Similar to the way your blood circulatory system delivers nutrients and oxygen to all cells of the body, the lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels that branch through all parts of the body to circulate important bodily fluid and defend against infection. When functioning well, the lymphatic system helps keep the body's needs in balance, but when things go wrong, disorders and cancer can result. Take a closer look at the important role your lymphatic system plays in keeping your body balanced and healthy. Then, incorporate our healthy lifestyle tips to encourage proper function for many years to come!
Parts of the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs made up of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph that drain lymph fluid (a fluid containing white blood cells, water, proteins, salts and lipids) from all over the body.
There are lymph nodes in your body that you can likely feel under your arm (in your armpit), in each groin (at the top of your legs) and in your neck.
There are also lymph nodes you may not be able to feel, such as those found in your abdomen, pelvis and chest.
Other lymphatic body organs include your spleen, thymus gland, tonsils and adenoids.
How the Lymphatic System Works
You can think of the lymphatic system as the body’s drainage system, working around-the-clock to clean up and properly dispose of waste left behind by other body systems. A healthy lymphatic system also contributes to many other major bodily functions, including:
Drains fluid back into the bloodstream.
One of the lymphatic system’s primary jobs is to collect excess fluid (particularly lymph fluid) surrounding the body’s tissues and organs and return it to the bloodstream. If the lymphatic system didn’t drain excess fluid from the tissues, the lymph fluid would build up in the body and cause swelling.
As lymph passes through the lymph nodes, the white blood cells attack any bacteria or viruses found in the lymph. If cancer cells break away from a tumor, they can attach to the nearby lymph nodes. This is the reason doctors will check the lymph nodes first when determining how far cancer has spread.
Filters the blood.
The spleen filters blood, removing old red blood cells and replacing them with new red blood cells that are made in the bone marrow.
Removes impurities from the body.
The lymphatic system also helps to remove toxins and other impurities from the body, such as carbon dioxide, sodium and other byproducts of cellular feeding on oxygen, minerals and nutrients. The system helps to remove these impurities and dispose of them through perspiration, bowel movements, urine and your breath.
The lymphatic system helps defend the body against illness-causing germs, bacteria, viruses and fungi. The system builds immunity by making special white blood cells (called lymphocytes) that produce antibodies that are responsible for immune responses that defend the body against disease.
Things That Can Go Wrong
When the lymphatic system is not functioning properly, it can put your body at risk for certain diseases that affect the lymph nodes, spleen or other parts of the lymphoid tissue, such as:
Lymphedema is a chronic swelling in one arm or leg caused by too much lymph fluid. Many people develop this disorder following cancer therapy.
Lymphadenopathy is a condition where the lymph nodes become swollen or enlarged.
Lymphoma is cancer that starts in the lymph nodes when lymphocytes change and multiply at an out-of-control rate.
Splenomegaly is a disease (usually caused by a viral infection) that causes the spleen to swell several times its normal size.
Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy
Maintaining a healthy lymphatic system is important to prevent illness and keep other important body systems functioning. Encourage proper function of your lymphatic system by incorporating these healthy lifestyle tips:
Drink plenty of water.
Eat a healthy diet rich in alkaline foods and vegetables that provide a full range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Include healthy fats in your diet.
Exercise daily, including both aerobic and anaerobic physical activity.
Avoid pollutants, toxic substances and unhealthy environments.
Learn to manage stress through techniques such as yoga, meditation and exercise to promote wellness.
Your lymphatic system is constantly working to keep your body balanced. Maintaining its health is important not only for its own role but the role it plays in many other body systems.
What is lymphatic drainage massage?
Is a specialized massage type that gently assists the lymphatic system in maintaining the body’s fluid balance, blood circulation, and immune mechanisms. The system’s network of vessels and nodes contains lymph, a mixture of water, proteins, immune system components, waste products, and other remnants of cell metabolism. Lymph nodes, which filter out the debris, are found throughout the body, with especially large groups of them in the neck, armpits, and groin. These major collections of lymph nodes ensure that the lymph passes through as many nodes as possible before it returns to the circulatory system.
During a lymph drainage massage, a specially-trained massage therapist uses a series of gliding, compressing, stretching, and cupping motions over the client’s body. The light rhythmic movements, applied without massage oil, stimulate the lymphatic system without compressing the vessels – allowing lymph to move easily through the tissues and lymph nodes. MLD follows a specific sequence over the body so lymph isn’t trapped anywhere, making sure every area is treated with care.
Presso Massage from Cryo Studio Sarasota is also known as Pressotherapy, lymphatic drainage therapy or lymphatic drainage massage. It stimulates your lymphatic system by compressing and decompressing a specific part of your body, helping you get rid of toxins and excess fluid. It helps reduce liquid retention, bloating, improve blood circulation and battle cellulite, while being a fast and enjoyable treatment at the same time.
You can read more about our presso Massage in our blog HERE.
John Stoddard Cancer Center - January 14, 2019
Robin Jillson - March 30, 2019