Immunity & The Lymphatic System
By Kelsey Conger, Herbalist
Have you ever heard of the lymphatic system? While this is one of the major body systems, many people have never heard of it before! The lymphatic system is hugely responsible for our overall immune health. It works closely with our circulatory, digestive, respiratory, and immune systems to clear out infections, toxins, bodily wastes, and other inflammatory substances from the blood and body. We’re going to nerd out a little bit in this article and share all kinds of juicy, technical information about the lymph system. If you want to skip right to the good stuff, scroll down to the section on how to support your lymph system and enjoy!
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system looks very similar to the cardiovascular system, with vessels and capillaries that run throughout the body. In addition to these lymphatic vessels running all over your body, there are also small glands called lymph nodes that cluster in certain areas of the body. These include: under the jawline on the neck, in the armpits, around the digestive system, and on the backs of the knees. Glands that are part of the lymphatic system include the tonsils, spleen, and thymus gland. You may have noticed that these areas can swell and become quite tender when you have an infection!
The entire lymphatic system is responsible for clearing waste from the body so it doesn’t get into the bloodstream. These wastes include everything from proteins to toxins, dead cells, damaged cells, and cancerous cells, all the way to pathogens. The lymph nodes are like little hubs that collect particularly pesky infections (think bacterial and viral cells), toxins (like heavy metals), and other inflammatory substances where powerful immune cells destroy them and eliminate them from the body.
Lymphatic System + Immunity
The lymphatic system plays an integral role in the immune functions of the body. It is the first line of defense against disease. This network of vessels and nodes transports and filters lymph fluid containing antibodies and lymphocytes (good) and bacteria (bad). The body’s first contact with these invaders signals the lymphatics, calling upon this system to orchestrate the way the infection-fighting cells prevent illness and diseases from invading microorganisms. The spleen also helps the body fight infection. The spleen contains lymphocytes and another kind of white blood cell called macrophages, which engulf and destroy bacteria, dead tissue, and foreign matter and remove them from the blood passing through the spleen.
How to Support the Lymphatic System
When trying to understand how the lymph system works, it is really helpful to first picture the circulatory system. The main difference between the circulatory and lymphatic system is that our lymphatic system has no pump! Where the circulatory system has a heart to continuously circulate blood, the lymph is moved by muscle contractions. This means it is vital to the health of your lymphatic system, and therefore your immunity, to move your body every day. Walking, yoga, foam rolling, and even jumping on a trampoline are all fabulous ways to get your lymph moving!
While going for a walk might seem pretty basic, it is actually how the lymphatic system gets moving and is essential to its overall function and health. In addition to getting moving everyday, here’s a brief list of how to keep your lymph happy:
Drink plenty of water
Eat wholesome fats
Consume fresh greens daily
Take herbal adaptogens
Practice deep breathing
Ladies: ditch the underwire bras
What’s In Stock at Remedy
Lymph Tonic by Remedy is an herbal tincture. It contains Red Root, Fresh Ocotillo Bark, Stillingia Root, Astragalus Root and Fresh Ginger Root. The power puncher in this formula is the Red Root which has lymphagogue properties (promotes lymph circulation and movement of interstitial fluid). According to the TCM principle, blood “stickiness” contributes to liver congestion and poor lymphatic drainage. Red Root helps prevent blood stickiness and helps liver portal congestion.Our lymph tonic is great for those with lymphedema,pelvic congestion, or chronic viral infections.