What are Lymphatic Drainage Pathways?
- By: Lauren Bruun
- July 10, 2022
- 4 Min read
The first step in any detoxification regimen is to ensure that the systems in your body responsible for collecting and excreting toxins are all working at their best. The primary toxin drainage pathways include the colon, liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, and glymphatic system.
We’ve all heard about keeping the kidneys, liver, and colon cleared of toxins—each of those organs has its own detox protocol. The lymphatic drainage pathways are often overlooked, but before starting a detox routine, it’s vital to make sure the lymphatic drainage pathways are open.
What exactly are these lymphatic pathways, and why do they matter? How can we make sure these systems are working correctly?
Read on to find out how to maximize the benefits of your detox regimen.
How the Lymphatic System Supports Detox
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which keeps us healthy by destroying viruses and bacteria and purging toxins and waste products out of the body. Lymph, a colorless watery fluid, circulates throughout the body, carried by the tiny lymph vessels, picking up toxins and cellular waste products along the way.
As lymph moves through the body, it passes through the lymph nodes, which trap and kill bacteria. Lymph glands also concentrate the harmful remains of dead bacteria in their tissues, to be eventually drained from the body. These glands become swollen during illness, but they can also become swollen when toxins accumulate in them.
Lymph fluid is much thinner than blood and bathes tissues throughout the body with complex proteins and white blood cells. Even the brain is “washed” by lymphatic fluids, called the glymphatic system. Throughout all the body’s tissues, fresh lymph pushes out lymph filled with toxins, dead cells, and contaminants, then drains it out of the body.
Your most prominent lymphatic drainage pathways are in the neck, groin, and armpits. They all lead to the left and right lymphatic ducts, which then empty into your subclavian vein, a large blood vessel that runs under your collarbone. Used lymph enters the bloodstream, where toxins are ejected from the body and water is recirculated via the kidneys and liver.
Because the pressure circulating lymph is very low, it’s easy for minor illnesses or infections to block the lymphatic drainage pathways. However, an illness is not required for the lymphatic drainage pathways to clog. A sedentary lifestyle can also cause lymph circulation and elimination to become sluggish or even stop.
The circulation of lymph requires proper hydration and regular movement of smooth muscles to assist the direction and flow. Without regular activity and at least some mild daily exercise, lymphatic circulation will slow, allowing toxins in the body to accumulate and have nowhere to go except back into the cells and tissues.
Optimizing Drainage Pathways
Fortunately, impaired lymphatic drainage is not difficult to correct. Here are some ways to open drainage pathways:
- Lymph drainage: One of the most effective approaches includes pressotherapy, a lymphatic drainage massage. In pressotherapy, a person wears a pressotherapy machine or garment, allowing air pressure to be gently and precisely increased, compressing tissues and improving lymphatic flow. Pressotherapy is entirely non-invasive and requires no special preparation.
- Lymphatic massage is a specific type of massage that works to move lymph out of any areas where it has become more stagnant.
- Liver Detox: If your liver has to work hard to process toxins, lymph flow will significantly reduce and contribute to other problems, including skin conditions. This article on detoxing is a great place to start. [https://blog.healthybeings.com/en-us/articles-and-research/detoxing]
- Improving bowel function: If our bowels move slowly, the toxins we are trying to remove end up spending more time in our intestines, and more of them get re-absorbed. This means that the liver has to filter them out repeatedly, slowing the process. There are several ways to do this; see the article How to Improve Gut Health.
- Improve other detox pathways: Besides the lymph and liver, our body also removes toxins through our skin, lungs, and kidneys. Making sure these systems function well will also improve your drainage pathways.
- Lymph supporting herbs such as Astragalus root, an ingredient in LymphActiv, can significantly help move stagnant lymph and support detox and drainage.
- Dry brushing, bouncing and rebounding, regular sauna use, and exercise are other ways to stimulate lymph movement.
- Lymphatic system: Parts & Common Problems. Cleveland Clinic. (2020, February 23). Retrieved December 16, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21199-lymphatic-system
- NCI Dictionary of Cancer terms. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2021, from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/lymphatic-system
- Understanding the glymphatic system. Neuronline. (2018, July 17). Retrieved December 16, 2021, from https://neuronline.sfn.org/scientific-research/understanding-the-glymphatic-system