To live a long and healthy life, you have to have a strong immune system. Your body has to find, collect, and get rid of unhealthy toxins and other unhealthy materials. And this means your lymph system needs to work properly.
How It Works
Lymph fluid, which is primarily blood plasma, leaves your capillaries, carrying oxygen, nutrients, and white blood cells to your tissue cells. There, it collects the toxins and other materials your body doesn’t want, including cancerous cells, bacteria, and other toxins. Some of this lymph fluid is reabsorbed into the capillaries, but the rest drains into lymph vessels.
Lymph fluid is carried through lymph vessels toward your heart through a series of lymph nodes. In those nodes, the fluid is filtered, and specialized white blood cells attack bacteria and kill cancer cells. The newly cleaned plasma is routed back into your blood near the heart.
Cancer, in particular, is very interesting, in regards to the lymph system. Everyone has cancer cells. Some cells simply don’t commit suicide as they should when they are damaged. Instead, something has to kill them. That “something” occurs in the lymph nodes. The cancerous cells get trapped in the lymph nodes, and when your lymph nodes are working properly, they will kill cancerous cells.
Your body contains 600–700 lymph nodes, with clusters in the center of your chest down to your groin, the sides of the chest under your arms, and in the neck. Your body processes about 3 liters of lymph fluid every day.
One unique feature of the lymph system is that it doesn’t have a “pump.” Your heart pumps your blood through the circulatory system, but you don’t have an organ to move lymph fluid. Instead, the fluid is pushed through the system by contractions in the lymphatic vessels or by external forces, including muscle contractions and the movement of your diaphragm.
The Lymph nodes can swell (become congested) if they are not properly processing and passing lymph fluid. As an analogy, imagine a lot of people trying to get through a doorway. If the door is wide open, those people can pass easily. But if the door is partially closed, the people get backed up as they try to push their way through. Basically, the doorway gets congested.
Oftentimes, lymph nodes swell if they are fighting bacteria of if the fluid is carrying excessive toxins. They may also swell if they have cancer, which can occur when cancer cells from nearby tumors get lodged and grow in the nodes.
Another term for lymph congestion is lymph stagnation, and it has been associated with cancer, boils, and cysts. As early as the 1920s, researchers began to realize that a poorly functioning lymph system could result in a wide variety of diseases. As well, lymph congestion can lead to chronic inflammation, which, itself, is a cause of cancer.
If your lymph system is not working properly, your body keeps the toxins it shouldn’t have, bacteria isn’t killed off, and cancer cells may grow and spread. What does this mean? This means you have to make sure your lymph nodes are healthy.
Are Your Lymph Nodes Healthy?
Why isn’t a lymph system check-up a common part of health examinations, other than, perhaps, the nodes around the next and arms? One reason is because it is hard to do with the normal procedures: trying to feel enlarged nodes.
Physicians will often feel for enlarged lymph nodes that are near the surface. If they are big enough to be felt, they need to be checked, including for cancer. Unfortunately, checking for cancer means removing the lymph node. This isn’t a good solution because your body needs those lymph nodes. In fact, your body will keep pushing lymph fluid towards them, but if they have been removed, the lymph vessel is completely closed and the fluid will pool up.
In most cases, however, and particularly for deeper lymph nodes, the problems have to be quite severe before clear symptoms begin to show up. Surface region nodes may become painful, but those symptoms can be passed off as something else, such as a sore throat. When the problem is bad enough to be obvious, it’s too late.
Swelling and cancer in lymph nodes can also be detected early with clinical thermography. Thermography uses infrared cameras to detect heat patterns on the body, and the images are analyzed by certified thermography reading doctors.
Swelling and cancer both increase the heat signature of the lymph nodes, though the cause of the increased heat pattern may not be easily determined. In most cases a physician will first recommend non-invasive treatments and a series of lymph system treatments. Then, using thermography, the physician and patient can monitor changes.
Keeping a Smooth-Running Lymph System
You can do six things starting right now to help keep your lymph system working well.
First, eat right. Foods that are high in toxins and unnatural chemicals increase the toxins in your body, which means your lymph system has to work harder and is more likely to get congested.
Second, exercise. Lymph is pushed by muscle contractions. Exercises that cause your body to bounce (called “rebounding”) seem to be best. For example, if you can spend 20 minutes a day on a trampoline, your body will move lymph fluid efficiently, mainly because it is a one-way system. Even brisk walking will help, as will other exercises that make your muscles move rhythmically, such as light weight exercises and tai chi.
Third, breath deeply from your belly and not from your chest. This makes your diaphragm move up and down and helps pump lymph fluid through your chest and abdomen regions. Do you laugh hard and often? Good for you. Big laughs, like sustained exercise, cause your diaphragm act in a pumping motion.
Fourth, keep your liver healthy. Your liver is essential for keeping your body clean, which means less work for the lymph system.
Fifth, increase your consumption of organic dietary sulfur. Dietary sulfur is known as MSM sulfur, or methyl-sulfonyl-methane. It should not be confused with the yellow sulfur oxide, which is processed into sulfuric acid and is toxic. Sulfur helps remove toxins from your blood and lymphatic system. Among other benefits of sulfur, it also helps your body absorb vitamin C, and preliminary research suggests that it may help alleviate osteoarthritis. You can get it in pill and powder form from many retailers, but also from food sources, such as garlic (hurrah!), kale, chocolate (hurrah!) and sunflower seeds.
Sixth, get your lymph system examined regularly, even if you are not noticing symptoms of lymph congestion. With knowledge of your health, you can do what it necessary to keep your lymph system running smoothly.
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/lymph-nodes-and-cancer http://www.worldhealth.net/news/cancer_does_it_begin_with_lymph_congesti/ http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1899053-overview http://dherbs.com/news/4481/4669/MSM-Sulfur-vs-Sulfur/d,ai.html#.UubyzbDn-Hs http://www.medicinenet.com/swollen_lymph_nodes/page4.htm http://health-parameters.com/posts/open-the-exits-strategy/ http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/swollen-lymph-nodes-topic-overview http://bit.ly/M73IVC