With kids back in school and temperatures dropping, cold season has (unfortunately) officially returned. While you might be more conscientious of washing your hands or taking vitamins this time of year, here’s why you should consider adding draining lymph nodes to your list of cold-fighting practices.
What are Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes are part of the body’s lymphatic system, which “is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials” (source). Each person has between 600-700 lymph nodes, some deep inside the body (near the heart and lungs) and others closer to the skin’s surface (under the arms and on the neck and groin area).
Inside of this system is lymph, a clear, colorless fluid that contains infection-fighting white blood cells. Stemming from the Latin word lympha, meaning “connected to water,” lymph helps the body perform its natural draining practices.
The lymphatic system primarily consists of lymphatic vessels (similar to the circulatory system), which connect to the lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered by lymphocytes.
The Purpose of Lymph Nodes
Essentially, the body’s lymphatic system is its drainage system. Through its complex network of vessels, organs and tissue, the lymphatic system works around the clock to keep our bodies healthy.
Here are some of the main functions of this system:
Drains Fluid into the Bloodstream
One of the main roles of the lymphatic system is to collect excess fluid near tissues and organs and return it to the bloodstream. This prevents the fluid from building up and causing swelling.
When the lymph enters the lymph nodes, white blood cells immediate attack any bacteria and/or viruses present.
The spleen, which is the largest lymphatic organ, filters blood by replacing old blood cells with new ones (made in bone marrow).
Removes Toxins and Impurities
Besides fighting infection, the lymphatic system also helps protect the body against other impurities, such as sodium and carbon dioxide. Once they are removed, these toxins are released through bowel movements, urine, perspiration and breath.
Finally, one of the most well-known jobs of the lymphatic system is to stave off infections and fight germs. Using lymphocytes—specialized white blood cells—lymph nodes produce antibodies that aid the body’s immune system in protecting itself against various diseases—the common cold included.
What are the Benefits of a Massage for Draining Lymph Nodes?
While the lymphatic system works on its own, adding lymphatic massages into your self care routine can help you with the following:
Healing After Surgery
Draining lymph nodes can help reduce scarring by regenerating tissue surrounding incision sites, as well as reducing swelling.
Lymphatic drainage massages can help reduce breast swelling and alleviate plugged ducts—both of which are known to cause pain in new mothers.
Stress Reduction and Pain Management
Like other massages, draining lymph nodes helps relax the body, and can even help reduce chronic pain.
Stronger Immune System
Because of the tight-knit relationship between both the immune and lymphatic system, lymphatic drainage massages can help the body strengthen its immune system, lessening your chances of getting sick.
How to Drain Lymph Nodes
Lymphatic massages utilize gentle pressure to remove fluids from the body (especially in areas that have been affected by surgery). When performing a lymphatic massage, there are two main parts: clearing and reabsorption.
- Clearing: Used to “create a vacuum” with light pressure to flush fluids
- Reabsorption: With a sweeping motion, encourage fluids to move back into bloodstream
Whether you feel a cold coming on or are just trying to stay healthy, here is a great video for cold-preventing lymphatic drainage massage.
Dry brushing is a great (and simple) at-home lymphatic care treatment. Before you hop in the shower, use a natural bristle brush on your skin in a circular pattern, starting at your feet and working up. This promotes lymphatic drainage, a healthier immune system and even reduced cellulite.
Staying hydrated is essential for lymphatic health, considering lymph is about 95% water. To help hydrate, try adding lemon to your water. Lemon helps mineralize the body—including lymph!
Proper lymphatic drainage is necessary for a healthy-functioning body, which protects you against germs, toxins, etc. Try this daily massage and see the difference for yourself!
In addition to massage, acupuncture can also help with draining lymph nodes by encouraging the organs of elimination (liver, lymph nodes, etc.) to function properly. In addition, this treatment also helps strengthen your “Wei Qi,” or your defensive layer to protect against the cold and flu.
Help your body protect itself against the cold and flu this season by draining lymph nodes. At Blue Creek, we focus on each patient’s unique condition to help choose the right treatment methods. With a highly qualified staff of practitioners, we look forward to helping heal you from the inside out!
Call us at (303) 573-7484 to set up an appointment today!