Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What does a connection to the Immune system to the brain mean to those with Multiple Sclerosis? Manipulate your lymphatic system to relieve neck pain?

You may have recently read in the Huffington post or elsewhere about a new landmark research finding about a link between the brain and the immune system. The news sparks all sorts of inferences that this new finding can be the path to treatment from brain ailments from Alzheimers to Multiple Sclerosis.

The researchers found that a previously unknown connection exists between our lymphatic system and the brain. The lymphatic system runs throughout our body and works in tandem with other parts of the immune system. Lymph fluid that runs through the lymphatic system helps carry toxins out of our body. That is a laymans description. 
brain immune system

Above on the left is a depiction of the originally drawn lymphatic system that was thought to end at the brainstem and on the right is a depiction of how the lymphatic system is now thought to work including the brain. 

This IS fabulous news for us MS'ers but before you rush to google and start trying to search on what you can do to improve your lymphatic system please heed this warning I am about to give.

There is not one single LEGITIMATE web site that has an equivocal resource that I would trust, that answers the question about improving or boostin your Lymphatic system. So don't waste your time searching. I searched for days, and trust me on this one. None exist. People trying to sell you supplements are hucksters..stay away..most don't work. 

That being said I did find some VERY helpful suggestions on ONE site that I tried and it actually helped relieve my neck and shoulder pain that I wake up with every morning. Many of the websites I visited suggested "draining" the lymphatic system but did not suggest how. This did get me curious about those statements so I dug I little deeper.  I found one web site in particular by a Dr. David Williams that gave "exercises" to help "drain" your lymphatic system. Now I am not buying any of this mind you, but...one of the suggested exercises I tried, and the results were phenomenal!

I wake up every morning with a stiff neck and shoulder pain. 
I tried the below described procedure from the above website and was amazed that my neck and should pain was gone! And it lasted the whole day. Dr. Williams called it Lymph Milking..and here is the instructions, I call it neck manipulation. : )
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"Lymph “Milking”
Another way you can help lymph nodes drain is by gently rubbing or “milking” it toward the heart. This works quite well, for example, with sore throats or sinus congestion. By using a lubricant, you can start under the jaw and milk down the throat on each side of the big muscle on both sides of the neck.

Lymph milking exercise

Then start at the base of the skull with your thumbs just behind the ears. Push under the skull, into the neck, with firm pressure slowly going toward the collar bone. Continue to do this, and each time move the thumbs closer together toward the spinal column.

Lymph milking exercise

This manipulation alone has relieved headaches and neck tension. Always “milk” or massage the lymphatic system (as well as the circulatory system) toward the heart. If you’ll notice, massage therapists always work toward the heart. Massage therapy is good for the circulation and one of its benefits is stimulating the drainage of the lymph system."
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The main part of this manipulation that worked for me was using my thumbs starting just under my ears and pushing with some firmness rubbing down to the base of my neck and continue in to the base of my skull going down. I do this 5 times. I do not use any lubricant though. Then what is not mentioned and I suggest that you add is, I touch my ear to my shoulder 5 times on each side. Finally I roll my shoulders from front to back 5 times. 
As far as the part about pushing toward the heart this makes sense. Most good massage experts are trained to massage towards the heart to improve the blood flow in the affected area. 
So does this "drain" the lymphatic system? I have my doubts but it sure as hell does relieve the neck pain that I have been experiencing for decades. This is now part of my everyday morning routine prior to getting out of bed. And not having to deal with pain in at least one part of my body due to MS is a GodSend!
I hope this helps some of you out there!