I’m in love with the lymphatic system and I want you to see its amazing work in the body as well. Although it’s often cast aside, this system really deserves the spotlight!
The lymphatic system functions as your very own natural waste drainage system inside the body. When it’s working well, it flushes out toxins, balances fluids and protects you against diseases by eliminating bacteria and viruses.
When your body is toxin-free, it’s easier to maintain internal balance and manage stress effectively – two things you really need to ease the discomforts of menopause.
However, some things can slow down your lymphatic system. “Modern lifestyle”, such as a bad diet and sedentary living, as well as poor breathing habits are just a few examples.
Stress is one reason why women in menopause suffer from joint pain and other types of body aches. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol. When there is increased cortisol levels in the body, you are more sensitive to pain and you easily feel backaches, muscle, and joint pain. However, this is not the only concern when you talk about body aches and joint pain in menopause.
Amazing Ways the Lymphatic System Helps During Menopause!
Our lymphatic system functions in so many ways during menopause!
The lymphatic system’s highway of special vessels, where the lymphatic fluid flow, are situated throughout our body. The lymph system works 24/7 to detoxify our tissues and organs. It saves us from bacteria and viruses. It balances the fluid in our body so it doesn’t escape in the wrong places.
More in-depth info in the FACT BOX below. Be sure to read to the end!
Toxins and hormone-disrupting chemicals are everywhere. When they enter the body, they cause five negative effects.
- Overwork our adrenals (stress regulators)
- Suppress our central nervous system
- Invade and paralyze our gut
- Hormonal imbalance
All these effects can trigger menopause symptoms or worsen them.
- A good working lymphatic system can flush out impurities!
- We can cope with stress better and relieve anxiety, depression and fatigue.
- We can achieve our weight loss goals!
- Hormone balance becomes easier!
Many women struggle from estrogen dominance [ED] during perimenopause. ED happens when progesterone levels drop much faster than estrogen, which in turn, causes hormonal imbalance.
ED can be caused by many things. This includes poor liver or gut health, stress, excess weight and the use of hormone pills. However, a large contributor are hormone-disrupting toxins called xenoestrogens. ED can cause symptoms such as breast tenderness, cramps, bloating, mood swings and more.
10 Natural Ways to Boost Your Lymphatic System for Menopause!
Blood flow happens thanks to the pumping of our heart.
The lymphatic system, however, doesn’t have the same pumping system. The lymph relies on breathing and body movement to flow!
In addition, unlike blood, which flows through a continuous loop, the lymph flows only in one direction. It flows upwards, towards the neck, and drains into the veins on both sides of the neck, near the collarbones.
For this reason, it’s important that we maintain an active lifestyle to keep our lymphatic fluid flowing properly. We can do that with these best tips!
1. Breathe right
Most people breathe with their chest, especially when they are under stress or pressure. For the lymphatic system to flow, deep breathing is the key! When you breathe with your abdomen and diaphragm, you stimulate muscles in the entire body. This activates the lymphatic structures and facilitates the flow of the lymph.
Dr. Belisa Vranich, psychologist and breathing expert, says many of us are not breathing right. She shares how we should breathe. [10:25]:
2. Move more
Exercise can go a long way in helping lymphatic flow. Here are some exercises that can power up lymphatic flow big time!
- Rebounding – one of the easiest ways to pump the lymph. It’s great for the joints and flushes out excess fluids in the body. Dr. Melissa Gallagher has a simple rebounder for lymphatic drainage that you can watch [7:11]:
If you don’t have a rebounder, do this low impact lymphedema workout together with Lucy [11:22]:
- Jump rope – it’s fun exercise that maintains the free flow of your lymph. Anna Render, of PopSugar Fitness, has a good 10-minute jump rope workout video with stretches and rest in between [10:35]:
- Swimming – the water around will pressure our lymph to move.
- Inversion table – it’s a padded table that helps you to invert upside down. The inversion decompresses your joints and stimulates your lymph to flow. Remember the direction of your lymph flow? This is one of the best exercises! I use this inversion table at home, it’s great for the system and for the back. If you don’t want to buy one, practicing on a head or handstand, is a pretty neat option! I know this may sound impossible, but we can still learn to do it through regular practice.
- Aerobic exercises – contract large muscles of the body.
3. Stimulate lymphatic flow!
Dry brushing is an easy method to improve lymph circulation. It also relieves stress, releases muscle tension and reduces cellulite. Apply gentle pressure on your skin using a brush with firm and natural bristles, and make sure to brush slowly upwards.
Melissa of Natural Health Sources, demonstrates how to do dry brushing to keep your lymph fluid going [2:04]:
Do the lymphatic drainage! The lymphatic drainage is a therapeutic massage that drains the lymph and detoxifies the body from toxins. This massage uses gentle strokes and taps the different parts of the body.
I like this video by Lisa Gainsley, founder of The Lymphatic Message, where she shows us how to do lymphatic drainage at home [7:57]:
Alternate cold and hot showers. This will contract and open lymphatic vessels, pushing stagnant lymph fluid to flow.
Get good chiropractic care. This therapy applies gentle adjustments to correct any misalignments in the neck and back. This relieves pressure on the congested lymph ducts, allowing them to flow more freely.
Visit the infrared sauna! The infrared sauna helps the body’s purification system. It doesn’t stimulate the lymphatic system directly, but it helps the body relax. This opens the lymph vessels, allowing the lymph to circulate freely.
4. Relieve stress
Meditation and yoga help ease stress by calming our mind and body. The poses and flexibility routines in yoga all help increase lymph flow, relieve congestion and encourage detoxification.
Michelle Goldstein, of Heart Alchemy Yoga, has a nice yoga routine for lymphatic detox. Watch it here! [8:28]:
5. Drink plenty of water
Without adequate water, lymph fluid cannot flow smoothly. Start the day with a glass of warm lemon water. This helps mineralize the body and cleanse the lymph system. To enhance the body’s detoxification process, add in a tablespoon of olive oil. Both lemon and olive oil contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties your body needs. Doing this every day can go a long way for your health!
6. Go keto-green!
The keto-green diet is gut friendly, anti-inflammatory, hormone-balancing and energy boosting! Four things we need to keep our lymphatic system healthy.
Personally, I eat this way and it has helped with my menopause symptoms. I eat healthy fats from fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, trout and sardines. Brazil nuts, almond, pecans and seeds are also rich sources of fatty acids.
I go for big salads and smoothies with leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. They are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, which are good for the gut. Consume citrus fruits and all kinds of berries – they are high in antioxidants. For proteins, I usually have seafoods and shellfish. Grass-fed meat and organic eggs are also good.
Besides the keto-green diet, it’s best to eliminate food intolerances that can cause inflammation in the gut. These include dairy, refined sugar and gluten.
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7. Get enough sleep!
Getting adequate amounts of sleep helps flush out toxins. The brain has its own version of the lymphatic system, the glymphatic, or paravascular system [more info about it in the Fact Box]. Research found that the glymphatic system is more active during deep sleep, which means 45 to 60 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. When we are fast asleep, the system can thoroughly wash away toxins from the brain.
However, you must know that taking sleeping pills doesn’t promote deep sleep. Although they can help you fall asleep faster, they might not help you sleep tight at night. To experience deep sleep, it’s important to improve the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). That way, you can boost your melatonin levels. Melatonin is a natural hormone the brain releases at night. It regulates the body’s internal clock and helps fix a wide range of sleep disorders. Stick to a regular bedtime routine. Ideally, go to bed at 10 pm. Power down bright lights and turn off technology an hour before. No big meals or heavy exercises close to bedtime!
Manjistha is a potent Ayurvedic superfood that de-stagnates and cleanses the lymph. It can purify the blood and detoxify the entire body.
Dr. John Douillard is an Ayurveda expert that I really admire. He has good knowledge about herbs and natural medicine. He says that the best decongesting Ayurvedic herbs include red root, ocotillo stem, stillingia root, astragalus and ginger root.
Essential oils, like lemon, myrrh, oregano, castor, cypress and frankincense, are good for reducing swelling in your lymph nodes.
Be sure to load on vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as vitamins A, B12, D and E. Minerals like magnesium, iodine and zinc are also excellent to take!
9. Cut habits that interfere with circulation.
Do not cross your arms and legs or sit for long periods without getting up and stretching. If you work sitting, be sure to get up every 30 minutes and do some stretching. Avoid tight-fitted clothes and underwire bras, because they can impede normal flow.
10. Wear stockings!
Compression stocking, support stocking and pressure stocking are all the same. This means you can use any of them! Stockings are elastic hosiery that improve lymph flow going to your legs. They’re helpful in relieving swelling and lymph congestion.
What Does Ayurveda Say About Lymphatic Congestion?
Ayurveda raves about the importance of the lymphatic system. Ayurveda is an ancient practice from India that focuses on overall health and relies on natural and holistic approach. It encourages healthy lifestyle practices (e.g. yoga and dietary changes) and natural therapies (e.g. use of herbal medicines).
Instead of having quick fixes, I love how Ayurveda gets to the root cause of menopause symptoms. It unites all aspects – mind, body and spirit, so we can heal.
In Ayurveda, the lymph or the fluid that runs through our entire body is called Rasayana. Rasayana means longevity and rejuvenation.
Dr. John Douillard explains that if our lymphatic system isn’t working, we will lose energy balance in our body and experience fatigue. He says lymphatic congestion is a result of three things – stress, poor gut and iodine deficiency.
Stress inactivates immune cells in our lymphatic system.
These immune cells are important because they fight toxins and eat disease-causing foreign microorganisms. When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol, a hormone that can weaken our immune cells and shrink our lymphatic tissues.
Hundreds of lymphatic vessels are found in our gut. Dr. Douillard calls them the gut-associated lymphatic tissue (GALT).
When our gut is unhealthy, its wall linings become loose, and small holes are formed in the wall. Undigested food, bacteria and toxins pass through the holes into the lymphatic vessels. As a result, lymphatic congestion happens.
Iodine deficiency is also one reason for poor lymphatic health.
Iodine maintains the health of lymphatic tissues and neutralizes toxins in our body. When we are low in iodine, it contributes to a condition called lymphedema.
Lymphedema is a complication of prolonged lymph congestion. It happens when there’s accumulation of lymph fluid in the legs, arms, chest, underarms and the back.
Dr. Douillard talks more about lymphatic congestion, how it happens and its many symptoms in this video [32:14]:
What Does the Lymphatic System Do?
- The lymphatic system, or the lymph system, is a complicated network of fluids, vessels and glands. Here’s the family of organs included in this system:
- Lymphatic fluid or lymph only – a clear fluid which takes charge of carrying away wastes
- Lymphatic vessels – they collect the dirty lymphatic fluid to send it towards the center of your body to be flushed out by your glands/organs
- Lymphatic glands – these are the filtering stations where dirty lymph fluid is sent. This include your spleen, tonsils, appendix, lymphatic nodes, bone marrow and stomach
Our lymph system has two main jobs in the body:
- Elimination of toxins – the lymph system is the body’s garbage disposal system. It helps filter and flush out environmental toxins that enter your body.
- Strengthening the immune system – the lymph nodes have high concentrations of white blood cells, specifically the T-killer cells, which fight off illnesses and infections.
Aside from these two lymphatic system functions, your lymph system also neutralizes and regulates your body’s own toxins which are usually by-products of metabolism. Dr. Berg has a great video where he talks about the functions of the lymphatic system [5:31]:
If you want some visual aids, here’s a cool animation that shows how the lymph system works. Check it out [3:31]!
How the Lymphatic System Functions Normally
The lymphatic system is our body’s treatment center. The body produces 4 to 5 liters of lymph fluid per day that cleans every cell and tissue from toxins. 500 to 1000 lymph nodes are also scattered in all parts of your body (neck, armpits, breasts and groin). They act as garbage stations and propel toxic waste through sweat and urine. When toxins enter our bloodstream, our brain warns our body of the harmful invaders and our lymphatic system works harder in filtering toxins. Our lymph fluid is the first line of defense as it detoxifies every cell and tissue. Toxic waste will be carried to the spleen and lymph nodes. Immune cells engulf these toxins.
The Lymphatic System and Cancer!
When cancer cells join our lymph circulation, most of them will end up in our lymphatic glands like the spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes. These glands have immune fighting cells that kill cancer cells, before they can start growing elsewhere. Although the lymphatic system lessens the spread of cancer cells, a dysfunctional lymph system can also be involved in cancer progression. When your lymph is slow moving and can’t detoxify cells, or your immune cells in the spleen and lymph nodes are compromised, cancer cells can spread rapidly. Swollen lymph nodes are the first sign that cancer is spreading. The reason behind this is because our lymph nodes are working extra hard to expel cancer cells from the body.
The Brain’s Lymphatic System
Not so long ago, scientists discovered the central nervous system’s own drainage system, called the glymphatic system. The name refers to the glial cells, which are vital to the system. Although the glymphatic system doesn’t have lymph vessels, it has pathways where waste and toxic proteins from the brain pass through. The toxins are transported by the cerebrospinal fluid and expelled via the cervical lymph vessels.
It’s time to get your lymphatic system in full gear!
There are countless benefits of getting our lymphatic system moving more efficiently and you wouldn’t want to miss out on those benefits!
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