The lymphatic system or lymph system involves network of vessels which traverse out tissues to allow the movement of fluid which is called as lymph. It is like a sewage system of our body that collects waste from all of our cells and brings them to the appropriate organs which eliminate them. There is as much lymphatic fluid in the body as there is blood. Lymph flows through lymphatic vessels just as blood does through the veins. So, in a way it is similar to blood circulatory system.

Lymphatic System Structure:

Lymph System Structure

Main Functions of Lymphatic System:

1. It maintains the balance of fluid between the blood and tissues (fluid homeostasis). It returns excess fluid and proteins from tissues that cannot be returned via veins and venules.

2. It forms a part of our immune system and helps in defending against foreign bodies like bacteria. It drains the fluid infected by the pathogens and present it before the immune cells, so that the immune cells can make antibodies against the pathogens.

3. It facilitates absorption of fat and fat soluble nutrients in our digestive system. Lymph system have small vessels lacteals in the gut which are responsible for taking up fats and fat soluble nutrients. They work with the blood capillaries in folded surface membrane of small intestine.

Lymph Node:

Lymph Node

Lymph Flow Diagram:

Lymph Flow


Additional Facts:

1. Lymph vessels controls fluid balance by draining fluid from all our tissues and also delivers foreign material to lymph nodes for assessment by immune system.

2. When there is a build up of bacteria, lymph fluid or other organisms in the lymph nodes then in response to the infection lymph nodes swells up which is commonly known as swollen glands.

3. Cancer, in rare cases, can also cause lymph nodes to become swollen.

4. Lymphatic nodes are responsible for filtering the lymph. It also provides adaptive immune response to new pathogens.

5. Lymphedema, a disorder of lymphatic system, is a form of swelling that occurs when lymph vessels fails to drain lymph.

6. Without this system the tissues will swell greatly causing complications of blood pressure and blood volume.

7. Lymph which contains emulsified fats or free fatty acids delivers nutrients indirectly on reaching venous blood circulation, while blood capillaries takes up nutrients directly.

8. It is recommended to see a doctor if swollen lymph nodes do not return to their normal size or are accompanied with fever or any other problem.

Symptoms of poor Lymphatic System:

  • Edema
  • Soreness and stiffness in morning
  • Arthritis
  • Lethargy
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Itchy skin
  • Bad skin (dryness, acne, premature aging, etc.)
  • Breast swelling
  • Premature Menstrual Syndrome
  • Brain fog
  • Cold limbs
  • Chronic headache or migraine
  • Excess mucus
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic inflammation

See Also: Detox your Lymphatic System!

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