Health, Healing & Hummingbirds

Scientific information on improving serious disease through nutrition and treating the causes of disease
 – summarised from 100 of the world’s most cutting-edge health books

Boosting the health of your lymph system

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

Treatments for this type of oedema and/or general poor lymph flow can include:

  • Increasing water intake

  • Nettle or dandelion tea or asparagus capsules or tea (as a safe mineral-sparing diuretic to help flush the kidneys: this must be combined with appropriately increased water intake)

  • Healing the gut (as poor gut health can cause lymph congestion). This may mean avoiding certain foods which stop the gut from healing and any foods which you react to

  • Avoiding restrictive clothing including tight pants plus underwear or bras which are very tight and 'cut into' your body and so reduce circulation

  • Avoiding sitting hunched over in a way that compresses the organs in the abdomen or the abdomen and legs (i.e. avoid compromising your general circulation)

  • Deep belly breathing for 2-5 minutes twice a day

  • Rebounding (using a mini trampoline)

  • Dry body brushing

  • FIR sauna use

  • Professional lymphatic drainage massage (in severe cases)

 

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.

 

Drinking more water - more info

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.

 

Rebounding - more info

Rebounding daily is said to improve lymph flow by 15 - 30 times over or more. Mini trampolines start at about $40 – check your local sports store or website. (I have a $40 cheapie and it’s fine, though the deluxe $700 ones made with bungee cord do look very nice... and very quiet.) If your balance is shaky, you may prefer to buy a rebounder with a railing attached.

 

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.

 

Dry body brushing- more info

If possible make sure you learn how to dry body brush correctly, in a way designed by a person with knowledge of the lymphatic system and how it works and how it drains. Use a natural bristle brush and try and do a dry body brush at least every second day. Every day is ideal. It takes about 5 minutes and should be followed by a shower or bath if possible, to wash away the dead skin cells.

 

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.

 

Lymphatic drainage massage - more info

If oedema is severe and not responsive to other therapies then a professional lymphatic drainage massage may be necessary. Oedema can also be caused by poor heart or kidney function and when this is the case then you need to be very careful with treatments such as lymphatic drainage massage which may put too heavy a load on the heart. This type of massage should only be done after you have gotten the okay from your doctor, and by a qualified lymphatic drainage massage expert.

Note that swelling which is asymmetrical (only in one leg or arm) may indicate a blood clot and needs to be checked out by a doctor.
 

More management tips and final comments

The following may also help with managing an existing oedema problem:

 

  • Self massage of abdomen, legs and arms or a general full-body professional massage

  • Use of a leg raising cushion to reduce oedema in the legs

  • Use of castor oil packs over the abdomen to reduce abdominal oedema

 

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.

 

Lymph health tips for those that are mostly bedbound

If you are not yet well enough to use a rebounder, there are still some useful things you can do to increase lymph flow:

  • Drink more water. This will likely create stress at first as it means increased urination and so more hassle, but this will lessen over time if you can get through an initial period of needing to go to the toilet more often

  • Drink nettle or asparagus tea to help flush your kidneys

  • Dry body brushing. This can be done in bed and while lying down but does take some arm strength

  • Deep belly breathing for 2-5 minutes twice a day

  • Work on gut health and strictly avoid problematic foods

  • Avoid restrictive clothing and postures



Other things you may be able to do to treat the symptoms of poor lymph flow if you are mostly or totally bedbound:

  • Self massage of abdomen, legs and arms or a general full-body professional massage. This can be done with you lying down but not all people will have the arm strength to do self massage or be well enough to have a professional massage even at your own home

  • Use of a leg raising cushion to reduce oedema in the legs

  • Raise legs in the air and lean them against a wall or your bedhead for a period of time each day to help lymph fluid drain from the legs

  • Raise legs in the air and point your toes, then stretch your toes in the opposite direction. Repeat, then keep going with it for a while. Do this for a few minutes a day if you can. This exercise can be done in bed or with the back resting on a rebounder

  • Put your hands behind your head, raise legs in the air and then kick and shake your legs around. Do this for a few minutes a day if you can. This exercise can be done in bed or with the back resting on a rebounder. You can also do the same thing with your arms if you have arm oedema. If you are unsure about what to do exactly, this exercise and the one listed above are shown clearly in this video

  • Daily use of a Chi machine is another way that you can improve lymph flow, say some doctors. A Chi machine is used lying down. Ankles are placed on the device and then it vibrates the whole leg. Machines may cost around $120

  • Use of castor oil packs over the abdomen to reduce abdominal oedema



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

References and further reading

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


Lymph Cleansing by Rebounding


Healthy Lifestyle - Dr. L. Wilson


6 Ways to Boost Circulation for Detoxing and Immunity by Karen M. Lynch


Support the lymphatic system by Gloria Gilbere