The Lymphatic System

25 Sep 2018

The Lymphatic System

By Tess Scott-Ramsay (Remedial Therapist)

Our Lymphatic system is one of three circulatory systems found in the human body. It is responsible for detoxification within the body as well as working tirelessly to remove excess fluid, unused proteins, dietary lipids and metabolic debris. The other incredibly important function of our lymphatic system is the role it plays in immune defence by fighting infections, picking up any proteins, bacteria or invader cells that have escaped into the interstitial space (space between cells).

The other two circulatory systems are the Arterial and Venous systems, which are responsible for blood flow, both to and from the heart and lungs and are powered and pumped around the body by the heart. The arterial system works by bringing freshly oxygenated blood, filled with nutrients to tissues throughout the body. The venous system is responsible for waste removal from tissues and taking blood to the lungs to have oxygen put back in.

Our Lymphatic circulatory system differs from the arterial and venous systems because it uses breathing, movement and muscular contraction to transport lymph around our bodies towards the heart rather than a pump. Due to the lack of said pump, our lymphatic system can become stagnant causing excessive stress to our whole system due to an accumulation of toxins. There are a number of contributing factors that can cause stagnation within the lymphatic system, with fatigue, stress, lack of physical activity and environmental toxins being among the most common.

If the efficiency of our lymphatic system becomes compromised it can affect other systems within our body as lymphatic function supports every system in the body. Lymph surrounds every cell and drains debris away from our circulatory system, so if the river of lymph dries up or becomes muddy and overloaded with wastes and bacteria, the impact on our other systems is substantial.

One of the best ways to maintain or regain a healthy lymphatic system is by using Manual Lymphatic drainage, which is a tactile therapy designed to stimulate and enhance the various functions of the lymphatic system. The strokes used in MLD are subtle, light and repetitive in the direction of the heart, working as the pump to move lymph through lymphatic capillaries. Lymphatic drainage massage is the encouragement of the opening and closing of lymphatic capillaries, which is achieved by using a small amount of pressure, followed by no pressure.

The movement created by the light, repetitive strokes causes the lymph to flow towards the lymph nodes where it is purified, filtered and cleansed of destructive cells, then fed back into the cardiovascular system to be removed eventually through our elimination organs.

Manual Lymphatic drainage is a wonderfully gentle way of helping to reset our bodies and minds, while providing a thorough detox of all our systems, as well as stimulating our parasympathetic nervous system.

Lymphatic Drainage can be used as a treatment in itself for many different conditions or to compliment other wellness modalities, gut-repair and detoxification programs.

The most common reasons people seek Lymphatic Drainage is to assist with:

  • Autoimmune Conditions
  • Digestive Conditions
  • Compromised Immunity
  • Cold and Flu
  • Oedema
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Muscle Soreness and Cramping
  • Post Trauma
  • Detoxification
  • Stress and Relaxation


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