By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
December 24, 2012
- The cancer clog in your filter
- What to do when you’re missing a lymph node
- When lymph edema strikes, give nature a SHOTS
Shortly after a patient hears the “C” word – and it strikes fear in their heart – they immediately ask whether the “L” word is next.
I’m talking about the impact that cancer can have on lymph nodes… and how frightening it can be when the body’s filtration system gets clogged by the very same cancerous cells it is designed to clear. This may be the first time that many people even think about their lymphatic system, or lymph nodes. And they know that this is a bad sign, when it comes to cancer.
Which is true. But with a better understanding of how lymph nodes – and cancer – work together, it is also possible to replace the fear with some highly useful information. And to give your body a better chance of combatting cancer.
Most of us don’t think of it this way. We tend to think that cancer appears out of nowhere – and then we have cancer. And otherwise, we don’t.
But you might be surprised to learn that your body has a more complicated – and intimate – experience with cancer.
You always have cancer. But you also have a system that is mighty effective at getting rid of cancer as fast as it starts, such as a healthy immune system, a clear and clean lymphatic system, and adequate nutrition.
Basically, when you are in good health, one or two aberrant cells here and there don’t have a chance to take hold.
But for a complicated array of reasons, some known and some still mysterious, the body loses ground, the cancer takes hold, and grows. And grows.
Supporting your lymphatic system is both more challenging – and more important – in a battle with cancer. And nature can provide your body with the boost it needs to do both…
The job of the lymphatic system, and the lymph nodes, is to filter out anything that doesn’t belong in your body… including cancer.
So, when we say there are cancer cells in a lymph node – the actual problem is not that the cancer cell is there in the first place. In fact, the lymphatic system is exactly where you would expect to find cancer cells… on their way to being filtered out of the body!
It is the cancer cells that get stuck in the lymph nodes that cause the problem. Or that use lymph fluid to hitch a ride from one organ to another, and cause what’s known as metastasis.
If you’ve had cancer – or know someone who’s battled it – you know how important lymph nodes can be in assessing the stage and severity of the cancer.
But here’s the problem…
In our efforts to be as aggressive as possible against cancer, and to remove it from the body completely, we sometimes do extensive damage to our lymphatic system. Any time a lymph node is removed, there is a break in the system. Often, cancer patients battle with a condition called lymph edema long after surgery has been done, and even after they are deemed cancer-free, because of this disruption to the lymphatic system.
Of course, every individual case of cancer is unique. And what’s required to fight the cancer will vary from person to person. If you or someone you know is struggling with lymph edema, know that there are some treatments that can help.
The standard protocol for lymph edema is to wear compression garments that help to drain the lymphnodes and keep the system from getting clogged. And also, patients are advised to get regular exercise, and lymphatic massage.
And I would add that doing a lymphatic detox regularly will help tremendously. As will losing any extra pounds, and following a healthy all-organic diet, and eliminating all processed foods, excess sugar, etc.
Anything that’s bad for you when you’re maintaining your health becomes that much more threatening when your health – and lymphatic system – has been challenged. Maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits simply aren’t optional anymore… they are mandatory.
However, nature also offers some relief that mainstream physicians don’t often recommend, and that can boost and protect your lymph system tremendously.
The name of the game is to reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and aid your body in getting rid of toxins. Here is the SHOTS protocol I recommend if you’re facing lymph edema:
Supplements: Be sure to take a combination of calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio for optimal heart, thyroid, and bone health – all systems that could be negatively affected by a challenged lymph system. Also, take bromelain (250-500 mg on an empty stomach, three times a day). It’s an enzyme found in pineapples that has healing properties, slows clotting, and reduces swelling.
Herbs: Butcher’s broom is a powerful herb used either topically or taken internally, and strengthens vessels, improves circulation, and relieves swelling. Horse chestnut is also beneficial for circulation, and also has an anti-tumor effect as well.
Because these herbs are powerful, and those who have had extensive cancer treatment may be on other types of drugs, it is best to consult a physician or naturopath to determine appropriate dosages and to make sure there are no potential side effects.
Oils: Flaxseed oil (1,000 mg twice daily), Fish oil (1,200 mg three times daily), Emu oil (1,000 mg daily), and Grapeseed extract (200 mg. daily), are all recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, some have an antioxidant effect as well.
Tea: Steep fresh ginger (or half teaspoon of ground ginger) into a cup of hot water and drink three times a day. Ginger boosts the circulatory system and reduces inflammation.
Skin: Since so much of the lymphatic system is directly beneath the skin, using a medium-soft brush and gently scrub your entire body every day. That helps to clear the surface, move fluid from stuck places, and unclog pores so that sweat and other forms of natural detoxification can be released.
If you have any questions about your lymphatic system, make sure you contact your physician. If you are looking for a new physician, I suggest starting with the database of functional medicine physicians at www.functionalmedicine.org to find someone local to you.