By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© February 2017, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Our bodies have one major source of nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other chemicals. This is the arterial blood stream. However, once the blood reaches the capillaries and the cells of the body, the waste products are carried off by two systems, the venous blood system and the lymph system.
Lymph is a whitish fluid that is rich in white blood cells. It flows more slowly than the venous blood back toward the heart, and it joins with the venous blood system in the aorta near the heart.
Along its path are enlarged areas called lymph nodes. Sometimes one can feel them as little soft bumps under the arms, under the ears, and in the leg creases. The lymph nodes serve as ŇtrapsÓ or holding areas to prevent the spread of infection in the body.
When an infection is present, the lymph nodes that drain that area often swell up and are visible. For example, if one has a tooth abscess, the lymph nodes on the same side of the body below the jaw along the side of the neck and/or under the arm on that side, may swell up. This is evidence that the body is fighting off an infection.
Lymph nodes can also swell all over the body when certain diseases are present, such as mononucleosis. Lymph nodes swell, and may become hard, in certain cases of cancer such as non-HodgkinŐs lymphoma and HodgkinŐs disease.
In some people, the lymph fluid does not circulate well. Instead, it moves slowly and stagnates to a degree. This impairs detoxification of the body.
Causes. Causes for lymphatic congestion include lack of exercise, wearing tight clothing, dehydration and malnutrition. Occasionally other factors are important, such as surgeries, and the presence of disease in the body.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT LYMPH CONGESTION
1. Get some gentle exercise daily. While we do not recommend vigorous exercise, some exercise such as walking, bicycling or rebounding are particularly good to promote lymphatic drainage and circulation. These full-body exercises are better than lifting weights, for example, which does not move the entire body.
2. Do not wear tight clothing. Very tight blouses, tight bras, or tight pants can interfere with lymphatic circulation. It is much better to wear loose-fitting clothing.
3. Drink 96 ounces or about 3 liters of water daily. Not drinking enough water may impair lymph circulation. Other beverages, such as coffee or soda pop or even tea, do not work as well as water to hydrate the body, and may even cause dehydration if they contain any caffeine or sugar. For details about which water to drink, read Water For Drinking.
4. Eat natural, whole, real food only. Everyone needs to include plenty of cooked vegetables each day, preferably with each meal. We find that people who do not do this are rarely in good health. Lack of cooked vegetables in the diet can negatively affect lymph circulation.
5. Avoid habits that interfere with circulation. These include crossing the arms, crossing the legs, or sitting for long periods of time without getting up and stretching. If you sit at your job or at home, get up every 15 minutes and stretch.