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When we think about WHY we get bloated, the blame game often starts at digestion.

The two just go together, don’t they? The foods we eat are troubling our digestive system, and then we experience that unbearable bloat and feeling of sudden weight gain as a result.

What do we do? We typically focus on bettering digestion, by removing our trigger foods and taking supplements such as bitter herbs to support enzymatic production and probiotics to balance gut flora.

We may also decide that it’s time for a seasonal ‘cleanse’ that focuses on resetting digestion and improving liver health.

But there is another system.

One that we are forgetting about.

You see, in your body there is a rather complicated network that consists of  fluid-filled nodes, vessels, glands and organs – and it’s not your circulatory system.

Introducing the Lymphatic System

This system touches almost every part of the body, and while we may not feel it – it’s always there, working away.

While the circulatory system brings nutrients to our organs and tissues, the lymphatic system works to dispose of  toxins and waste. In short, your lymph system is your bodies pathway for drainage, playing an important role in immunity and also in natural detoxification.  

When it comes to immunity, this system protects the body against any outside threats; infections, bacteria and cancer cells. Our largest lymphatic tissue in the body is the spleen, and boy-oh-boy is this underestimated for its importance. As our main immune defence, the spleen fights infection, destroys worn-out red blood cells and holds a reserve of white and red blood cells.

In addition to lymphatic organs and glands which also include your thymus and tonsils, we also have between 500-700 lymph nodes that are spread throughout the body. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, a clear substance that comes from your blood plasma – containing nutrients, oxygen, hormones, toxins and cellular waste. They also  house lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) which play a role in your immune system. If you’re familiar with B-cells and T-cells, these are lymphocytes which are found in lymph nodes and lymph tissues [2]

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While this is all fascinating stuff that’s taking place in your body. There is an issue that comes up with this system.

Why The Lymphatic System Gets Clogged

Unlike your blood, your lymph does not have a pump. [1] Your lymphatic network relies on the contraction and relaxation of the muscles and joints to keep things flowing. YOU are the pump.

 

You’re likely reading this while you are sitting right now, so maybe it’s time for a quick apology made out to your lymphatic system?

When the lymphatic system becomes stagnant, it becomes stressed by it’s never-ending toxin disposal duty. This can not only create impaired immunity and disease, but it may also play a role in the development of [3]:

 

  • Edema (fluid retention/bloating)
  • Cellulite
  • Chronic pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatty deposits.

Sluggish lymphatic flow may also be a root cause for [3]:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Swollen glands, ankles and eyes
  • Eczema
  • Arthritis
  • Upper respiratory, sinus and ear infections
  • Frequents colds
  • Tonsillitis, bronchitis and pneumonia
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Don’t worry – there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Thankfully it really doesn’t take much to get your lymph moving again.

11 Ways To Reset Your Lymph Flow

Rebounding

This is the adult term for playing on a trampoline! Jumping for 10-20 minutes is enough to get your lymph flowing while also stimulating circulation and blood flow throughout the body [4].

Dry Brushing

Dry skin brushing is a blessed detox practice that stimulates both the lymphatic and circulatory systems. Get your GLOW on with dry brushing. Check out this complete guide to dry brushing – you’ll wish you started yesterday!

Lymph Loving Herbs

Many herbs provide promising benefits for improving lymphatic health, whether by their ability to improve lymphatic flow and drainage or by expediting the removal of toxins. Here are some of the top herbs for lymph love (please buy only organic!) [5]:

Massage

If you don’t love a good massage… I don’t believe you! Next time you’re booking with your RMT, request a ‘lymphatic massage’. This special form of massage specifically targets your lymph flow. Using a specific amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements works to stimulate the lymph – this encourages movement towards the heart for the drainage of fluid and waste. In studies, lymphatic massage has been shown to push up to 78 percent of stagnant lymph back into circulation [6].

Digestive Bitters

Enzymes are produced by the body to break down your food and they partake in countless metabolic processes. They are also utilized to clear toxic-waste buildup in both the lymph and blood! Using a digestive bitter tincture formula (that is free from laxative herbs) – such as St. Francis Canadian Bitters – helps support not just the proper breakdown of food, but also helps decrease digestive inflammation. Everything in your body is connected, and healthy digestion can play a vital role in lymph flow [7].

Detox Baths

Fill a steaming bathtub and add in two cups of Epsom salt (no added fragrances, flavors, or colors) and a half-cup of baking soda, or some AlkaBath (a German-made alkaline mineral blend). This assists the lymph in clearing out toxins and rejuvenating cells [8].

Eat Clean

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When you follow a clean eating routine, you will be including more nutrient-dense foods and less processed foods that contain man-made chemicals and additives. By controlling external factors that stress the lymphatic system (aka our diet), we decrease stress in the body. Love your lymph with leafy green vegetables, cruciferous veggies, berries, omega-3 rich foods, raw nuts and seeds, healthy fats and oils like coconut and ghee and herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, cumin and garlic [9].

Use Friendly Personal Care Products

Considering that 60% of what you apply to your skin, will be absorbed into your system, using friendly personal care products, that focus on using kind and organic ingredients, makes sense for your health and for the love of your lymph! Check out this post on detoxing your personal care products, complete with three DIY recipes.

Practice Yoga

Do you flow? Yoga twists, inversions, and flow practices get the lymph moving! This alone can help reset your lymph system and positively support your overall health [10].

Essential Oils

What can’t essential oils be used for? Really. These are a few great oils for lymph cleansing [11]:

Add a few drops to a carrier oil like jojoba oil and massage into the inner and outer thighs, around the knees, near the armpits, and on the abdomen in a clockwise motion. Always be sure to source out pure essential oils. See here for more info on why cultivation methods and detailed labels are needed to determine essential oil quality.

Move Your Body

Seriously, right now – get up, stretch it out, move around. Movement is always key. #SweatDaily.

You made it through an entire article. Now go love your lymph with some hydrating lemon water and a dry brushing session, then make a plan to include some more of these tips to reset lymph flow!

BE vibrant.

Sources: 

[1] Anatomy of the Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems
https://courses.lumenlearning.com/microbiology/chapter/anatomy-of-the-circulatory-and-lymphatic-systems/

[2] What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Regina Bailey – https://www.thoughtco.com/lymph-nodes-anatomy-373244

[3] The Lymphatic System in Health and Disease
Leah Cueni-Michael Detmar – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3572233/

[4] Changes observed in lymphocyte behavior during gravitational unloading.
A Cogoli – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11537173

[5] Herbs that Promote Lymphatic Drainage
HR Staff – http://herbalismroots.com/herbs-promote-lymphatic-drainage/

[6] Systematic Review of Efficacy for Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Practice Approach
Giampietro Vairo-Sayers Miller-Nicole McBrier-William Buckley – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755111/

[7] How to Detoxify and Heal the Lymphatic System
Michael Edwards – http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/issue/15-how-to-detoxify-and-heal-the-lymphatic-system

[8] Techniques to Use at Home To Stimulate Lymphatic Drainage
http://www.gordonmedical.com/unravelling-complex-chronic-illness/techniques-to-use-at-home-to-stimulate-lymphatic-drainage/

[9] Lymphatic System: How to Make It Strong & Effective
Jillian Babcock – https://draxe.com/lymphatic-system/

[10] 5 Natural Ways to Relieve Lymphatic Congestion
Carrie Demers – https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-natural-ways-to-relieve-lymphatic-congestion

[11] 6 Best Essential Oils for Lymphatic Drainage – Lymph Support
http://www.biosourcenaturals.com/pure-essential-oils/physical/essential-oils-for-lymphatic-drainage/

A Special Message From Our Founders

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Use Superfoods as Medicine e-book
Holisticole
Holistic Nutritionist
Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. On her holistic living blog: holisticole.com - you can find amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs.
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