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  • Writer's pictureJenny Whitfield

Love Your Lymph!

diagram of lymph vessels and nodes

The lymphatic system is a beautiful watery network that does the important jobs of moving fluid, proteins, minerals and white blood cells around the body, as well as cellular waste and toxins to be eliminated by the liver and kidneys. Lymph fluid moves one way through lymph vessels, and passes through lymph nodes to be filtered, before returning to the blood system in the collarbone area, where it becomes blood plasma.

The lymphatic system doesn’t have its own pump, so relies on movement and stimulation in order to function well. Muscle tension and emotional tension cause the fascia – the thin layer surrounding all our muscles and organs - to tighten, and this stops lymph flowing freely. It is also impeded by a sedentary lifestyle, shallow breathing, injury and inflammation, as well as the removal of lymph nodes in cancer treatment. We know it’s not functioning well when we experience symptoms like:

·       Swelling, puffiness and fluid retention

·       Lethargy and brain fog

·       Sluggish digestion, constipation, IBS

·       Breakouts, cystic acne, dull skin, dark circles, eye bags

·       Nasal congestion

·       Frequent headaches, migraines

·       Cellulite

·       Poor immunity, frequent infections

So to feel good and look good we need to show the lymph some love! There are lots of simple things we can do to support the lymph system and keep it flowing effectively.

Hydration is key. If you are dehydrated the lymph system slows and allows toxins to accumulate, which can create a feeling of being under the weather without knowing why.

Movement is also essential, as the contraction of muscles pushes lymph along its network of vessels. Just bouncing your heels up and down gets the lymph pumping, and rebounding is the most effective exercise you can do. Yoga, walking, swimming and dancing all support lymph flow really well.

The diaphragm is also an important ‘pump’ in the lymph system. Breathing deep into the belly and stretching the diaphragm squeezes the abdominal lymph nodes which is very important for draining fluid from the lower body.

woman using a dry body brush

Dry body brushing helps the fluid along, and exfoliates the skin at the same time. Always work lightly, towards the heart. You can also apply body lotion in short upwards sweeping motions towards the heart. Gently massaging around the collarbone and behind the ears while you’re in the shower helps unblock the end point of the system. Ending your shower with cool (it doesn’t have to be super cold!) water causes muscle contractions that move the lymph fluid. Saunas support the lymph system by removing some of the toxins through sweating.

Legs up the wall pose lets gravity help and is useful for puffy ankles and swollen legs.

Avoiding toxins where possible stops the lymph system from getting overwhelmed. Choose cosmetic and cleaning products that use natural, organic ingredients. Keep it simple! Processed food, caffeine and alcohol are also hard work for the lymph system. Eating the rainbow makes sure you get all the necessary polyphenols for optimal cellular function and reducing inflammation.

Reflexology and massage help get the lymph system moving, and reduce tension and inflammation in the body. I am trained in specialist techniques that work effectively on the lymph system, so if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, do get in touch to find out how I can support you and your wonderful lymphatic system!

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