What is Lymph & Why would you want it drained?

First of all, lymph is important - as important as blood or oxygen. While loss of the lymph system would not be as immediately fatal, it would be fatal nonetheless - in less than 72 hours. Lymph is blood plasma after it has carried its nutrients into the body's tissues, dropped them off for the cells, picked up our metabolic wastes, and re-entered our water reclamation plant, which is the lymph system. Once it has passed through a series of nodes, where it is filtered and detoxified, lymph empties back into the heart where it once again becomes blood plasma.

Keeping the lymph system active is therefore extremely important - the faster we detoxify, the healthier we are. Lymph drainage is always indicated in cases of lymphedema. These can arise following surgery, trauma, or infection. Facial drainage helps with sinusitis and dental problems and is excellent for the skin - even providing a one or two day "face lift." Lymph drainage hydrates the skin and removes local toxins, softening wrinkles, rejuvenating the skin, and helping to heal acne. It is of particular benefit in clearing cellulite. Drainage also promotes healing, toning, and revitalizing of the internal organs, benefiting irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, gastritis, and chronic pancreatic insufficiency. These are but a few of the benefits - the list goes on almost endlessly.

Mostly lymph is water - about 96%. It is also rich in minerals, about the same as seawater, as well as proteins and white blood cells. All together these make up the other 4%. Lymph is the clear fluid you see seeping out of a scrape or shallow cut, often before there is any blood. The bulk of our lymph fluid circulates just beneath the skin, where it is quickly available as the immune system's first line of defense and the body's first response to minor injuries.

Our bodies are about 50% water by weight. Of this, about 30% is lymph. The rest is blood plasma, interstitial fluid (in the tissues), and cerebral spinal fluid. By volume, our bodies contain about three times as much lymph as they do blood. But because lymph is clear (the root word is "limpa," meaning limpid, clear), the vessels that carry it are difficult to see. Thus, it was not really discovered until 1622, when Gasparo Aselli dissected a dog that had just eaten a meal high in fat, temporarily making the largest vessels visible as "milky veins."

Another way of thinking about the lymph system is to consider it a scavenging system for interstitial fluid. If it fails, even partially, this fluid is not sufficiently collected and the result is an area of swelling known as edema. If it fails altogether, the entire body swells and bloats until the toxic overload becomes too great for life to continue. To keep it healthy requires drinking plenty of water and exercising, especially swimming and stretching and rhythmic movements. Of course, a good session of lymph drainage does not hurt.

For more information on how lymphatic drainage works, or to make an appointment, email Jim below, or phone 925-286-5505.

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Tai Chi Lymphatic Drainage of