Lymph System in Health and Disease




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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

Exercise such as cycling dramatically increases the flow of blood and lymph in the pelvic region where the male prostate gland is located.

Deep breathing also moves the lymph.

The main lymph vessels run up the legs, up the arms, up the torso, and down from the face into the neck. This is why the vertical up and down movement of rebounding is so effective to pump the lymph.

Your body has two circulatory systems, one for blood and another for lymph. There are twice as many lymph vessels as blood vessels, and the volume of lymph in the body is twice that of blood.

Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues. However, blood cells do not actually contact the tissues. All the cells in the body are bathed in interstitial fluid (also know as extracellular fluid). Proteins in the interstitial fluid pull oxygen and nutrients through the capillary wall and carry them to the cells. 

The interstitial fluid provides oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carries waste away. Carbon dioxide and acid wastes are carried back through capillary walls into the blood. Larger wastes such as dead cells, bacteria, viruses, and other material are too large to pass through the capillary walls. These larger materials are carried away as the interstitial fluid moves into lymph vessels, eventually to be filtered and cleansed at the lymph nodes. From the lymph nodes the fluid is released into the blood as blood plasma.

The pumping action of the heart moves the blood. However, the lymph is propelled by the motion of the body. If the body does not move then the lymph does not move. If a part of the body is immobilized or constricted by tight clothing (such as a bra), then the flow of lymph is obstructed. One of the effects of an allergic reaction is a local "blockade of the lymph vessels." Major surgery damages the lymph vessels, interfering with the flow of lymph. Dehydration and other factors may cause the lymph to thicken, hindering its flow. Deep breathing moves the lymph, shallow breathing is less effective. Regular exercise is essential to move the lymph.

As lymph is drawn into the lymph vessels a mild "vacuum" is created in the areas from which the lymph fluid has come. This vacuum draws more fluid and nutrients from the capillaries.  If the lymph does not move into the lymph vessels, then the tissues can swell (edema) due to fluid pressure from the capillaries forcing fluid into the tissues.

When the flow of lymph is hindered, then cellular wastes accumulate and the area becomes toxic and irritated. To cleanse the area, the body increases the blood flow by creating new blood vessels and new lymph vessels to the area. The result is inflammation and swelling. If the inflammation becomes chronic, then we have a situation that is ripe for disease. Stem cells migrate to the area to help with the repair, but in a situation of chronic inflammation these undifferentiated cells are not able to fully differentiate. These stem cells have the capacity for unlimited growth, the ability to avoid apoptosis (programmed cell death) signals, and an altered requirement for growth factors. Here we have an origin of cancer.

The inability of the lymph to remove waste has also been linked to many other diseases.

For more information see:

Lemole, Gerald and Dwight McKee, After Cancer Care: The Definitive Self-Care Guide to Getting and Staying Well for Patients after Cancer, Rodale Books, 2015.

Lemole, M.D., Gerald M., The Healing Diet: A Total Health Program to Purify Your Lymph System and Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease, William Morrow & Company, 2000.

Research by Dr. Lemole has demonstrated that the flow of lymph prevents and removes atherosclerosis. The flow of lymph is accelerated by exercise, providing confirmation of the usefulness of exercise as one of the four parts of Dr. Ornish's 4 part program to prevent and reverse heart disease. Dr. Ornish recommends regular exercise such as walking 30 minutes daily or 60 minutes every other day.


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