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Learn About Lymphatic Drainage for Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month

As we dive into Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, it's crucial to understand the role of the lymphatic system in managing these conditions. Discover the benefits of lymphatic drainage and how it can support immune system function if you or someone you love has an autoimmune disease. From detoxification, to decreasing brain fog, increasing energy and so much more, this life changing technique can aid in symptom management and improve your quality of life! 

autoimmune disease awareness month

Understanding the Lymphatic System and Autoimmune Disease

Have you ever considered the intricate connection between the lymphatic system and autoimmune diseases? Understanding how this vital system functions can shed light on the complexities of autoimmune conditions. The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in immune response, making it a key player in managing autoimmune disorders. One of the functions of the lymphatic system is to detect and destroy foreign substances in the body such as bacteria, viruses, other foreign invaders and defective cells. With autoimmune diseases, the body misidentifies healthy cells and tissues as foreign and starts to attack itself, the very body it was intended to protect. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are over 100 recognized autoimmune diseases affecting 1 out of every15 Americans. With these kinds of statistics, chances are you know someone struggling with at least some of the most common autoimmune disease symptoms such as: fatigue, inflammation, pain, low immunity and depression. Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn  how lymphatic drainage can be used to help manage autoimmune conditions, ease side effects and improve the quality of life.   

Importance of Detoxification in Managing Autoimmune Disease

In addition to eliminating foreign invaders that can harm the body, the lymphatic system is responsible for cleaning cellular waste and toxins from the tissue. In essence, the lymphatic system is responsible  for “detoxing “ the body on a regular basis, processing anywhere from 2-3 liters of lymphatic fluid a day. The disease process itself, necessary medications, environmental pollution, food additives, chemicals in skin care products, allergies and even stress hormones can compound the load the lymphatic system must clean. By supporting the lymphatic system to do its job,  individuals can help reduce the overall lymphatic load, reduce inflammation and promote overall wellness. Eliminating toxins from the body can ease the burden on the immune system, allowing it to function more effectively in fighting off autoimmune responses. Incorporating practices that naturally help support the body detox such as drinking plenty of water, eating nutrient-rich, unprocessed, organic foods, getting sufficient sleep and engaging in regular exercise can aid lymphatic system function and help manage symptoms. Lymphatic drainage stimulates the lymphatic system to work faster, processing lymphatic fluid more rapidly, forcing the body into eliminating or “detoxing” more waste than it would when functioning at its usual pace. Anyone can have a detox reaction to lymphatic drainage or any other type of detoxification process. A detox reaction usually entails a headache,feeling tired or very rarely feeling flu-like symptoms. Individuals suffering with autoimmune issues however, should proceed conservatively when first starting lymphatic drainage or any other detox program. Detoxing too much, too fast can overwhelm the body and cause extreme fatigue or ill feelings. Therefore, it is important to start with lymphatic drainage sessions that are no more than 30 to 60 minutes. Seeking professional help from qualified practitioners like Modern Body can ensure safe and effective sessions and guide you with home practice.

According to the National Institute of Health in this abstract, “lymphatic vessels are critical for clearing fluid and inflammatory cells from inflamed tissues and also have roles in immune tolerance. Given the functional association of the lymphatics with the immune system, lymphatic dysfunction may contribute to the pathophysiology of rheumatic autoimmune diseases. Here we review the current understanding of the role of lymphatics in the autoimmune diseases rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, and dermatomyositis and consider the possibility that manual therapies such as massage and acupuncture may be useful in improving lymphatic function in autoimmune diseases.”

How Lymphatic Drainage Supports Immune Function in Autoimmune Disorders

Lymphatic drainage techniques can help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, allowing the immune system to function more effectively. By promoting the removal of toxins and waste products from the body, lymphatic drainage bolsters overall immune health and can aid in managing symptoms of autoimmune conditions. This gentle therapy can also help to boost energy levels, reduce pain, lessen anxiety and improve overall well-being for those living with autoimmune diseases. Along with proper nutrition, hydration and exercise, lymphatic drainage is a wonderful tool to help promote optimal function of the lymphatic system. Don't underestimate the power of this simple yet effective technique in supporting your body's natural defenses against autoimmune disorders.

Promoting a Healthy Lymphatic System at Home for Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month

Start by scheduling regular lymphatic drainage massage sessions with a licensed massage therapist who specializes not only in lymphatic drainage but also has experience working with clients with autoimmune conditions. Many massage therapists are only trained and experienced in working with athletes and a healthy clientele. Self lymphatic drainage is easy to do at home. Experiencing a lymphatic drainage session with a skilled practitioner will allow you to experience what the technique feels like before you go it on your own. Additionally, your therapist will be able to guide you in some simple techniques and areas of concentration for your specific needs. 

In addition to seeing a professional on a regular basis and incorporating self-care techniques at home, adding  dry brushing, brisk walks and even gentle exercises to your routine are easy to implement and can have profound benefits. Movement is essential in stimulating the propulsion of lymphatic fluid throughout the body. However, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you know how hard it can sometimes be to muster the energy to exercise. Even when you can find the energy, it’s easy to “over do It”, sometimes suffering the consequences later. This of course can make exercise challenging, but remember, even  gentle exercise or simple movements are beneficial for lymphatic circulation and for other health reasons as well.

The Role of Nutrition and Hydration in Supporting a Healthy Lymphatic System

In addition to lymphatic drainage, let's explore the vital role that nutrition and hydration play in maintaining a healthy lymphatic system. A well-balanced, anti-inflammatory diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can help reduce inflammation and support lymphatic function. Identifying food allergens and sensitivities and deleting them from your diet can help mitigate immune system activation and inflammation. In addition, it’s important to drink water! Hydration is key for overall health and makes the lymphatic system’s job of cleaning and processing waste material much easier. By nourishing our bodies with the right nutrients and staying hydrated, we not only boost our immune system but also aid in the detoxification process essential for managing autoimmune conditions.

The Importance of Stress Management in Autoimmune Disease and How Lymphatic Drainage Can Help

We all know autoimmune diseases take a physical toll on the body, but often overlooked are the non-physical struggles of the disease.  Living with an autoimmune disease can affect relationships, work, the ability to perform certain tasks and hobbies, cognitive function and mental health. Obviously,  these issues are extremely stressful in and of themselves, but when stress exacerbates the condition causing the issues, it becomes a very difficult situation to manage. Although we can’t always control the stressors in our life, we can learn how to control our response to it and find ways to diffuse it. The importance of lessening and managing stress in the treatment of autoimmune diseases has been recognized for some time.This is where lymphatic drainage comes in. Soothing and deeply relaxing, this style of bodywork  not only benefits the lymphatic system, but the nervous system as well. This gentle technique calms the  “fight or flight” system, (AKA the sympathetic nervous system) usually putting people into a deep state of bliss within the first 15 minutes of treatment. These calming effects often last well after the treatment is over. Additionally, because lymphatic drainage increases the uptake of fluid to be cleaned and processed, excess hormones once useful and now waste, such as the stress hormone cortisol are rid from the body much quicker. Deep belly breathing also helps to calm stress and stimulates deep lymphatic circulation.

In Summary

While lymphatic drainage is not a replacement for medical treatment, it is a safe and effective therapy for managing autoimmune disease. Remember, even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, you can still attain all the same benefits from lymphatic drainage. Cedars-Sinai shared that “Lymphatic drainage can be a powerful tool for people whose lymphatic system is compromised from surgery, illness, or injury."

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