By Shannon Goins, CLT, LMT, MA, #8941
There are two circulatory systems in our bodies. There’s the one we all know about with the heart, arteries, veins, and blood. Then, there’s the lesser-known, yet super important lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is the “sewage system” of the body that is responsible for carrying wastes away from our tissues. It provides the mechanism by which we absorb fat-soluble vitamins from our intestines, and it is responsible for removing the fluid that causes swelling. The lymphatic system also serves as a highway for our immune cells to travel to combat invading bacteria and viruses, making it the body’s first line of defense.
When you are sick the doctor reaches up to your throat to feel to see if your “glands” are swollen. These “glands” are actually lymph nodes. Our lymph nodes are “highway checkpoints” where viruses and bacteria get caught as they float along in our bodies.
Specialized immune cells that hang out in the lymph nodes check caught cells to see if they belong to us or not. If they don’t, messages are sent for more immune cells to come and kill these unrecognized visitors. The arrival of these immune cells to the lymph nodes and the subsequent battle that ensues is what causes lymph nodes to swell.
We all know how important it is for our blood flow to not be blocked, but we don’t think about a blocked lymphatic system. If your lymphatic system is blocked, these important immune cells have a harder time reaching lymph nodes to wage war.
Getting a lymphatic massage clears these blockages and opens immune system pathways. When our lymphatic system is functioning optimally, it helps us to fight off infection faster and possibly prevent infection altogether.