What's the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a struggling lymphatic system?
I bet it's swelling...
Lymphatics - not just about swelling.
To be honest, a few years ago it used to be my first thought. Swollen ankles, swollen legs, swollen hands. And that was it.
As a practitioner of the Bowen technique, I knew that what we did and how we used the technique had a big influence on the lymphatic system. But as with most other teachings, the lymphatic system was just skimmed over at best.
The thing is - the lymphatic system is involved in just about everything happening in the body at any point in time.
How does it work?
About 8 litres of fluid is lost out of the cardiovascular system into the surrounding tissue over a 24 hour period - that is after all the way the nutrients are able to make their way to al of our cells.
But at any given time the fluid levels should always be balanced, or as balanced as possible - enter the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is responsible for picking up excess fluid and making sure that the fluid lost out of the cardio vascular system is filtered and returned to the blood stream.
It is pretty much proven and accepted now that the lymphatic system is responsible for collecting 100% of the fluid lost out of the cardiovascular system.
So yes, it is responsible for helping to maintain fluid homeostasis, and if it can't do that properly it will result in oedema or swelling.
But that's not all it's responsible for.
It is also the body's immune system highway or conveyer belt. Immune system cells travel along the lymphatic system doing their magic inside the lymph nodes - fighting off pathogens and bacteria.
The other big one - lymphatic vessels in the brain aka Glymphatics. Confirmed only in 2015.
It is responsible for clearing toxins and waste products from the brain - amyloid beta aka brain plaque.
What a lot of people don't realise is that it plays a major part in the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients in the digestive system by producing a substance called chyle.
So if not only swelling, what other symptoms could point to a struggling lymphatic system?
Dry or itchy skin
Soreness on waking
Unexplained aches and pains
Struggling to heal
How do you stimulate a struggling lymphatic system?
The easiest and quickest way? Move. Just move as much as you can. Our movement and muscular contractions propel the lymph like nothing else.
The "how's" and "why's", and other ways of helping the lymph system will be covered in another blog.
In the meantime, just move!