Why do we need the Lymphatic System for healthy skin?
The lymphatic system is our bodies largest circulatory organ, believe it or not, it’s double the size of our blood circulatory network. We have lymph nodes, nodules, vessels and lymphoid organs located all over the body which are a major component of our bodies immune defence. Unlike the blood circulatory system which has a pump to move blood around the lymphatic system requires movement for drainage.
It’s 3 major functions are:
The lymph is responsible for removing toxins, metabolic waste, dead cells, hormones, bacteria, excess water out of the skin and tissues. If the lymphatic system is not performing properly, these wastes accumulate beneath the skin, leading to dull, uneven or puffy skin as well as contributing to rashes, acne, eczema & psoriasis.
Lymph eventually drains to the liver. The liver is a vital site for detoxification. Healthy liver function is required for vibrant, glowing skin. If liver detoxification is compromised, toxins will be eliminated through the skin instead. This can often be the case in acne and eczema.
The lymphatic system is a major part of the immune system it runs alongside your bloodstream. It circulates your immune cells. An under-functioning lymphatic system which is overburdened by frequent illness can result in less vibrant skin which is prone to puffiness, inflammation and rashes. The immune system is also involved in auto-immune skin conditions such as psoriasis.
Signs & symptoms that your lymph is congested and not draining as it should;
- puffy eyes
- puffiness around neck
- foggy/poor memory
- general itching
- slow healing of cuts
- congested pores
- water retention
- excessive sweating
- body odour
- poor skin tone
- fatigue & lethargy
- eczema & psoriasis
- morning stiffness
- rashes/ dry skin
- swelling in the armpits
- thighs and abdomen swelling/ heaviness
Lymph and Gut connection
We have so many lymph nodes in the gut which plays an important role in the lymphatic system, it’s also where 80% of the immune system lies which is why working on your sleep and digestion is so important because it will have an effect on everything else. Poor digestion can take a major toll on your lymph, so indigestion or undigested proteins from food due to low stomach acid and digestive deficiency can actually slow down and congest your lymphatic system on that root cause level. All foods contain protein which tends to get us in trouble with food allergies such as gluten, or casein found in milk & cheese. When proteins aren’t completely broken down if they are too large to be absorbed into the bloodstream they are actually taken up by the lymphatic system instead. This can overwhelm and congest your lymphatic system as a whole. Likewise, if your intestines become irritated or inflamed by undigested food, toxins in food or food allergens then the lymphatic tissue that is all around the gut can specifically become congested.
Our own digestive juices, enzymes and bile are responsible for breaking down fats, proteins and food. If you suffer from bloating, gas and indigestion you could definitely benefit from some form of digestive aid such as supplements to help support and promote your own natural digestive juices which will, in turn, support the breakdown of proteins, fats but those same enzymes are ALSO utilised to clear toxic waste buildup in both the lymph and blood!
Interesting fact: We know that stress is inflammatory but what a lot of people don’t know is that tight muscles/fascia, stress and inflammation can all impede lymph flow.
Foods that support lymphatic drainage!
- Drinking hot water throughout the day. Toxins that enter the body from external factors such as food, environment,stress, etc.are sticky and greasy by nature. Hot water helps dissolves toxins. It also helps heals and repairs the digestive system and flushes the lymph from outside of the intestinal wall.
- Red & Purple staining foods such as berries,cherries, beets & Turmeric are lymph movers.
Lymph loving Herbs
- Devil’s claw
- Red Clover
Treatments to help get your Lymph moving!
Since the lymph doesn’t have a pump the way the blood has the heart, we must move this system manually.
The best time to get a lymphatic massage is after being in an aeroplane and/or after a particularly stressful week (since stress can be a major cause of stagnant lymph).
- Jade/rose quartz & gua sha home rolling
- Regular Enzyme Therapy
- Exercise, one study was show to improve lymph flow by 83%
- Massage (self or professional)
- Hot foot baths, which the same study found to increase lymphatic flow by 117%