Lymph Backup: Why It Matters & 4 Ways To Eliminate It
The lymphatic system is a network of nodes and vessels and valves that lie just under the skin and transport lymph — a clear fluid containing white blood cells and waste products — throughout the body. Lymph is one important method of body detoxification.
It’s a fairly complex system, but to simplify, I like to think of the lymphatic system as a garbage truck that pulls junk away from your organs and the spaces between your cells and into the lymphatic channels, or highways, so your cells aren’t bombarded by waste.
Because it is a bit of a lone-wolf system, not pumped by the heart nor moved automatically through smooth muscle action as in the digestive tract, lymph easily becomes sluggish and backed up. If this happens, it can’t relieve the digestive system of some of its toxic load, which can cause digestion to back up too, as your body becomes less and less able to remove waste from your GI tract. Sluggish lymph also builds up as fluid accumulation throughout your body, making you puffy and chubby looking, although not from fat. You may think it’s from fat, which is why I call lymphatic backup Fake Fat.
The reason lymph needs so much help is that it has to move upward, against gravity, without any dedicated internal mechanism pushing it in that direction. The lymph has to make it to the lymph nodes so the toxins in it can get filtered by the immune cells, yet nothing pushes the lymph up except movement, so it can get stuck and pool in the lower body. This is why some people have swollen feet and ankles, especially when they are too sedentary. Some people (like me) are born with fewer lymph nodes and have even more problems with excessive water and lymph accumulation when the body gets inflamed. No matter who you are, here are four ways to help move lymph to the lymph nodes and, in turn, assist your body in the detoxification process.
1. Get moving.
The only way to get lymph moving is by moving it manually. You can do this by exercising or just moving around vigorously — muscle action peripherally puts pressure on the lymphatic system’s fine network of vessels. The most effective kind of exercises for getting lymph moving are jumping rope, jumping on a trampoline, or just jumping on the ground.
2. Give yourself a lymphatic massage, or dry brush.
My favorite strategy for getting lymph moving is lymphatic massage, which you can have a professional do, or you can do it yourself. If lymphatic backup and Fake Fat are problems for you, I highly recommend you do a lymphatic massage on yourself daily.
It removes dead layers of skin so the body can more efficiently excrete toxic material. Remember, we are unclogging, and layers of dead skin cells can clog or reduce the efficiency of sweat glands. Dead skin cells are also a type of body waste, and sloughing them off removes this waste.
In addition, manually massaging the skin toward the heart and in the direction of the lymph nodes gets the lymph moving more vigorously, which increases the body’s detoxification rate. Essentially, you are helping to direct the biochemical sewage through the channels and into the lymph nodes, where it can be eliminated.
One of the reasons why people develop inflammatory problems in the joints, including arthritis, has to do with lymph accumulation. Cellulite is also a condition exacerbated by backed-up lymphatics.
3. Add manjistha powder to your detox tea.
Learn how to make your detox tea by clicking here, and add ½ teaspoon manjistha powder, if you have lymphatic backup. (You can add this to the steeped, strained tea afterward, since it is a powder and doesn’t require straining.)
4. Add guggul to your diet.
Guggul is another of my secret weapons. It is the most powerful detoxifier I know, and when your body is ready for it, it can do incredible things. Guggul increases the expression of the liver enzymes responsible for detoxification, increasing the efficiency of the liver detoxification pathways. Guggul is also good at break breaking down fat and helping to release fat-soluble toxins.
You can change your natural tendency to bloat and swell by changing how efficiently your lymphatic system is working. Several aspects of The Prime directly work on the lymphatics, including lymphatic massage and plant products such as manjistha and guggul.
The Prime: Prepare and Repair Your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss is available now.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, MD, is a neurologist, neuroscientist and an internationally recognized expert in the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine. She earned her medical degree at Loma Linda University School of Medicine; completed her internship at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and neurology residency at University of California San Diego (UCSD).
Chaudhary is the author of “The Prime” (Penguin Random House, 2016) and “Sound Medicine” (Harper Collins, 2020); is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and is a highly sought-after speaker, researcher and adviser for Healthy Directions. She is the former director of Wellspring Health in Scripps Memorial Hospital, where she successfully combined conventional treatments with Ayurvedic practices of detoxification, diet, and lifestyle management to help patients effectively manage chronic neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and migraine headaches.
Her program was so successful that it is now used for a wide range of health concerns, including weight issues and chronic disease. Through her integrative approach, Chaudhary teaches her patients about the connection between mind, body and spirit, which impacts every aspect of health both physically and mentally. Learn more at www.DrKChaudhary.com.