The lymphatic system 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.
During cupping therapy, in particularly when ‘moving cupping’ is employed, both blood and lymph circulatory 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 boost to the immune system.
If the lymph tissues and nodes have been damaged, destroyed or removed it disturbs the delicate flow of lymph fluid in the body resulting in the characteristics of swelling. Cupping massage therapy supports the flow of fluid and reduces the amount of swelling. This technique stimulates and encourages the freedom of lymph fluid to move in the normal pathways which will stimulate lymphatic chains to be open to receive the fluid. Cupping massage therapy helps to support the detoxifying effect which relieves the toxic build up. Cupping massage therapy stimulates the circulation of lymph and lymphocytes through the facial and cervical lymph nodes.
Lymphatic System Summary
The lymphatic system is often referred to as the “body’s line of defense.” The role of this system is extremely valuable in supporting the immune system and regulation interstitial fluids. Primary functions include:
- Defending against invading organisms. Removes and destroys waste, cellular debris, pathogens, toxins and cancerous cells.
- Restores excess interstitial fluids and proteins to the blood.
- Absorbs fat and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system and transports them to the venous circulation. Aids in delivering various other nutrients to the cells in body.
The lymph fluid is a high protein clear to yellowish fluid and flows between cells. Once the fluid leaves the cells it picks up waste products and nutrients. 90% of this fluid empties into the small veins of the venous system. The extra 10% left behind is known as lymph fluid.
Organs of the Lymphatic System
Lymph – contains nutrients, oxygen, hormones, fatty acids, cellular waste products and toxins from cellular tissues.
Lymphatic Vessels – transports system running one way from peripheral tissues to veins in cardiovascular system.
Lymph Nodes – monitors the lymph composition, aids in identifying and engulfing pathogens on site, regulates immune response.
Spleen – monitors blood components, identifies, engulfs and eradicates pathogens, regulates immune response.
Thymus – site of T-lymphocyte development and control.
Conditions That Disturb Lymphatic Flow
- Age: system falters resulting in slight to moderate swelling
- Trauma or damage: due to injury or surgery, results can develop secondary lymphedema
- Primary lymphedema: a person is born with a weaken lymph system
- Cellulite: fluid retention and toxin and fat deposits