Why Lymph Drainage Is Important with MCAS
Poor lymph drainage is very common in people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
Poor lymph drainage can leave you with limited range of motion from swelling. That can be extremely uncomfortable and hinder your ability to do even basic daily tasks.
But worse than that, it can contribute to some very concerning issues.
Breast lumps (and all the worry that comes with that), neurodegeneration, and increased mast cell activation are just a few that come to mind.
Have you had any of these leading causes of lymphatic obstruction?
- Parasitic infections
- Radiation therapy
- Skin infections
- Surgery (including removal of lymph nodes or mastectomy)
Do you experience any of these symptoms of poor lymph drainage?
- Limited range of motion from swelling
- Skin changes, including discoloration
- Unexplained blisters
- Leaking of fluid from the skin
- Swelling in your appendages, head, neck, chest, or back
These are common symptoms of edema and lymphedema. Those are 2 conditions associated with a malfunctioning lymphatic system.
If you’ve had any of the leading causes of lymphatic obstruction or have symptoms of poor lymph drainage, keep reading to learn more about:
- The roles your lymphatic system plays in your body
- Why lymphatic drainage is important in detox
- The relationship between lymph and MCAS
- Lymph and breast health
- How to improve lymphatic drainage for better health
Let’s get started!
What Is the Lymphatic System?
Your lymphatic system is part of your immune system and circulatory system.
This system includes your:
- Thymus gland
- Lymph nodes
- Lymphatic vessels (extend to all tissues throughout your body)
- Bone marrow
Lymphatic vessels are found throughout your body.
If they get blocked, this blockage can negatively impact how your immune system responds to pathogens. This can increase your risk of infection, inflammation, and autoimmune conditions.
And that can greatly affect you if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
So, I pay extra attention to supporting lymph drainage.
Let’s next look at what exactly lymph is. Then, we’ll cover some of the roles your lymphatic system plays in your health.
What Is Lymph?
One of your lymphatic system’s top functions is to help move lymph throughout your body.
Lymph is a fluid that drains from your cells and tissues.
Lymph can contain proteins, minerals, fats, nutrients, damaged cells, cancer cells, and pathogens, too.
In some cases, lymph movement is important for removing harmful substances like pathogens from your body.
In other cases, lymph movement is important for delivering helpful substances like nutrients and immune cells throughout your body.
Lymph gets delivered through lymphatic vessels which extend to all your tissues.
And very importantly, lymph vessels send lymph through hundreds of nodes throughout your body including your:
The nodes filter toxins, pathogens, and waste.
You can think of the lymphatic system like a filter system. It removes problematic waste and allows the good stuff to pass through.
But for some people, lymph doesn’t flow well. It builds up and gets out of balance. That means it isn’t flowing well. And it isn’t reaching those lymph nodes that act as filters.
In a nutshell, that means this important detox system isn’t working optimally to fight pathogens and remove cellular waste.
And if your lymph isn’t draining well, you won’t be able to detox well.
Why Is Lymphatic Drainage Important in Detox?
Like many of my clients, Mold Toxicity was a huge problem for me.
Part of addressing Mold Toxicity is detoxing mycotoxins (mold toxins).
Additionally, your toxic load may be high due to:
- Heavy metal exposure
- Chemical toxins from the environment
- Harmful chemicals in skincare products and household cleaners
- Toxins in water and food
- Off-gassing VOCs
Many people with MCAS have high toxic loads which contribute to mast cell reactions.
Remember, your mast cells are your front-line defenders against invading substances of any kind.
But when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, your mast cells may be over-reactive. An important part of healing is to reduce your mast cells triggers to calm down your mast cell responses.
One way you can do this is by supporting lymphatic drainage. Keeping your body’s natural filtration system working properly means you’ll be able to detox better.
A lower toxic load equals fewer mast cell reactions.
Related Post: How to Detox Your Body Gently from Mold
Let’s look at lymph and your immune system (of which your mast cells are a part) a little more, next.
Mast Cells and Lymph
You’ve already read that your lymphatic system is important in fighting off pathogens and detoxing your body.
Mast cells actually play a significant part in the regulation of the lymphatic functions.
Did you know that both lymph fluid and lymph nodes contain white blood cells which help fight infections and diseases? Mast cells are one type of white blood cell.
Mast cells are found in almost all vascularized tissues. This just means tissues that consist of blood vessels and lymphatic systems.
When activated, mast cells release chemicals called mediators. These mediators send signals throughout the body telling the body how to respond.
Among other functions, these chemical mediators influence lymphatic permeability and contractility. In other words, they can help prevent lymph leakage and promote lymph flow.
Remember, mast cells aren’t all bad. Healthy mast cell reactions play a big part in wellness.
Your lymphatic system plays another role in your immunity as well. Let’s look at that next.
Lymph and Immunity
Have you heard of adaptive immunity?
It’s the immunity you develop based on your life experiences. In other words, you aren’t born with it.
Throughout your life, you will be exposed to different germs. And your body remembers these encounters.
Cells in your lymph nodes and lymphatic organs “remember” these pathogens. It’s like a record that allows your body to know what to do the next time your body encounters these pathogens. It’s a mechanism meant to prevent illness.
The main cells of your adaptive immunity are called lymphocytes.
Lymph also plays a part in the health of your brain and breasts (for men and women!)
Keep reading to learn more. Then I’ll share with you some ways you can support lymphatic drainage for better health.
Lymph and Brain Health
I started paying extra attention to lymph drainage when I learned how important this was for anyone who has suffered from concussions. (I’ve had over 15!)
Research is suggesting that even mild head injuries may lead to damage of the lymphatic vessels in the brain. These vessels help clear toxins and cellular waste from the brain.
Damaged vessels mean cellular waste isn’t being removed properly. And it’s believed that degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s may be linked to poor removal of cellular waste from the brain.
Supporting my long-term brain health is important. But that’s not the only reason I’m interested in lymphatic drainage.
Lymph and Breast Health
When your lymphatic system is blocked, your body isn’t equipped to fight off germs and other toxins.
And the nutrients your cells need to stay healthy aren’t going to reach your bloodstream as efficiently.
So, if you have a blockage, these important things just aren’t happening.
Most chronic disease problems occur at the junction of lymph vessels or lymph nodes.
Including the breast tissue. This applies for both men and women.
Daily lymphatic drainage for breasts is very important for breast health. It may help with reduction of breast cancer risk.
Lymph plays a big part in doing good things for your body.
But the lymphatic system can also carry cancer cells to other parts of the body. So, if there is cancer in the breast, these cells can spread to the lymph nodes.
However, manual lymphatic drainage may be helpful for those who struggle with lymphatic fluid drainage. (More on this coming up.) This is especially important for those who have had breast cancer surgery.
That’s because lymph nodes near the breasts are often removed as part of these types of surgeries.
Lymphedema is a condition where the lymph system isn’t draining fluids properly and you get fluid buildup. It can often occur in people who have had breast cancer-related surgeries.
One of the telltale signs of lymphedema is swelling.
These are just a few of the roles that your lymphatic system plays in your body. But you can see that they are important ones!
You’ve learned why lymphatic drainage is important.
So, now you may be wondering what you can do to support that process.
Keep reading to learn about some ways you can improve lymphatic drainage.
Easy Ways to Boost Lymphatic Drainage
When it comes to lymphatic drainage, there’s quite a lot you can do to get lymph flowing.
I’ll start by sharing some free and easy lymphatic drainage techniques you can get started with. But keep reading because there’s something new I want to tell you about. I’ve been using it to help with lymph drainage and breast health!
I’m always surprised at how many of my clients are dehydrated.
If asked if they are drinking enough water, they almost always say yes. But when I ask exactly how much water they consume, it’s often not enough.
Hydration helps with:
- Regulating body temperature
- Improved sleep
- Cognitive functioning
- Joint health
- Organ functioning
And it helps support your lymphatic system.
Water helps with lymph flow. And better lymph flow means better toxin removal.
So, are you getting enough water?
For adults with toxicity, I’ve been recommending about 75 ounces of water daily for those weighing about 150 pounds or less.
Adults over that weight will need to drink even more.
At the start of each day, I fill up all my water bottles until I have what I need for the day.
I know I’ve reached my goal if all the water bottles I filled are empty by day’s end.
And to make it easy on myself, I always keep a couple on my desk.
I drink both reverse osmosis water and herbal teas.
To reduce my exposure to toxins in water, I use this water filter.
Another free and easy way to support lymphatic drainage is through gentle exercise.
Physical activity encourages fluid to drain into the lymphatic system in the abdomen.
Some of my favorite ways to get in some movement are:
- Walking ─ bonus if you do nature walks and forest bathing!
- Rebounding ─ aerobic exercise using a mini-trampoline
- Can go fast or slow
- Can start with simple bounces, raising your heels up and down
- Mini-trampoline makes jumping movements easier on your joints
- Qigong ─ mind-body-spirit practice that integrates posture, movement, and breath work
- Heel drops ─ raise up on tiptoe and then come back down on your heels gently, but still creating some vibration through your body
- You don’t want to feel pain or discomfort when you come back down
- You can use a chair to support you if you have balance issues
- You can do about 10 of these as a good starting point
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a type of massage that can be done by yourself or a massage therapist who specializes in this type of massage technique.
Before you get professional massage therapy, though, you may want to start yourself at home.
See, sensitive people with a lot of toxicity may not be able to tolerate a full 50 to 60-minute massage.
If you are sensitive, start with just 2-3 minutes. You can build up to 15-20 mins 1-3x/week.
You can look up different lymphatic drainage massage techniques online. Most involve gentle pressure to different parts of your body including your face, neck, hips, arms, chest, and legs.
You’ll often see diagrams showing you how to glide your fingers over key areas to glide lymph to the main lymph collectors.
If you are doing well on your own, you may then consider that a massage therapist can help, too.
But it’s really important that you look for a therapist who specializes in manual lymphatic drainage AND understands sensitivities.
They need to know how to do gentle work that will aid drainage, but not trigger your nervous system by doing too much, too fast.
This is a lot like what it sounds like. You take a dry brush, preferably made with natural fibers, and brush it along your skin towards your heart.
It’s great for exfoliating dead skin!
Some people have used this technique to stimulate circulation, which may help with lymphatic drainage.
There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back this up. But many people report they feel better and believe it helps.
If you want to try this, start with just 5 to 10 minutes per day. And use light pressure.
It’s suggested that to do this, you first start with your lower body, at your feet, and work upward. Long strokes toward the heart are suggested.
Then you move to your upper body, including your hands and arms. Similarly make long strokes crossing toward your heart.
Then you will end with your face and neck moving downward toward the heart.
You can then end at the heart itself.
Please note that dry brushing is not always tolerated with sensitive skin. If you have a lot of skin mast cell activation, this technique may not be for you.
Last is something I’m really excited to share with you. I love it when I find something new that supports my health and doesn’t trigger mast cell reactions.
And this new thing I’ve been using comes from a good friend, hormone expert, Magdalena Wszelaki.
Happy Sisters Cream
Happy Sisters Cream is a topical cream for supporting lymphatic drainage. I use it with manual lymphatic drainage self-massage to get the most out of it.
And even though it’s “sisters” even men can use it.
It can be applied to your skin, particularly over lymph areas such as:
The ingredients may help with:
- Breast pain reduction
- Reduction of fibrocystic breast lumps
- Inflammatory responses in the breast
- Supporting the lymphatic system
This cream is made of a combination of herbs. Let’s look briefly at how each of these ingredients can support your health.
Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil comes from a flowering plant called Nigella sativa.
It’s been used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory pain relief option for breast pain and menstrual cramping pain.
Some studies are also showing that black seed oil may hinder the growth of cancer cells in the breast and decrease cell movement.
And Nigella has mast cell stabilizing properties, too!
Poke Root (Phytolacca americana)
Poke root (Phytolacca americana) is a plant that has been used to clear lumps, swellings, and tissue congestion that may be associated with lymphatic blockage.
Midwives have also used it to help with breast pain and breast inflammation.
And, at least in animal studies, it’s shown potential for fighting breast cancer cells. Studies are still ongoing for humans, though.
And Phytolacca contains triterpenoids. These are compounds that are found in plants.
Triterpenoids have been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory and anticancer agents.
St. John’s Wort Oil (Hypericum perforatum)
You may be most familiar with St. John’s Wort being used for anxiety and depression.
But used topically, St. John’s Wort has been shown to:
- Be anti-inflammatory
- Promote local detoxification
- Help with breast pain
- Help with fibrocystic breast conditions
Topical use of St. John’s Wort is unlikely to have the same drug interactions as taking it orally. However, if you are taking SSRIs, SNRIs, or other medications talk with your prescriber to be on the safe side if you have concerns.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) oil has been used to stimulate circulation. It’s often used together with lymph-producing herbs like Phytolacca. (Happy Sisters Cream has both!)
Ginger can help with:
- Clearing blockages in the body
- Promoting detoxification
It also has properties that help your body with absorption. That means it helps you to get the most benefits from all the ingredients in this cream.
Rose Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum)
This essential oil has been used for:
- Antioxidant properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Relieving symptoms of depression
- Promoting lymph production and movement of lymph
- Improving circulation
- Reduce swelling, especially in breast tissue
- Balancing hormones
It’s one of my favorite mast cell friendly essential oils.
How To Use Happy Sisters Cream
These are the reasons I love using Happy Sisters Cream:
- I can actually feel it working when I use it.
- I’m finally regularly doing breast self-exams since I started using it. This is an important and life-saving step for catching breast cancer early.
- I now combine it with lymphatic drainage self-massage techniques to improve lymphatic drainage for my breasts and underarm lymph nodes, as well as on my neck, for improved brain detoxification.
Here’s my routine:
- I start with breast and underarm lymphatic drainage self-massage using the Happy Sisters Cream. The cream comes with a handout on how to do this.
- I then apply the cream to the front of my neck and glide the lymph from my jaw line down the sides of my neck to my collarbones.
- I apply the cream to the back of my neck. Starting at the top of my neck, I glide the lymph away from my spine and down toward my shoulders.
There are several spots along the jaw line, so you can also apply it along the jaw line to hit several of them at once.
I recommend that for anything new you start slowly if you’re sensitive.
But start with a very small amount. If you are very sensitive, maybe even start with half a pea-sized drop on one side of your neck.
You can build up as tolerated. I now use about ½ teaspoon per day.
So, should you consider using Happy Sisters Cream? Let’s look next at who this can help and who it won’t.
Who Should Consider Happy Sisters Cream?
The first thing I want to let you know is that this product can be for both men and women.
Even though Happy Sisters Cream has a lot of benefits for women’s breast health, it isn’t only for women.
Lymphatic drainage is important for everyone!
You receive extra benefits if you are a woman suffering from breast lumps, pain, or inflammation in those areas.
Are you able to tolerate a few supplements or topical creams? If so, you might be ready to give this a try.
Do any of these apply to you? If so, Happy Sisters Cream may be for you.
- High toxin load
- Mold Toxicity
- Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
- Chronic infections
- Breast pain
- Breast inflammation
- History of concussions
As much as I love Happy Sisters Cream, it’s not for everyone. Next let’s look at who should hold off or not use it.
Who Should Not Use Happy Sisters Cream?
Do you have Salicylate Intolerance? If so, did you know that salicylates can be absorbed topically?
Happy Sisters Cream does have a lot of higher salicylate herbs.
So, if you do have Salicylate Intolerance, you may want to try topical emu oil instead.
It’s not going to be as effective as Happy Sisters Cream.
But it can still help with breast sensitivity.
And it may aid in circulation and swelling associated with poor lymphatic drainage, when combined with manual lymphatic drainage massage.
Another thing you want to be mindful of is that Happy Sisters cream is a combo product. That means it has more than one ingredient.
If you aren’t tolerating a lot of supplements yet and even certain topicals lead to reactions, this might not be the time to introduce Happy Sisters Cream.
And while this is generally safe to use, you always want to talk to your provider about questions or concerns.
But if you don’t have Salicylate Intolerance and are tolerating a few things, I’d recommend giving Happy Sisters Cream a try.
I’ve been using it for a while now and I’m loving it!
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