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How Does Tai Chi Help the Lymphatic System?
According to Cancer Research UK, the leading provider of funds for cancer research in the United Kingdom, the lymphatic system consists of small tubes, or “lymph vessels,” that run throughout the body. The main purpose of the lymphatic system is twofold. First, it is responsible for keeping fluid in balance by transporting a liquid called “lymph,” which contains white blood cells. Lymph is transported through tubes much in the same way that blood is transferred through arteries, although the lymphatic system does not have a pump like the heart, and s, relies on body movement or massage to get lymph flowing.
The white blood cells carried by lymph play an important role in the second function of the lymphatic system, which is fighting infection. In fact, the lymphatic system is a part of the immune system. According to the Consumer Health Organization of Canada, a 37-year-old non-profit foundation for holistic healing, the lymphatic system must work efficiently in order to prevent immune problems and common diseases, like cancer. However, the American Academy of Health and Fitness suggests that the lymphatic system’s immune function deteriorates with age.
For this reason Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art that uses gentle movements for longevity, is an excellent way for even those who cannot participate in strenuous exercise to keep the lymphatic system healthy.
Exercise helps the lymphatic system operate efficiently
One of the best ways that you can help the lymphatic system is to get enough exercise. The Consumer Health Organization of Canada also suggests that lack of exercise is one of the major reasons why the lymphatic system does not operate at prime efficiency. (Remember, the lymphatic system doesn't have its own pump and needs muscle action to work.) And when the lymphatic system is not operating at full efficiency, the immune system is compromised.
Tai Chi is one way of getting exercise and getting the system moving again in order to increase wellness. In fact, Harvard Wayne, Assistant Professor Medicine at Harvard Medical School, suggests that Tai Chi is beneficial for the aging, who can boost their immunity by performing this kind of a workout. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, you can boost your immunity by starting Tai Chi before you contract a disease.
Tai Chi and cancer prevention
Although the lymphatic system is responsible for distributing lymph, it can also distribute something much more dangerous — cancer cells. Lawrence Galante’s book, Tai Chi: The Supreme Ultimate, states that white blood cells travel to the lymph nodes, where they create T-Cells, or cancer cells, that can be affected by the thymus gland. In addition to stimulating the lymphatic system, the movements of Tai Chi, according to Galante, can energize the thymus gland to prevent the creation of T-Cells; this prevents cancer from developing.
Tai Chi and lymphatic drainage
According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer is not the only disease associated with the lymphatic system. Lymphedema is a disease that occurs with a blockage of the lymphatic system. This can cause pain and swelling in one or more arm of leg. While this condition cannot be cured, Tai Chi can help reduce swelling and pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, gentle exercises, such as those performed during Tai Chi forms that require moving the Lymphadema-symptomatic arm or leg can help provide relief to the lymphatic system, as can lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic drainage massage technique helps some of the fluid that builds up in the infected limb move to a position where it can drain naturally.