Doctor-Checking-Lymph Nodes

The lymphatic system is one of the less-talked-about systems of the body. 

For many of us, a gentle touch on either side of the neck by our doctor “checking our lymph nodes” is the most education we get (and the most time we spend) on the lymphatic system. 

But the lymphatic system is incredibly important! 

The truth is that taking care of your lymphatic system is one of the keys to your daily wellness, longevity, and healthy physical appearance! And, fortunately, it just takes a little knowledge, a few healthy habits, and some support from our essential oils to keep your lymphatic system flowing and healthy!

What is the lymphatic system? 

The lymphatic system is like an undercover multi-tasking secret agent! It connects to so many parts of the body, constantly and silently doing crucial work to keep our body’s tissues healthy!

Structurally, the lymphatic system looks like a series of connected tubes that run throughout your entire body—much like your veins, arteries, and blood capillaries. But, instead of carrying blood, the lymphatic system carries lymph! 

Lymph is a clearish-whitish substance made from essentially three ingredients: 

  • White blood cells from your bone marrow called lymphocytes (which are absolutely crucial for your immune system)
  • Fat (from your digestive system) 

and

  • Interstitial fluid from all over your body! 

This interstitial fluid is especially important! 

See, as your blood circulates through your body, dropping off essential nutrients to your cells, some fluid gets left behind. Think of a raging river that leaves some water behind in an inlet off to the side. Anyway, this fluid remains, floating between the cells. And, apart from leftover nutrients, this fluid contains cellular waste and pathogens that flowed in through the bloodstream and have stuck around trying to attack your cells. 

Instead of going back into the bloodstream, this interstitial fluid gets sucked up into the lymphatic system and becomes part of the “lymph”! 

And as the lymph flows through all the many tubes and nodes of the lymphatic system, the white blood cells neutralize the pathogens, toxins, and any dangerous waste particles from the interstitial fluid. 

This job of neutralizing pathogens and toxins is so important that there is twice as much lymph flowing through your body as there is blood! 

Once the pathogens have been taken care of (provided that the lymphatic system hasn’t gotten back up or overwhelmed) the lymphatic system drops off the now harmless lymph into the bloodstream via the thoracic ducts that sit between your collar bones and your heart. 

How does the lymphatic system stay healthy? 

The most important thing for the lymphatic system is that it keeps moving! Only then can it cleanse your body of pathogens. The beating of your heart keeps blood moving through your body. But your lymphatic system has to rely on your movement, temperature, and other factors to keep it moving. 

What happens when the lymphatic system isn’t healthy? 

When the lymphatic system gets slowed down too much, backed up, or overwhelmed, it will lead to swelling (called lymphedema or just edema), stiffness, fatigue, brain fog, depression, weight gain, skin issues, digestive issues, constipation, a weakened immune system, and more!

So you can bet it pays to take care of your lymphatic flow!

How do I take care of my lymphatic system?

Keep it moving

Your lymphatic system likes to move it, move it. Literally!

But the movement of the lymph through your lymphatic system largely depends on your bodily movement! If you sit, rest, lie down, and recline too much your lymphatic system gets sluggish! And that allows things to get backed up!

What can I do? What can my essential oils do? 

  • Exercise! Even on busy days when you don’t have time to really exercise or on your “rest days”,  it’s important to spend at least a little time moving! Go on a walk, do pilates, gentle yoga, tai chi, or even a few minutes of dancing! Create a routine with some citrus, peppermint, or another invigorating oil to get you moving every day!
  • Hot n’ Cold. Temperature variation can help get your lymph moving! So try a sauna and then cold packs, go on a winter’s walk then drink something warm, or simply spend part of your shower with warm water and part of it with cold!
  • Dry Brushing. Buy a soft, dry body brush and spend a few minutes (perhaps as part of your nighttime routine) brushing over your skin. Brush up your limbs and body towards your heart (because that’s the way lymph flows). 
  • Do some deep breathing! Whether you do them at home, at work, or in the grocery line, deep breathing exercises are great for your brain, nervous system, and for your lymphatic flow! Diffuse some essential oils while you do it for added benefits! (Need to choose an oil to breathe with? Choose from the first page of your iTOVi Scan!) 

Say “No” to Pathogens

The fewer pathogens and toxins that get into your body in the first place, the fewer pathogens your lymphatic system has to deal with! Too many toxins and pathogens can clog your lymphatic system and lead to a whole cascade of wellness problems!

For history buffs: The black plague of medieval Europe was deadly, in part, because it overwhelmed the lymphatic system! The large purplish-black “buboes” in the neck, armpit, and groin were swollen-up lymph nodes that were overwhelmed by the plague pathogen! Thankfully, humanity’s adaptable immune system plus better modern hygiene practices keep us safe from the black plague today!

What can I do? What can my essential oils do? 

  • Watch (and wash) those hands! Pathogens get into your body via your hands more than anything else. So, wash your hands often, especially before eating or after using the bathroom. Frequently clean items and surfaces that get touched by your hands. And try not to touch your face with your hands too much. Also, use natural & homemade EO cleaners so you don’t substitute pathogens for toxic chemicals! Thyme, cinnamon, oregano, and tea tree are highly recommended!
  • Breathe clean! Pathogens can get carried into your body through the air. And stale indoor air can get especially polluted. So, step out for some fresh air regularly! And use house plants, intervals of diffusing essential oils, and clean air conditioning filters to keep your home’s air as clean as possible! You can also choose to support your community’s efforts to reduce air pollution
  • Support your body! Many of your body’s systems help protect you against pathogens, including your skin, respiratory system, and immune system! Use your essential oils to support these systems and protect your lymphatic system from overwhelm! For more in-depth tips, check out: 

Eat This, Not That

What you eat is what you filter. And the food you eat can either help your lymph keep moving along or burden your lymph system with extra toxic waste to filter through. 

So, what does a healthy lymphatic diet looks like?

What can I do? What can my essential oils do? 

  • Hydrate regularly. To get your 8 servings of water in a day, a good rule is to drink about one ¾ cup of water every hour, from the hour you wake up until two hours before bed. Work your way up to it if your body isn’t used to drinking that much. You can even mix some essential oils into your beverages for flavor! (Just be sure you have the right quality of oils and know how to do so safely). Drink even more on the days that you exercise.
  • Antioxidant up! Antioxidant-rich foods include berries, cranberries, and fresh vegetables. Make these a regular part of your diet. And remember, many of your essential oils have antioxidant effects too! So breathe them in, topically apply them, or learn how to safely use them in your food
  • Nuts, Seeds, & Greens The healthy fats, nutrients, and chlorophyll in nuts, seeds, avocados, and greens will help keep your lymphatic system running smoothly.
  • Limit pleasure foods. Oh, why are the tastiest foods so bad for you? You know what we’re talking about—sugary foods and drinks, processed foods, refined grains, excessive meat or salt, and preservative-laden foods. All of these will increase your body’s waste products and toxic load, leading to a clogged-up lymphatic system. 

Conclusion

When your lymphatic system runs smoothly, you run more smoothly! Both physically and emotionally. 

It certainly takes a little work, a little planning, and self-discipline to live a lymphatically-healthy lifestyle. But the results, including greater energy, mental clarity, clearer skin, metabolic health, and longevity speak for themselves!

Class Ideas
  • Discuss the lymphatic system. What it does, how it works, and how to keep it healthy. Prepare and exchange blends, recipes, and life hacks to help each other live a lymphatically-healthy life!
  • Teach short, simple, easy movement practices (a yoga routine, short workout, etc) that your students can use to keep their lymph flowing even on their busiest days!
  • Teach about dry brushing. Demonstrate how to do it and share tips on how to incorporate it into your daily hygiene and/or nighttime routine (i.e. dry brushing while waiting for the bathtub to fill up). 
  • Have an anti-toxin summit! Meet to share tips, recipes, hacks, and habits that will help reduce your family’s exposure to harmful pathogens and toxins, including cleaning habits and clean-air practices. 
  • Cook a meal together that emphasizes antioxidants, greens, and healthy fats! Share  recipes with each other as well as ideas for how to limit harmful foods in your diet.