About Your Lymph and Its Role as the Body’s Psychological Buffer
This blog post is about the wondrous workings of your lymphatic system. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this system, it is comprised of several hundred tiny lymph nodes located primarily in the neck, chest, and belly, as well as drainage ducts and the lymphatic tissues of the spleen, thymus, adenoids, appendix, and tonsils. The lymph itself is a clear liquid that is circulated through the body and eventually returns to the bloodstream. As it circulates, it absorbs and removes toxins, bacteria, digested fats, hormones, and other waste products. The lymph is a primary component of your immune system. It produces and stores white blood cells, including the T cells that attack and destroy bacteria and other life-threatening pathogens.
More recently, neuroscientists have discovered that the brain also has its own lymph system. It is called the “Glymphatic System” because it is managed by the brain’s glial cells. The ‘microglia’ are thought to play an essential role in maintaining the brain’s immunity. In fact, these researchers are hypothesizing that impaired functioning of this, the brain’s detox system, may be a contributing factor in CNS diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.
In Western allopathic medicine, the lymphatic system tends to be somewhat “under-considered” therapeutically. However, European naturopathic medicine, in which Esogetic ColorpunctureTM originator, Peter Mandel is trained, considers the maintenance of a healthy lymph system as vital for preventing and curing disease. Over the past 35 years, Mandel has developed a large body of colorpuncture acu-light therapies designed to regulate the “information” of the lymph, and thus support its healthy functioning.
The Lymph as a Psychological Buffer System
Esogetics is a “body-mind” therapeutic system in which the body, soul, and spirit are understood to work together. Accordingly, Mandel proposes that the lymph also serves an important psychological function. It operates as a kind of emotional shock absorber or “psychological buffer” system in the body.
How does this work? When we experience conflict stress (traumatic or toxic stress in psychological terminology), it is naturally accompanied by a great deal of fear and other negative emotions. Usually, we are unable to fully process these emotions in the moment. Instead, we store them in the subconscious and the emotional memory centers of the brain and cells. Mandel suggests, that these unprocessed emotions, particularly fear, also tend to collect in the lymph system. Whenever the buildup of emotional toxicity becomes too great, this system generates a reaction, such as a fever or a cold. In this way, our lymph helps release or clear emotional toxins from the body.
Of course, we do not want lymphatic reactions to progress to such an extreme that they risk damaging the tissues of the body. It is fortunate that we have modern pharmaceuticals to manage more extreme reactions. However, in their milder forms, lymphatic reactions provide a kind of escape valve. They help prevent subconscious toxic stress from penetrating deeper into the body. And, from a spiritual perspective, these reactions are one way that the body helps us process stressful emotional events, thus enabling us to ‘let go’ and move on in life.
Moreover, when this buffer system is interfered with too frequently (for example through over-reliance on antibiotics) and/or when conflict stress continues unabated (think of a child growing up in an abusive home), we believe the lymph can become so overloaded with emotional toxins that it loses it’s capacity to react. This not only opens the door for the potential onset of pain and disease processes later in life; it also causes us to lose precious psychological resilience.
Research Supports the Concept of a Psychological Buffer System
The buffer concept is very much in keeping with theories of European natural medicine, as well as certain Asian medical approaches. And, over the past 25 years, Western scientific and medical research, derived from new fields like psychoneuroimmunology, has helped to identify the precise physiological pathways by which psychological stress impacts our lymph system and our immune function.
This process, sometimes described in Neuroscience as the “stress-disease continuum” begins with the life protective responses that occur in our endocrine and autonomic nervous systems whenever the body responds to danger and threat. If that stress becomes ongoing (meaning the threat continues), the body’s continued physiological adjustments, made in order to survive, also begin to impact the lymph system. Neuroendocrinologist, Dr. Bruce McEwen coined the term “allostatic load” to describe the cumulative burden that negative life events place upon the physiological systems we rely upon to cope with and adapt to life’s many challenges. The same biological mediators that enable our bodies to react profoundly and effectively to stress and threat in the short term can have quite deleterious effects on our immune systems in the long run.
Research findings documenting the many ways in which psychological stress can adversely affect the lymph system are becoming extensive. Stress has been proven to change the actual physical structures and functioning of the lymph. Clinically observed effects of ongoing stress on children’s developing immune systems include weakened immune responsiveness and increased incidence of childhood diseases such as asthma. Studies of trauma survivors, by trauma specialists like Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, document the physiological ways in which the lymph cell behavior changes after exposure to trauma and abuse. To learn more about this research and the many excellent researchers working in this field, I recommend my book, Energy Psychology Using Light and Color available at www.colorpuncture.org.
I hope this blog post increases your appreciation of the vital role your lymph system plays in maintaining both your physical and psychological well-being. It is well worth maintaining a healthy lymphatic system. And for this, I suggest the lymph treatments of Esogetic ColorpunctureTM are an excellent therapeutic support.
Manohar Croke, MA, Diplomate ECP
Author of “Energy Psychology Using Light and Color”
Director, U.S. Esogetic Colorpuncture Institute