The function of the lymphatic system for many individuals remains vague, perhaps mysterious. The term lymph might be recognizable, but the actual job it does is a puzzle to the average person. But its importance is seen in the more than 3,000 references to lymph and lymphatic vessels in the Edgar Cayce readings.
The lymphatic system has been described as the body’s garbage disposal mechanism in that it collects and transports in a colorless lymph fluid waste products discarded by individual cells. The lymph also contains oxygen, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients which have seeped through the thin capillary walls and which the cells need for nourishment; some of these substances enter the lymphatic vessels and are eventually returned to the bloodstream.
Our bodily tissues also contain microorganisms, other foreign substances (such as bacteria and viruses), cancer cells, even dead or damaged cells that are drained by the lymph and carried to lymph nodes. There are 400 to 700 nodes in the human body, nearly half of them located in the abdomen; others are found in the neck region, armpits, groin, behind the knees, in the bend of the elbows, and in breast tissue.
The nodes are clusters of lymphatic vessels that act as filtering stations, where the substances are purified or cleansed – or even destroyed, if harmful – before being returned to the bloodstream. The nodes also produce lymphocytes and antibodies to help the body fight infection.
Our neck lymph nodes often be-come swollen when we have a cold or some type of infection. This is our body’s immune response to the condition we are experiencing.
To keep the lymph flowing and circulating is of paramount importance, as noted in many readings. Unlike the circulatory system which has the heart as a pump to keep fluid moving, there is no such organ for the lymph. It depends on other sources for its movement.
Like blood, lymph is ubiquitous; its vessels, tubes, and canals resemble the branches of a fully flourishing tree, covering the whole body. It is estimated that 40 to 80 percent of lymph vessels are subcutaneous; that is, they reside just under the skin surface. This location makes them easy to palpate, particularly in the light, gentle strokes of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD®), a specific body therapy developed in Europe by Dr. Emil Vodder in the 1930s. Massage therapists and other health professionals, including several at the A.R.E. Health Center and Spa, have received training in this technique. This modality is one of a number of ways to stimulate movement of lymph.
Poor lymph circulation is frequently designated in the Cayce readings as the culprit for various complaints, irritations, discomforts, or painful spots. Of particular concern is the appearance of a growth, knot, or lump that may arise in certain areas of the body, causing alarm, apprehension, or perhaps a denial of the potential danger. Their relationship to the lymphatic system constitutes, according to the Cayce readings, an important element in body functioning, offering what appears to be a unique perspective on this as-yet little understood or recognized component of our physical bodies.
A growth is technically defined as “anything that grows,” including an abnormal mass or proliferation of tissue such as a tumor. Knots are knob-like swellings or protuberances that may be firm or hard to the touch (such as knots in a muscle); they usually appear in or on a body part or a bone. Lumps are any abnormal swellings or solid mass-like tumors or cysts of an indefinite shape or size that can sometimes arise after a sharp blow to the area.
While a tumor refers to a swelling or new growth of tissue, it is generally characterized by uncontrolled, progressive cell multiplication. Growth is considered faster than normal, creating a mass of abnormal tissue that is either benign or malignant and that has formed and arisen from the cells of preexistent tissue. It appears to arise without cause and has no physiological use or function.
Somewhat differently defined, a cyst is an abnormal sac or capsule containing a semi-solid material, a liquid, or a gas. It usually has a thick membrane and encloses the substance or material in a type of pocket. Though most are harmless, cysts may become malignant.
An additional term from the Cayce readings is pocket, a description that conveys the image of a small bag or pouch, a cavity or sac or enclosure that contains and holds something. The readings explain that these pockets form as a result of collections of lymph fluid, usually from poorly circulating or stagnant lymph flow.
Here is a sampling of extracts from the readings identifying lymph in the formation of these abnormalities:
One woman, told that she had “[l]ymph tumor tendencies,” was suffering the effects of congestion and a “weakened condition especially through the lymph in the assimilating system…” A reduction in her white blood supply resulted from her body trying to supply energies to her system. “And this has so thinned the walls as to cause soreness in portions of the lymph flow” – in the gall duct area, the pancreas, around the kidneys, and the organs of the pelvis – “all suffer as of a drying; thus reducing the supply to superficial circulation.” Depending upon her ability “to bring about greater strength to the body,” she might develop “nodules or puffy conditions in lymph pockets.” Yet tendencies toward these could be corrected by stimulating the superficial circulation, by getting osteopathic adjustments “to cause better distribution of eliminations,” and through following a better diet. “Do these things and we will have better results,” the reading promised.
Another woman was told that her ovary was inflamed and phlegm was present at times in her teeth, gums, and throat, even in her stool. She asked, “Is there any tumor or growth anywhere?” The answer: “Rather the accumulation of lymph that forms and then disintegrates…If these accumulations form and remain, and then harden, they would be tumorous.” (Cayce) A number of readings describe this scenario for tumor formation.
In another case a woman had allergic reactions to smoke, dust, and certain foods and plants. They could be relieved by gentle massages plus a change in her mental attitude, the reading stated and concluded: “For we see the sources of this are the incoordination between the superficial – or the lymph – and the deeper circulation, tending to form lymph tumors through the body.” (Cayce) “Superficial circulation” means close to the skin surface, where – as stated earlier – a large percentage of the body’s lymph vessels lie. Perhaps this explains why a number of readings (such as 2085-5, quoted earlier) recommended stimulating the superficial circulation as part of one’s corrective regimen.
Other reasons for tumor formation involve the physical body becoming unbalanced chemically in several ways: “…through congestion, through the non-elimination of poisons, through the non-emptying of those various portions where there are the tendencies to form lymph pockets, these might become tumorous – or might even become of a more serious nature…” (Cayce)
The relationship between the lymphatic system and tumor formation may be unique to the Cayce readings.
Lack of proper drainage was cited as reason for the eventual formation of “lymph pockets.” In a number of cases the body’s attempts to right it-self, to throw off toxins, to fight foreign particles result in “accumulations of the lymph pockets that produce the tumors.” (Cayce) If not dissipated or discharged, these pockets could be-come serious, in one case  creating intestinal polyps that had to be surgically removed.
These lymph pockets, then, appear to come and go, depending upon the reactions in one’s body. In other words, certain physiological conditions can create these pockets, and when the individual would follow specific recommendations, the condition could reverse itself; that is, the lymph pocket could be absorbed back into the body. This condition is better, of course, than surgery.
“But the system itself, properly balanced, takes care of excesses even though necessarily slower than operative forces, but safer – without those choices for the reaction from scar tissues’ effect or the accumulation of lymph pockets or of irritations that make for fibrous reaction.” (Cayce)
Allowing the balanced physical body to “do its thing” is more advantageous than surgical procedures. However, growths or knots may harden to such an extent that reabsorption can-not or will not occur and they interfere “with the general circulation” (Cayce) to the extent that surgery may be the best option.
What tips the scales, causing a tumor to become malignant? What eventually determines the major shift from a safe, or benign, tumor to one that is destructive and potentially life-threatening? One reading states: “…when cellular forces become so aggravated, either by bruising or lack of elements in the system to keep a continuity of life force, they set up within themselves. Thus they draw upon the system, becoming – ordinarily, and oftentimes – malignant in their nature.” (Cayce) What kind of “bruising” in the cells would create such a disturbance? What interruptions in the “continuity of life force” would eventually begin to put a drag on or drain the system?
One reading, mentioning irritations in which stickiness like an adhesive tape eventually creates adhesions and lesions, continued: “If there is the reverting to the conditions that cause superacidity, overaggravation by cold and congestion, we may produce greater adhesions, greater lesions; and eventually cause irritations that would become malignant in their nature… Hence the necessity for the system’s being kept near normal to prevent it becoming a more serious condition.” (Cayce)
The choice of words – superacidity, overaggravation, greater – denotes exaggerated conditions that spell danger or trouble for the body.
In another case stress was a factor in malignancy. One man with bladder and urethra problems was strongly advised to avoid alcohol, which would exacerbate his anxiety. He was warned: “Unless these precautions are taken, this will become deeper and deeper-seated. And…may produce such an irritation in the bladder, or such an irritation in the urethra, as to become malignant. Better take precautions now!” (Cayce)
The reminder that cancer cells are actually present in everyone was noted for a 30-year-old man when he asked if there were any symptoms of cancer in his system. After stating that there were not, the reading continued: “Remember, for every individual physical body what might be sometimes called symptoms are ever present. But the breaking of cells, injury to some portions of the body, these are usually the sources and the activities that bring about such.” (Cayce)
Again the “breaking of cells” and injuries may trigger malignancies or more dangerous conditions. Bruised or broken cells may be caused by hard knocks or blows, perhaps repeatedly to the same area; overly strenuous exercise, a sports injury, or deep, heavy pressure during massages producing muscle tears; severe overacidity in the bloodstream; poor or irregular eliminations; even some surgical procedures. These extreme conditions may put the body out of balance to such an extent that the irritations presented by lymph pockets or tumors become malignant.
What options are offered to the seeker who desires a holistic health plan to obtain relief? Here is a listing of some of the remedies the readings specifically endorsed as beneficial to the lymphatic system:
These high enemas (or colonic irrigations) were frequently recommended to help stimulate the bowels, removing toxic material from the intestines and exciting the peristaltic action with a gentle water massage. Colonics also open up pathways for the finer eliminations from lymph. Adding a baking soda and salt solution to the treatment helps to “purify the movement of the lymph flow in the intestinal tract it-self.” (Cayce) Frequency is varied according to individual needs and the body’s response.
Mentioned in over 300 readings, this popular remedy is recognized for its wide use in all sorts of respiratory problems. Fumes from the solution are inhaled through a breathing tube placed in a hole in the lid. Cayce states: “This [inhalant] is an antiseptic and a healer, and will prevent the sneezing, as well as the tendency for the lymph to drip from nostril and nasal passages.” It is sold today as [Inspirol®] Herbal Breathing™ by the official supplier of Cayce health care products.
Known as Yellow or American Saffron, this herb “will keep the correct activity in [digestion] as to cause a better flow of the lymph…” (Cayce) Usually a pinch of the tea is put into a tea-cup, boiling water poured over it; then it is steeped for 15-30 minutes, then strained and drunk. Made fresh each time, the tea is readily available in most grocery and health food stores.
Though not always specified, pure olive oil, what might be called “(first) cold pressed” or “extra virgin,” would be the type of oil to ingest in small doses throughout the day. It would “produce for the lymph of the digestive system that proper balance which supplies the activity for the peristaltic movement of the muscular forces throughout the intestinal tract.” (Cayce)
This homeopathic product was recommended as a remedy for dropsy, an older designation for edema or swelling (usually in the lower extremities). Not only would the Cimex lectularius relieve the condition, it would also “control the lymph circulation…” (Cayce) It can be purchased, no prescription needed, in health food stores that contain a homeopathy section.
One 31-year-old woman was told to “massage the lymph centers – from the pubic center to the throat itself, and in the back of the neck, raising the head forward and the breathing brought into same – through the deep breathing.” (Cayce) Deep diaphragmatic breathing allows the thoracic duct, the main lymphatic vessel in the body which passes through an opening in the diaphragm, to be squeezed, forcing the lymph in this vessel to move and flow better throughout the body.
Considering that the skin is the largest organ as well as part of the eliminatory system, it is easy to understand how massage plays an important role in assisting the lymphatics. The oils to be used are important as well. One woman, unable to walk, was told: “…the massages…with the oils [peanut oil] will supply much of food value to the lymph and emunctory circulation…” (Cayce) The combination of the massage plus the oil as a “food” value for lymph was often mentioned. The skin naturally absorbs the oil (applied through a gentle, thorough massage), which is “taken up by lymphatic circulation…” (Cayce)
Adjustments, administered by a chiropractor or osteopath, are recommended to establish equilibrium in the body. They “make for the better flow of the lymph and the circulatory forces…” (Cayce); they assist the “coordination between the lymphatic and sympathetic nerve system and the cerebrospinal centers” (Cayce) when the ganglia alongside the spine are stimulated. As an aid to better health, manipulations help the body’s natural forces achieve results.
CASTOR OIL PACKS
Saturating a piece of wool flannel with warm castor oil, placing it upon the abdomen (over the liver/gall bladder area), and maintaining the heat with a heating pad – these are the steps in administering a castor oil pack. Left in place for an hour and repeated three days in succession, the packs increase “the activity of the lymph circulation…” (Cayce) When the lymph flow is increased, the removal of poisons surrounding the cells is speeded up, and we generally feel more energized. Heat applications, unless contraindicated, generally promote lymph flow as well as increase blood flow.
RADIO-ACTIVE [RADIAC®] APPLIANCE
Sold today as the Radiac®, this appliance – no relation to radioactivity – works like a battery, normalizing one’s energy by using the body’s own current. One woman, suffering from poor circulation and poor eliminations, was told that the appliance would equalize “the circulation in the lymph and the nerve forces through the body.” (Cayce) She was to meditate while using it. Another woman was advised to use as well the gold chloride solution, which would “raise for the circulatory system, especially the lymph, a stamina to the muscular forces…” (Cayce)
A comment in concluding this list of remedies concerns a principal concept in the Cayce approach: “…we are correcting the cause and nature corrects itself…We remove the cause, we let nature make the corrections – for this is better than operative forces or any measures!” (Cayce)
Moreover, keep in mind that the readings were given for individuals, and attempts to follow someone else’s reading may not always be effective. Studying more fully and carefully specific readings or a series of readings on a particular health concern may better help you determine the suitable method or path to undertake. You should always consult a physician or other health care professional for any medical problem and before altering or adding any treatment to your protocol.
Also, any listing of Cayce remedies camouflages the fact that these products were not taken in isolation; they were often used in conjunction with other remedies, appliances, and treatments – sometimes in cycles with rest periods factored in to aid the body to absorb the good effects of the remedies and to readjust itself.
The objective is to promote a smoothly flowing and healthy lymphatic system in our physical bodies.
March/April 2008 © Venture Inward Magazine
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Elaine Hruska is a therapist at the A.R.E. Houston Spa and former teacher at the Cayce/Reilly* School of Massotherapy. This article is reprinted with permission by Venture Inward Newsletter, Virginia Beach, VA.