Friday, February 26, 2010

Maintaining Lymphatic Health

This photo is one I took of my good friend, Scott Carlson*, this past summer near Burlington, Iowa.

Scott is a phenomenal therapist, so we've had many health related conversations, including the Lymphatic System. And since it's close to spring detoxification time, I thought it would be good to write about this important subject.

While most people know about their Lymphatic System, here's a quick run through for those who don't, or want to know a bit more. Plus there's also some easy self help suggestions.

Glands, organs, and tissues involved: spleen, liver, bladder, kidneys, bone marrow, appendix, Peyers Patches in the large intestine, cysterna chyli, thymus, adenoids, tonsils, skin, and lots of lymphatic vessels, ducts, nodes & valves.

Associated meridians: Spleen, Liver, Large Intestine, Triple Warmers, Urinary Bladder, Kidney, Central, Governing, and Belt. (The Belt meridian is an "extraordinary one" that encircles the waist, from right to left, and works to facilitate the flow of energy from the lower to upper body.)

Little known item: the Lymphatic System is said to relate to allowing Divine Will (or whatever name you call the life force that animates matter on any level) to process things for us. The associated emotions are listed as joy and sorrow/grief.

Factoids: the Lymphatic System is connective tissue, drains towards mid abdomen, needs muscle movement to move properly through the body, filters as much blood as the liver, is slightly alkaline (ph 7.5), and plays a major role in immunity.

Many of the smaller, almost paper thin vessels, ducts, nodes, & valves cluster near, or around joints. Inactivity, continuous restriction/pressure, and/or chemistry imbalances can cause a whole host of symptoms. These can range from edema or lymphedema, to congestion, local or full body infections, and so on.

The Lymphatic System also plays a huge role in whether cancer metastasizes or not. If it isn't trapped & destroyed in lymph nodes ( especially under the arms), it can and does spread.

Things to help support the Lymphatic System: water (lymph fluid is mostly H2O), moderate exercise, proper rest, massage (especially Lymphatic Massage), Reiki** or other good energy work, a balanced diet, properly fitting clothing, skin brushing, and lymphatic pumping.

Supporting foods and herbs are: alkaline fruits, veggies, and grains (especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc., and millet, amaranth, & quinoa), pectin (found in apples & helps remove heavy toxins), fenugreek, sage, dandelion, marshmallow, and hibiscus.

Skin brushing is done with a natural bristle brush designed to exfoliate the skin & help remove toxins.*** It's done on dry skin, starting at the extremities (front, back & sides of the body) beginning with the feet & brush up the leg/s & towards the center of the torso, and ending at the mid abdomen. Then start with the hand/s, brush up the arm/s to shoulders. The chest is brushed from the breast bone towards the arm pits. The stomach and back are usually brushed in circles, from right to left.

Lymphatic pumping is a basically an armpit squeeze. One hand is placed with the thumb (tip towards top of shoulder) on the crease between the chest and arm. Place the fingertips (especially the middle fingertip) on the side of the chest, where a side seam would be. Simply squeeze the thumb & fingers towards each other several times.

This Lymphatic Pump can be done on one, or both armpits. However, it may be a ticklish or tender area, so remember to only use moderate pressure and not overdo. (Therapists can also do this on clients by using the fingertip pads of both hands & pumping towards the center of the armpit/axilla.)

* Scott Carlson can be found at: (his profile pix is the awesome black knight & war horse)

** For a simple/anyone can do, yet effective REIKI treatment for the Lymphatic System, go to:

*** skin brushes can be found in health food stores, online, spas & occasionally at discount stores & have an ergonomic handle for ease of use

Sources:,,, www.nih/, and

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