Archives for posts with tag: lymph nodes

Last week I spent ages trying to find videos to show some of the self-care routines I was talking about and I couldn’t find any that fully described what I was trying to say.  So I made one myself.l

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People are often surprised when I tell them that the number one function of the Lymphatic System is to transport immune cells around the body.  Basically, your lymphatic system IS your immune system.  And yet if you go to the doctor because you are constantly getting sick you could be offered a script for antibiotics because they “may” help, but if you ask them about getting a Lymphatic Drainage treatment their response generally goes along the lines of … “well, it can’t hurt you I guess”.   You can’t blame the doctors though, my lecturer (Neil Piller, himself a Doctor and lecturer in medicine) says that GPs have one class on the lymphatic system in all of their training.  That’s one class, not one semester – four hours.  I have no words for this.  It makes my blood boil.  Apparently it’s exactly the same for nutrition – one class.  OK, I’m going to move on because I get really riled up thinking about that.

So, what does it mean to say the lymphatic system transports immune cells?  Immune cells are stored in lymph nodes for the most part, though there are also some circulating immune cells that do exactly that – circulate around the body looking for infection.  Lymph nodes can also be referred to as “glands” and that’s probably how you are most familiar with them – your can sometimes feel your glands come up when you are sick, particularly in illnesses like glandular fever (or Mono if you’re from the US) or tonsillitis.  You go to the doctor and he has a feel in your neck, under your armpits or in the groin area to see if the nodes are “up” (these are some of the areas where there are large collections of nodes).  And this is a normal thing to happen when your body is fighting infection – the body is signalled to produce more antibodies so the nodes kick into action to make them (getting bigger in the process) and then circulate them through the body to the site of the infection, via you guessed it – the lymphatic system.

immunesystem

Photo courtesy http://www.humanvitaminhealth.com on google images

What can happen is that with the winter weather our lymphatic systems can become sluggish and inefficient.  That can be due to lots of different things e.g. cold temperatures or exercising less.  When this happens the immune cells circulating around the body aren’t cleared out and replaced with new ones as efficiently as they should be, so the body is slower to respond to an attack of a virus and we succumb to illness.

A regular maintenance session of lymphatic drainage massage helps to stimulate the immune system, increasing circulation and moving out the old immune cells and replacing them with freshly produced immune cells which are more effective at fighting off the viruses.  Immune cells circulating in the lymphatic system can target a pathogen and transport it to the nearest lymph nodes where that cell is neutralised and then the waste material is transported through the heart and kidneys then excreted out of the body.  It’s a very efficient system when it is fully functioning.

I suggest that people who want to keep on top of their immune systems have a regular Lymphatic Drainage massage.  If you are generally healthy and are looking to maintain that health, then I suggest a session at the change of season, so once every three months.  If your immune system is more compromised, then I’d aim for once a month, at least during the colder months when we can all be a little more run down.

If you’d like more information on ways to build your immune system using lymphatic drainage please send me a message or visit my website here.

I often ask my clients to write guest posts for the blog and most of the time they say, “you do it”.  This week however, I’m posting for one of my clients, Cathy.  Cathy has a real “can do” attitude, she does all she can to help keep her lymphoedema under control and she’s on a mission to spread awareness wherever she goes.  Here’s a short recount of her story …

 

The lump is early Breast Cancer!

On the table are all the cards – fright, fear (and some anger – why me!), surgery, with removal of 23 lymph nodes, chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatment and more importantly, expected cure.

Good news – I’ll be better next year!

That was the plan and yes I did it all.  Lymphoedema from the surgery was the most unpleasant surprise and it was there by the time my drain came out.  All my care givers were most reassuring and early physiotherapy started.  After six months I was attending a “lymph clinic” and measured for compression garments – ugly things but good for control!  A few lessons for self drainage techniques, my swollen and uncomfortable arm became a daily focus, there must be more I can do!

 compression sleeve photo

Compression sleeve and gauntlet photo courtesy Google Images, http://www.justcallushealthsolutions.ca

Google remedial massage – and I found Lisa Higgins – my lifesaver in so many ways.

Regular professional massage treatments have controlled my discomfort, mobilised my lymph flow and with her encouragement and happy outlook I feel good.  The compression garments continue, swimming and exercise do help.

Happiness is my friend,  Cathy

 

Visit my website here for more information