Consisting of a network of lymph nodes, lymph ducts, lymph vessels and lymph fluid, the lymphatic or lymph system is one of the key components of the immune system. This system runs parallel to the cardiovascular system but lacks a pumping organ/mechanism to pump lymph fluid throughout the body. Instead, it relies on physical activity such as walking to circulate the fluid. Below is some more information about the lymphatic system, including tips on how to cleanse your lymphatic system.
The primary role of the lymphatic system is helping the body get rid of unwanted waste including toxins. It does so by circulating lymph fluid, which contains infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body. Lymph fluid is derived from blood plasma as fluids seep through the walls of capillaries and accumulate to form an interstitial fluid. When this fluid enters lymphatic capillaries, it becomes lymph fluid. Lymph vessels are composed of endothelium cells that only allow fluids to enter, not leave. The lymphoid organs – lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and tonsils – consist of lymphocyte and macrophage cell clusters that destroy foreign substances and microorganisms entering the body.
Why the Lymphatic System Requires Cleansing
Dysfunction within the lymphatic network could lead to health issues such as lymphedema and chronic inflammation according to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research. What’s more, a report published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states that there is a link between dysfunctional lymphatic vessels and obesity. These problems prevent the lymphatic system from performing vital functions such as delivering lymphocytes and antigen-presenting cells to lymph nodes where they normally combat immune system invaders including pathogens and microbes. One way of resolving these issues is via cleansing or detoxing.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the lymphatic system relies on skeletal muscle contraction, respiration, and intrinsic contraction of smooth muscle cells surrounding lymphatic vessels to keep the lymph fluid flowing. Therefore, engaging in a moderate-to-intense physical activity for about 20 to 30 minutes would help cleanse your lymph system daily. Such activities include walking at a brisk pace, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, lifting weights, playing sports. Overall, physical activity improves the functioning and efficiency of the entire lymphatic network.
A comprehensive scientific review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that dietary intervention in the form of nutrient supplementation, elimination of certain foods, and increased intake of cleansing foods could promote the excretion of unwanted waste. For example, green leafy vegetables contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that enhance detoxification according to research published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology and the Journal Natural Product Reports. In particular, Brassica plants enhance lymphatic system detoxification by activating the glutathione/glutathione S-transferase (GST) system. What’s more, separate studies published in the European Journal of Nutrition and the peer-reviewed journal of Environmental Health Perspectives found that organically grown foods tend to have higher levels of bioactive compounds and antioxidants. This is in addition to lower levels of pesticides/fungicides/herbicides.
You can also cleanse your lymphatic system by consuming cholagogue herbs such as:
- Milk thistle
- Wild yam
- Blue flag
These herbs promote the secretion of toxins, such as bile, and exert a laxative effect on the digestive system at the same time.
The lymphatic system is an integral component of your immune system. For this reason, you should always ensure your lymphatic system is working properly. Some of the strategies you can use to cleanse your lymphatic system include physical activity, dietary intervention, and consuming cholagogue herbs.