Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Lymph System and Autoimmune Disease

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I have been seeing an alarming increase in auto-immune responses in the last 5 or 6 years.  What this refers to is the response when the body's immune system sends out a message to attack the bodies' healthy tissues and cells.

Normally the immune system sends white blood cells to attack foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses and toxins.  In an auto-immune response the body does not differentiate between healthy body tissues and foreign invaders.  What follows is an immune response attacking the normal body tissues.  This response is similar to an allergic reaction.

In allergies, the immune system goes to battle with an outside substance that it normally ignores.  In an autoimmune response, the immune system battles healthy body tissue that it normally ignores.

A few examples of auto-immune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, hashimotos and chronic fatigue.

When someone asks what causes auto-immune responses the most common answer is that the cause is unknown.  I am not a doctor or a scientist but as a highly experienced body worker I believe that part of the issue lies in the health of the lymphatic system.  No doubt there are many factors that go into the creation of auto-immunity and it would certainly be pie-in-the-sky to say you can get a massage and cure all of this, but I believe that in addressing the issues that are contributing to the lymph slow down, you improve your chances of healing your immune system.

This would be a good place to reiterate that I am not a medical doctor and am not qualified to diagnose or to treat medical conditions.  The opinions in this article should not take the place of professional medical care.

Now let's look at the lymph and it's function in relation to the immune system. The Lymph fluid carries white blood cells that defend against the aforementioned germs.  The lymph nodes and spleen are two examples of places in the body where white blood cells fight infection.

The lymphatic system is an important part of how the body clears away infection and keeps the body fluids in balance.  When this system is not working fluid builds up in the tissues, resulting in swelling.

Most people have lymph slow down that is caused by musculoskeletal displacement most commonly found in the neck, ribs, low back and hips. When joints are out of place or muscles are tight over lymphatic chains it creates a lymph blockage.  Because the lymph system has a vacuum effect, each blockage, no matter how small, causes the lymphatic to slow down throughout the body.

Here are a few ways you can support your lymphatic health:

  1. Get lymphatic massage or lymphatic drainage
  2. Increase the amount of quality water you drink (no tap-water)
  3. Do Yoga (this is one of the best exercise you can do for your lymph)
  4. Start a conscious breathing program

I have recently been impressed by certain teachers of Kundalini Yoga and if nothing else you can learn to do what is called the breath of fire.  It has been said that if you do the breath of fire for 3 minutes it will purify all the blood in your body.  When I have clients do this prior to coming in for lymphatic massage the drainage is increased exponentially.

Here is Carolyn Cowan teaching breath of fire:

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