Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Love thy Lymph

Love thy Lymph 

This once-dismissed vital system is no longer taken for granted. The roots of its importance can be traced back to Elm Grove, more on that later. Now, you can go to any social media platform and find influencers rebounding, stimulating, and dry brushing all with clever ways to encourage the optimal function of the lymphatic system. That wasn’t always the case. The lymphatic system is a network composed of lymph nodes, organs, glands, tissues, and vessels. Unlike blood vessels, lymphatic vessels don’t have a pump. Think of the vessels as a river and the nodes as ponds that then distribute to the organs. If the ponds are blocked, you get stagnation and fluid buildup. What does the lymph do? What doesn’t it do is a better question! The Cleveland Clinic said it bluntly, “Your lymphatic system is a big team!” Like any team, all the players need to be functioning to aid in fluid balance, absorption of fats, and optimal immune function.  

Too many of us have known someone post-cancer who suffered from lymphedema. This occurs when lymph nodes are removed under the armpit, causing a build-up in fluid leading to painful arm swelling and decreased immunity. What you may not know is one of the earliest pioneers in educating and developing lymphatic protocols started here in Elm Grove. Judy Purtell, a long-time Elm Grove resident, and her colleague Jill Price were published in the prestigious American Journal of Nursing in 1997 for their paper Prevention and Treatment of Lymphedema after Breast Cancer. Judy transformed her battle with lymphedema post-breast cancer by delving into her OT background and understanding the lymphatic system. This led to a decade of traveling the country training hundreds of practitioners to help manage and treat lymphedema, and how to obtain financial payment for this necessary treatment. 

The Book of Lymph

Their work was groundbreaking, opening the gates to treat thousands of patients previously left behind. Their lessons now ripple through TikTok and Instagram. The Book of Lymph by Lisa Levitt Gainsley, CLT (Instagram thelymphaticmessage) is an excellent book available at the Elm Grove Library. Dr. Caitlin Czezowski’s Instagram (doc.talks.detox) is also filled with helpful lymph drainage techniques. From post-cancer to feeling sluggish, stimulating one’s lymphatics is an excellent tool accessible to all. I hope this made you curious about this extraordinary body system. 

 In loving memory of Judy Purtell

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