New research on the multiple roles of the lymphatic system is confirming what Ayurveda described as rasa dhatu, or lymph, many thousands of years ago. The simple notion that lymph congestion could be a cause of multiple health concerns is now beginning to be an accepted field for investigation.
For example, in one study, when lymphatic vessel integrity was compromised, the lymph fluids, which are rich in fat and lipids, leaked out from mispatterned or ruptured lymphatic vessels and activated fat accumulation – leading to weight gain. (2)
The leakage of lymph as a result of lymphatic congestion can do much more than trigger fat accumulation and storage. One of the more concerning issues is that toxins and damaged cells take advantage of an overwhelmed lymphatic system for their dissemination. A large number of in-vitro animal and human studies have shown a causative relationship between lymphatic vessel congestion and abnormal health issues. (2)
According to Ayurveda, the lymphatic system is the very first system we treat, as it represents the drains of the body. If the drains become clogged, the toxins, allergens and irritants can accumulate and cause numerous health concerns, as cited above.
The lymphatic system starts in the intestines with finger-like projections called lacteals that absorb and transport both nutritional and toxic fats, lipids and proteins of the intestinal tract and into the lymph surrounding the intestines. Once these fats and proteins enter the lymph, they are processed through a series of lymph nodes where they are filtered through thousands of white blood cells of the immune system. Taking out the waste and bringing purified nutrients like proteins and fats back into the heart to be re-circulated is one of the most important functions of the lymph. If this were not functional, we would die within 24 hours. (1)
Hippocrates (460 – 377 BC) first described the lymphatic vessel as “white blood” and coined the term “chyle” from the Greek word “chylos,” meaning juice. Chyle is a milky tissue fluid consisting of emulsified fats and free fatty acids, collectively called lymph. This fluid is formed in the digestive system and taken up by the specialized lymph vessels, known as lacteals.
Lately, the research on the body’s lymphatic system has been nothing short of amazing. I recently wrote on a new discovery regarding lymph vessels that drain the brain and central nervous system which are linked to cognitive function, mood concerns, as well as autoimmune concerns.
Studies have observed that red-pigmented roots and berries are typically powerful antioxidants and lymph movers. New studies suggest that free radical damage in the intestinal lymph is linked to aging. (3) Manjistha, a red root, is Ayurveda‘s first choice for boosting lymphatic support, helping the lymph to drain waste from the body, regulate the immune system and protect against aging. (4,5)
- Guyton & Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 12th Edition. Unit IV. p 186.