The lymph system works as an aid to the immune system by removing waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, toxins, and cancer cells. It also plays a role in delivering fats and fat soluble nutrients to the cells and in removing excess fluid from the body.
The lymph system doesn’t have an organ like the heart to pump it around the body, like the circulatory system does. The upward movement of lymph (toward the neck) depends on the motions of the muscle and joint pumps. Lymph naturally flows well when you move around a lot, and if you are very inactive you may very likely have problems in this area.
Good lymph flow is important for health and healing and especially if you are following any sort of detoxification regime. If your lymph flow is sluggish this can have an impact on your health and wellbeing in a number of ways.
Signs of poor lymph flow may include oedema in both legs, both arms or the abdomen and tight muscles. This may be painless or accompanied by pain when the oedema puts pressure on nerves in the arms or legs. There may also be signs of poor circulation or the body feeling somehow ‘stagnant’ which is not relieved by doing things to improve blood circulation or flexibility. Skin may appear to have a new crepe-like texture when oedema is present. Poor lymph flow may reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.
Oedema can be caused by many things including inactivity, obesity, drugs such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications and steriods, hormones (e.g. estrogen) and liver, kidney or cardiac weakness.
Treatments for this type of oedema and/or general poor lymph flow can include:
All of these lymph flow boosting treatments will of course work best when done as part of a comprehensive health and healing plan involving intelligent supplementation, a nutrient dense diet and optimised digestion and gut health etc. Iodine is a particularly important supplement for lymph system health.
If you are having issues with oedema it is also a good idea to keep an eye on your blood pressure and pulse regularly at home using a good quality blood pressure monitor.
It may sound counter-intuitive at first but drinking more water can really help reduce oedema. Oedema may be a sign you aren’t drinking enough water. Drinking two litres of good quality water a day is a minimum. Remember to drink small amounts throughout the day starting from when you first get up, rather than large amounts all at once. Be guided by urine colour (aiming for a pale yellow) and how you feel when deciding how much water to drink as too much water is no good for you either.
It is important to start slow with rebounding so as not to cause a large detoxification or healing reaction. Start with just a minute of very slow bouncing a day. (Less than a minute maybe if you are very ill.) Bounce so gently that your feet don’t leave the trampoline at all. It is more effort than it looks to bounce even in this small way, and can have quite a big detoxification effect and leg muscle tiring effect. You may feel a bit knocked out afterwards due to the detoxification reaction rebounding causes and need to rest for a while.
If the minute of slow bouncing goes well, try doing the same gentle bouncing for two or three one minute sessions a day. Depending on how ill you are this may be enough for you, or you may want to keep slowly increasing how much you do and aim for 15 minutes of not-so-gentle bouncing daily.
If you have a disease such as M.E. where you have to be very careful to avoid overexertion, remember that rebounding so much that you overexert yourself will never be helpful to your health in the long run and should be strictly avoided. It well may be that you are far too ill yet to use a rebounder, or that a few minutes a day of very gentle rebounding is a limit you need to stick strictly to (as I do).
Gentle and simple bouncing is all that is needed but if you’d like to watch a useful video on this topic click here.
It is important to start slow with body brushing so as not to cause a large detoxification reaction. This may mean doing it once a week or once every 2 weeks to start with. Body brushing in front of a heater is best in winter.
It is not ideal but it is possible to do an okay body brush routine while sitting on a towel on the floor or even lying down (raising your legs into the air one at a time and reaching up to scrub them). You may miss a few bits such as your back, but it is still worthwhile to do what you can. Dry body brushing can make you feel wonderful just after you do it too.
To see a great body brushing instructional video click here.
Note that treatments for lymphoedema/lymphedema, a more serious and long-term lymph issue which may be the result of damage to or removal of lymph glands, will be different in some ways to what is listed on this page. In lymphoedema the affected limb may need to be bandaged and it is important to avoid taking any diuretic products. If you have lymphoedema please consult your doctor for medical advice on treatment.
Other things you may be able to do to treat the symptoms of poor lymph flow if you are mostly or totally bedbound:
Do the best you can within your current ability level. Even doing some of the things on this list now and then is better than nothing and small health promoting actions can really add up over time.
Be especially careful as always to avoid overexertion if you have M.E. Overexertion caused by doing healthy things is still overexertion and will be counter-productive in the long term.
“It seems obvious that shaking and bouncing your body around will get your blood pumping. But is there any evidence that they actually work to increase cardiovascular circulation and lymph flow? Turns out there is: A recent study published in Medical Science Monitor found that "Five minutes of 30 Hz or 50 Hz vibration produced significant increases in skin blood flow."
Rebounding (jumping on a trampoline) appears to be especially effective at improving lymph system circulation. Lymphatic fluid is completely dependent on physical exercise to move, and the up-and-down rhythmic gravitational force caused by jumping on a trampoline causes the lymph system’s one-way valves to open and close, increasing lymph flow.
The repetitive rhythmic motion of bouncing on a mini trampoline provides a simple, zero-impact exercise method with long-term mental and physical health benefits,” writes Dr. Tina Wellman, a psychoneuroendocrinologist and author of books on blending exercise, nutrition and detoxification to achieve wellness, in an article for Total Health. ”These benefits include increasing oxygen uptake and promoting detoxification via the lungs, skin, and lymph.” 6 Ways to Boost Circulation for Detoxing and Immunity: The link between cleansing and circulation by Karen M. Lynch
“When toxins are produced within the body faster than the body can process and release them, the body suspends those toxins in fat and interstitial spaces in an attempt to protect the organs. This toxic buildup results in soft and connective tissue inflammation and excessive buildup of lymph fluid.” Support the lymphatic system by Gloria Gilbere
“Deep diaphragmatic breathing is possibly the best way of circulating the lymph. Breathe in slowly and deeply pushing the belly out and then let the breath go slowly and completely. The dramatic pressure variance with the lung expansion and contraction moves the lymph and also helps to open the ducts to allow the lymph to reenter the bloodstream at the subclavian veins at the base of the neck. Deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing for 10 minutes a day will oxygenate the blood and also circulate the lymph.” Natural News
"No drug exists that has the ability to improve lymphatic flow; however, the job can easily be handled through the topical application of Castor oil," said Dr David G. Williams. For lymphatic stimulation, a good place to put a Castor oil pack would be the lower abdomen and/or the liver. For a Castor oil pack use a cotton or wool flannel cloth folded in several layers and a good quality, cold-pressed oil. Saturate the cloth in oil and apply it to the skin. Put plastic over the pack to keep the oil from dripping, then wrap an old towel around the pack for more protection. A hot water bottle placed over the pack will increase the effectiveness of the treatment. It can be left in place as long as all night. Because of the antimicrobial properties of the oil. the same pack can be used over again many times before discarding.” Natural News
Detoxify or Die (book) by Dr Sherry Rogers
Seven steps to a healthy lymph system by Wellness Warrior
Lymph health on Natural News
Lymph health article 2 on Natural News
Effects of rebounding by Healing daily
6 Ways to Boost Circulation for Detoxing and Immunity by Karen M. Lynch
Support the lymphatic system by Gloria Gilbere
Note that the aim of this site is to provide a starting point for health and healing research for ill people; especially very overwhelmed and disabled ill people. This site provides recommendations, summaries and reviews of books but is not meant to be a replacement for actually reading some of these wonderful health books if the reader is at all well enough to do so. (Plus getting individualised advice from a doctor that is also an orthomolecular medicine expert if possible). There is no substitute for reading as many of these books as you can. The HHH site can only really hint at their full brilliance. The amount of insight, scientific references, logic, intelligence, compassion and experience in the recommended books will most likely amaze you. HHH aims to encourage people to do their own reading and learning, and to always make up their own minds. All content copyright Jodi Bassett 2006 - 2014.