What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that remove toxins and waste from the body. Its primary function is to bring the lymph fluid which contains waste particles and toxins up to the heart where it can enter blood circulation and be filtered by the liver and kidneys. The other critical function is to respond to pathogens (viruses, bacteria) by mobilizing the white blood cells to create an immune response. The lymphatic fluid carries white blood cells and circulates through lymph vessels which carry it to the lymph nodes at the knees, groin, armpits, and neck. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system.
The spleen is the largest lymph organ. It filters the blood, controls the number of red blood cells, and helps fight infection. When it detects invading bacteria or viruses, the spleen creates white blood cells (lymphocytes) that produce antibodies to fight microorganisms. The cells in the many lymph nodes in the body help fight infections and destroy cancerous cells.
The lymphatic fluid only flows in one direction: upward towards the neck. Ultimately the lymph fluid must be emptied into the heart to be recirculated with the blood and filtered through the liver and kidneys. The lymph vessels cannot constrict on their own, so the only way the fluid can move upward is through contraction of the muscles (starting in the calves and moving upward). Breathing also helps circulate the lymph, due to the movement of the diaphragm helping squeeze the organs and lymph nodes. Therefore, deep breathing exercises are great to help stimulate lymphatic movement.
The lymphatic system has an important role in maintaining fluid balance in the tissues. In fact, you have twice as much lymph fluid in your body as blood! One of the symptoms of lymph stagnation is swelling/puffy tissues.
Other symptoms of chronic lymph blockage:
- Worsening allergies and food sensitivities (the immune system becoming overresponsive due to excess toxins in the blood).
- Frequent colds, flu (insufficient immune response due to under-functioning lymph system)
- Headaches, migraines
- Cysts (breasts, ovaries,
- Fatigue, mental fizziness
- Parasitic overgrowth
- Skin breakouts
- Cellulite, fat accumulations
- Feeling heaviness, sluggishness
Why digestion matters
One of the symptoms of lymphatic problems is puffy or swollen tissue, especially in the ankles and lower legs. Why does this occur? It is actually a result of underlying digestive insufficiency. The digestive system is supposed to break proteins down into individual amino acids. However weak digestion can cause unprocessed amino acids to congeal, causing “geloses” or accumulations in the extracellular space. The excess particles outside the cells create an osmotic problem, attracting water out from the cells into the extracellular space resulting in puffy tissue.
In summary, insufficient protein digestion contributes to lymph stagnation and buildup of toxins. Digestion should be promoted by adding a digestive enzyme supplement that contains HCl to promote healthy levels of stomach acid. Our recommendation is Galletaine, which we carry in the office at Acu-Na Wellness Center.
Acupuncture vs. Lymphatic Massage
Lymphatic massage uses very light pressure to move fluid just beneath the surface of the skin. While many people believe this a helpful procedure, it has limitations because it can only move a small amount of fluid and does not change the body’s physiology.
On the other hand, lymphatic detox acupuncture treatments can influence the actual functioning of the organ systems. Acupuncture points are chosen to promote the body’s fluid metabolism via the kidneys and also invigorate the body’s energetic pathways to move fluid through the lymph vessels. Additional treatment modalities used by acupuncturists are excellent for moving blood and lymph stagnation including gua sha (light scraping with a smooth flat tool) and cupping (gentle suction cups moved along the skin to improve circulation and detoxify tissues). Acupuncture is also incredibly effective for improving digestive function to address the protein-related lymph accumulations mentioned above.
Our Acu-Na Lymphatic Detox Acupuncture protocol includes specifically chosen acupoints that support lymphatic health and detoxify your system. We also include gentle gua sha to improve circulation along the body areas where lymph accumulates. We additionally utilize Tui Na massage techniques to stimulate flow throughout the entire body and leave you feeling energized and vibrant. This multifaceted 60-minute treatment protocol is effective as well as relaxing and rejuvenating.
Lymphatic acupuncture has the most effectiveness when performed regularly. For more severe conditions with lots of swelling, ideal frequency is 1-2 times per week. For moderate cases or for wellness maintenance, many people choose monthly treatments to keep their systems healthy.
Call 828-974-7058 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule your lymphatic detox acupuncture session.