The lymphatic network as our inner sewage system - why it matters for our mental health

In this post I discuss the importance of our lymphatic system to our mental health (and vice versa) and look at how craniosacral therapy can support the immune response by working at a physical level but also with the underlying emotional patterns and fear response.

When we are persistently stressed there is a corresponding chemical and physiological response in our body - our immune response. The lymphatic system is key to our immunity as it transports T-cells which protect us from invasion. If our lymphatic system is compromised our body is constantly in a state of defensiveness, which has an impact on our mental health. At the same time, if we are constantly imbalanced in our mental and emotional health, there is a corresponding immune response which is reflected in our lymphatic system efficiency.

The lymphatic system as a defence network

The lymphatic system is a major part of our body's defence network. It protects us from disease, drains toxins from our blood and is to key internal fluid pressure and flow. You can see it as our inner plumbing or sewage network, constantly draining and clearing the body. It's effectiveness and vitality directly relates to our immunity and also to our mental health and emotional balance. For centuries in Ayurvedic medicine Rasayana aka the study of Rasa (lymph) has been a key pillar of health. Rasa is interpreted in a number of ways - elixir, circulation, a musical note, serum, highlighting the fact it is not only necessary for our physical well being but also for our emotional flow and vitality.

Striving for balance

Lymph contains white blood cells and flows through an intelligent plumbing and drainage system to defend our organs. Our heart, lungs, intestines, liver, and skin all contain lymphatic tissue. It was only 5 years ago that scientists discovered there were also lymphatic vessels in our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) suggesting that lymph is also key to maintaining our nervous system response. This has now triggered research into the role of lymph in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. The idea that the flow of lymph is vital for brain functioning may be new in modern science but has ancient roots in the yogic system of health - surya namaskar, the sun salutation sequence of asanas itself is designed to facilitate flow, consisting of forward folds, neck stretches etc. that target the lymph nodes.