Do You Need to Cleanse Your Lymphatic System?
What is the lymphatic system, and how can I tell if mine is healthy?
In Ayurveda, lymph, or rasa, is always the first body system evaluated and treated. The lymphatic system is extremely important to our health and wellbeing, but is often overlooked in Western medicine. It is one factor that may play into many so-called “mystery illnesses.”
Functions of the Lymphatic System1-5
- Carrying and supporting the immune system.
- Carrying nutritional fats to every cell for baseline energy (think chronic fatigue).
- Processing undigested, toxic fats and proteins from the intestines and intercellular spaces to be scrubbed and processed before delivery to the liver for final detox.
The lymphatic system is the largest circulatory system in the body. In Ayurveda, lymph is integral to the study of longevity, or rasayana. If any of the three primary functions break down, numerous health concerns ensue, compromising one’s vitality and longevity, according to Ayurveda.
There are areas of lymphatic concentration linked to specific health concerns. For example, the mucus-associated lymphatic tissue, or MALT, represents all lymph in the inner skin or mucus membranes. It includes the GALT, BALT, LALT, and SALT, which I describe below.13
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Types of Lymph
GALT, or gut-associated lymphatic tissue, is a concentration of lymphatic vessels surrounding the large intestine. Improper function of the GALT is linked to congestion and fatty build-up around the waist.3
There are newly discovered lymphatics in the brain and central nervous system called glymphatics. Each year, the glymphatics drain three pounds of toxins and plaque out of the brain in your sleep. Congestion in these has been linked to compromised cognitive function, mood, and vitality.6,7
SALT, or skin-associated lymphatic tissue, resides under our skin. It serves as an immune army to protect us from the outside world.8
Mesentery lymph, or the lymphatics that line the small intestines, are part of the body’s primary defense against food intolerance and toxicity. The lymph-rich mesentery has only recently been labelled an organ because of the highly complex role it plays in digestion and immunity.9-11
There are also concentrations of lymph in the upper respiratory system called larynx-associated lymphatic tissue (LALT) and bronchial-associated lymphatic tissue (BALT). These provide upper respiratory immune support.12,
Clearly, the lymphatic system is quite pervasive, with concentrations in key areas. If these areas of lymph concentration become congested, there is typically a signal.
The lymphatic system also serves as the body’s waste management system, escorting toxic waste and undigested proteins and fats to the liver for detoxification. When this system becomes congested, you may experience signs of toxicity. For example, when SALT is congested, toxins are routed directly to the surface, resulting in skin irritation..
For a deeper dive into understanding the lymphatic system, download my free Miracle of Lymph eBook.
The Lymph Quiz!
Answer a few simple questions to determine if and where you may be experiencing the first signs of lymph congestion. Simply answer yes or no.
Remember, in Ayurveda, lymph is evaluated and treated first as a tool for preventing further health issues. Addressing signs of lymph congestion early provides an ounce of prevention, which we all know is worth a pound of cure.
GALT: Gut-Associated Lymph Congestion
- Do you experience extra weight accumulation around the hips or belly?
- Do you experience sluggish bowel function? Either occasional constipation or loose movement?
- Do you experience swelling, breast tenderness, bloat, or PMS before your menstrual cycle?
- Do you experience any discomfort or skin irritation in the lower abdomen?
- Do you have mild to moderate hemorrhoids?
SALT: Skin-Associated Lymph Congestion
- Do you experience hives?
- Do you have skin irritation from eating certain foods?
- Is your skin commonly dry or flaky?
- Do you have dandruff?
- Do you have any toenail issues?
- Do you overreact to bug bites?
BALT and LALT: Respiratory Lymph Congestion
- Are you occasionally congested?
- Do you sneeze frequently?
- Are you always clearing your throat?
- Do you commonly have a dry cough or tickle in the throat?
- Do you get occasional headaches from sinus congestion?
Mesentery Lymph: Small Intestine Lymph Congestion
- Are there foods (like wheat and dairy) you do not tolerate?
- Do you bloat after meals?
- Do you belch after or between meals?
- Do you feel nauseous after eating certain foods?
- Do you avoid certain foods because they cause digestive distress?
- Do you have discomfort after a meal in the upper abdomen?
- Do you feel tired after eating a large meal?
Glymphatics: Brain + Central Nervous System Lymph Congestion
- Do you get brain fog?
- Do you wake up groggy?
- Do you have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep?
- Do you have occasional headaches after eating or sleeping?
- Are you moody, worried, or sad?
- Do you experience mild memory lapses?
- Is your body noticeably stiff when you wake up in the morning?
General Lymphatic Questions
- Do rings ever get tight on your fingers?
- Do your ankles ever swell?
- Do you swell on airplanes?
- Do you swell after or during exercise?
- Do your joints ache, especially in the morning?
- Do you feel generally more tired than you should?
- Do you have occasional joints aches that move around your body?
- Do you have cellulite?
- Are you overweight?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, please scroll through all my lymphatic articles to find the article that relates to the area of your lymphatic congestion.
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I hope this quiz has helped you understand some of your health symptoms and see them in a new light. I’d love to hear about any new connections you have made in the comments below. Want to take your lymph health to the next level? Check out my 6-Step Lymph Kit.