The Body

LYMPH
Lymph is a clear fluid that moves through your blood stream to help flush out toxins, fats and other unwanted materials. Our entire body is soaked in lymph and there is a whole lymph vessel system that is just as complex as your blood vessels.

Lymph flows through a complex network of capillaries delivering good particles and picking up the bad particles to filter out the body at special stations called lymph nodes. Lymph fluid does not move very efficiently. Gentle stimulus is needed to sort of “shake it loose” and get it moving more effectively.

Exercise keeps the lymph flowing properly, but it doesn’t need to be intense. One easy way to stimulate the flow of lymph through your body is to bounce on a mini trampoline for 5 to 10 minutes a day. This is good for people of all ages, even if you are extremely out of shape, older or recovering from an injury.

The lymphatic system is made up of lymph capillaries, lymph vessels, and lymph nodes.

The capillaries are the starting point of the one-way lymphatic system. Lymph capillaries originate in tissues and drain any excess tissue fluid that has not been reabsorbed into the bloodstream and move it into lymph veins. This prevents swelling or edema (collection of fluid in the tissues).

Lymph veins collect lymph from many lymph capillaries and move them into lymph ducts for transport to the subclavian veins where the fluid is returned to the bloodstream. The movement of fluid in the lymph veins relies on muscular movements to squeeze the fluid along. The veins (like veins in the circulatory system) contain one-way valves that keep the fluid moving towards the thoracic cavity or chest.

Lymph nodes are considered lymphoid organs along the tonsils, spleen, thymus and bone marrow. They are bean shaped structures with a cortex and medulla similar to many other body organs. The cortex contains many lymphocytes that are activated to fight off pathogens that may appear. Lymphocytes produce antibodies (Y shaped proteins) that combine with antigens (proteins or polysaccharides on foreign cells) to form active antigen-antibody complexes. The medulla is where macrophages are found that phagocytize foreign/non-self debris and clean up lymph fluid. Lymph nodes are found along lymph vessels and are most numerous in the groin, neck and armpit areas. Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that an infection is present.

Check the health of your Lymph System weekly by using pH test strips.

Every human has a heart, arteries, veins, blood vessels and ultimately capillaries. Blood carries many different things to the cells, including:

  • Oxygen (blood also picks up carbon dioxide so it can be exhaled)
  • Proteins
  • Glucose
  • White blood cells (to find and eliminate bacteria, viruses and other foreign materials)

Capillaries flow past cells but do not actually connect to them. What happens is that the clear, watery blood plasma— containing the oxygen, proteins, glucose and white blood cells — “leaks” out through the capillary walls and flows around all the cells. The pores in the capillaries are too small to let red blood cells through, however — that is why lymph is clear rather than red. All of the cells in your body are therefore bathed in lymph, and they receive their nutrients and oxygen from the lymph.

Somehow, all of this lymph has to end up somewhere, so it is recirculated. The lymph capillaries and vessels pick up the lymph fluid and start pumping it away from the cells. Lymph vessels do not have an active pump like the heart. Instead, lymph vessels have one-way valves, and muscle motion pumps the lymph. You have just as many lymph vessels and capillaries as you have blood vessels and capillaries!

Lymph in the lymph vessels eventually reaches a lymph node — there are about 100 nodes scattered throughout the body. Lymph nodes filter the lymph and also contain large numbers of white blood cells (a big part of the immune system), which remove foreign cells and debris from the lymph. When you get certain infections, the lymph nodes swell with billions of white blood cells working to clear the foreign cells causing the infection. The filtered lymph then flows back into the blood stream at certain points.

One thing this explains is how a shot at the doctor’s office works. The fluid of the shot is injected into the lymph, not the blood stream. But eventually it makes it to the bloodstream through the lymph system.

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