Did you know that the body has its own natural cleansing system? It’s called the lymphatic system and in this article I’m going to look at how we can support this natural cleansing system and what to do if you want to do a lymphatic cleanse.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that runs throughout your body. It is part of, and helps to regulate, the immune system, so this is an important system in helping to protect us from infection and disease. It is responsible for transporting the waste products, toxins and other unwanted items to the places where they can be eliminated. The lymphatic system also plays an important role in fluid balance in your body.
You can think of the lymphatic system like lots of tubes or drains (called lymph vessels) running throughout your body. Within these tubes, there is a clear substance, called lymph. Lymph transports the white blood cells (lymphocytes – the cells that fight infection), excess fluid and waste products.
There are many lymph nodes around the body (between 600 and 700), which is where the main filtering goes on. The spleen, tonsils and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system.
How does it work?
The lymphatic system does not have a pump system (like the heart in the cardio-vascular system), so relies on waves of contraction and release from muscle action.
Lymph flows in one direction – up towards the neck. Along the channels there are series of one-way valves. As we breathe, move or exercise, the contraction and release of the muscles cause the lymph to move. Just under the collarbones are the largest lymph ducts, which empty into the circulation system. From there the excess fluid, waste products etc can be processed by the liver and kidneys and then be excreted from the body.
The lymphatic system allows one-way movement of excess fluid into the blood circulation and by doing so maintains the fluid balance in the body. It also collects excess lymph from the tissues and removes it.
The system can get clogged or not function very well if it gets unbalanced. If you have ever injured a wrist or ankle for example, it can get very swollen (called oedema) and you are encouraged to raise it above the heart, so that gravity can help lymph flow back into the blood.
Oedema (swelling) is a sign that the normal exchange between the lymphatic system and the circulatory system is not functioning properly. Obstructions in the lymphatic system, particularly at the lymph nodes means that the lymph does not properly drain.
What is a lymphatic cleanse?
A lymphatic cleanse is a period of time where you seek to do things that support this natural system.
The approach that we take for a lymphatic cleanse at La Crisalida Retreats is holistic and includes the eight areas of the health and wellbeing programme:
- Nutrition and hydration: exclude the items that cause problem for our bodily functions, like alcohol, sugars, caffeine and tobacco. Maximise nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. One option is to undertake a juice detox.
- Exercise: add in the right types of exercise that encourage the natural flow of lymph, like walking and rebounding.
- Physiology and breath: learn to breath properly and reduce stress, through yoga and meditation. Enjoy a holistic massage.
- Rest: get adequate sleep, allow your body to rest when it feels tired.
- Environment: find a place of calm to allow yourself to unwind and switch on the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation part), with supportive staff. Enjoy time outdoors, in nature, in a healthy natural environment.
- Mindset: explore and understand what makes you tick, to reduce stress and anxiety
- Education: learn a new approach to health and wellbeing, experience the feeling and effects of living a healthy approach to life
- Connection: connect with the inner you, the authentic you. Take time to notice how your body feels and responds to what you do, eat or say. Connect with likeminded people for support.
Coming on a retreat is a great way to cleanse your lymphatic system and give it a much-needed kick-start!
How to maintain a healthy lymphatic system
After your retreat you can maintain the good habits that you have created during your stay with us. We encourage you to:
- Eat healthy foods: putting good stuff into your body whilst minimising the more toxic products like alcohol and sugars.
- Keep hydrated: drink minimum 3 litres of water each day
- You could undertake a juice detox at home for a few days every 3 months. Read this months article: top 5 detox juice recipes for our favourite juices to support a lymphatic cleanse.
- Include lymph-friendly movement into your day: exercise regularly. Try 20 minutes of rebounding or add a walk into your daily routines.
- Breathe fully!
- Manage your stress: take up regular yoga or meditation.
- Create a healthy sleep routine to get adequate rest. Try our guided visualisation to find deep relaxation.
- Get a regular massage. The movement of the hands over the skin and muscles can support lymph movement. Dry brushing is also an option.
Read more about detox and cleansing
Over the years I’ve written many articles about detox, which are published on our health and wellbeing blog. If you want to find out more information, you might like to read the following articles:
- Detox – what is it and how does it work?
- Detoxing for everyday life
- Say no to caffeine: Natural ways to boost energy
- DIY detox – top 5 foods to include
- Cleanse your body – get rid of cellulite
- Top rebounding tips to cleanse your lymphatic system
Come and participate in one of our detox retreats and experience the health benefits for yourself.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).