I think it’s safe to say that few people wake up in the morning thinking about their lymph system. You don’t see it, feel it, or touch it. Most people probably don’t know a thing about it.
It could be one of the most ignored systems in your body. It quietly does its job – or doesn’t – depending. . .
Yet because its primary job is to usher toxins out of your body, a healthy lymph system is vitally important for your health and wellbeing.
Mainstream health care professionals tend to ignore this. Have you ever heard your doctor tell you to take care of this invisible system? Probably not.
Read on… because an unhealthy lymph system is a sure way to magnetically attract diseases, from cancer to acne and so much more.
Never take this “Cinderella” for granted
Like hard-working Cinderella, your lymph labors quietly in the background to clean up the messes almost every other system in your body makes.
The lymphatic system is undervalued by Western medicine – regarded as an inferior sister to your circulatory system. That’s in sharp contrast to Ayurvedic medicine, which lavishes a great deal of attention on lymph.
Ayurveda considers your lymphatic system to be one of seven major body systems – and the very first to be compromised from stress.
In the Sanskrit language of ancient India, the more meanings a single word has, the more critical its role.
The Sanskrit word for lymph is rasa – which is also used to express emotion, taste, juice, nutrient fluid, plasma, water, menses, semen, breast milk, melody, satisfaction, and love.
Traditional Chinese medicine has a similar take. Practitioners believe poor lymph health triggers a host of conditions, from cellulite to cancer.
Bigger than your blood circulatory system
Remarkably, you have twice as much lymph fluid in your body as you have blood.
Your lymph bathes all your cells and drains away debris, nonstop.
But unlike blood, which has the heart to keep things moving, the lymph system lacks an “automated” pump to keep lymph fluid circulating.
Amazingly enough, only your breathing and movement can power this vast circulatory system. If your lymph completely stopped moving, you’d die in a matter of hours. Hint: This means our sedentary lifestyles are taking a terrible toll on our health.
So it’s not something to take lightly… even if your doctor never mentions it.
Like your blood circulatory system, your lymph system serves nearly every cell in your body. Lymph nodes look like tiny pearls knotted on a string. But they’re not there to look pretty. They are the cleaning filters for your lymph fluid.
One of the most crucial functions of your lymph is to generate and store white blood cells (WBC) – the ones that fight infections.
Other key lymph organs include your bone marrow (where WBC B-lymphocytes are made), spleen, tonsils, and thymus gland (where T-lymphocytes are made).
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphocytes. Lymphoma is actually an umbrella terms that includes a number of different lymph cancers. Taken together, they account for about 74,000 new cancer diagnoses per year.
That’s fewer than breast cancer (247,000) and prostate cancer (181,000), but still enough to make lymphoma a bigger concern than, say, melanoma skin cancer, which receives a great deal of publicity but is pretty rare.
“Central Command” for your lymphatic system
Your biggest concentration of lymph surrounds your gut… appropriately called gut-associated lymphatic tissue, or GALT.
Consider GALT your gatekeeper. Or cupbearer, if you will. During Bible times, cupbearers were important and trusted servants whose responsibilities included preventing the king from being poisoned – whether accidentally or as part of an assassination attempt.
Your GALT “tastes” and then separates good nutrients from bad pathogens, and mounts a defense, calling on your immune and endocrine systems as needed.
It is “Command Central” for your lymphatic system.
Your lymph’s Job #1 is to detect infection and cellular debris and get rid of it… including pathogens or antigens that create an immune response, dead cells, live infections, and undigested proteins (e.g. casein and gluten).
Your lymph system moves fluid through a series of ever-widening vessels along some 500 filtration and collection points. At each successive node the fluid is re-filtered and more pathogens are removed.
If your lymph fluid is blocked at one lymph node, it will seek out a detour. Extreme blockage can cause fluid to back up, causing the swelling called lymphedema. Lymphedema can disable or disfigure. Conventional breast cancer treatments are the most common cause of lymphedema.
Though your lymph vessels are networked far and wide through your system, they merge at certain points to form trunks.
Is your lymph system sluggish or backed up?
If your lymph system gets sluggish – because of surgery, illness, toxins or lack of activity – your lymph fluid can back up. Stagnant lymph can go unnoticed for a long time. But eventually you’ll have to pay the piper.
Think about rivers. A healthy river runs clean and clear. But a stagnant, brackish river — overrun with soot, sludge, silt, and other pollutants — is a perfect breeding ground for pathogens and disease.
Since your lymph cleanses nearly every cell in your body, backed-up lymph fluid can manifest in many different ways — including but not limited to allergies and food sensitivities, acne, joint pain, arthritis, frequent colds and flu, headaches and migraines, PMS, fibrocystic breasts, sinusitis, digestive problems, loss of appetite, foggy thinking, mood problems and depression, cellulite, parasites, muscle cramps, and general fatigue.
Stagnant lymph also blocks your ability to cleanse hazards such as dangerous bacteria and cancer cells.
Swollen lymph nodes usually mean an infection is present in the area those nodes drain. Chinese doctors call it “excessive damp.” It undermines your overall health.
When your lymph system is up to par, it catches viruses, bacteria, and cancerous or mutagenic cells, engulfing and destroying them. It even customizes antibodies to attack particular pathogens.
If your doctor ever says this
about your spleen, watch out!
Some doctors are quick to remove a swollen spleen to prevent a hemorrhage or rupturing.
In Eastern medicine — where the spleen and lymph are taken very seriously — that’s equivalent to clipping a bird’s wings. Sure, it’ll live. But it’ll never fly very high again.
Your spleen is there for a reason. Cutting it out almost always has damaging long-term immune effects. Giving it the support it needs to heal from the inside out is far better than removing it.
12 ways to get your lymphatic system in top shape
1. Rebounding (mini-trampoline)
Rebounding on a small trampoline, three or four feet in diameter, is a godsend for moving lymph. Some reports estimate that it boosts lymph flow by 15 to 30 times.
Every time you bounce you boost the gravitational pull on your lymph. You get low-level “G’s” (or G-force), much as you do from sudden changes of speed in a sports car or fair ride.
On a large garden trampoline you’ll likely get up to about 8 G’s. On a small mini-trampoline with a tight center, you’ll get 2 to 3 G’s, depending on your weight. This is more effective for stimulating your lymph.
NASA’s own research found that rebounding was more effective and efficient than jogging.
At the top of your bounce, your body momentarily enjoys total weightlessness, even at a gentle pulse.
Rebounders are also very cost effective – although as usual, you get what you pay for. And a more resistant spring is better than a loose one. Consider a stabilizer bar add-on if you’re afraid of falling.
Some people find it fun to bounce up and down on a rebounder. I find it pretty boring to do for the recommended 15 minutes a day, plus it hurts my back, so I do other types of exercise that are more agreeable for me. But if you can keep it up as a daily routine, it’s probably your best option for a healthy lymph system.
2. Chi machines
Chi machines are another system intended to get your lymph moving. Basically, you lie on the floor on your back with your ankles resting on a vibrating machine (the ankle rests sit atop the vibrator). I’ve encountered chi machines at alternative cancer clinics, and I can testify that they shake you up pretty thoroughly.
I don’t know whether there’s any scientific evidence that they accomplish their goal (unlike rebounders, which are validated by some NASA research). They’re available on the net and cost from one hundred to two hundred dollars.
Reduce your body’s toxic burden by choosing whole, organic, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Eat as few carbs as you can, and eliminate sugar entirely. The less waste your lymph has to deal with, the more readily it flows.
4. Avoid pesticides
Same idea as cleaning up your diet… it keeps your lymph cleaner.
Swap soda, juices, and other sugary and additive-filled drinks for real, pure water. Your body needs true hydration to keep fluids moving. Add fresh squeezed lemon to your water for flavor and alkalinity.
Health experts tout the benefits of walking to move your lymph. Mind you, this isn’t leisurely strolling as if you’re window-shopping at the mall. It’s brisk walking – ideally with exaggerated arm movements – and stimulates the many lymph nodes in your upper body, armpits, neck and shoulders.
You also get a certain amount of gravitational pull with every step, especially if you walk at a brisk pace with a slight spring in your step.
7. Dry Brush
Before showering, use a dry brush with natural bristles and brush your skin with long strokes in an upward motion, toward the heart, for about five minutes to improve lymph flow. You can find a great deal of information about how to do it on the Internet.
A recent study found that when you sleep, special lymph channels in your brain – known as the glymphatic system – open up and drain dangerous neurotoxins into your cerebral spinal fluid.1,2
These glymphatics are like hidden caves that open during sleep to drain toxins like the well-known beta-amyloid plaque of dementia notoriety.
The study suggested it takes six to eight hours to complete this process, which is compelling evidence that sound, regular sleep is essential to good health (I hope you already knew that).
9. Wear loose clothing
Wearing tight clothing for long periods of time can restrict lymph flow and trigger blockages. Some authorities believe underwire or tight bras, and tight jeans and skirts can impede lymph flow.
10. Beauty Products
Most commercial beauty products from makeup to shampoo and sunscreens are loaded with questionable chemicals that end up in your lymphatic system. As with eating clean food and avoiding pesticides, you won’t create as much “trash” for your lymph system to clean up if you use chemical-free versions.
Certain herbs can boost lymph flow and expedite toxin removal… among them are red clover, cleavers (also called clivers or goosegrass), and, from Ayurveda, manjistha, an herb known for its ability to de-stagnate lymph.
Everyone loves massage. I get one every two weeks, and have for many years. I think any kind of good massage helps stimulate lymph circulation, but there IS a specific type of lymph massage designed to do so, using special motions. Studies show it can push up to 78 percent of stagnant lymph back into circulation.
In my opinion, it’s essential for a cancer patient to stimulate lymph circulation by doing pretty much ALL of these things (you can choose either the rebounder or the chi machine; you don’t have to do both). Every one of these recommendations benefits you in multiple ways besides just moving lymph fluids.
You need healthy lymph now more than ever, because mainstream medicine has just newly identified five viruses that cause cancer. If you missed the news in our last issue, check it out now just below.
Scientists Discover 7 New Causes of Cancer –
And 5 of Them are Viruses!
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released its “14th Report on Carcinogens.”
The department said that seven more substances have now been identified as causing cancer in humans, bringing the total up to 248.
You might expect industrial solvents used to make hydrofluorocarbon chemicals, such as trichloroethylene (TCE) to make the list (which it did), but the other additions might come as a surprise. They’re not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of carcinogens. . .
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The department classified “cobalt and cobalt compounds that release cobalt ions in vivo” as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” based on evidence gathered through animal experiments.1
Cobalt is a naturally occurring metal used most often in creating metal alloys for military and industrial applications. Unless you work with metal or have had problems with cobalt alloy surgical implants, you don’t have much to worry about.
The other five carcinogens, on the other hand, are all viruses…
Now, we’ve known for years that some viruses can lead to cancer, so this isn’t necessarily shocking news. In fact, according to a 2007 report published in the journal Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, viruses cause an estimated 15% of all human cancers worldwide.2
Viruses initially take hold in the body by entering living cells and “hijacking” the cells’ machinery to make more viruses. Some do this by inserting their own DNA or RNA into the host cell.
Once this happens, the infection can push the cell to become ever more mutated and unstable. This can eventually cause the cell to become cancerous.
But not every virus attacks every cell. Below are the five new viruses now classified as carcinogens, and how they affect the body.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a herpes virus that’s usually transmitted by saliva or bodily fluids. About 90% of adults worldwide carry it.3 Many people live with EBV and show no symptoms from it.
However, human, clinical and molecular studies show EBV can lead to four types of lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow or other cells known as lymphocytes. The four types are:
- Immune-suppression-related non-Hodgkin and
- Nasal type extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma
Epstein-Barr virus is also present in many cases of prostate cancer (see Issue #232).
Researchers believe EBV can lead to lymphoma and epithelial cancers because it weakens the immune system over time. (Epithelial cancers affect the tissue that lines the surfaces of blood vessels and organs throughout the body, such as some types of stomach cancer)
A weakened immune system can lead to the production of cancer-causing viral proteins. To make matters worse, your immune system, once weakened, isn’t able to effectively stop cells from mutating and spreading uncontrollably, the hallmark of cancer.
Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV)
Another strain of herpes virus, similar to EBV, is Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV).
It’s transmitted through saliva, sexual contact, contaminated organ transplants and/or blood transfusions. Like EBV, people can carry the virus and live totally normal, healthy lives.
KSHV causes cancer primarily in people with suppressed immune systems (AIDS patients, for example).
Research shows that approximately 90% of Kaposi sarcoma patients carry KSHV, and more than 100 human studies have shown a link between KSHV infection and Kaposi sarcoma.
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV)
Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) was discovered in 2008. Researchers are still trying to understand how it spreads. It usually infects the skin, and healthy people continually shed infected cells, releasing them into the environment.
Clinical, epidemiological and molecular studies show that MCV causes Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive skin cancer, by integrating the viral DNA into the host cell and by expressing two MCV proteins. Only this mutated, integrated form of MCV leads to cancer.4
When Merkel cell carcinoma does occur, it’s usually in white elderly males and people with weakened immune systems.5 It usually starts as a single, painless, purple or bluish-colored lump on sun-exposed skin. To help protect yourself from MCV and Merkel cell carcinoma:
- Practice good hygiene;
- Protect your skin from natural and artificial sunlight; and
- Monitor your skin and consult a dermatologist if you notice changes.
Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)
Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is spread through contact involving bodily fluids, such as breastfeeding, sharing needles, infected organ transplants and sexual contact. Many people who carry this virus remain healthy and show no symptoms.
Multiple human studies show a link between HTLV-1 and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL). ATLL is a rare cancer that infects the body’s T cells, specifically white blood cells known as CD4 T cells, which help to fight off infection.
More than nine out of ten people diagnosed with ATLL are infected with HTLV-1.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 90,000 people in the United States are infected with HTLV-1, but only a very small number of them ever develop virus-related cancer.6 It’s mainly people with weak or compromised immune systems who are at risk.
To reduce the risk of contracting HTLV-1, practice safer sex. Women who are infected should avoid breastfeeding.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)
Approximately 1.2 million people in the United States carry human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) – the AIDS virus. It’s transmitted through blood, sexual contact, during pregnancy from mother to child and through breastfeeding.
There’s significant human evidence that HIV can lead to several different types of cancer, including. . .
- Kaposi sarcoma
- Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Cervical, anal and vaginal cancer
- Conjunctival eye cancer
- Non-melanoma skin cancer
Numerous studies in different populations provide evidence that people with HIV-1 have a higher risk for these cancers compared to uninfected people of the same age.7
Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cervical cancer are considered AIDS-defining cancers. A diagnosis of any of these three cancers means the HIV infection has progressed to AIDS.8
Researchers believe it’s not necessarily HIV-1 that mutates cells and leads to cancer, but rather the weakening of the immune system together with other cancer-causing viruses. Because the body is already unable to defend itself, cancer cells have a better chance of getting established and multiplying.
However, a person carrying HIV-1 can receive treatments such as highly antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). These treatments reduce the level of HIV-1 in the blood and can substantially lower the risk of developing Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
To reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection, practice safe sex and do not share needles with another person. Seems like common sense advice to me, for cancer and any number of other reasons.