Published: 10/16/2014 - Updated: 10/17/2014
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
The lymphatic system is one of the most important systems in the body. It is considered part of the circulatory system because if is made up of channels that are very similar to blood vessels, except that the lymphatic channels transport lymph. It is made up primarily of lymph, lymphatic vessels, and lymphatic ganglion.
Lymph is a much more abundant body liquid than blood. In runs through lymphatic vessels and is colorless. It comes from the blood and returns to it. It is made up by a very weak liquid with proteins and rich in fats. It is very similar to blood, but with the difference that it contains white blood cells, which migrate from capilaries or come from the lymphatic ganglion. Bone barrow and thymus produce the cells in lymph, making these organs part of the lymphatic system as well.
This is one of the most important bodily fluids in the body because of all its functions it does. Some of the most important of these functions are that it cleanses and defends the body. This important fluid is produced by the excess fluid that leaves blood vessels to the intercellular space, and is then absorbed by lymphatic vessels that drain fluid to larger lymphatic vessels, until converging with the channels that empty into sub-clavian veins.
Lymph circulates throughout the streets and avenues of the lymphatic system thanks to the soft push from muscular contractions and the pulse of nearby arteries, along with movement of extremities. It is considered to be the second most important body network. Whenever a vein is obstructed, lymph accumulates in the affected are and produces what is known as edema, or swelling in the area.
Basic lymphatic system functions are:
- Maintains osmotic balance.
- Collects intestinal content byproducts that contain raised fat levels.
- Activates and helps form the body’s immune system. This means that it activates and forms the body’s defenses
- Control protein concentrations in spaces between, as well as balancing intersticial liquid and its pressure.
When lymph contains microorganisms, they are generally eliminated by lymphatic ganglion. Lymphatic ganglions concentrate in greater numbers in the less periphery areas of the body, like the armpits, the abdomen, the groin, the neck, and the face, as well as in supraclavicular spaces and popliteal fossa. The ganglion, also known as lymphatic nodules, are nodular structures that for part of the lymphatic system. They form groupings in various clusters around the body.
Lymphatic ganglion are an important part of the immune system, because together, with the spleen, they help the body to recognize, eliminate, and fight germs, infections and other toxic or strange substances.
Conditions produced by a weak or sickly lymphatic system
As previously explained, the lymphatic system eliminates infections and maintains bodily fluid balance. When it doesn’t work correctly and is weakened or sick, lymph begins to accumulate in body tissues, causing swelling known as lymphedema. When the lymphatic system does not function well, bodily infections also increase, and the body becomes more prone to contagions. The defense system is weak, making it possible to suffer from all sorts of conditions, even cancer.
Conditions caused by a weak lymphatic system:
- Ganglion swelling
- Constant infections and being prone to contagions.
- Weakened immune system.
- Appearance of edema, known as lymphedema.
- Increase in lymphatic load from circulatory disorders (cardiac or kidney disorders, pre-menstrual, trauma, burns).
- Increase in protein and interstitial fluid or lymphatic failure.
- Lipidema: fatty leg syndrome (ankles, legs, and hips).
- Myxedema: accumulation of mucopolysaccharides interstitial proteins, as well as thyroid changes.
- Lymphangitis caused by a sharp wound to the lymphatic system.
- Cancer: cancer of the lymphatic system, known as lymphoma.
Lymphatic system health:
To keep your lymphatic system healthy, you should consider the following measures:
- Do some sort of physical activity every day that promotes good lymph circulation. Gymnastics, yoga, taichi, swimming, hiking, bicycling, etc., all help lymph to clean the body’s extremities and to promote and stimulate good functioning of the entire system. Sedentary people run the risk of not having a strong lymphatic system that works optimally. That’s why they are more prone to getting sick.
- Eating foods rich in vitamin C and A, as well as including whole grains, vegetables, and enough liquids (fresh water) in your diet. This is absolutely necessary for keeping the lymphatic system it the best of conditions. You should drink at least two liters of fresh water a day.
- Lymphatic massages are a fantastic resource for people that want to activate and improve lymphatic circulation. Massages are also very helpful for people recovering from surgery, or people who have been in bed for a long time. A soft oil is used along with this massage, be it almond oil, olive oil, etc., and the masseuse will work with the extremities, helping the lymph to arrive at the lymphatic ganglion.
Emotional causes of lymphatic problems:
Lymphatic problems can be caused when an individual is subjected to a life that is not very centered in what is truly important. They could hold on to emotions of rejections, or repress themselves emotionally, be it unpleasant things or things that could harm them. They could even hold on to obsessive attitudes. All of these emotional reactions create a lot of tension an interior wear and tear on the circulatory systems, which over time will weaken them and create sickness. That’s why it’s so important not to forget to cultivate your interior world. Learn to know yourself, find new values in life, and have the will to change harmful habits and focus on what brings you true fullness in your life.
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Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 10/17/2014
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