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DRAINING IS LIFE-SUSTAINING: How to Support the Body’s Drainage System
- Opening drainage pathways in the body before detoxing Lyme and coinfections, mold toxins, heavy metals, parasites, and other wastes is a vital and far-reaching necessity.
- Without proper drainage, toxins and wastes accumulate in the body, many of which become reabsorbed.
- Detox protocols either fail or cause “die off” reactions and extreme discomfort when the body’s drainage system is not open and free-flowing.
- If any point along the body’s drainage pathway is clogged or stagnant, all drainage from that point on is compromised.
- The recently discovered natural drainage system of the brain is called the glymphatic system.
- When the brain is drainage challenged, toxins and beta (ß) amyloid peptides can build up, leading to brain inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
- The glymphatic system drains into the body-wide lymphatic system.
- Operating as a second circulatory system, the lymph nodes, vessels, and organs circulate lymph fluids that carry away waste and supply critical pathogen-fighting immune cells.
- The lymphoid organs are the spleen, bone marrow, thymus, tonsils, adenoids, appendix, lymph nodes, Peyer’s patches and specific tissues (MALT) in the abdomen.
- The lymphatic system drains into the liver/bile duct.
- The liver is the detoxification lifeline of the body. After two phases of detox, it pushes 80% of toxins into the bile to be drained from the body.
- Bile production demands a high energy cost, so bile is mostly reabsorbed in the small intestine. Consequently, toxins are reabsorbed as well.
- The live/bile duct drains into the colon and kidneys.
- The colon depends on the kidneys for hydration. Constipation is often an indication that the kidneys are compromised.
- The kidneys drain fluid and waste from the body in urine. They filter and eliminate toxic byproducts of protein metabolism and monitor blood pressure balance.
- My At-Home Lyme Program and 1:1 Coaching Program supply guidance and protocols to support each point along the drainage pathway. Other tips are provided here as well.
Consider this scenario. You’re super excited to start a new wellness program. You do some research and decide that you’ll start with a detox, maybe a liver cleanse. So, you put your ducks in a row and secure everything you need. Now it’s time to start your protocol!
Day 1: Maybe your energy is a bit low, but you slog through the day and sleep okay.
Day 2: You wake up with a headache. Maintaining your usual routine presents a challenge, so you lay down to rest, although you’d prefer to be getting things done. Your headache gets progressively worse and lasts all day. Later in the day, you’re also feeling nauseous–maybe you even vomit. Your sleep is not restful, and you wake up the next day still feeling ill.
Day 3: Your energy is non-existent. You have brain fog, headache, pain, digestive upset, hot and cold sweats, and other flu-like symptoms. You may start to break out in a rash. You’re uncomfortable, miserable, and you can’t sleep.
Day 4: You abandon the detox program because it’s unbearable.
So, what went wrong? You followed the instructions to the letter. You thought you’d feel like a million bucks, but instead, you felt like something the cat dragged in. Well, the detox may have started to mobilize toxins, but your body’s drainage pathways weren’t open and free-flowing, so you ended up reabsorbing toxins.
The Body’s Drainage System: Life-Sustaining Information You Need to Know
Drainage. Its importance and necessity can’t be overstated. It is imperative to wellness. A complex system of organs, vessels, and tissues drain the body. The body must clear debris, waste, toxins, and pathogens. Rehabilitating and reinstating excellent drainage is an essential early step in restoring health to Lyme disease and other chronic illness sufferers.
Protocols aimed at restoring drainage should be introduced early in a health recovery program. Drainage involves clearing out and supporting the brain and body lymphatics, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, colon, and skin. When detoxification protocols fail, it’s generally because the body is unable to clear the pathogens, toxins, and parasites.
The detox process may be working, but the wastes can’t be eliminated because the drains are clogged. Herxheimer (“die off”) reactions and discomforts such as headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and gastrointestinal distress arise when toxins from Lyme, parasites, and other pathogens have no open route to leave the body. With no way out, they can readily be reabsorbed.
The pinnacle of the “drain chain” is at the level of the brain. It starts there and flows downhill. If drainage is hampered or stalled at any point along the body’s drainage pathway, everything downstream is compromised as well.
The Brain Drain
The brain is a living organ that needs nutrients and water to function correctly. It also accumulates waste that needs to be cleared out and discarded. How does the brain remove the trash? Drainage occurs in the brain through the glymphatic system.
The existence of the glymphatic system was discovered only recently.1The first scholarly article on this brain-wide fluid transport system was published in August of 2012.2 Neuroscientist Dr. Maiken Nedergaard coined the term “glymphatic” by merging the words “glial,” after the star-shaped cells found in the brain and spinal cord that seem to regulate fluid flow, and “lymphatic,” as it functions like the lymphatic system.
Up until Dr. Nedergaard’s discovery, scientists thought that the entire body, but not the brain, had a lymphatic system. It was thought cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) took care of drainage functions in the brain. A grad student of Dr. Nedergaard’s, Jeff Iliff, followed CSF flow in the brain and discovered that the CSF flows around the brain’s blood vessels and seems to be dependent on the glial cells, or astrocytes, and how tightly they wrap around blood vessels.3
A subsequent discovery showed that the brain does indeed have lymph vessels, although an Italian physician, Paolo Mascagni, proposed it in the 1700s.4 Practitioners of Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine from the Indian subcontinent, practiced techniques to drain these vessels as early as 600 BCE.
These lymph vessels in the brain grab toxic CSF and deliver it to the body’s lymphatic system, particularly the lymph nodes in the sinuses and neck, for removal. If this pathway becomes blocked toxins, wastes, and pathogens build up in the spaces around the brain cells.
Many neurotoxic heavy metals and fat-soluble environmental toxins find their way into our brain tissue. The brain wants and needs to get rid of these and other extracellular solutes like amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is a protein that is made and secreted from cells in the brain all the time. In Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid beta builds up in the brain and clogs up the space between the cells.5 It is suspected that this kills neurons and leads to dementia. Improving glymphatic clearance of solutes might delay or even prevent neurodegenerative disorders including:6
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Motor neuron disease
Congestion of these brain lymphatics by pathogens, waste, and toxins has also been linked to cognitive and mood-related issues, brain inflammation, infections, and autoimmune concerns.
It’s apparent that keeping the glymphatic pathway open is of paramount importance. The glymphatic system won’t efficiently drain if there is sluggishness, clogging, or blockage downstream. The glymphatics must drain into the body-wide lymphatic system.
The Lymphatic (Body) Drain
The lymphatic system is sometimes called the second circulatory system. It is a network of organs, ducts, nodes, vessels, and fluids that are an essential part of the body’s immune system.7
- Collects, filters and returns interstitial fluid back to the bloodstream
- Plays a vital role in fighting infection
- Supports cardiovascular function
- Transports nutrients
- Houses antigen attacking lymphocytes in lymph nodes, lymphoid organs, and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) areas
Lymph, a clear, colorless fluid similar to blood plasma, circulates through the lymphatic system. It contains white blood cells called lymphocytes. It clears debris and waste from cells and carries bacteria to the lymph nodes so they can be destroyed and discarded.
The lymphatic system must flow freely for optimal drainage. Several lymphoid organs aid the lymphatic vessels and nodes.8 They are subdivided into:
Primary lymphoid organs are the thymus gland and the bone marrow. These organs provide a nursery where lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced and matured.
Secondary lymphoid organs include the spleen, tonsils, adenoids, appendix, Peyer’s Patches, and MALT areas. They monitor, filter, and assist with drainage of extracellular fluids. Additionally, they activate and ready lymphocytes for action.
A notable mention in the drainage category goes to the spleen, a multi-functional, blood-filtering organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen.9 It has dense vasculature and a closed circulatory mechanism that drains fluid off through lymphatics. The spleen defends against invading pathogens. Activated lymphocytes and macrophages (another type of white blood cell) engulf and dispatch bacteria, dead tissue, and foreign matter, then remove them from the blood flowing through the spleen. Antibodies produced by lymphocytes kill foreign invaders and stop infections from spreading.
It’s plain to see that an open and free-flowing lymphatic system is a crucial function. Like the glymphatic system, the lymphatics won’t efficiently drain if there is sluggishness, clogging, or blockage downstream. The lymphatics must flow into the liver/bile duct drain.
The Liver/Bile Duct Drain
The liver is the detoxification lifeline of the body. The liver and the lymphatic system work together to drain and cleanse the system.
The liver detoxifies the body through a two-stage process.10 Phase I and Phase II liver detoxification push 80% of toxins into the bile. It could be said that bile is Phase III of the drainage/detoxification process.
The liver produces the bile, then secretes it through the ducts into the gallbladder for storage. When food is consumed, the body triggers a squeezing of the gallbladder to release bile. The alkaline bile neutralizes the acidic stomach acid so the digestive process can proceed to the small intestine. Bile also functions to emulsify fat contained in food.
Stagnation occurs when bile becomes thick and sludgy. Toxins and pathogens in the bile contribute to stagnation. When bile is not free-flowing or is in short supply, the body responds by producing less stomach acid. Less acid leads to an insufficient breakdown of food.
The body will reject the insufficiently digested food, leading to acid reflux and GERD.11 Stomach acid neutralizers won’t correct this situation. Improving bile movement and increasing stomach acid so food can be broken down is a superior solution.
Clogging of the bile duct leads to biliary sludge and abnormal bile circulation. Toxins, invaders, and other debris build up, leading to chronic illness and disease. When the liver and bile ducts are clogged, the body has difficulty removing dangerous substances. Parasites take up residence here and interfere with normal functioning.12 The body can encapsulate the parasites with bile and make gallstones, which further prevent free-flowing bile drainage.
The body expends a great deal of energy making bile, so bile within the digestive process is reabsorbed and salvaged by the small intestine 90-95% of the time. As this occurs, toxins and pathogens are reabsorbed as well.
It’s evident that an open and fluid liver/bile duct is a vital function. Like the lymphatic system, the liver/bile duct won’t efficiently drain if there is sluggishness, clogging, or blockage upstream or downstream. The liver/bile duct must flow into the colon and the kidneys.
The Colon Drain
If the colon cannot remove waste, then everything above it on the “drain chain” will be backed up as well.
The kidneys are responsible for the hydration in the colon. If the liver/bile duct and drainage pathways above it are clogged, the kidneys will be stressed, and their ability to hydrate the colon will be compromised.
The Kidney Drain
The kidneys remove fluid and waste from the body. The kidneys produce urine, which is removed from the body via the urinary tract. The urine carries urea, a waste product of protein breakdown, and other toxins with it. The kidneys also maintain fluid, mineral, and blood pressure homeostasis.13
Lymphatics can be found in areas surrounding arteries and veins and most likely in the medulla and cortex of the kidneys.14 Kidney lymphatics filter and drain the fluids and proteins.
As stated previously, the kidneys hydrate the colon. Without optimal kidney function, the colon will not have enough fluid in it to keep things moving regularly.
Unclogging the Drains
Re-establishing an open drainage system is an all-important first step in our 1:1 Coaching Program. My team of doctors will guide, customize, and personalize your protocols to ensure you achieve the most favorable result. Here are some techniques and protocols that can kick-start a slow-moving drainage organ system:
- Get restorative sleep. The scientists who discovered the glymphatic system found that it was especially active during sleep.15
- Nasya is an Ayurvedic therapy that acts on the sinus lymphatics to allow brain drainage.16 Practitioners of Ayurveda claim that this relieves sinusitis and clears toxins and old emotions from the brain.17
- Deep breathing and forced inhalation, a short, sharp sniff of air through the nose, are thought to stimulate the flow of CFS in the brain.18
- Standing drains CSF. If you sit at a desk all day, you may want to consider an adjustable desk.
- Supplement with herbals like Desmodium molliculum and Pimpinella anisum in combination. It is thought that Pimpinella anisum promotes glymphatic (brain) drainage, and Desmodium molliculum promotes lymphatic (body) drainage.
- Exercise and other forms of physical activity keep the lymphatics moving. Walking is particularly helpful as many large lymph nodes are situated near places in the body that are stimulated by walking. Yoga, stretching, tai chi, and qigong are also potent lymph movers.
- Massage therapies are effective for lymphatic fluidity. Craniosacral massage manipulates and moves the CSF toward drainage pathways, and lymphatic drainage massage manually moves and drains lymph.
- Sweat in a sauna. Sweating reduces accumulated toxins in the lymphatic system and releases them through another drainage/detox pathway, the skin.
- Lymphatic dry brushing. Gently brushing toward the heart with a soft brush on dry skin moves lymph and removes dead skin cells.
- Sour and citrus foods like lemon and apple cider vinegar have an astringent action that causes contraction of the lymphatic nodes and vessels. They are helpful for the liver/bile duct flow as well.
The coffee enema, a therapy recommended and detailed in my At-Home Program, is an exceptional method of purging bile and opening flow. Coffee contains caffeine and choleretics, which are substances that increase the volume and secretion of bile. These stimulate the hemorrhoidal veins in the colon which are directly connected to the hepatic (liver) portal vein system. Through this direct connection, the liver is actuated as well. The result is an increase in bile volume, secretion, and flow.
Supplements and homeopathics can help to cleanse the liver, promote liver, gallbladder, and bile duct drainage, and soften the bile. TUDCA (tauroursodeoxycholic acid) is a water-soluble bile acid that can cleanse the liver, counteract the toxicity of regular bile, and aid in cellular protection.19 For more information about specific supplement protocols and where to source them, check out the home Lyme and Chronic Illness Program.
- Hydrate and lubricate by consuming plenty of fluid and eating real, unprocessed food that is easier for your body to digest, assimilate, and move through the bowels.
- Supplements including magnesium, vitamin C, and digestive enzymes can help hydrate and tone the bowel for smoother evacuation.
- Chew food thoroughly and be mindful while you’re eating. Focus on your meal and forgo multitasking.
- Assume the position for more natural and effective elimination. Squatting enables you to relax the muscle that allows you to void your colon completely. Put your feet up on a footstool or use a Squatty Potty.
- Fermented foods are a natural, nutrient-rich way to populate your colon with bacteria that are essential for health. Yogurt, apple cider vinegar, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and pickles are fermented by friendly bacteria and supply live, active cultures. Your own homemade fermented vegetables are even healthier than pre-packaged foods.
- Support kidney function.
- Fiber powders and fiber-rich foods boost colon motility. If you’re put off by the thought of choking down a heaping spoonful of gritty fiber in a glass of water, then get creative. Add fiber powder to a green smoothie or make homemade breakfast bars with fiber-rich oats, flax seeds, hemp hearts, or chia seeds.
- Massage the colon or get chiropractic adjustment.
- Get exercise, especially high-intensity exercise.
- Increase fluid intake. Drink half your body weight in ounces of filtered, spring, or mineral water daily.
- Don’t overdo protein. The kidneys can be overworked when there is a heavy protein load in need of detox and drainage. Limit protein consumption to .5 to .8 grams per lb of body weight.
- Kidney supplements, herbal remedies, and homeopathics flush and tone the kidneys and support kidney function. Apply for one-on-one coaching to get details and protocols.
Drain for Life
Restoring proper drainage is not a once and done proposition. It’s something that needs to be sustained throughout a person’s life. People who are pushing their bodies through detox and pathogen elimination should pay extra attention to their drainage.
Those with Lyme, chronic illness, and sensitivities generally need to be super vigilant about drainage support and protocols, especially when they’re killing off pathogens. Bodies under increased physical, chemical, or emotional stress also need extra drainage reinforcement.
Drainage is a foundation of the journey to wellness. What happens every step of the way depends on fundamental drainage support. More or less support may be needed depending on where you’re at in the journey.
If you’re not sure where to start or would like support and guidance, you can request a coaching consultation with one of the doctors. You’ll get personalized help, recommendations, and direction.
It’s pretty safe to say that you can’t do too much drainage support, but a one-on-one relationship with a dedicated professional coach eliminates the guesswork. Partnering with my team could decidedly fast track your route to destination: wellness.
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- Iliff, Jeffrey and Nedergaard, Maiken. “A Paravascular Pathway Facilitates CSF Flow Through the Brain Parenchyma and the Clearance of Interstitial Solutes, Including Amyloid β.” Science Translational Medicine. Vol. 4, No. 147, 15 Aug 2012. Web
- Nedergaard, Maiken, and Steven A. Goldman. “Brain Drain.” Scientific American, Vol. 314, No. 3, 13 Mar 2016. Web
- Iliff, Jeffrey J. et al. “Brain-Wide Pathway for Waste Clearance Captured by Contrast-Enhanced MRI.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Vol. 123, No. 3, 22 Feb 2013. Web
- Dissing-Olesen, Lasse, et al. “New Brain Lymphatic Vessels Drain Old Concepts.” EBioMedicine, Vol. 2, No. 8, 14 Aug 2015. Web
- Murphy, M. Paul, and LeVine, Harry. “Alzheimer’s Disease and the Β-Amyloid Peptide.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol.19, No. 1, 29 Jan 2010. Web
- Verheggen, Inge et al. “Interaction Between Blood_Brain Barrier and Glymphatic System in Solute Clearance.” ScienceDirect, Vol. 90, July 2018. Web
- Luo, Elaine. “What does the lymphatic system do?” Medical News Today, 23 Feb 2018. Web
- Reinhard, Pabst. “Plasticity and heterogeneity of lymphoid organs. What are the criteria to call a lymphoid organ primary, secondary or tertiary?” ScienceDirect, Vol. 112, No.1, 15 Sept 2007. Web
- Cesta, Mark. “Normal Structure, Function, and Histology of the Spleen.” Sage Journals, Volume 34, No. 5, 1 Aug 2006. Web
- Grant, D.M. “Detoxification Pathways in the Liver.” J Inherit Metab Dis, Vol. 14, No. 4, 1991. Web
- Antunes, C and Curtis SA. “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.” StatPearls [Internet], 10 Oct 2017. Web
- Lim, JH et al. “Parasitic Diseases of the Biliary Tract.” American Journal of Roentgenology, Vol. 188, No. 6, June 2007. Web
- NIDDK Staff. “Your Kidneys & How They Work.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet], June 2018. Web
- Ishikawa, Y et al. “The Human Renal Lymphatics under Normal and Pathological Conditions.” Histopathology, Vol. 49, No. 3, 18 Aug 2006. Web
- Jessen, Nadia et al. “The Glymphatic System – A Beginner’s Guide.” Neurochemical Research, Vol. 40, No.12 Dec 2015. Web
- Prasad, BS et al. “Development of a Nasya Fitness Form for Clinical Practice.” Ancient Science of Life Vol. 34, No. 2, Oct 2014. Web
- Chaudhari, Varsha et al. “Role of Pradhamana Nasya and Trayodashanga Kwatha in the Management of Dushta Pratishyaya with Special Reference to Chronic Sinusitis.” Ayu, Vol. 31, No. 3, July 2010. Web
- Yamada, Shinya et al. “Influence of Respiration on Cerebrospinal Fluid Movement Using Magnetic Resonance Spin Labeling.” Fluids and Barriers of the CNS, Vol 10, Dec 2013. Web
- Vang, S et al. “The Unexpected Uses of Urso- and Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid in the Treatment of Non-liver Diseases.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, Vol. 3, No. 3, May 2014. Web