by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
- How the lymph system helps with body detoxification
- How do the lymph nodes and spleen support the immune system?
- The lymphatic system, digestion, and elimination
- Rejuvenating your lymphatic system naturally
Like Cinderella, the lymph labors quietly in the shadows to clean up the mess made by virtually all the other systems of the body. Widely regarded as a lesser sister to the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is actually a crucial player in your body’s ability to ward off disease and heal from injury.
The lymphatic system is recognized by doctors in Europe and the Far East for its importance to preventive health care. They understand how lymphatic function supports every other system in the body, including the immune, digestive, detoxification and nervous systems. In fact, many believe that poor lymph health underlies a host of conditions, from cellulite to cancer.
By contrast, in America our practitioners don’t think much about the lymph system until something goes wrong — usually when infection causes a swollen lymph node, or worse, when we develop cancer in a lymph gland, or cancer elsewhere that metastasizes through the lymph vessels.
The reality is that you have twice as much lymph fluid in your body as blood. The lymph continuously bathes each cell and drains away the detritus in a circulatory system powered only by your breathing and movement. If the movement of the lymph stopped entirely you would die in a matter of hours.
What can you do to ensure your lymph system stays healthy? There are a number of ways to support lymphatic function that should be part of every woman’s health habits. Let’s start by exploring this amazing system.
Anatomy of the lymph system
The first thing to understand about your lymph system is its vast extent. Like the circulatory system that supplies blood, the network of lymph vessels serves almost every cell in your body.
Strung along the lymph vessels like pearls knotted on a string, the lymph nodes serve as a series of cleaning filters. Lymphatic fluid percolates through the nodes, being purified and immunologically boosted at every stage.
The lymph vessels and nodes are made of lymph tissue, but so are many other parts of the body. One crucial function of lymph tissue is generating and storing white blood cells, the blood cells that fight infection. Besides the lymph nodes, principal lymph organs include the bone marrow (where white blood cells called B-lymphocytes are made), the spleen, tonsils and the thymus gland (where T-lymphocytes are made). Lymphoma is a group of related cancers of the lymphocytes.