The Lymphatic System

Your body is made of 11 different systems, each interdependent of the others. An integral part of the immune system is your lymphatic system, consisting of spleen, thymus, lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes. It’s responsible for removing pathogens and cellular debris, collecting excess fluid (swelling) from extracellular spaces in tissues, Defending against foreign organisms with antibodies and lymphocytes, and is a major detoxification pathway of the body. With all these responsibilities the lymphatic system has, you would think it would receive more attention from the medical community.

Poor lymphatic drainage is a relatively common finding in functional health, yet members of the healing arts have paid it little attention. Chronic stress will cause an atrophy of lymphatic structures, along with atrophy of the thymus, enlargement of the adrenal glands and gastric or duodenal ulcers. Additionally in recent years, due to the excessive time people are spending hunched over electronical device, we are finding more and more of the population with forward rounded shoulders, caused by hypertonicity and shortening in the pectoralis minor muscles. These postural distortions increases tension on the lymphatics lying below the muscle, leading to decreased flow of lymph. Tight pectoralis minor muscles are often secondary to weak lower trapezius muscles, which are antagonists, or a fixation in the thoracolumbar spine.

When we get sick, it is our lymphatic system that plays a crucial role to our immune response. An injury or infection will create a great deal of cellular debris that will need to be removed. This is the job of the lymphatic vessels. Unfortunately, certain key areas of the body have narrow passages for removal of this debris and can easily become overwhelmed, slowing down drainage and thwarting the healing process. Swollen lymph nodes cause pain, discomfort, the back pressure build up. Luckily for us, if stimulated properly, we can restore proper drainage and greatly amplify the healing process.

Please Note:The physical stimulation of the lymphatics is not recommended for someone with cancer.

To begin with, take your right hand and place it on your left shoulder. With your fingertips, rake your hand in a diagonal fashion towards your heart. Repeat this process 5-6 times.

Repeat the process on the opposite shoulder.

Next, turn your head to the right. You should see a muscle pop-out on the left side of the neck, called your sternocleidomastoid muscle. Take your index and middle finger and gently rake along both sides of the muscle. Often times, with an active infection, you will feel a lump. That is a swollen lymph node. If that is the case, gently squeeze it with your thumb and finger and massage it in a circular motion. After you have raked both sides of the muscle, take your two fingers and your thumb and gently squeeze the muscle and try to feel behind it. You have a deep lymphatic chain behind the muscle. As you gently squeeze the muscle, make small circles. Continue this process all the way down the length of the muscle. Follow that up by once again running your index and middle finger down the length of either side of the muscle 5-6 times. Repeat on the opposite side.

Next you are going to help move the fluid in the lymphatics up the arms. Start with your right hand, touch your left palm with your fingertips, rake your fingertips up your arm towards your Armpit. Now place your four fingers in your armpit and your thumb on the pectoral muscle, lifting your hand up and in toward your body, massage deep into the armpit in a circular motion toward the midline of the body.

Be sure to stimulate the entire cavity and then sweep your fingertips across your chest towards the center of the chest towards the heart. Do this 5-6times. Repeat on opposite side.

For the lower body, start  at the middle part of your hip and rake your fingers in a diagonal motion towards your belly button. Do this 5-6 times on each side. Feel for any area that has a hard nodule. If you identify one, spend some extra time massaging in a circular fashion towards the heart. After you have cleared both hips,  Lightly drag your fingertips over your skin from your belly button towards the center of your chest 5-6 times. The lower body only drains into the Left Thoracic duct, so it is a good idea to repeat step one, of clearing the left shoulder to the heart.

You can do this part seated. With the same technique as the other areas, comfortably rake our fingertips from your ankles to our groin. Focus on the insides of the legs towards the groin, due to the abundance of lymph nodes on the inside of your legs. Once you have raked 5-6 times per leg. Again clear the lymphatics from the mid hip to the bellybutton, and again from the bellybutton to the heart, and lastly, the left shoulder to the heart, where the lower body drains into.

This simple protocol can be done several times a day at the first sign of a cold, swelling or congestion. In addition, lymphatic drainage can help with sinusitis, sore throat, headaches, skin eruptions (eczema, psoriasis, shingles, rashes, etc…), breast swelling, cysts, respiratory infection, Edema in the leg, Ulcerative lesion (open wound) anywhere on leg or foot, Varicose veins, Thrombosis, Muscle cramps, pain, immune system dysfunction, Thyroid problems (thyroid dumps its hormones into the lymphatics and not the blood stream), Decreased healing rate, Flu/colds, cholesterol problems, Joint pain, Digestive problems, bed wetting, bruxism, or anyone who wakes up feeling bad but feels better as the day goes. This happens because this is a passive system because it does not have a pump to move the debris back up to the heart the muscle contractions of the body will pump and circulate the lymph.