We have two complete circulatory systems in our body: One circulates blood and the other circulates the fluid that we refer to as lymph or lymphatic fluid. Blood is usually contained in blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, veins, etc.) while the lymphatic fluids start their journey as a free-flowing liquid that surrounds the outer cellular membranes of body tissue cells. The lymph eventually reaches its own special vessels that lead to our lymph glands or lymph "nodes". Blood brings nutrients (minerals, glucose, oxygen, etc.) to the individual cells and carries away some waste products. Many waste products that result from each body cell carrying out its duties exit through that cell's membrane. Excreted waste products are cleaned up by the lymphatic fluids that surround the cells.
Lymph glands act as filters to pull out waste products and toxins, and process them out of the body. Our bodies were designed to do this quite well, but we have done some modifications to the original "blueprint" from which the original human was constructed. Much of our clothing that we wear places restrictions upon the lymphatic system.
The lymph fluid moves about our body just under the surface of our skin. Picture a liquid flowing between two layers of plastic kitchen wrap. Think about what it would take to prevent the liquid from flowing between the plastic layers. Dropping a dime on the sheets would cause a redirection of that flow. Our lymphatic flow is almost as delicate. While our skin is much thicker than the plastic wrap, the idea is similar. Our blood has the advantage of a heart to serve as a force behind its movement. Lymphatic fluid has no such pump. It must rely on the movement of our body and the muscles to make the fluid flow to the lymph glands.
When we put pressure on our skin, we alter (or sometimes prevent) the flow of the lymphatic fluid. Place a rubber band around your arm, just below the elbow, that only depresses the skin less than the thickness of the rubber band. Take it off thirty minutes later and you will see a red welt that is depressed into your skin. You can bet that the lymphatic flow is impeded beyond that point. Check it again thirty minutes… sixty minutes later and it will still be noticeable. How long will that lymphatic flow be compromised? Have you ever seen red welts like this one on your breasts, chest wall or back when you removed a bra? How about on your body, after you remove other tight clothing, such as a belt, shoe laces, tight waistband, etc. It is believed that this restricts the removal of toxins that may in fact cause complications, possibly even breast cancer.
Read How I Would Explain Our Lymphatic System, If you would like a more detailed and more technical account of the Lymphatic System. It should help you to understand the lymphatic system a little better, and help you understand what these professional people are sharing with us about that "other" valuable circulatory system in our body.
If you would like to dig even deeper and learn the real technical information about the lymphatic system, you may want to dig into Link Between the Lymphatic System and Breast Cancer The first article is written in a lay-man's terminology, and the second is written by a professional Physical Therapist as a paper for other medical professionals. It is preceded by an Overview written by a lay-person.
Since lymph is restricted in its movement and drainage by tight clothing, Robin C. Myers has written about a BREAST MASSAGE technique in which she shows us how to provide a positive flow to the lymphatic fluid in the breasts.
Dr. Howard Sanford points out that an old nemesis that women have faced for years can be helped if proper circulation of the lymphatic fluid occurs. Formerly called Fibrocystic Breast Disease, it has been suspected to be influential in the origination of breast cancer. Dr. Sanford explains what a Fibrocystic condition is and what its effects might be. He suggests that LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE THERAPY, including breast massage can provide relief and possibly prevent complications.
Some states will not allow therapists to do breast massage, because of the sexual attachment that many people have placed on breasts. For them, breast massage and lymphatic drainage will have to be done by themselves or their partners.
Barbara Helynn Heard, LMP: is seeking help in writing letters to petition to help retain the ability for therapists to do full-chest and breast massage in the state of Washington. It can help to retain that possibility in other states in the future and possibly regain it in other states that have lost it already. Signatures are required BEFORE August 17th, so please consider it soon. You can read more about it and see an example letter here: http://www.lomilomi-massage.org/breast-massage-wa.html .
Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer wrote an excellent book several years ago that has become a standard bearer for those that champion the concept that the lymphatic system requires (should I say demands?) more attention. They present numbers that show why more research needs to be done with the connection between tight bras and breast cancer. Jeff Rockel has written an excellent review of their book. Check it out.
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