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Quest Vitamins LTD,
8 Venture Way,
Aston Science Park,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
Fax: 0121 359 0313
Registered in England No. 2530437

Lymphatic System


The lymphatic system is closely associated with the Circulatory System and its function is to drain fluid from all over the body back into the bloodstream. It is also a key part of the body?s Immune System and plays a major role in defending the body against cancer and Infection.


The lymphatic system is a network of organs, tissues and ducts that serve a number of different functions:

Draining fluid from cells and tissues back to the blood stream.

Transporting dietary fats and fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E and K).

Protecting the body against invasion from bacteria and viruses.

During the course of a day, approximately 20 litres of serum-like fluid pass from the bloodstream to the tissues of the human body. This fluid, or lymph, bathes the cells, provides oxygen and nutrients, and carries away metabolic by-products and toxins from the cells. Approximately 85 percent of this watery fluid returns to the blood stream, whereas the other 15 percent is transported by the lymphatic system to the heart.

The lymphatic system consists of a network of lymph nodes, which are generally found in clusters, mainly around the neck, armpits and groin. The nodes are connected to each other by a system of channels (the lymphatic vessels). Lymph is constantly moving around the body, but unlike the Circulatory System, there is no central pump equivalent to the heart to assist its transport. Instead, lymph flow is assisted by muscular massage.

Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are specialised structures which are found periodically along the lymph vessels. They are generally kidney shaped and less than one inch in length. Their primary function is to remove foreign materials, which are extracted from the lymph and deposited there. For this purpose, they contain large cells called macrophages, which engulf and destroy invaders. Lymph nodes also store lymphocytes - the body?s infantry against bacteria and viruses.

Lymphatic Organs
The lymphatic system contains a number of specialised organs to carry out its task of fighting disease. A few of these are discussed below:

The spleen - a large reddish organ located in the abdominal cavity which filters blood, not lymph. Nonetheless, it is still considered to be a part of the lymphatic system. Its job is to search for old, worn out red blood cells, and break them down into their component chemicals for use elsewhere in the body. In addition, it manufactures and releases lymphocytes.

Tonsils - Patches of lymphatic tissue located at the back of the throat. Their function is to trap and dispose of the harmful materials which enter the throat through breathing, eating and drinking.

Peyer?s Patches - These are located in the small intestine and are similar in structure and function to the tonsils. They serve to destroy the bacteria that would otherwise thrive in the moist environment of the intestine.


Glandular Fever
Lymphomas / Lymphosarcomas
Cancer of the lymph glands

The tonsils are clusters of lymph tissue located on both sides of throat behind the teeth and acute Inflammation leads to the disorder tonsillitis. Antibiotics may be useful if the disease is caused by a bacterial Infection, but are of no use if a virus is the culprit. Other treatments include bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking aspirin at regular intervals to reduce fever and Pain. In certain extreme cases, it may be necessary to remove the tonsils in a procedure called a tonsillectomy.

Nutritional support may be useful for preventing recurrent infections of the tonsils, and tends to be concentrated on maintaining a strong immune response capability. Supplements which may be useful include Evening Primrose Oil, Iron, Selenium and vitamins C and E.

Glandular Fever
Infectious Mononucleosis, or glandular fever as it is more commonly known, is caused by a viral infection and is characterised by Sore Throat, temperature and swollen lymph nodes. Most patients recover from the infection within 4-6 weeks, but may be left feeling depressed, lacking energy and feeling sleepy during the day. Recovery may be hastened by supplementing with the herbs Echinacea and Goldenseal, together with 1000mg Vitamin C and 30mg Zinc.

An abnormal accumulation of lymph in the tissues of the limbs leads to lymphoedema. This condition is characterised by swelling to the arms or legs and is caused by a blockage, damage or removal of lymphatic vessels, which disrupts the normal drainage of lymph.

Herbal diuretics may be a useful intervention for condition. Dandelion in particular has been found to have a diuretic action comparable with certain prescribed diuretics. Other herbal diuretics include Parsley and Uva Ursi.

Lymphadentitis refers to swollen lymph glands and usually indicates the presence of an infectious disease. Common sites of swelling include the neck, beneath the ears, the axilla (chest and armpit) and the groin.

Water melon possesses detoxifying properties and may be useful for those with lymphadentitis. Lemon juice may also be beneficial, although it is a good idea to dilute with water to make it more palatable. In addition, a diet high in vegetable protein is recommended. This can be achieved by eating brown rice, seeds and sprouted grains.


There are a number of steps that can be taken to improve and maintain a healthy lymphatic system.

Drink plenty of water
Eat a healthy diet providing the broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals
Take regular exercise
Avoid exposure to the causes and sources of disease and Infection
Avoid pollutants, toxic substances and unhealthy environments
Learn Stress management techniques to promote wellness and good health

Water Retention may be a sign of a minor deficiency in vitamin B6, therefore it may be an idea to increase the dietary intake of this nutrient by eating legumes, wholegrain cereals and fish. Also, supplements providing 50-100mg of vitamin B6 are advised.

Vitamin A supplements may be useful for lymphatic congestion. Suggested intake is 7500i.u./d.

There are also a number of herbs which can benefit the lymphatic system. Cleavers is a very valuable plant, being perhaps the best tonic to the lymphatic system. Cleavers may be used safely for a wide range of conditions including swollen glands, especially in tonsillitis and adenoid trouble. When combined with yellow dock and burdock the benefits are further enhanced.


Yellow dock
Evening Primrose Oil


Vitamin A
Vitamin B6
Vitamin C
Vitamin E


1. Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, Sizer F.S & Whitney E.N.
2. Herbal Medicines A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, C A Newall, L A Anderson, JD Philipson, The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996
3. The BMA Complete Family Health Encyclopedia, Ed. Dr T Smith. 1995.
4. The Healing Power of Echinacea and Goldenseal, Bergner P. 1997.
5. HealthPlus, 1993-1997
6. Human Physiology From Cells to Systems, L Sherwood, West Publishing Company, 1993.


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