From The Medical Director – August 2011

Tim ZimmerClub Newsletter

From the desk of the Medical Director:
A Clinical Review of the Lymphatic System

By Dr. Lisa Valent, ND, LMP

What symptoms do we see when the lymphatic system is congested?

First, let’s focus on where the lymph nodes are located — the head & neck, the chest, the armpits, behind the knees & elbows, in the pelvis. Additionally, there are lymph glands in the gut. Anywhere these are located are prime locations for congestion leading to:

  • Head & Neck: acne, chronic sore throat, ear infections, sinusitis, cough, head congestion, seasonal allergies, puffy face & eyes
  • Chest: lung congestion, chronic cough
  • Armtpits: breast swelling & tenderness with the menses, fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer
  • Abdomen: abdominal swelling & pain, constipation, hepatitis, hemorrhoids, poor digestion & absorption of nutrients
  • Pelvis: heavy menstrual cramps, uterine fibroids, and other gynecological problems, prostate swelling, hemorrhoids, chronic urinary tract infections
  • Whole body: lymphedema–swollen feet & ankles, swollen fingers & arms. The lower extremities are seen swollen in pregnancy and health conditions such as diabetes & those affecting the gut & pelvis. Whole body lymphedema or specific to 1 limb is seen especially after cancer treatment.
  • Overall: rheumatoid arthritis, increased risk of cancers

How we assess the lymphatics naturopathically:

  • Evalulate for lymphedema–swelling of the tissues
  • Check lymph nodes for congestion & tenderness
  • Palpate abdomen for swelling & fluid retention & organ congestion
  • Look at immune function via labs
  • Interview you to look at your whole symptom picture

Types of treatments used include:

  • lymphatic drainage & massage
  • immune support
  • herbs & nutrients to clear the lymphatic system (see Lymphatone)
  • colon hydrotherapy
  • dry skin brushing
  • therapeutic exercise to increase lymph flow
  • treat the cause to get resolution of dysfunction in the system

If you have any of the above symptoms, your best 1st stop is to see a naturopathic doctor to provide you with comprehensive care. We can assess why you have congestion in the 1st place to prevent future recurrence. We strongly recommend you see a naturopathic doctor if you have previously or currently have cancer, have repeat infections associated with your symptoms or have lymphedema with visible swelling of the tissues–especially in the legs or feet. For symptomatic treatment, lymphatic drainage is an excellent place to start to provide quick relief.