Feeling Stagnant and Blah?
The winter season is a time of year when people tend to be less active. They also tend to eat less healthy, due to less availability of fresh fruits or vegetables. Our diets may also have "moved off track" by over-indulging in the Holiday “comfort” foods. This all results in your lymphatic system becoming congested and sluggish. Your lymphatic system is a key player in the removal of toxins and waste from your body, as well as keeping your immune system healthy. The lymphatic system is like your blood vessel system but carries lymphatic fluid instead of blood. The blood nourishes the cells whereas the lymph cleans them. Your lymphatic system also carries white blood cells throughout your body to help fight infections and destroy cancer cells in the body. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes are all part of the lymphatic system. A large part of the lymphatic system is in your intestinal system. The lymph transports fats and fatty acids from your intestinal tract into the body. In addition, the lymphatic system plays a major role in balancing the fluids in the body.
Inactivity causes the lymphatic system to get congested. The lymphatic system does not have a pump to move it through the body like the blood does, with the heart. Lymph moves instead because of contractions in our muscles during movement, by way of gravity and by the constant pressure of lymph in and out of the cells. When you become injured or are inactive your lymphatic system can get congested and your health can go downhill quickly.
Some common symptoms of Lymph congestion:
Feeling stiff and sore in the mornings
Rings get tight around your fingers
Marks around your ankles from your socks, ankles swell
Body odor or foul-smelling stools
Feeling tired and sluggish, heavy legs
Breast swelling or tenderness
Skin rashes, hives, excess moles, or acne
Oversensitive to chemicals and allergens
Frequent sore throats, weak immune system
Mucus congestion in lungs, sinus or colon which does not resolve easily
Constipation, with some diarrhea at times.
Weight gain which does not let go (toxins are stored in fat cells), weight gain at the end of day and bloating in intestinal region.
Cancer can be a sign of sluggish lymph – the cells become toxic and can no longer take in nutrients or release waste properly. They become dysfunctional and no longer work for the good of the whole body.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a congested lymphatic system is caused by something called Ama, which builds up
in the body. Think of Ama as a condition where toxins and undigested foods accumulate in the body. For example, undigested proteins floating in the blood or intestinal tract create Ama. In addition, Ama could be an undigested emotion such as a past trauma, which is held in the body and disrupts the energy flow in the body. Ama cause your sweat, urine, bowel movements or other bodily fluids to have a foul odor. Ama is very sticky, Western Herbalists called this catarrh or phlegm. This stickiness contributes to constipation and to acne breakouts. To clear the body of Ama and cleanse the lymphatic system you need to detox your body with special herbs which target the lymph.
Here are 3 of my favorites:
Lymphomax – This is a Key product for cleansing the lymphatic system. It contains powerful lymph cleansing herbs which target the blood and immune system.
It contains clivers, garlic, red root, lobelia and echinacea which are my favorite lymphatic herbs. These herbs are like “Super Heroes” when it comes to shrinking swollen glands, cleansing the lymph and clearing out mucus. This is a great formula to activate weight loss.
In addition, the formula contains mullein which is an herb I keep in my herbal medicine chest for coughs and to help relieve acid reflux. Mullein is also well known an herb for cleaning out toxic lymph nodes. Lymph nodes become congested, swollen, infected and sore when toxic waste builds up in them due to sluggish lymphatic system.
I like to use this formula when I want to cleanse the lymphatic system and the person tends to suffer from a weak immune system. There are several other herbs in the formula that assist the cleansing process.
BP-X – this combination of 12 herbs is traditionally known as a blood cleanser. The herbs in this formula enhance detoxification in the body. They help to cleanse the kidneys and colon, enhance digestion and bile function, and support the immune system. Several of the herbs in this formula also target the lymphatic system.
Pau d’arco is the key herb in this formula. It is excellent for cleansing the blood and lymph. This herb has a long history of helping to combat cancer because of its immune modulating and anti-tumor properties. It also has strong immune system supporting properties. Pau d’arco has a special affinity to the skin so it is very good to help clear Ama congestion from the skin which results in skin conditions.
Burdock – one of my favorite blood purifiers, also has a special affinity for the skin. Burdock is great to activate cleansing of the lymphatic system. It has diuretic properties which help to flush the excess fluids that accumulate in the lymph. Burdock is a key ingredient in the famous anti-cancer herbal formula called Essiac Tea. (Nature’s sunshine makes this tea in a dry herb extract in their formula E-Tea).
Red Clover the 3rd key herb in this formula also is well known for anti-cancer properties, it stimulates the immune system and cleanses the lymphatic system. It is particularly good for mucus congestion in the lungs from congested lymph.
If a person needs to cleanse the lymphatic system and tends to have skin conditions, coughs or a high risk for cancer then I would choose this formula.
Ayurvedic Joint Health – Joint Health contains 12 herbs familiar to Eastern herbalism. Ayurvedic medicine considers stiff and achy joints and arthritis to be signs of lymph congestion and Ama. This formula has an emphasis on a restoring harmony and balance in our body and joints, due to imbalances created from pollution, stress, junk food, and busy lifestyles. The first 3 key herbs in this formula are:
Withania somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha. This herb is a general tonic and "adaptogen" herb. Tonic herbs are high in nutritional value to nourish and rebuild the body. Adaptogen herbs have the property to help the body to recover from and adapt to long term stress and supports a healthy immune system.
Commiphora Mukul is our next herb, commonly known as Guggul. This herb helps support normal function of joints and connective tissue and exhibits pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Guggul is thought to remove toxic substances which accumulate because of sluggish digestion and circulation associated with slow metabolism, so it will have a cleansing affect on the joints.
Boswellia is known to relieve painful joint inflammation while helping to rebuild degenerated cartilage, it helps increase flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. The anti-inflammatory properties of this herb formula also extend to the digestive system. Keeping in mind the wholistic approach of this formula, we draw attention to the fact that many people who are under stress will also develop major digestive problems. These problems can lead to poor nutrient absorption and congestion in the liver and blood; which can lead to the development of joint problems.
The other herbs in this formula continue to repeat the theme of cleansing the body, improving digestion, strengthening the immune system, relaxing muscle spasms and reducing inflammation in the body.
I use this formula along with either BP-X or Lymphomax, if I need to cleanse the lymphatic system, but also cleanse the joints.
Cleansing the brain – If you suffer from brain fog and have other symptoms of congested lymph, then you may want to consider the herb Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica). This herb is more commonly known by the name Brahmi in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been studied extensively because it has a special affinity for the brain, nervous system and the skin. Gotu Kola has been shown to improve memory, concentration, intelligence, and increase longevity. This herb is a powerful lymphatic cleanser. In Ayurvedic medicine, Gotu Kola is called a rejuvenating herb, due to its ability to restore balance and health to many parts of the mind and body.
Recent studies have found that there is lymphatic tissue in your brain, Gotu Kola can help to cleanse toxins which have accumulated there. Recent studies in India indicate that the brain cleanses its lymph tissue at night time. It has been found very helpful to take Gotu Kola before bed to both help with cleansing, and to bring peace to the mind when you sleep. Gotu Kola has anti-anxiety and anti-stress properties. Gotu Kola also has a unique property of helping one connect with their higher selves. It is used to improve the ability to meditate and open their mind to the presence of God and Spirit. It is considered an herb of enlightenment.
Cleansing the Lymph - requires much more than just taking herbal supplements. Exercise is a necessity to get congested lymph moving again.
Rebounders (mini trampolines) are excellent for moving the lymph. As are Inversion Tables, Chi Machines and Vibration Platforms. 15 minutes on a Chi Machine or Vibration platform will move the same amount of lymph and blood as jogging for 1 hour – amazing. The Vibration Platforms run at low oscillations is also a good choice as they do not impact the joints like the rebounder does. See below for more information. Any type of exercise moves the lymph, but full body exercise like walking, swimming and dancing is most helpful. Yoga is particularly helpful with moving the lymph.
Water – your lymphatic system is primarily made of water, so make sure you are drinking plenty each day – half your body weight in ounces, is recommended. Without adequate water, lymphatic fluid cannot flow properly.
Massage – is a wonderful tool to help get the lymphatic system moving. This is a gentle method for those who have a lot of joint inflammation and find it hard to exercise.
Dry Skin brushing each morning before showering will remove dead skin cells and stimulate the flow of lymph in the body. Search the internet for instructions on how to do this.
Take Digestive Enzymes with meals if you have weak digestion. Improperly digested proteins are one of the factors which clog up the lymphatic system. Most people regularly eat foods containing proteins which are hard for them to digest - this creates food sensitivities.
Eat Healthy fresh foods - avoid processed foods which are high in toxins and chemicals, which further congest the lymph. Avoid fried foods.
Make sure you get plenty of fiber to help cleanse the bowel and flush out toxins. I drink a fiber drink once a day with Nature’s 3 Fiber, if you have a sensitive bowel consider the Everybody's Fiber blend instead (#1336).
Wear loose fitting clothes and avoid bras which have a wire in them. The wired bras have been shown to congest the lymph flow through the breast area.
Breathe Deeply – breathing is another way to help move the lymphatic fluid, especially in the stomach (diaphragm movement) and the lungs. Qi Gong is an exercise which combines breathing and body movements to improve the circulation of blood and lymph, as well as the life force energy through the body. Qi gong is an excellent exercise for those who find it difficult to do other forms of exercise. See www.exercisetoheal.com for sample videos and DVD’s.
My personal program for cleansing my lymphatic system takes place over several months. I take my lymphatic cleansing herbs, exercise daily and remember to take breaks from sitting to stretch or use the vibration platform. I focus on eating very healthy and drinking plenty of water, as well as drinking herbal teas. In the morning I do Qi-Gong exercise or go for a walk. In the first couple weeks it is common to lose 5-10 lbs. of weight. Over the next couple months your body will begin to re-shape itself. Cellulite disappears, “watery fat” begins to melt away and your skin begins to take on a nice glow. I have even had fatty deposits which I have had for over 30 years begin to dissolve. Expect increased bowel movements and urination because you will be flushing out a lot of garbage from the body. Yeah!
Note: you may go through a period of 1-2 weeks where you cleanse a lot of toxins and feel achy, tired and like you have a flu. This happened to me when I used my vibration platform twice daily at higher speeds. So, I had to slow it down, rest more and keep taking my cleansing herbs. After this cleanse passed, I had a new level of energy and a wonderful mental clarity. Oh, and I also have been sleeping much better as well. I’m only into my 6th week on the program and am looking forward to even better results and more weight loss.
I hope I have inspired you to move forward in re-building your health and gaining new and life long vitality. - Blessings, Valerie
Disclaimer: Supplement recommendations are not designed to treat a disease condition. Discussions are for educational purposes only. Supplements should be used to nourish and strengthen the natural function of the various body organs and systems so that they will have a greater capacity to heal themselves. It is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations. Any questions or concerns that you have regarding existing medical conditions, or the use of medications with supplements, should be discussed with your nutritionally oriented medical doctor.
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