The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the circulatory system as it is chiefly responsible for eliminating waste, toxins, and excess fluid. It also propels the white blood cells to move around the body, fighting infections and strengthening immunity. Unlike the circulatory system which keeps on moving in all directions via the constant pumping of the heart, the lymphatic system only moves in one direction: upward and against gravity. Since the lymphatic system has no organ like a heart to propel it against gravity constantly, it can easily get clogged up, leading to multiple issues.
How can you know if your lymphatic system has clogged up? What causes it and how can you unclog it and let it run free through the body? Keep reading this article to know more about it.
Determining the Health of the Lymphatic System: What to Ask Yourself
Are you suspecting your lymphatic system may not be working as efficiently as it should be? Ask yourself the following questions to understand the situation more appropriately:
- How are you feeling physically? (Stiff, tired, slow, fatigued, allergic, inflamed, or in pain)
- How is your mental health? (Depression, brain fog, anxiousness, headaches, reduced memory and concentration, or stress)
- How does your body look overall? (Juicy, puffy, out of shape, etc.)
- How does your skin feel and appear? (Dry, irritable, itchy, thick, tingly, leathery, or with rashes and blemishes)
- How well do you think your metabolism is working? (Stomach aches, difficulty in weight loss, irregular bowel movements, or bloating)
If your answers to most of these questions are negative, there is a good chance that your lymphatic system is asking for help and requires your immediate attention.
How to Know if Your Lymphatic System is Not Working Well? Signs to Look Out For
There are plenty of tell-tale signs that may indicate that your lymphatic system is all clogged up and not moving as effectively as it should be. It is imperative to keep an eye out for them and do something about them as soon as possible as a poorly functioning lymphatic system means your body is accumulating toxins in the body.
In most cases, the signs of a poorly working lymphatic system can be as minor as swelling of hands which may make your rings suddenly too tight to wear, and having enlarged swellings in the neck. Some other symptoms include the following:
Stiffness and Soreness
If you often feel stiff and sore every morning when you wake up, it might be because of a slow or sluggish lymphatic fluid. Some people also feel the pain that tends to move from one area of the body to another.
Improper lymphatic drainage in the head and sinuses can lead to a buildup of pressure and trigger headaches. The lymphatic system also plays an essential role in the drainage of cerebrospinal fluid out of the brain, creating room for new fluid to be synthesized. A poorly working lymphatic system reduces the rate at which this fluid is removed, further increasing the pressure on the brain and causing headaches.
If the lymphatic fluid is not draining correctly, it may lead to the buildup of toxins and plaques in the cerebrospinal fluid, making a person feel confused, groggy, and lethargic. Similarly, clogging of lymphatics can also lead to depression in some people.
Around 30 percent of the lymphatic system is directly associated with the gut. Hence, the minute it clogs up, you may start experiencing different types of digestive issues, such as constipation and unexplained food sensitivities.
Itchy, dry, and acne-prone skin is another indicator that the lymph fluid is not flowing as it should be. Around 70 percent of the lymph is present directly under the skin.
Swelling may occur at a specific part of the limb or may involve it entirely. This swelling may make the limb challenging to fit into clothes and make jewelry and watches feel much tighter than before. At first, this swelling usually comes and goes and is much worse during the day. However, failure to seek treatment makes it persistent and more severe. A swollen limb can make moving difficult and increase the risk of repeated skin infections.
Fatigue can have multiple causes, but if you are constantly feeling tired to the extent that it interferes with your daily activities, you might have a poorly working lymphatic system. Remember to differentiate this issue from chronic fatigue syndrome in which chronic, severe tiredness persists for at least 6 months and does not relieve with bed rest. Chronic fatigue can be caused by numerous factors, so make sure you take with your provider if you are feeling tired consistently.
Allergies and Sinus Infections
If you are suffering from frequent sinus infections or feel like your allergies have been worsening lately, it might be because your lymphatic fluid is not moving as efficiently as it should be. Stagnant lymphatic fluid in the head area attracts bacteria and viruses growing in the nasal cavities, leading to an infection. The common symptoms of such infections involve a stuffy head, lots of mucus especially every morning, congestion, and dental conditions.
Unclogging the Lymphatic System: What Can You Do?
As mentioned before, the lymphatic system does not have an active pumping system. It usually relies on the body’s movements, like intestinal activity, breathing, and muscle action, to maintain flow and push toxins out. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to boost this flow and unclog the stagnant lymphatics. Some of these tips include the following:
Regular exercise is necessary to maintain a healthy lymphatic system. Start with low-intensity training sessions and try making them more intense gradually. Want a fun new exercise to incorporate? Experts believe rebounding on a trampoline can be a beneficial exercise to stimulate the lymphatic system.
Many experts recommend going for lymphatic draining with the help of Lymph-Biologics to detoxify the body and keep the lymph flowing. Others go for acupuncture to stimulate lymph flow and allow the system to dump fat, fluids, and toxins away from healthy tissue.
Hot and Cold Showers
Taking a soak in hot water dilates the blood vessels whereas cold water works the opposite by shriveling them. This helps create a pumping action that allows toxic fluids to get out of the body. However, before you opt for this therapy, consider seeking medical approval as it may not be safe for some people, like pregnant women and people with cardiovascular disease.
If your lymphatic system is clogged up and your body is not detoxifying itself as it should be, consider increasing your hydration level. Most experts advise drinking water equivalent to up to half of your body weight in ounces. For example, a person with a body weight of 180 lbs. can drink 80 ounces of water. Add a bit of lemon to increase the benefits further and protect yourself from infections.
Tight-fitting clothes are one of the reasons why people have poor circulation throughout the body. Such clothing can reduce and even restrict the movement of lymph and interrupt detoxification. Tight-fitting bras and underwear, in particular, can reduce the flow in areas with a high number of lymph nodes which may lead to the symptoms of lymphatic buildup.
While it is okay to wear these clothing pieces occasionally, avoid wearing them for extended time periods and on a regular basis. For instance, men may consider switching to boxer shorts instead of tight-fitting underwear.
The human body has three times more lymphatic fluid than blood, but it does not have any organ to pump it. So if you have a reason to believe that your lymphatic system is all clogged up, practice deep breathing as it will transport the toxins into the blood from where they can enter the liver and undergo detoxification.
Eating nutrient-rich raw foods promotes a healthy lymphatic system. Some of these food items include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Chia seeds
- Low sugar fruits
- Ground flaxseeds
- Brazil nuts
As you focus on eating healthily, consider avoiding the following foods:
- Table salt
- Processed foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Conventionally raised meat
- Conventional dairy
There are plenty of remedies that can particularly help the lymphatic system work efficiently. These herbs include:
- Wild indigo root
- Poke root
You may choose any of the herbs from the list mentioned above and use it to make a herbal tea. Alternatively consider adding it to your everyday food for the lymphatic benefits.
Dry brushing is a simple technique that involves using a natural, soft bristle brush on dry skin to manually activate the lymphatic system. The technique not only exfoliates the skin and relaxes the body but also unclogs a slow, sluggish lymphatic system and gets rid of any swelling. Before you use this technique, make sure that it does not carry any specific risks for you. For example, the method is generally not beneficial for people with sensitive skin.
The lymphatic system plays an essential role in the body by regulating the immune system and supporting detoxification. Unfortunately, this system is highly prone to slowing down, leading to a handful of painful symptoms, like tiredness, headaches, digestive problems, and swelling of one or more body parts. Lucky for you, experts have come up with plenty of tips to boost the lymphatics. With simple everyday tips like healthy eating, exercising, and drinking water, it is possible to unclog the lymphatic system and help optimize your health. Make sure to consult a doctor if your systems persist despite following these tips.