The foundation of all good health lies within the function and operation of an individual’s lymphatic system. Those pesky nodes, when stressed out, will swell in your neck, especially behind the ear, and will make it impossible to swallow.

The lymphatic system, according to the Microbiology Coloring Book,1 is a series of vessels, structures, and organs that collect fluid throughout the body and return it to the main circulation for distribution. The lymphocytes function in the immune process; the fluid draining through the lymphatic system is lymph. The clusters of lymph nodes, almost like a bunch of grapes, are located throughout the lymphatic vessels.

These nodes provide a filtration system for the body. They contain the all-important T-cells that eventually will fight for your life. It’s a well-known fact that a highly functioning lymphatic system can handle even the toughest invader of your body—cancer!

It is important to remember that the immune system is your main defense for healing and long-term immunity to diseases. The immune process and your entire body’s defense mechanism is located in the lymphatic system, a system we hardly pay attention to until it’s in a state of trauma or stops functioning properly.

When bacteria, viruses, foreign chemicals, and environmental pollutants enter the body, the lymphocytes—the body’s little soldiers—begin preparing for war. But this type of war doesn’t depend on large defense spending. It is a natural part of our everyday internal health care—the physician within. When these soldiers are activated, they secrete large quantities of antibodies. These antibodies move into the sites of the virus or bacteria or even cancer cells and begin to engulf and destroy the disease or abnormal cells.

It doesn’t take much to understand who runs the show in our human biological house. The lymphatic system is a sure bet. It is the only thing that really lets us function and live a normal life in a germ-infested world.

The body houses hundreds and hundreds of lymph nodes, which are located everywhere imaginable. If we are to keep our lymphatic system functioning, we must be aware of their locations:

* Head and neck. Under the jaw, behind the ears, in the back of neck, at the base of skull, around the eyes, on the side of the cheek, and on the floor of the mouth.
* Chest. Shoulder area, under the armpits, in the breast or mammary glands, at the clavicle or collar bone area, along the upper arm extending into the elbow, and all along the sternum.
* Stomach. Nodes sit on the stomach, the colon, and all major organs such as liver and kidneys.
* Lower body. Groin area, pelvic girdle, and all through the inner thighs. They even go along the spine in many areas.
* The lymphatic system functions only as well as it is kept in good working order. Surprisingly, the lymphs are easy to care for, especially if you become aware of how they function.

Exercise is a key factor:

* Walking, biking, or any cardiovascular work. Both the cardiovascular and the respiratory systems are tied into the lymphatic system.
* Get a mini trampoline and jump on it for five to ten minutes daily. Great for pumping leg lymphs.
* Sit-ups and push-ups.

Self-help techniques include the following:

* Constantly do self massage or polarity acupressure points—your jawbone, under your eyes, behind your ears, squeeze the muscles under your armpit and along the side of your neck.
* If a node is swollen or hard to touch, work around the area, not on it.
* Skin brush. It is good to use a dry vegetable brush daily on your entire body, stroking toward the heart.
* Meditate. Stress suppresses immune function.

Bodywork options include the following:

* Lymphatic massage manually drains the lymphs and helps promote positive movement.
* Lymphodema, especially after surgery, should be attended to immediately through bodywork.
* Polarity lymphatic balance uses key acupressure points to help the body move fluids and create a good energy flow.
* Foot reflexology will stimulate certain lymphatic reflexes.

Personal cleansing is also important:

* Fast regularly—drink green juices or fresh carrot juice, which flush the lymphs.
* Do a colon cleanse. Work with a holistic health practitioner to set up a system to help cleanse your digestive system.
* Sweat. Soaking in hot tubs helps release fluids in lymphs.
* Eat good fats—avocados, olive oil, and almond oil, for example.
* Drink water every hour on the hour.

Specific herbs for immunity include Echinacea, goldenseal, and garlic for surface immunity, and ginseng, liquorices, and astragali for deep immunity.

The health care of the lymphatic system is truly the heart of it all. I remember a yoga teacher once saying, “You have everything you need to do what you want; you have everything you want to do what you need.”

It’s simple: your best defense is a progressive offense.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Mary Jo has a doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati and was a former professor of twenty-five years at the Ohio State University. She has a background in all facets of education with a focus in health science, physiology of exercise, and Ayurvedic health care. Mary Jo is the founder and director of Columbus Polarity, Center for Integrative Health and Wellness and the Ohio Institute of Energetic Studies, which trains professional practitioners in energy medicine, polarity therapy, and holistic health education. She also teaches complementary and alternative therapies in several medical schools and has numerous articles, books, and manuals published. For further contact, go to or e-mail