Have you spent any time wondering what your lymphatic system does, or if it is healthy? According to Ayurveda, the lymph, or rasa, is always the first body system evaluated and treated. It is hugely important to our health and wellbeing, but is often overlooked in our culture. 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 of the body for baseline energy (think chronic fatigue)
- Uptaking undigested, toxic fats + proteins from the intestines + intercellular spaces into lymph vessels to be scrubbed + processed before delivery to the liver for final detox.
While there are many more functions of the lymphatic system, these are primary. The lymphatic system, as the largest circulatory system in the body, was the focus in Ayurveda in the study of longevity, or rasayana. If any of the three primary functions break down, numerous health concerns would ensue and compromise one’s vitality and longevity, according to Ayurveda.
It is important to note that there are areas of lymphatic concentration linked to related health concerns. The mucus-associated lymphatic tissue, or MALT, represents all the lymph in the inner skin or mucus membranes. It includes the GALT, BALT, LALT, and SALT, which I describe below.14
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Types of Lymph
GALT, or gut-associated lymphatic tissue, is a concentration of lymphatic vessels surrounding the large intestine that 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 that drain three pounds of toxins and plaque out of the brain while sleeping each year. Congestion in these has been linked to to cognitive function, mood, vitality, and a host of nervous system concerns.6,7
SALT, or skin-associated lymphatic tissue, resides under our skin, providing 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 mesentery, the body’s primary defense against food intolerance and toxicity. The lymph-rich mesentery has 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) that provide upper respiratory immune support.12,13
As you can see, the lymphatic system is quite pervasive, with concentrations in key areas. In these areas of lymph concentration, there is always an increased risk of lymph congestion. If lymph congestion persists, there is typically a signal.
The lymph is also the body’s garbage can, constantly escorting toxic waste and undigested proteins and fats to the liver to detoxify. When this system becomes congested, you may experience toxicity signs in a certain area of lymph concentration. Skin irritation, for example, is often a sign of the skin being used as a plan B detox pathway when SALT is congested.
Lymph is trying to deliver healthy fats to cells for baseline energy, which, when congested, can leave you tired and depleted.
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The Lymph Quiz!
To determine if you have lymph congestion, answer a few simple questions for each area of lymph concentration to determine if and where you may be experiencing the first signs of a health imbalance. Simply answer yes or no.
Remember, in Ayurveda, lymph is evaluated and treated first as a tool for prevention. 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.
I hope this quiz has helped you home in on 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.