Lymphatic System [Long Read]

I was in the middle of an interview when I suddenly realised that I had a lump in my throat. No, it wasn’t the candidate that was reducing me to tears and it was only later upon speaking to my doctor that I realised my lymph nodes were swollen. Your lymphatic system is a complex web of tissue that helps your body deal with pathogens, bacteria, bad fat and pollution of all kinds. When we say that our kids are getting poisoned by the pollution from your smoking it is your lymphatic system that has to cope. I was surprised to learn that your tonsils were the largest mass of lymph nodes in the body and your first line of defence. It is your tonsils that taste the pathogen or bacteria before the rest of your body. In case you ever felt you were not princely enough you can now change your opinion as you too have a personal taster, ignoring for the present that it is only bacteria being tasted.

The role of the lymphatic system is to carry the remainder of your blood once it has delivered nutrition to your tissue. This includes carrying dead cells and debris to your spleen which destroys them using white and red blood cells. I have always tried to clinically understand the link between being unhealthy and being unwell. Your lymphatic system is an important link. Therefore if you are over weight, have poor nutrition, do not drink sufficient water etc. it is your lymphatic system that first feels the stress. So much so that if you have an expansive waistline, it prevents the flow of lymph (the fluid that the lymphatic system carries) upwards toward your neck. So much for a fat belly being a sign of prosperity. This manifests itself as allergies, sinusitis, upper respiratory diseases, cold, tonsillitis, bronchitis and pneumonia etc. If you have swollen feet, blame a sluggish lymphatic system. Actually blame yourself, because your poor L. system does not have a pump of its own and depends on the relaxation and contraction of your muscles to move, the reason why exercise is good for you.

How can you then help your L. cope? Well your kids know it already as they bound up and down and around. This helps move your lymphatic system. Really! Also standing on your head or shirshasana, drinking lemon water, eating raw foods and otherwise healthful foods, a hot oil massage, dry brushing, and yoga, especially twisting in which your tissues get squeezed and the lymph is ejected from your tissue all help in improving the circulation of your L. system.

Going back to the lump in my throat, it has disappeared as I learnt to cope with my (emotions?) health by eating well, exercising and bounding with my kid.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.