The Lymphatic System

Lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is made up of lymphatic vessels (similar to blood vessels) and lymph nodes (glands) that extend throughout the body. It helps maintain the balance of fluid in the body by draining excess fluid from the tissues of the body and returning it to the blood system.
Closely related to the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system has several major functions. It is important in the body’s defence mechanism, filtering out bacteria and also (along with the spleen) producing disease-fighting lymphocytes (white blood cells), generating antibodies that are so essential to the body’s immune system. The fluid that circulates in the system is called lymph. In addition to lymph, the system includes lymphatic capillaries and large vessels, lymph nodes (glands), the spleen, the tonsils and the thymus. Besides forming lymphocytes and antibodies, the lymphatic system is also responsible for the collection of fatty globules from the intestine and their transmission through the mesenteric glands and the thoracic duct into the bloodstream.
The lymphatic system also prevents infection entering the bloodstream. It also preserves the fluid balance throughout the body. After an injury, the affected tissue generally swells. It is the lymphatic system that removes most of the excess fluid, and then returns it for circulation. All forms of massage or tactile therapy that involve stimulation of the skin surface will result in improvement of blood and lymph circulation. One advantage that blood circulation has over lymph circulation is that blood is pumped around the body by means of the heart. In contrast, the circulation of lymph relies on breathing, movement (walking or exercising) or external pressure, which is usually administered by various types of compression garments or bandages, and gravity. Since the origin of the lymph is the blood plasma, the two fluids are very much interconnected and inseparable physiologically.
As the lymph circulates between the cells, it collects waste matter including dead blood cells, toxic material and, if present, some cancer cells. While blood is responsible for collecting and distributing oxygen, nutrients and hormones nourishing the entire body, the lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and removing waste products in tissues, acting as a systematic garbage collection service! When this waste is not collected adequately or effectively, it congregates as a localized congestion. Waste-laden lymph is filtered by lymph nodes that are located throughout the body, some superficially under the skin and others situated deeper in tissue in the abdomen and neck, under the arms and the intercostal spaces both to the front and back of the rib cage. The function of these lymph nodes is to remove some fluid and toxic matter as well as killing many pathogens. They are also sometimes responsible for trapping cancerous cells, slowing down the spread of the disease.
During cupping therapy, in particular when ‘moving cupping’ is employed, both blood and lymph circulator} – systems are simultaneously stimulated to work more efficiently. This results in a more efficient collection and transportation mechanism for toxic substances, depositing them into the lymphatic system to be destroyed, and allowing the circulation of fresh lymph in order to nourish the tissues and generate a booster to the immune system