Lymphatic Drainage for Reducing Inflammation, Post Op Recovery & Boosting the Immune System!
Our lymphatic system is one of the least talked about structures in the human body. Yet, it has one of the most important jobs in helping maintain good health. In fact, many health issues may arise due to a compromised lymphatic system. It is one of the most underrated and misunderstood systems in the body. It plays a critical role in supporting our immune system. Interestingly enough, it’s estimated that our bodies have about 50% more lymph than blood.
So, what does the lymphatic system even do? Think of it as your body’s garbage disposal system! It’s responsible for helping the body remove waste. Just like the circulatory system, it extends throughout the entire body. Scientists recently discovered that it even goes into the brain! It is comprised of a system of vessels that organize into bundles called lymph nodes. This system purifies, filters and delivers nutrients throughout the body.
The lymphatic system has one critical difference from the circulatory system in that it does not have a pump like the heart to keep the fluids moving- so, it relies on movement. Without movement, lymphatic fluid, also known as interstitial fluid can become stagnant. Without exercise, certain individuals may develop lymphedema, or swelling in the extremities. This is just one of the many reasons why exercise is so important!
In addition to that, we are exposed to many toxins each and every day. The body can usually do a great job at filtering out toxins on it’s own, but it can become overwhelmed when we don’t get enough exercise, eat unhealthy foods, smoke cigarettes, undergo extreme stress or get exposed to too many chemicals.
Sometimes, even an injury or surgical procedure may cause scar tissue to develop which can impede lymphatic flow causing congestion, where these toxins accumulate causing a sluggish lymphatic system.
Cancer patients that have undergone lymph node removal are at a higher risk for developing lymphedema. In severe cases some doctors, naturopaths or physical therapists may recommend lymphatic drainage as a solution to the uncomfortable swelling that can build up and compromise the immune system.
Causes of Lymphatic Stagnation
· Chronic stress
· Lymph node removal
· Exposure to heavy metals
· Breast Implant Illness
· Various autoimmune diseases
· Hormonal Imbalances
There are many different reasons that lymph can become stagnant in the body. As mentioned before, we can accumulate toxins, have an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation, lack of exercise, tight clothing, adrenal stress/fatigue, hormonal imbalances and even emotional trauma. All of this can be stressful to the body. Toxins and proteins may begin to accumulate around the cells causing tissues to become lethargic and slow cellular respiration.
Lymphocytes are cells designed to help clear the body of cellular waste & debris. Lymphocytes are less effective at helping the body remove waste when the interstitial fluid becomes congested. There is even research that suggests that individuals who struggle with weight loss may also have a congested lymphatic system.
Symptoms of a Congested Lymphatic System
· Sinus Problems
· Excessive Weight
· Brain fog
· Autoimmune symptoms
· Digestive problems
· Chronic illness
· Sedentary lifestyle
Lymphatic drainage may help the body with chronic inflammation, swelling, elimination of toxins, supports hormonal balance, reducing stress and boosting the immune system! Electro lymphatic drainage is slightly different and some believe it to be more effective. It’s speculated that one session of electro lymphatic drainage is equivalent to 7-8 manual lymphatic drainage sessions!
Electro lymphatic drainage also known as lymphatic enhancement technology (LET) is different in that it utilizes sound vibration and light to stimulate flow of lymph. This allows the therapist to reach deeper into the tissues of the patient, while still working very gently to increase lymph flow. LET is highly effective at freeing trapped proteins that become congested in a relatively short amount of time. With the use of thermography, LET has been proven to immediately reduce inflammation in the areas treated and is safe to do after surgical procedures.
In addition to that, LET can also enhance many of the other natural functions in the body. It’s very beneficial for alleviating swelling & bloating in the abdomen. It may be able to help stimulate peristalsis and help with issues like constipation. The gentle vibrations may also stimulate with kidneys, enhancing the bodies excretion pathways.
Did you know that 70% of your body’s immune system is in the gut? There are many lymph nodes in the gut; treating this area will not only help with puffiness, but it will also help with elimination of fecal matter that has built up & help boost the immune system.
This is a great therapy for anyone following a gut healing protocol or anyone suffering with leaky gut syndrome. In addition to receiving LET to help with the lymphatic system, there are a couple of things that one can do regularly to help prevent stagnation and congestion of the lymph.
Other Modalities for Boosting the Lymphatic System:
· Rebounding: Buying a small, trampoline for rebounding is one of the best ways to get moving! It’s easy on the joints and great for boosting circulation throughout the entire body.
· Yoga Practice: Yoga is very beneficial when it comes to boosting circulation. The breathwork helps oxygenate the blood, deep twists massage the internal organs and deep breathing exercises can create a pumping action to move lymph fluid.
· Dry Brushing: Buying a soft bristle brush and using gentle sweeping motions towards the heart can help move congested fluids. Begin proximally and slowly work distally. Imagine you are creating a gentle, rhythmic action that pumps fluid through the nodes and towards the heart.
· Far Infrared Sauna: The infrared heat waves penetrate deep into the body’s tissues stimulating the release of toxins. The heat is also very relaxing causing the muscles and fascia to become softer and more pliable, which can help boost circulation. The sauna may also help rid the body of heavy metals.
· Vibration plate therapy: Standing or doing gentle movements on a vibration platform is a safe and passive way to boost lymph drainage for those who may not be able to rebound or do weight bearing exercises.