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Lymphatic drainage

What it does for your body

Your lymphatic system is not just one organ or system.  It is a combination of both and is one of the eleven organ systems that group different organs and tissues, all having their own particular function, but working together as a biological system.

Other organ systems you might easily recognise include the respiratory system, digestive system, cardiovascular system and nervous system. What makes them distinct from other systems of the body like the immune system is that they include different organs as part of their system.

The lymphatic system’s organs include lymph, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, tonsils, spleen and thymus and it is also part of two other groups of systems.  The circulatory system, or cardiovascular system, and the immune system, which is not an organ system!

Yep, that’s a lot of systems!  More to come!

The immune system

The lymphatic system is also included as part of the immune system as it is one of the bodies defense mechanisms to protect us against disease.

Our lymphatic organs – the tonsils, adenoids, bone marrow, spleen and thymus – all work together to produce hormones, lymph and defense cells as well as to filter and purify the blood and lymph fluid.

If bacteria, toxins and other waste enters these channels, it is transported to the lymph nodes where white blood cells filter and destroy them. Your lymph nodes, sometimes called lymph glands, are found throughout your body but are grouped in your neck, groin and armpits.

What happens when our lymphatic system isn’t working

If our lymphatic system isn’t working or is blocked this can lead to a build up of fluid which is called lymphedema.  Symptoms of lymphedema include swelling of the legs and arms but can also have swelling in your chest, genitals or head.

Getting older, being overweight or obsese and having rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis can add to the risk factors for the cause of lymphedema.

Other causes of a compromised lymphatic system or lymphedema can include:

  • Infection

Your lymph nodes can become infected by virus or bacteria and this is called Lymphangitis.  These germs can enter your body through a cut or injury or from an existing infection.

Cellulitis is another bacterial skin infection that can be attributed to a compromised lymphatic system.

  • Parasites

Lymphatic filariasis is a parasite disease of the lymphatic system that is generally found in subtropical and tropical countries.  It is not easy to catch as these worms are passed on by mosquito bites over several months.

  • Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy can create scar tissue which narrows or presses on lymph nodes and hinders the pathway for lymph fluid and this can lead to radiation related lymphedema.

  • Surgery

When lymph nodes need to be removed due to treatment of breast, melanoma, gynecological and genitourinary cancers there may be a risk of lymphedema.

  • Genetic disorders

These are called primary lymphedema and are generally caused by rare inherited conditions that compromise the development of your lymph vessels.

How can we unblock the lymphatic system

Lymphatic drainage massage 

Manual lymphatic drainage massage is the perfect way to reduce the fluid retention in your body caused by lymphedema.  This gentle technique is safe and is recommended for people both pre and post surgery.

Using mild and gentle movements the specialist practitioner is able to promote the circulation, activate the lymphatic vessels, reduce swelling and aid in recovery and healing.

It is a relaxing massage that should not cause you any pain.

Lifestyle choices for lymphatic drainage

Fortunately with some other simple lifestyle choices we are also able to improve and keep the lymphatic system flowing and healthy:

  • Detox, cleanse and eat healthy

Good diet and nutrition is essential for a healthy immune system. Regular detoxes and cleansing can help you to reset your habits to eat healthy, allow your organs to rest, heal and enable better absorption of nutrients.

  • Drink water

As we mentioned more than half of your body weight is fluid.  Being well hydrated is essential for your body’s cells to function and especially for your lymphatic fluids to flow and your circulatory system not to be working in overdrive.

  • Exercise

Your cardiovascular system or circulatory system remain healthy and thrive on exercise.  Cardio and weight resistance exercises forces the muscles to work not just on the outside but also the inside as it pumps the blood through your heart and blood vessels encouraging the systems to function efficiently.

  • Dry Brushing

Dry brushing several times a week before you shower with a soft bristle body brush is a great way to stimulate your lymphatic system to detox as well as care for your skin (which is your body’s largest organ).

If you have lymphedema, have had cancer treatments or are suffering from fluid retention in your body please do not hesitate to contact us to book a lymphatic drainage massage with one of our specialist practitioners.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymph

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymphatic_system

https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/lymphedema/how/treat_impact

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