anti-catarrhal. It can also be used to remove the mucous buildup of the nose and throat. Poke root is often combined with other herbs to help detoxify the liver.
Stillingia root helps increase drainage and limits stagnation of the lymph system. It comes from a perennial plant, native to North America and is believed to be especially effective for the lymphatic system. It has been used to help rid the body of toxins and cleanse and purify the blood, and soothe throat and bronchial issues. Stillingia root tinctures were used traditionally in cases of fluid imbalance in the body, including the blood, bile, and lymph and encourage elimination of metabolic waste.
Burdock Root has been used to aid in kidney and bladder function, liver, and gallbladder issues, and is especially good for the systemic imbalance that manifests as skin problems, as well as arthritis and gout. Because it promotes the flow of the lymph system, it is believed to be the equivalent in lymphatic action to Poke root. Burdock contains inulin, (a complex of sugar present in the roots of various plants and used medically to test kidney function), it may have a positive effect on the immune system.
Red Clover Blossoms are a rich source of minerals and vitamins and contains isoflavones, polysaccharides, coumarins and essential oils. As a lymphatic herb, it is found to be an effective remedy for the treatment of acute and chronic lymphatic congestion and swollen lymph nodes. Red Clover extracts are used primarily as a detoxifying herb to assist the body in removing waste products and toxins from the fluids and tissues. For this reason, it is often combined with other herbs to address the toxicity component of skin conditions and inflammation of muscles and joints.
Barberry Root Bark, has played a major role in herbal medicine for over 2500 years. It is considered to be an effective liver and gallbladder tonic and has been used to cleanse and strengthen the whole system. It has a mild laxative effect and has been used for digestive support.
Peach tree bark, Prunus persica, is an excellent “blood cleansing” herbal tincture to remove toxic residue from the blood; allowing the blood and body to resist major illness.
Licorice root has a cleansing action that helps to filter debris from the lymphatic system and swelling of lymph nodes. Its remarkable properties have been overlooked for all natural treatments. Licorice root extract is useful for blood cleansing, body odor, bursitis, liver troubles, Lyme disease, psoriasis, arthritis, ulcers and yeast overgrowth.
Echinacea Root, is a premier anti-microbial herb that is good for all infections in the body. This species of Echinacea root was used by Native Americans for infections of the blood. As a lymph herb, it may help to control lymphatic congestion and swollen lymph nodes. As a “blood cleanser” it works to eliminate toxic buildup such as prostaglandin and E-2 prolactin.
Pau d’Arco Bark, Taheebo, is native to South America and has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, because of its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, lymphatic, and anti-tumor properties. Medicinal use of this herb dates back to 1873 and has been uses for snakebite, lupus, infectious disease, arthritis, wound healing and immune disorders. Pau d’Arco is a powerful “blood cleanser” that helps flush lymph nodes and clear lymphatic congestion. It contains ingredients such as quercetin, clonidine, and other flavonoids that may contribute to its effectiveness in the treatment of infections and disease.
Cayenne Pepper has been used in herbalism, as a general stimulant to help build up resistance to colds, hoarseness, shingles and for swollen lymph glands. Capsicum is rich in vitamin C, a known immune system aid that contains disease-fighting bioflavonoids the body needs to produce white blood cells and purify the cells and tissues of toxins. But one of the most remarkable qualities of Cayenne extracts is its ability to act as a catalyst and intensify the effects of other herbs by ensuring speedy, thorough distribution. As a stimulant, Cayenne pepper has positive effects on the circulatory and lymphatic system, bringing heat into the body and producing sweat; an important process in a detox program.
Astragalus root has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 2,000 years. It is known as Huang Qi, one interpretation of the word is “yellow leader, or “senior”, another is “life-force strengthener”. Astragalus membranaceous is known to be an excellent lymphatic system cleanser. Along with Echinacea, it may be especially helpful for alleviating congestion and swelling in the body. It is believed to enhance and regulate the immune system, promote the interferon system, and help to improve resistance to disease. Some of the constituents of the herb are being studied extensively in the East and West for its applications against cancer, blood sugar imbalances, adrenal fatigue, heart disease and even longevity.
Chaparral leaf has been used historically as a ‘blood cleanser’, to assist the immune system and cleanse the lymphatic system. The most powerful antioxidant in nature, Chaparral helps clear heavy metals from the system. The primary biochemical responsible, NDGA, is so effective it is often used as a food preservative. It is often incorporated in blood cleansing formulas, along with Red clover, Burdock root and Poke root. You can read more about these three herbs above.