What is the lymphatic system?

Ladies: please read the article below: "Wearing bras & the lymphatic system"

LymphomaxThe lymphatic system is a system of thin tubes that runs throughout the body. These tubes are called 'lymph vessels'. You may also hear them called 'lymphatic vessels'. The lymphatic system is like the blood circulation - the tubes branch through all parts of the body like the arteries and veins that carry blood. Except that the lymphatic system carries a colourless liquid called 'lymph'.  

Lymph is a clear fluid that circulates around the body tissues. It contains a high number of lymphocytes (white blood cells). Plasma leaks out of the capillaries to surround and bathe the body tissues. This then drains into the lymph vessels. The fluid, now called lymph, then flows through the lymphatic system to the biggest lymph vessel - the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct then empties back into the blood circulation.

Lymph glands


Along the lymph vessels are small bean-shaped lymph glands or 'nodes'. You can probably feel some of your lymph nodes.  There are lymph nodes:

  • Under your arms, in your armpits 
  • In each groin (at the top of your legs)
  • In your neck

There are also lymph nodes that you cannot feel in

  • Your abdomen                
  • Your pelvis

Other organs that are part of the lymphatic system

The lymphatic system includes other body organs. These are the Spleen, Thymus, Tonsils and Adenoids.

The spleen is under your ribs on the left side of your body. The spleen works as a filter of lymph fluid.

The thymus is a small gland under your breast bone. The thymus helps to produce white blood cells.  It is usually most active in teenagers and shrinks in adulthood.

The tonsils are two glands in the back of your throat. The tonsils and adenoids (also called the 'nasopharyngeal' tonsils) help to protect the entrance to the digestive system and the lungs from bacteria and viruses.

The adenoids are at the back of your nose, where it meets the back of your throat.

What does the lymphatic system do?

The lymphatic system does three main jobs in the body. It...

  • Drains fluid back into the bloodstream from the tissues  
  • Filters lymph
  • Fights infections
Draining fluid into the bloodstream
As the blood circulates, fluid leaks out into the body tissues. This fluid is important because it carries food to the cells and waste products back to the bloodstream. The leaked fluid drains into the lymph vessels. It is carried through the lymph vessels to the base of the neck where it is emptied back into the bloodstream. This circulation of fluid through the body is going on all the time. 

Filtering lymph

This is the job of the spleen. It filters the lymph to take out all the old worn out red blood cells. These are destroyed and replaced by new red blood cells that have been made in the bone marrow.

Fighting infection
When people say "I'm not well, my glands are up" they are really saying they have swollen lymph nodes because they have an infection. The lymphatic system helps fight infection in many ways such as:
* Helping to make special white blood cells (lymphocytes) that produce antibodies
* Having other blood cells called macrophages inside the lymph nodes which swallow up and kill any foreign particles, for example germs.

This function of the lymphatic system is really part of the immune system.

B cells and T cells

The white blood cells involved in the acquired immune response are called 'lymphocytes'. There are two main types of lymphocytes - B cells and T cells. B and T lymphocytes are made in the bone marrow, like the other blood cells. They have to fully mature before they can help in the immune response. B cells mature in the bone marrow. But the immature T cells travel through the blood stream to the thymus gland where they become fully developed.

What do B cells do?

B cells react against invading bacteria or viruses by making proteins called antibodies. The antibody made is different for each different bug. The antibody locks onto the surface of the invading bacteria or virus. The invader is then marked with the antibody so that the body knows it is dangerous and it can be killed off. The B cells are part of the memory of the immune system. The next time the same bug tries to invade, the B cells that make the right antibody are ready for it. They are able to make their antibody more quickly than the first time the bug invaded.

What do T cells do?

There are different kinds of T cells called:
* Helper T cells
* Killer T cells

The helper T cells stimulate the B cells to make antibodies, and help killer cells develop. Killer T cells kill the body's own cells that have been invaded by the viruses or bacteria. This prevents the bug from reproducing in the cell and then infecting other cells. Once they are fully mature, the B and T cells travel to the spleen and nodes ready to fight infection.

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Lymphomax
or Lymph Glands Cleanse
or Lymphatic Drainage


Wearing of Bras & The lymphatic system

Linked to Breast Cancer January 24, 2000, Health Musings by Clifford S. Garner, Ph.D.

Are you aware of the fact that women who do not wear a bra are 22 times less likely to get breast cancer than bra wearers? Some women have experienced the disappearance of neck and shoulder pain when they stopped wearing bras. Even lumps in the breast have sometimes vanished after stopping bra use.

Some breast lumps and congestions arise from insufficient blood and lymph flow in the breasts and armpits and/or from blocked milk ducts (whether lactating or not), both of which are favored by bra wearing.

In PKP Kinesiology, in which I am certified, there is a breast lymph release procedure which I teach the client to use at home which is wonderful for relief of congested breasts, including those with painful knotty areas or for their prevention. Dr. David Williams in the October 1997 issue of his “Alternatives" newsletter has a 2-page discussion of breast cancer prevention, including his specialized lymph massage self-treatment (if you are interested you can order this issue or subscribe by calling l-800- 527-3044). Incidentally, he quotes a further study by Sidney Singer of two groups of Fiji women with the same diet, environment and lifestyle, half of whom wore bras and the other half not. Those wearing bras had the same rate of breast cancer as women living in the USA, whereas the braless Fiji women had practicallv no breast cancer.

The weight of braless breasts causes the breasts to swing and bob naturally as the person moves, which pumps the lymphatic tissue; rebounding on a trampoline is good for breast lymph release, although not as good as the breast lymph release procedures mentioned above.

As a woman, if you feel you must wear a bra, consider wearing it as little as possible, and use a bra that allows some breast motion, without cutting tightly under and along the outer edges of the breasts where the milk ducts are located. Yes, the hippy girls of the 1960s had the right idea when they burned their bras!

Although I think it's a little sad that so many small-breasted women spend so much time and money trying everything from massage to breast implants to increase the size their breasts, when medical astrology suggests, just as we choose the stars under which to be born, we choose the general characteristics and proportion of our physical body before embodiment.

However, I suppose I should mention while on the subject of breasts, that research at the University of Houston and elsewhere has definitely shown that women can use visualization and relaxation techniques to add two inches and a full cup size to their breasts.

Incidentally, routine mammograms on women in their 40s produce false positive results in over a third of the tests, usually leading to anxiety, unnecessary biopsies, scarring and distortions of the breasts, further impeding the accuracy of later tests.

Also, 25% of malignant tumors in women in their 40s and 10% in older women are missed. A recent Australian study revealed that more than half of breast cancers in younger women are not detected by mammograms. Actually, 98% of women in their 40s apparently get no benefit from mammograms, and the other 2% have their lives extended statistically by only 200 days on the average.

If women start getting regular mammograms at age 40 more cancers will be found because more cancers will be induced by the resulting X-radiation to radiation-sensitive breast tissue.

Between 50 and 60% of breast cancers are discovered by women themselves, either by accident or through regular self-examination.

An inventor, Earl Wright, has developed a $20 device, the "Sensor Pad," available in Canada, most European countries and parts of Asia, which makes it far easier for women to detect changes in breast tissue on self-examination. Recently the FDA has allowed the "Sensor Pad" to be available by prescription (contact Inventive Products at l-800-356-6911 for more information or to find a doctor in your area who is willing to prescribe one for you).