Exercise helps your lymph system in the short term as well as the long term. Aerobic exercise will move your lymph up to five times faster then typical resting lymph flow. This is why many people cough out crud and mucous as they being to exercise. Strength training of your upper body, which improves muscle mass and muscle contraction, directly helps improve the long-term health of your lymph system. As I have pointed out, exercise can be friend or foe to your immune system function, so learn to do it right.
Getting a good response to exercise and actually doing exercise are basics for improving lymph function. Stagnation of your body is public enemy number one. Any exercise helps.
A simple exercise for those with a very congested lymph system is to lay on your back and place each hand on your opposite shoulder (this takes tension off the thoracic ducts in your shoulder area). Keeping your feet flat, move your feet up towards your rear end and keep them about shoulder distance apart. Put your knees together, forming a teepee look with your legs (this rolls your hips out and takes pressure off the thoracic duct moving from your gut up the left side of your spine). Stay in this position for 2 minutes to 20 minutes, however long it takes for you to feel the pressure decline at which point your lymph will move better. This simple exercise helps many people prevent or stop a potentially difficult lymph headache or major pressure problem. It is a favorite for people with fibromyalgia, as they may not be fit enough to do aerobic activity.
Of course, massage of the upper back invariably helps move your lymph along and those with a long-term history of lymph problems will eventually need to be able to tolerate deep tissue massage in this area so as to break up the “”scar tissue”” that is linking their connective tissue into such a stiff condition. Chiropractic can sometimes help, but results are short-lived unless the underlying lymph problem is addressed (as the lymph pressure will just push the spine back out of alignment). It is generally best to have muscles massaged and relaxed before an upper back adjustment is attempted, especially in those with long-term lymph struggles.
My favorite nutrient for moving the lymphatic system is arabinogalactan. This nutrient helps enhance macrophages (garbage eaters) and other immune cells within lymph tissue. It is often used before bed and in the morning, up to four times a day when fighting a bug. Arabinogalactan is one of the best natural remedies for helping to clear fever. It helps the immune system clear trash better so that a fever isn’t needed (far different from an anti-inflammatory drug that stops fever but leaves the toxins). I was one of the original users of arabinogalactan in clinical practice (it is far superior to Echinacea – which I no longer use due to allergy issues). Back in the 1990s I became a believer when a client, who had just been to the hospital with their infant who had been running a high fever for three days, stopped by my office on their way home (an hour drive) to see if I had any suggestions (the doctors offered nothing). Because arabinogalactan is a carbohydrate with no toxicity, I suggested they may want to give it a try as it had some preliminary studies showing it helped ear infections in children. They mixed some up in my office and gave it to their child. They called when they got home, the fever had broken. Countless children have benefited ever since.
My second choice is proteolytic enzymes, especially bromelain and papain, which are themselves “”garbage eaters”” and anti-inflammatory nutrients (helping reduce excess trash formation). Many digestive enzyme products will have a secondary benefit for cleaning internal trash, which of course helps move sluggish lymph.
Quercetin can help relieve the congestion that is associated with lymphatic overload, while helping front line troops stabilize and be more effective. Quercetin has been shown to help reduce the likelihood of the flu.
Oregano oil is a potent immune support nutrient based primarily on its active component, carvacrol. Carvacrol, as well as other oil components in oregano such as p-cymene and thymol, are terpenes that are also a fat-sludge solvents, i.e., help to dissolve sludge in the lymph system (and gall bladder for that matter). This is one reason oregano is so helpful for clearing out baseline sinus congestion along with its other multiple immune support benefits. Such baseline sinus issues are often fungal in nature. Oregano is one of the best natural antifungals available.
Those with fluid retention issues often benefit from herbs like horse chestnut, hawthorn berry, and grape seed extract, which help strengthen and tone capillaries, the water-holding tissues between capillaries and the lymph system, and the lymph system itself.
Any nutrients that help you reduce inflammation, boost your energy, or help you tolerate stress will help your lymph system by reducing the amount of trash it has to deal with in the first place.
Any nutrients that help your liver, gall bladder, or digestive tract handle trash better, help lymphatic stagnation because improvement will enable trash to flow out of the lymph system and smoothly get out of your body. Thus, some people will benefit from a more detailed understanding of the entire subject of detoxification.
Any nutrient that helps you sleep better will help your lymph system because sleep time is the main time your lymph tries to do its housecleaning chores. If you feel like crud when you wake up, it is directly reflective of how poorly your lymph system functioned while you slept. While a lack of sleep will always make matters worse, improving your lymph function in general will always help you sleep better.
Improvement in the baseline function of your lymph system is required for optimal immunity. If you do get sick, your lymph system will not only have its hands full helping to mount an immune response, it will also be working overtime trying to clear trash that is coming from the battlefield. If you can’t keep up with trash clearing your body will go to a back up plan called run a fever so as to break the toxic bonds of waste products coming from the infection.
The more that your body feels like it is being run over by a Mack truck, the more the garbage removal capability of your lymph system is being tested. This is a time to use higher amounts of lymph clearing nutrients, which not only help get you out of that horrid feeling but also improve the ability of your body to get over the hump and win the battle.
If your lymph system remains clogged during a battle it can go on and on and when you do finally get better you will be much more at risk for the infection coming back or for a new infection taking hold.
When you manage your lymph system for healthier function, both in terms of its baseline health and supporting it in a time of need, you will go a long way towards having a better immune response for fighting the flu, including the swine flu.