I am a certified detoxification specialist, holistic health educator, massage therapist, and mindful medication instructor.
What Is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic is one of the most important systems in the body, if not the most important! This wonderful system, however, may also be the least understood and least studied. This is hard to believe when you consider how important it is to our survival. The blood's ability to enter and leave a cell and intracellular spaces as lymphatic fluid is one of the most critical processes in the human body. Without the ability of this conversion, we would perish within a few hours.
The lymph travels along the same pathways as nerves, arteries, and veins, and is by itself twice as big as the arterial blood supply system. Its job is to remove waste from every cell in your body while regulating the immune system.
Lymph is a clear sticky fluid containing the white blood cells that help fight infection. Unlike the motion of the circulatory system, the lymph is carried through the body by lymph vessels that have valves and muscles to help move the fluid. The fluid travels slowly along the route through lymph nodes that serve as filters for harmful substances. The lymph nodes you might be most acquainted with are the ones located behind the ears, which swell when there is an infection present in the body.
My Personal Experience With Lymph Problems
When I first began having issues with my lymph system, I never once experienced swollen lymph nodes. I think this is an important fact because most people are under the impression that this is how to tell if you have a sluggish lymphatic system. I’m here to tell you that obviously this is not the case!
My personal lymphatic problems began with a simple overproduction of mucus. After a few months of ignoring this subtle message from my body, it ended up turning into a chronic sinus condition accompanied by ear popping and sinus pressure. During the course of trying to find the answers to my sinus issues, I was not aware of the fact that the lymph is principally associated with the skin, mucus membranes, and glands. Sadly enough, neither were the doctors that I visited for the problem or they would have been able to diagnose me a lot sooner. For twenty months I traveled from doctor to specialist and back to doctor again being prescribed one medication after another. Little did I know that the only thing that I was doing by taking these medications was taxing my lymphatic system even further.
Dr. John Douillard DC (chiropractor) is well known for having co-directed a cancer center with Deepak Chopra. One of his jobs was to train and certify medical doctors in Ayurvedic medicine. He can be quoted as saying that his doctor students were constantly telling him, “We were never taught details about the lymphatic system.” They knew that it was a place where cancer resides and were taught to remove cancerous lymph nodes, but the purpose of this system was never really discussed.
Eight months into continuous doctor visits that weren’t producing any results, the mucus began to increase in its severity. One of the largest parts of the lymphatic system involves the mucus membranes. Why had none of my doctors made this simple connection? More often than not the excessive mucus produced by the body is a protective response to irritating toxic wastes and infection.
As the body's waste starts to pile up in the lymphatic system it will begin to spill over into the colon. Once this begins to happen, the respiratory system becomes the extra landfill site for the colon. The mucus membranes in your lungs, throat, and sinuses then begin to expel the excess mucus. I had gotten to the point where my respiratory system was completely shutting down and a diagnosis had not yet been made.
The popping plugged ears, sore throats, sinus problems, and post nasal drip had all been early warning signs of mucus congestion in the lymphatic system. More severe signs are asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema which are all results of the lymphatic’s efforts to dump excess mucus.
The longer that one ignores the lymphatic’s messages for help, the uglier the symptoms become. The accumulation of toxins and congestion in the lymph system can result in gout, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases.
In my personal case, the excess mucus had encouraged candida yeast, bacteria, and viruses to thrive in my colon which was refusing to accept antibiotic treatment. Once the colon is congested with toxins, they begin to back up into the lymphatic system. They then stress the immune system and start to travel throughout the body.
I’d love to tell you that this scenario is rare but it’s neither rare nor uncommon. The denatured foods which we are consuming on a daily bases, the toxic environment in which we live and our stagnant lifestyles are all making this scenario a more and more common occurrence, with many an uneducated doctor not being able to figure out why the person is sick or what is causing it.
What Causes Those Mysterious Lymphatic Symptoms?
- Lack of exercise: Lymph liquid needs to move by being stimulated through movement and exercise. It also moves thru the body by the electromagnetic energy system of the body. No energy and no movement make for a sluggish or non-existent lymphatic system.
- Dehydration: One of the most common causes of lymph congestion is dehydration. Our bodies are mostly made up of water, and our cells need lots of it. Water and only water can adequately rehydrate the body. Most people don't realize that symptoms such as headache, dry mouth, and cravings for sugar and salt are symptoms of dehydration. Something to keep in mind is that by the time that you experience thirst, you are already dehydrated. Try to drink 1/2 your ideal body weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs., drink 70 ounces of water (almost 9 glasses) per day.
- Constipation: Improper diets and lack of fiber which cause years of constipation can cause excessive mucus build-up in the colon and are the underlying causes of lymphatic congestion. The mucus which collects in the colon's membranes becomes filled with thick mucus deposits which swell, expand and weaken the colon. This type of distortion will cause irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Stress: The best way to take the stress off of the intestines and your lymphatic system is by reducing the amount of garbage that you put into them. Milk and dairy products are the primary culprits, followed closely by sugar, refined/package foods, and hydrogenated oils. The next stress to try to avoid is physical stress which has been identified as the cause of about 80% of all diseases. When under stress, the body is forced to manufacture and secrete excess stress-fighting hormones. The waste products of these hormones are very acidic and disease loves nothing more than an acidic environment to breed in.
- Iodine Deficiency: Something that also needs to be taken into consideration is an Iodine deficiency. Iodine is the trace element that protects us from a toxic environment and supports the lymph at the cellular level. Aside from the top five reasons for lymph problems, the vessels can also become clogged by fatigue, infection, and emotional shock.
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Dr. John Douillard suggests that the best way to get your lymph re-hydrated and moving again is to sip hot water every 15 minutes religiously for one day. If by the end of the day you are experiencing a dry mouth and find yourself thirsty for this once tasteless sip of hot water, this is a good indication that lymph is congested. If this happens, do the re-hydration therapy for 2 weeks straight. Keeping a thermos of hot water nearby is the best way to follow this protocol.
Another great suggestion by Dr. Douillard is the use of an Ayurveda herb by the name of Manjistha. This herb is a great lymph de-stagnater, blood purifier and works wonders with PMS, bloating, and acne. Recommended dosage is 2 capsules, 2 times per day after food. I also recommend this herb, because I believe that it is safe and there are no known safety issues or interactions associated with Manjistha when taken in the recommended doses. However, the safety of this drug in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not yet known.
- Cleansing the colon with flax fiber, and bentonite which is a hardened mucus dissolver
- Colonics (professional or at home)
- Stimulate the lymph with exercise
- Deep abdominal breathing
- Rebound trampoline
- Dry skin brushing
- Manual lymph drainage massages
I hope this article is helpful. As always, please feel free to comment below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
victoria on December 21, 2018:
This should be true, will try hot water treatment and see how my sinus issues react to that. Thanks for such wonderfully structured article!
Martha on October 30, 2018:
This is the first thing that’s given me hope. Thank you.
Julie on September 10, 2017:
Thanks for the information, I've been suffering from persistent excess mucous production, bronchitis, congested sinuses and popping ears for 2 months now.
I've also been suffering from recurring bowel infections , Guardia, e. Coli and blastocysts , so reading your story gave me some insight and comfort.
I'm a blue iris , so I may be predisposed to lymphatic congestion. I thought I ate a clean diet but there must be something still going on or it's stress related.
I'm a student naturopath and started looking into my lymphatic system health. Thank you for your story because it's helping me to connect the dots with what's going on in my body.
LouB on December 21, 2016:
Absolutely brilliant article! Thank you!!! :) x
It's baffling and confusing as to why we and doctors don't know about this and how many people are suffering because of it.
Since a bad flu and a very stressful time in my life about 8 years ago, I have developed constant sinus infections, have had 2 sinus operations and have constantly congested sinuses and ears that won't pop. I also have Crohn's Disease. I'm sure that some of these things were going on in my body (lymphatic issues) long before that though. I'm sick of going to doctors and specialists etc and nothing has worked. I've spent an absolute fortune!
I'm going to try the remedies mentioned asap to see if they help. I'll keep you posted ;)
danus on December 05, 2016:
This is exactly what I am experiencing.....for years without relief. And I rarely eat dairy or sugar, and am completely organic. It's plaguing me like hell, with no help from conventional docs.
Marie V Stephens (author) from New Mexico on October 17, 2012:
Thanks Avian for the comment and the up vote!! I'm glad you liked the info!
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on October 17, 2012:
This makes a lot of sense. Many people don't believe that they are harmed by dehydration. This is proof positive, along with animal fats and processed foods. Thanks for the great material, awesome and up.