In Conscious Breathing Podcast #9 Perry Nickelston goes into depth on how we can improve our healing, energy and health through optimizing our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a major part of our detox system. When there is lack of flow and it becomes stagnant our health suffers. We get sick easier and longer and are more prone to illness and disease. Perry Nickelston is one of the world’s leading experts on improving our lymph system.
Episode 9: Oxygen Advantage Meets Conscious Breathing
Published: July 6, 2022
Welcome to the Conscious Breathing podcast. This is Steve Scott, your host. We’ve got an exciting call to you today with Perry Nikelston. Perry Nickelston is the founder of StopChasingPain.com. He has a large following on Instagram at Stop Chasing Pain and is on other social media platforms as well. Today, we are going to dive deep into the healing power of the lymphatic system. Many of you may not know a lot about the lymphatic system as it isn’t talked very much but you’ll soon discover how problems with it can cause systemic problems throughout your body and how healing it can resolve so many of our health issues at a fundamental level. Welcome to the Conscious Breathing podcast Perry.
Thank you very much for having me. I’ll certainly do my best to try to make it exciting. I’ll tell you what? Anytime you talk about lymph.
You’re the guy. You’re the probably the world’s leader in teaching people about healing the lymphatic system and how powerful it is.
I’m trying, man. Trying to get the word out. It’s working on that system. I tell everybody it saved my life and I’m not kidding you. I do what I can to share it with other people because most people say the same thing. Lymph what? I know I got a lot of…
You’re certainly doing a good job of it. I got introduced to you through Alexandra. Before that I didn’t know too much. I probably knew about as much as everyone else about the lymphatic system. Didn’t know too much about it. Probably the last three or four days, I’ve had this tooth problem that I actually have a scheduled root canal for on January 12th. The last three or four days, the pain man, it was just like it was crazy bad. I’d have to take like I don’t like taking Tylenol or Advil or stuff like that but I’ve been having to take like Advil or Tylenol several times a day. When I started reading and researching for the podcast and reading your stuff, I started doing some of the lymph massages like starting up on the face. Then kind of like, I felt kind of like some like I don’t know if they are lumps, like some hardness on one of the sides.
Probably if you got a root canal, you need to do it. It’ll really settle in the lymph nodes around the jaw and neck big time. Interestingly each tooth has its own individual lymphatic channel too.
It’s interesting. I started doing that. Then I did like the collarbone and the neck and kind of went down. I swear to you, it’s like when I did that the same day the tooth pain went away. It’s been a couple of days now I haven’t had any tooth pain at all.
That’s a big part of it, man. There’s a lot of stuff going on in there when you do that because when you work your lymph you also influence all the other body systems that are there. That’s kind of my running joke when people say doc, when I’m pressing here, what am I pressing on? My answer is yes, everything. You can’t separate the two but what’s really interesting about people who talk about breathing is you’re already working lymphatics. Most people just don’t know it when they do it because breathing is actually one of the top two primary ways that drives the lymphatic system or let me put it this way. It’s supposed to drive the lymphatic system via pressure.
That’s interesting. It definitely worked for me. I was very thankful that Alexandra introduced you to me because I don’t even know like if I keep on doing this drainage and doing things to keep track of my oral health if I even need a root canal, if it’s possible for it to heal. Maybe I’ll postpone it and see what happens. I don’t know but anyways, why don’t you just tell me a little bit about kind of your background, how you got introduced to the lymphatic system and how it played a big role in in your life. You said it transformed your life or saved your life actually.
Well, I’d be happy to. I love to tell the story basically because that’s how I found my purpose or what I do in life right now. I stumbled across the lymphatic system out of necessity. I had to rescue myself because I was very close to dying, honestly. Mentally and physically, I had a complete breakdown but autoimmune disease, I guess you might call it. They never really told me what it was or what was put under a blanket of autoimmune disease. All the stuff I tried to learn over the years to help myself with my background of chiropractic and pain science, neuroscience and movement and all that was helpful but it wasn’t pulling me out of the abyss, if you will. I hit a low and I didn’t have any answers. The traditional approaches were not working. They were actually making me worse. After several surgeries and lots and lots of medications, I’m like okay, I got to change my thinking process here man because there’s no way that this is normal. People are not looking at the right place or thinking the right way. That’s when I came across just saying you know what? Well, why am I not able to get well? I went back to fundamental basics of what the hell does a cell need to actually heal itself and why aren’t mine doing it? I realized that I mean, it’s a really fundamental, simple process. Cells need nutrients and oxygen so they can make energy through the Krebs Cycle. Then once that happens, it gets rid of the energy, once it uses it via waste, then you got to get rid of the waste. I said well, I’ve been working myself like crazy on the supply side, trying to put all this stuff in from the breathing and from the supplements and all these things, from the techniques that I was doing and it wasn’t helping. I said well, maybe it’s the other end. Maybe it’s the pipe of the stuff on the way out. And then that’s when I came across the lymphatic system. As soon as I looked there, I knew it was it because every single place that I assessed on my body for clogged lymphatics was worse than the first one. It was very swollen, painful, what we call obstructed or stagnated where stuff was just not moving. I worked the system just a little bit by assessing it. I kid you not within three days, I’ve felt more relief from how I’d felt in the past two years with anything that I’ve done. I initially felt worse because when you start to free up the waste material or the toxins, what they call metabolic waste and cellular waste from the system, your immune system has to deal with that. You’re going to feel a little worse in the beginning but it’s better to get it out than have it inside of you but after that initial onslaught of what they call a detoxification process which is quite normal. I got my energy back and a big part of that was my brain. The brain was the one thing that started to go on me that scared me to death where I had brain fog. I had a lot of cognitive issues. I was pretty much headlining straight into Alzheimer’s based on some of these symptoms.
How long did that last for that period where you’re going through that?
It was quite a long time. When I look back on it in retro, it was slowly building up over time. Your body adapts to its environment. You get used to feeling awful all the time. It’s your new normal.
Would you consider yourself to be really healthy at the time like eating well and exercising and stuff like that?
I thought so. I thought so but I trained all the time and I exercised all the time. I’ve been bodybuilding and working out. I do the things that I tell everybody else to do in relationship to movement and recovery and stuff like that but if you overload the system too much or it’s just beyond its capacity to recover, it’s easy to break things down. It’s hard for the growth and recovery process in order to do that. I mean, you got to get rid of the toxic material that’s inside of you. Your body can only put up with so much and it can only take so much and then eventually it tells you okay, I’ve had enough. Here comes the warning signal. I am going to hurt you. Then it comes with pain but sometimes that’s not enough of a warning signal for people because everybody disregards pain or they push it off or they say pain is weakness leaving the body. Then the body says okay, well I’ll do the best again with what I’ve got because you’re not paying attention to me but eventually it’s going to get worse and then it’s going to take you out. It’s going to get involved in a lot of other systems. Then that’s where I just lost the capacity to honestly function. It’s something that a lot of people deal with. Now that I’m out here speaking with other people about the lymphatic systems and we’ll talk more about what it is in a moment but I just was so upset that nobody ever spoke to me about that system in all the time that I was sick. I was also upset at myself because I’m in the healthcare industry and I didn’t think to look at it because lymphatics only come up usually under two circumstances in a conversation. One, you’ve got a severe problem with the system and it’s called lymphedema. That’s where the body part gets really, really swollen. Sometimes grotesquely swollen usually in the legs. It can be both but most often, it’s one. Sometimes it can be in the arms. A lot of women who have breast removal surgery or cancer or stuff like that get lymphedema which leads me into the second scenario of when you hear about lymph is cancer because it can spread and metastasize through the lymphatic system which first of all tells you just how much it goes everywhere but otherwise, people don’t think about it. For me, when I looked at it now, I was showing a lot of signs that it was an issue where it’s a lot of puffiness, a lot of swelling, a lot of brain fog, a lot of skin issues, infections in the body. A lot of infections that happen in the body from urinary tract infections, prostate infections. I had several rounds of cellulitis which is severe inflammation of the skin that usually is indicative of a severely stagnated or choked out lymphatic system because lymph resigns a lot on the skin.
Can acne be a part of lymph issues?
Big part of it. Particularly anywhere on the body but you’ll get it a lot on the face, of course but people get it on the back as well.
I’ve got a friend, ex-girlfriend. She has really bad acne on the back. I wonder if maybe…
Anytime you have a skin issue, you always want to look at a couple things. Skin, you always look at gut. You always look at lymph. It’s no accident that the majority of the lymphatics in your body reside in your gut because that’s where your immune system lives. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system. It’s a substantial part of your immune system which means it’s supposed to kill things and get rid of stuff. Kill it and get rid of it. That’s what his job is. A lot of people have gut issues so it manifests in the skin. Another thing that will cause skin issues are lung issues. That’s more of an Eastern medicine perspective but not really because there’s such a thing as called the gut lung access. Gut issues become lung issues become skin issues. You have a lot of lymph in the skin as well. The third one is the kidneys. The kidneys also and the skin. It just so happens the kidneys are the endpoint…
Let’s say you have gut problems. Do you need to address the gut separately or can you work on lymph issues? Does working on lymph issues help with the gut, with gut issues, both ways?
Yes, both ways. I’ll tell everybody, you can’t ever work on anything separately. It doesn’t exist. It all goes together but if you have a gut problem, you have a lymph problem. If you have a lymph problem, you have a gut problem. It goes both ways. There’s a lot of people who have Crohn’s disease for instance. There’s a high correlation to lymphatics, gut lymphatics with that one. Most people when they have chronic pain anywhere in the body because it’s very, very important people listen to this that inflammation is an immune system response not a musculoskeletal one. When you have inflammation in a joint, it’s an immune system reaction, immune system response. You have to look at the components of the immune system. Lymph is a huge part of it and so is the gut. They’re finding now that actually you have when you have gut issues and the bacteria in the gut, if it breaks through a gut lining which is called leaky gut is one term. That could travel anywhere into the system and just take hold into a joint and inflame it. It can even travel up into the brain through the vagus nerve. It activates the immune cells in your brain called microglia. Then you get brain inflammation and brain fog. No joke, man.
In your situation looking back like not everyone has as severe of lymphatic issues that you had with the brain fog and the fatigue and all the issues. Looking back, is there anything you can pinpoint outside of following your lymph protocol or things that you teach? What do you think caused such a big problem with your lymphatic system?
That’s a good question. There’s varying degrees of lymphatic issues. You can have systemic ones which means full body, the whole system’s taking a hit. You see that a lot with autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disorders as well like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but you can have isolated issues as well. Some people get it just in an extremity, arm or a leg. It’s usually in the legs. That’s why you see a lot of swelling around the ankles. Some people may call them cankles or calves but a little bit of puffiness and bloating is a classic sign of lymphatic system issue but not always because sometimes, people have a lymph issue because it gets puffy and gets swollen. It’s part of your immune system. It increases when you have like an allergic reaction to something but people can also be where they start to break the system down. They’re a little bit more thin and broken down not puffy and swollen but they still have lymph issues as well. The way that you know it is one through some of the symptoms that I was telling you about that you can manifest that anywhere and any type of symptom. I kind of joke around while I said everybody’s got a lymphatic system problem, they just don’t know it yet. They don’t know how bad it is and that’s why do want assessment to see. Once you touch some of the key spots, a lot of them are in your head and neck. You’ll know. Then when you start to work the system, you’ll feel substantially better and different. Sometimes it’s profound. I have people that are absolutely blown away by how something so simple can have such a profound result on their body. I’m like that’s because it’s just straightforward physiology. When you were talking about your tooth, you have these things in your body called lymph nodes. Most people may have heard of those but think of a lymph node as a little mini toilet that flushes out waste just like in your house. You have about 600 to 700 in your body depending on the resources that you look at and your body size. They clustered together in node clusters. Of those 600 to 700, one third of that total number is from the neck up. There’s a lot in the head and neck region which tells me one thing. That’s a really important part of your body. That’s what that is. It’s precious real estate because this thing in there called your brain resides there. All the nerves that are up here that help orient you into the world, your body has to protect that. That’s why working the head and the neck can make a profound improvement on people who have issues anywhere.
You’re not really certain why it manifested so severely within yourself. Can it be through over exercising?
Everybody is a little bit different. Everybody’s different. That’s just based on individual and their environment and their genetics and their capacity to adapt to something. Now I look back in hindsight for me is I had cancer 20 years ago where they removed my thyroid gland and a pretty good amount of lymph nodes in my neck but I really didn’t even think of the system at the time but back then I was already sick. It just took me 20 years later for it to cycle back and take me out a different way. So people ask me, why does the lymphatic system end up becoming an issue. I tell people it’s called it’s called L-I-F-E man. It’s called life which means that it gets overloaded because we have so many toxins coming at us in the world that we’re not designed to deal with. People don’t breathe well which shuts down the pump. They don’t move enough of themselves which moves lymphatics. They eat horrific food and they blast their insides out from the inside out. I mean, it’s a wonder that anybody has a lymph system that works at all in my opinion. It’s something that it takes a hit because it can only do so much before it’s overloaded. Here’s the thing. If you don’t do things on purpose to take care of it, it’s probably going to decay and degenerate. That’s just because people are not told about it. Then when they’re told about it, they don’t know what to do about it. The first step towards improving your lymph and changing your lymph is knowing that you even have lymph. Awareness is the first step to change. Then from there, you can look at different techniques and stuff like that because there’s a lot of different techniques. You just have to do it in the specific order in order for it to work. I’m more of like the awareness guy. Okay, I’m going to tell you about the system. Then I’m going to show you some simple things you can do now that you’re aware of it to try to change it.
Before we get too in depth about what lymph is and how it works and everything. Can you tell me a little bit, do you have any stories of patients or clients that it’s changed their life? Has it helped with psychological issues like depression, anxiety? What kind of life issues have people resolved by working with the lymph system?
You can check off almost any box you can imagine that comes in to see me for things. My practice by design is I’m usually the last place that you go to see for help not the first because people come to see me when they’ve tried everything that’s supposed to work doesn’t work or it worked and it stopped working and they don’t understand why. I’m like okay well, first of all, you got to think differently because whatever you’re doing ain’t working. That’s where we look at the lymphatic system. People are by design, pretty sick when they see me. There’s a lot of autoimmune disease and chronic pain issues. I’ll give you two examples that are extremely common. One is low back pain. A lot of people come in with chronic low back pain and everybody goes after the lower back which is okay because it hurts. You want to go there but you have to flip the person over and look at the other side which is the front. That’s where all the lymph is located primarily in the abdominal region. When the back hurts you got swelling and inflammation in the back. Well, that swelling and inflammation in the back has to drain to the front. If the front is backed up, stagnated, obstructed, clogged, whatever you want to say then the inflammation stays in the back. Then you also have to get good blood flow to the back in order for it to heal. You have to get blood flow out because that’s where waste is too. Waste is also in the veins of the body. The lymphatics dump into the veins of the body at the neck. Everything in your back is going to travel to the collarbone for you on the left hand side. If you’re blocked in your abdomen, you’re not going to be able to heal in your back plus you have a lot of nerves in the abdominal region, along the spine that go to the back. Most people, when they come to see me have a lot of severe tenderness and tightness and inflammation in the abdominal region from the muscles to the lymph, to the gut, to the nerves because they’re all in a big toxic soup in there. Once I release that then the lower back starts to come back. That’s a big one.
Most of the lymph nodes and the lymph vessels are more in the front of the body. Is that correct? Okay.
Yes. That’s a really great question. When I thought about those node clusters, those clusters live in very specific, they’re everywhere but the larger ones live in very specific areas. It’s a good time to go over those. Then I’ll cycle back to the other case study. Remember what I said early on that two things move lymph primarily. One was breathing but a very particular type of breathing through the diaphragm. Not your lungs. Through the diaphragm because that pumps the piston. It actually pumps the largest lymph node in the body which sits halfway between your navel and the bottom of your sternum. That’s where the largest lymph node in the body sits. It’s called the cisterna chyli. It is about the size of a walnut. If you don’t breathe through your diaphragm, that pump gets stagnated and stuck. The other one is movement. Well, nature’s pretty smart. She put all of those lymph nodes and clusters around the primary joints of the body that need to move the most through ambulation. Your shoulder joint, your hip joint particularly in the crease of your groin, your knee joint in the back, the abdominal region so you can rotate when you walk. Then the top of the neck right where your jaw is, where it attaches to the base of the skull and the top of your spine. That’s the largest lymph node in the neck right there. You’re supposed to move those areas a lot. You don’t move them a lot when you’re sitting on your rear end all day and they get tight and they get restricted. Then you slouch and you slump and you tuck up under your pelvis and you shut down your diaphragm and your movement. Your body’s like, what do you want from me? You’re shutting down all of my pipes, man. You’re not moving. Then if you don’t clear those up and here’s the most important thing people need to know is you got to clear them all. You’re only as resilient as the lymph node that has the most vulnerability to it. It doesn’t always have to be where you hurt. What I mean by that is this. You can have pain in your right shoulder. This is from a lymph node that is stuck behind your left knee because those systems connect to each other through the flow of fluids. One of the things that happens is when you get backed up in the abdomen, you also get backed up at the lymph at the neck. The brain and head has to drain its lymphatics, its toxins because the brain gets toxins too. Every time you fire a neuron in your head, you create neuronal waste and it’s got to get out. It’s got to go to the same damn place. It’s got to go down to the collarbone and it drains the same place that your lower back drains to. When I clear the lymph at the neck and in the abdomen, a lot of people start to get the drainage from the head and the neck. One of the things that happens is they get better vascular blood flow to and from the head. They start to get their brain back. They get energy coming back. They get life coming back. They don’t get as tired or fatigued all the time. It’s very hard for you to function in your brain when all those neurons are living in metabolic wastes. You don’t wire and fire as efficiently. If you do wire and fire, you get tired really quick because your capacity to tolerate the energy goes down. That’s one of the things that happens is that people, that’s one of the first things that improved for me was the brain, the mental aspect because I used to sleep 15, 16 hours a day and always be tired. I started to lose my mental faculty and not be able to remember names or forget things and what I just did. I had to actually physically leave practice and teaching because I couldn’t put sentences together anymore. That’s honestly the part that scared me the most. I can deal with physical pain but when my brain started to go that scared the hell out of me. That was a wakeup call for me. This was geez, how long ago was that now? Probably about seven years ago now. I’m 55 now. That happened when I was 48. I’m 55 now and I’m sharper now than I was then.
Back to that second case study you’re telling me about.
That was exactly one right there. I had a patient that came in to see me who one, they were dealing with a lot of anxiety. They were having a lot of headaches too. That was a person who when I checked them out, they had already been diagnosed with having leaky gut, gut issues and autoimmune disease. I know they had what they call systemic inflammation but you have to do a full assessment because no system in the body ever works alone, never gets injured alone, never heals alone. You can’t break down a system like the body into parts because they all interrelate with each other. You can’t break it apart and just fix one and then stick it back in. It’s how it functions with all of the other ones. That’s what we did. We just had to do for them a lymphatic assessment. I do an assessment. This is called an awareness exam from head to toe in a very specific order. I press there and your job is to let me know if it hurts. Most of the areas do hurt. Most people are really startled when I do it because they didn’t know those area hurt but based on the way that I do it, it also helps them drain at the same time. Back to your previous point is that those major lymph drainage points are in the front not the back.
Just a quick question about that. Does sleeping on your stomach for example, affect the drainage of lymph while you’re sleeping, do you know?
Yes, it does. They’re finding that the optimal position for drainage specifically of the brain what they call glymph. That’s short for glymphatic. Glymphatic is glial cells in the brain. They’re supposed to clear waste from the brain particularly what’s called microglia. That glymphatic system drains at night when you sleep primarily. Lying on your right side is found to be the optimal position for draining the brain. Sleeping on your stomach, you’re going to compress the abdominal region there and probably even make a difference on your breathing but the ideal position is to do multiple positions during the night. Be able to move. Some people, they can’t because depending on if they have sleep apnea or depending on if they have pain or discomfort, they may only be able to shift to a particular side plus sleeping on your stomach’s going to rip the hell out of your neck. It’s not recommended to be a stomach sleeper so right side or back.
Have you looked into inclined beds therapy? Have you tried that?
That can be helpful, too. It’s very individual for people but if you sit yourself up a little bit like that, that can help some of the drainage. The thing you have to remember about fluids in the body is it’s based on a law of hydrodynamics. That means that high pressure in fluids automatically flows to low pressure. I tell people to envision water behind a dam. You’ve got all the water pressure on one side. You’ve got no pressure or low pressure on the other side. That’s like a blocked lymph node. If I open up the dam, the water automatically flows to the low pressure side. The lowest pressure of fluid in the body is at the collarbone. That’s where the veins drain here and the lymph drains here. That’s why when you breathe in and out through your diaphragm and you increase what they call intra-abdominal pressure you decrease intrathoracic pressure. You’re supposed to have negative pressure in the thorax at the lungs there because that’s going to suck in the fluids through low pressure. At the neck, at the collarbone is the drain point. Now the highest point of pressure is the furthest away from that. It’s going to be in your feet, in your hands and the top of your head. Everything wants to make its way to the bottom of the neck. What you have to do is you have to reverse engineer fluid flow and look for blocks. What I mean by that, if I incline you up in a bed that can be helpful for some but it might not be helpful for others because a lot of people, let’s say, I’ll give you a case scenario here. Let’s say somebody has swelling and inflammation or an injury in their right foot. We already know if there’s swelling and inflammation that’s an immune system response because you got inflammation. It’s pro inflammatory in the beginning which means it’s designed to come on in and kill stuff so you don’t get an infection. It lays down inflammation for protection but it’s also there to get rid of the waste from the injury and from the metabolic processes from the injury. It has to get it out. It’s also a waste removal system. Now then you’re like okay, well where does the waste and inflammation in that foot have to go. I’m going to tell you exactly where it’s got to go. It’s got to go to the left side of your neck, your collarbone. That’s the point. In order to get there…
I guess all of that waste that’s delivered to the vein in the neck, does that get filtered or destroyed in the process? Does all that waste just go into your venous system?
You’re going to have wastes through your venous system because that’s one of its primary jobs is to carry waste. That’s where most of your blood resides. You also carry carbon dioxide through as well. Most of your blood is in the venous system and that’s why it gets very stagnated in people but I’ll break through where that drainage process goes when I connect the foot. It’s going to go from that foot, it’s got to go to the neck but in order to get there, it passes through lymph nodes all the way up. The first lymph node cluster it gets to is behind the knee on the same side where it’s swollen. When it gets there that lymph node starts to break down the toxins and kills the bacteria or whatever is there. That’s the first place it starts to get killed. Then the immune system takes it up, boom. Done, okay. Then it’s going to go to the next one, then the next node, then the next node, then the next node. Every time there is a little bit more killing going on. It’s got to go from the knee to the groin. Then it’s got to go from the groin to the deep abdomen to the lymph nodes along your spine traveling all the way up your spine behind your sternum and dumps into the left side of your neck. There is as a lot of killing along the way. Then it’s going to dump into the veins and then the vein is going to send it back out and it’s going to go everywhere else, it’s already meant to go through the liver. It can get through the liver and start to get killed there. It’s going to go out through the kidneys as waste through urination. That’s the primary way that it gets out is through the kidneys because that’s where it dumps. That’s why you see a lot of people with puffiness and swelling when they have lymph and kidney issues because you got toxins in your blood all the time. It’s not sterile, your blood. It’s in there and then it filters through what? All these organs that are going to detoxify it. That’s why you got organs. Most of your organs are there to detoxify waste. That’s what they’re there for. That’s why you don’t want stagnation because think about this. Think about a stagnant pool in nature. What does it breed? Disease.
Yes, right. Exactly.
You want it moving. It’s the same thing with running water. That’s life. With you, if you get stagnant fluid either lymph fluid or venous fluid then that stagnation then you’re going to get sick and you’re not going to be able to get well because you’ve lost the ability to perform two primary functions. You can’t get blood flow to something and you can’t get blood flow away from something. You can’t get waste out. It’s the same thing with oxygen. You know better than anybody that just because you got oxygen in your blood doesn’t mean it is reaching a cell. It’s got to get offloaded. What offloads it? You already know that. That’s carbon dioxide but even after it all offloads it’s still got to get to the damn cell. How’s it going to get there? It’s got to go through the interstitial fluid which is the environment that the cell lives in. That interstitial fluid is controlled, the health of that fluid is controlled by the lymphatics. If you have an interstitial fluid that is too toxic, too thick, too acidic, too much protein in it you’re not going to get oxygen into the cell because it can’t. Lymph is critical for oxygen delivery. One of the primary jobs of lymph is to remove excess protein from the body because protein is too large to move through the veins. It’s got to go through the lymph. Most people have too much protein in the system that’s not getting absorbed. It is just floating in the system. Then they become very toxic. They get a high pH. They get too much ammonia in the system and then the ammonia travels throughout the body through the kidneys and in the brain and you get inflammation everywhere.
That ammonia first goes through the lymph system though and then, okay.
Lymph is the primary driver for everything. That is keeping that whole system clean. The easiest way I can describe the lymph is through an analogy if I may. I call it the body aquarium because you’re like an aquarium. All I’d tell people just look at a fish tank. You got beautiful fish in there that are breathing the oxygen from the water because it’s got bubbles in there. The fluid, the water’s moving, the water looks really beautiful. It’s got a certain pH in there. Everybody’s happy. The fish are pooping all the time, peeing all the time but it’s all getting out through what? A filter system. You don’t see the filter system because it’s tucked up underneath the fish tank but what would happen if the filter system in that tank went kaputs, went out? The fish aren’t going to die right away. What’s going to happen is the water’s going to start to turn a certain color. It’s going to get toxic. It’s going to get bacteria, parasites, toxins, fungus and it’s not going to have oxygen in it. What you are going to see is fish struggling to breathe. Not enough oxygen. That’s the same thing that happens to your body. When your lymph stops working, you don’t feel it right away. It’s slow over time. Then your cells are the fish. Your cells are peeing and pooping all day long. Then you’re peeing in your own fish tank and then you can’t get rid of the waste. Then your cells can’t get the oxygen so they’re dying. Then I tell people okay, well, what would you do to fix that fish tank. Well, most people, if you didn’t know that the filter system was an issue and what they do in medicine is that they just put new fish in there, new water and just start all over again. Well, if you don’t fix the filter, two weeks later, you’re going to have dead fish again. Same thing. All you got to do, it’s not the fish’s fault. It’s the filter system. Go down underneath, get your filter system going and then do those other ones. That’s why it’s the order in which you do things makes a difference on your clinical results. In my world lymph clearance always comes first.
For other systems in the body like the vascular system, we have the heart that pumps the blood through it and intestines, we have peristalsis. What about, can you talk a little bit more about the lymphatic system and how the lymph moves through the lymphatic system? I know you talked about pressure before but what else causes the lymph to move through the system efficiently?
Those are primary ones right there is that through breathing and through movement. They have small little pumps in there, the smooth muscles that move a little bit but that’s not enough to do it but they also call the lymphatics, it’s part of your cardiovascular system because why? Because the lymphatics dump directly into the veins of the body. Right at the top of the neck on what they call subclavian. Sub means below. Clavian is for clavicle. It dumps into there and then it’s going to go back in towards the heart, the lungs to go out again. The lymph comes around then it gets dumped into the veins. Now it goes back out again but it’s a different name. Now it’s called plasma. Plasma is mostly protein. It just changes names but it’s the same damn fluid. What happens is this. You know that the lymph dumps into the veins. If the lymph starts to get stagnated or obstructed then you lose pressure. That means you’re going to get stagnated in the veins as well. The veins become stagnated. That’s where you see people who get spider veins or varicose veins, stuff like that. They become very puffy and they get hypoxia because they can’t get good oxygen delivery. Now you’re getting stagnation in there which means you’re going to get more thickness in your overall blood. Blood becomes more viscous. When blood becomes more viscous, it takes more pressure to move it. Then most people are dehydrated at the same time and dehydration feeds into thicker blood. You get more viscous blood. It just so happens that lymph is I think it’s 90% water. If you’re dehydrated you already got a lymph problem and most people are dehydrated. Then it takes more pressure to move the blood. Well, what organ does that? The heart so then you get high blood pressure. Then blood pressure is tied to lymphatic and venous stagnation. Then you go back into the abdomen again and your liver filters about 50% of the lymphatics into the lymphatic system. That’s where most of the venous pressure resides. If you have a vein problem, you got a liver problem. If you got a liver problem, you got a lymph problem. The livers are usually overloaded on most humans because that’s the big detox organ. It does about 500 different things. Then people say, how do you know I had a liver problem? Because you’re alive on this earth. That’s how I know you have a liver problem. I’m not kidding you. It just depends on how bad it is. I mean I think most livers are about ready to tap out with what they have to deal with. You have to get that moving. If you free all of those up, then you are getting the flow going. Now you’re giving the body what it needs. Listen, the body is pretty smart. It knows how to heal itself if you just help it do what it’s trying to do. It’s not able to do what it needs to do because it’s got all these roadblocks and these choke points. Everybody’s just trying to chase the place that hurts. You can’t do that. It doesn’t work like that. You have to look at all the different systems of the body because here’s the beautiful thing. The lymph and the blood always travel together and the nerves. Let’s give you an example. Let’s say that you got that lymph node behind the knee that might be swollen. Most people do. Most lymph nodes behind knees are completely blocked because people sit all day long. When that gets puffy and swollen, right behind there, you’ve got this big nerve. It is called your sciatic nerve. That can get compromised there too but you also have a huge artery that comes down there and a vein. When the swelling happens there, you compromise all of those but here’s what I want people to realize. That artery and vein and lymph and nerve in the back of your knee is the same damn one that’s in your abdomen. It’s just a different name and it’s smaller. The one behind your knee is the same pipe that’s in your gut. It’s just smaller. Just because you give it a different name doesn’t mean they don’t talk to each other. You have to check all these points. Not just where it hurts but on both sides of the body and look for the big block points. The big block points happen at the joints and in the abdomen. Those are the big block points.
The vascular system, we can have like build-up of plaques and different things like that and blockages. Is there anything like that in the lymphatic system that where things build up on the walls of the lymphatic vessels?
It usually happens in the lymph nodes blocked and choked and overloaded. They can become puffy or swollen. Sometimes they become a little hardened. Sometimes they can calcify. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dysfunctional, your body will just try to send it to another one but that’s where it happens. The thing with the lymph is they have intake ends. Lymph runs in different layers. You’ve got it very close to the skin. Lymph comes in that way. That’s the entry point. It comes in through these gates, if you will, the little valves. Then those little valves open and close and allow the fluid to keep moving up to the next level. They slowly climb up your body to your neck. What moves that is muscular movement does that and breathing. Then from the skin it goes deeper and deeper and deeper to larger and larger pipes. If you’re blocked in a deep pipe, you’re going to pay the price at the skin.
There’s no build-up of any type of things on the walls of these lymph vessels. It’s always in the node.
No. They get trapped in the nodes. You get the toxins and stuff. They get trapped in the nodes. Then people say what kind of toxins? Yes, is the answer.
People say what’s a toxin? You know what the hell a toxin is? It’s just stuff that’s in you that you don’t want in you because here’s the thing. Even your own cells become toxic to you when they can’t get out. You have billions of cells dying all the time. Every day. This is just natural. It’s called autophagy. This pre-programmed dying. They got to get out then so you can make new ones because if you can’t make new cells, you’re going to die quick, fast and in a hurry. All those cells that just die every day that’s waste too. Then how do those get out? Same damn way. Same thing. Lymph, veins, kidneys, liver, lungs so you can breathe them out. All that stuff.
In the lymph system you said there’s bacteria in the lymph system. Can those bacteria feed off of like the proteins or different things that are floating through there then create gas and stuff like that?
Sure. They do. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungus, cancer cells, they go after all that stuff. Your lymphatic system is killing cancer cells every day. Cancer just doesn’t jump you out of nowhere. It’s always inside of you, always. It’s just your immune system kills it enough so you don’t get it but it can get overloaded. Then that’s when the cancer comes out. Cancer comes out in an environment that does not have enough oxygen. Cancer does not form in an oxygenated environment.
Do you think if your lymphatic system is working very well, that it would be difficult for cancer to spread to other parts of the body?
Hell, yes. That’s what you got it for.
Same with anything else. That’s why you always want to make sure your lymphatics are working at optimum because it’s a primary part of your immune system. If it doesn’t work well, you’re already vulnerable to illness.
The lymphatic vessels, are they pretty elastic or is that something that diminishes as we get older like the elasticity of the lymphatic vessels and the ability to…
Like anything else they can be but they’re not as delicate as people make them out to be though. You got different types of lymphatic pressures that you can do. You can go light to a little bit more aggressive but it’s like anything else over time one, they can start to lose their resiliency because they’re also made out of filaments, out of collagen. Through time like anything else and through neglect, as well but they can also bounce back and become more resilient again.
Okay. Now with the vascular system, we have like angiogenesis. Is there anything similar with the lymphatic vessels? Can we develop more of them if there’s a greater need for it or things like that?
Yes. It’s called lymphangiogenesis. Let me give you an example. If you take lymph nodes out, you can’t get any lymph nodes back.
You can’t regrow lymph nodes at all.
Is it possible for the lymph nodes to die without removing them?
Say that again.
Is it possible for the lymph nodes to die or atrophy without you removing them?
They can. They can be there but they don’t function as well. Then they become hardened and then they just will try to bypass to another one. Then what they’ll do is they’ll try to spider out. They’ll make connections. They’ll grow almost like neurons trying to grow to another one. They’ll try to send it to another lymph node nearby or sometimes it’s what’s called a watershed. Watershed means that if say, if you are trying to send lymph up here but there’s a blockage your body will actually send it either to the opposite side or down low to another one. If it can’t get to your shoulder say I’m pointing to my shoulder on the left. Like here, let’s say you had some lymph nodes removed here, maybe from axillary or breast or something then it’s going to be slower to drain here. You’re more prone to inflammation but you’re going to have lymphangiogenesis and it is going to try to grow new pathways. It’s never going to be as efficient as it was when you had them all but it’s something. Very often, it’ll send it towards the middle and it’ll send it toward the hip at the bottom. It’ll drain someplace else. That’s one of the reasons why in my work, I never ever do isolated lymphatic work because I clear all the big channels so they can be open to receive if there’s a connection being made.
Okay. Now I’ve heard in the past, you’ve talked about the hierarchy of symptomology. Is that correct? Do you know what I’m referring to?
Oh, you mean like a systems checklist you mean?
More like a systems checklist.
I have a way that I look at the body because it goes back to something I mentioned before about systems of the body not working alone because the human body is what they call a complex nonlinear system. What that means is that no system works by itself. Complex means that they interact with each other. Nonlinear means this, that a small thing in one place can be catastrophic in another. Something really big in one place can do absolutely nothing to somewhere else. It goes both ways. My system, my approach is a hierarchy of systems to go after in importance. Every system in the body is important otherwise, you wouldn’t have them but I’ve found through my work that some are more important than others in relationship to one criteria. If something happens to one system above another, you can die way faster. Because you can die way faster, the body puts a priority on it to take care of that one before the others because the number one goal of your body is not happiness. It’s not dying. Happiness is a distant 50. If it’s even on the list because you can be happy if you’re not dead. It does whatever it needs to do in the moment that it’s in with what it’s got the best that it can to make sure you don’t die. My hierarchy that I go by the lymphatics are really, really near the top. They’re number two. The lymphatics are at the top of the list. I’ll tell you number one in a moment. Gut is number three. That’s because most of the lymph lives in the gut. Number four is vascular. That’s because most of your bloodflow lives in the gut too. So those are the top four and the number one is the brain. Particularly your autonomic nervous system via what’s called your vagus nerve that controls the inflammatory reflex in the body and your ability to recover from high stress. That’s my 1, 2, 3, 4. Number eight are muscle, fascia, ligament, joint. They’re all at the bottom of the list. Number nine is the site of pain where you point. That’s the least important part that I go after. I’ll go after it but I’m going to go after it from number nine but I’m also going to go after it from number one. I’m going to go from both ends. What I found in my world is when people come, that’s what Stop Chasing Pain means. It means treat pain. It means treat it, don’t chase it. When they come in to see me. Let’s say somebody’s complaining of a chronic pain in that right knee, most people are going to treat that knee by looking at the muscle and the fascia and the ligament and the joint of the knee. I will too but I’m also going to go up at the top and I’m going to go through 1, 2, 3, 4. I’m going to check your lymph. I’m going to check your gut. I’m going to check your blood flow. Then people say check it where and then here’s my answer. Yes, everywhere. Definitely around that knee but I’m also going to be thinking to myself well knee needs nutrition, knee needs to get rid of waste. I think to myself, where’s it going to go? Where’s it going to go and I reverse engineer the same. This is really easy to do because all you’re going to do is point to something and tell me what it is and I’m going to do the same damn thing. I’m going to drain the pathways the same way because that’s the same way the body heals it no matter where you point. It’s just going to manifest a different way and it can manifest as a different dis-ease based on your story. Everybody has inflammation but your diagnosis or what you get from the inflammation is going to be different. Does that make sense?
If you need help draining one of the lymph nodes or it’s stuck there, is it just massaging it or what do you do to do that?
Yes, that simple. It’s just massaging it and moving it. Then people say moving it which way. Every way. Up, down, left, right, front, back, all over. It’s just wanting you to get in there and move it. First of all, just knowing that you should move it and then two, its knowing the way that which order you move it in. That’s why it’s really important where whenever you do lymph work you always have to start from the low pressure and work towards the high pressure which means this. You always start at the collarbone and work out. You go collarbone up to the top of the head. You go collarbone down to the feet. You never go the opposite. You don’t go feet up. You don’t go arms up. You don’t go head down. You go neck out. That’s based on pressure blocks.
Okay. Now, can we dive into breathing a little bit? You talked about that breathing is one of the top things.
Sure. I know you guys know way more about breathing probably than me.
I like to hear how you use it to like, do you have certain exercises you do, breathing exercises? What’s the proper way to breathe to move lymph the most?
I’ll first tell you that I don’t believe there’s one best way to breathe. There’s just different ways to breathe because breathing is based on context and it’s going to depend on what you need in the moment you’re in and the task you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes it should be fast. Sometimes it’d be slow. Sometimes you should hold it. Sometimes you shouldn’t. You need to be able to adapt to your breathing. I just know that most people one, overbreathe which means they breathe too much usually through their mouth and nose as you know that. First thing I tell people to do is shut your damn mouth and breathe through your nose a little more. Just start there and that can change your life.
Why is nasal breathing better than mouth breathing for the lymphatic system?
It’s based on pressure, first of all. A couple reasons that, your listeners probably know this better than anybody but some people might not. When you breathe in through your mouth, you don’t have optimal movement of your diaphragm muscle. You’re moving more from the chest and the lungs. When you close this and you breathe through your nose, you’re automatically driving movement from the diaphragm without thinking about it. It’s a pressure driver. Second one is going to push that oxygen into the lower 1/3 of the lungs near the bottom. That’s where a lot of, they found recently within the last five years, you got platelets in the bottom of your lungs. You’re going to get down there and you want that because you’re going to be able to deliver more oxygen to tissues. You can’t reach that if you breathe through your mouth plus you’ll get more of that nitric oxide which will vasodilate the vasculature. Now I can actually get more oxygen into tissue. Here’s the thing that happens. Tight tissue doesn’t accept blood flow well. That’s another reason why you want to get in and work those lymphatics because they’re all around tight places in the body and you want to move the diaphragm because diaphragm is that intra-abdominal pressure. Then that pump, first of all, it moves your organs down and up, down and up, down and up. Where does most of your lymph live? In your abdomen. Your largest lymph node in your body lives in your abdomen. If you don’t breathe through your diaphragm, you just stagnated your biggest pump right from the get go. Then that pull on the diaphragm is also going to change the pressure in the lungs which is going to drive what they call MALT and GALT, gut associated lymphoid tissue and mucus associated lymphoid tissue and another one called BALT, bronchial associated lymphoid tissue. Those coat around the lungs and around the esophagus and around your organs. That motion pretty much milks those lymphatics that’s there. People over breathe which they mouth breathe. Then a lot of times they don’t breathe. They hold their breath a lot. You see that a lot in people who have emotional trauma. They’re in a vulnerability state or a shocked state, that happens a lot too. Then you shut the pumping mechanism down. I’ll tell people, when I first start doing the work, it’s really hard to move your diaphragm when you’re stuck in the lymph in your abdomen. That’s why I tell people, if you move the abdominal lymph first and then breathe, you’re going to have a completely different experience with your breathing than if you just breathe to the diaphragm because here’s the thing that I get asked a lot or people say this. Doc, I move all the time, man. I’m a movement ninja. I breathe all the time. I’ve taken 500 breathing courses. I can breathe through there like a master on a mountaintop. My lymphs should be great, right? Well should be is the operative word. What that means is that sometimes those obstructions are so deep that the breathing and the movement is no longer enough to dislodge it. That’s when you have to go in there and manually remove the block. Then you do your movement, then you do your breathing because I find in my world this. People are really locked in the lungs. They’re locked in the sternum and the rib cage. They can’t expand through the cage. They’ve already shut down the ability to get pressure there. They’ve got such inflammation in the abdomen that the diaphragm won’t descend all the way because it subconsciously restricts it because there’s so much inflammation there or the diaphragm is fascially stuck underneath the ribs to the liver and to the spleen and stomach and it can’t move. Then that’s why you have to manually release some things first before you start to do the breathing. That’s why the order of things makes a difference on how well your outcomes are. That’s a huge thing. Huge thing is the order you do something in. That’s called Dynamical Systems Theory. Dynamical Systems Theory means what you did before what you just did changes what you get.
Okay, so if someone has a tight diaphragm and they have a lot of lymph issues, do you need a practitioner to work on that for you or is that something you do yourself?
No, you can do it yourself. We teach self-produced programs for everybody because everybody has a sovereign right to release your own lymph and your own organs. Don’t let anybody tell you any different. It’s just knowing how you do it. We teach techniques that every human can do to themselves as a self-technique. You can do it to other people, if you have a license to do so but you can certainly do it to yourself. Some people though, if they’re really affected with lymphedema and a pretty significant autoimmune disease, we usually the encourage you to see a professional for lymphatic work because lymphedema, there’s a lot of different factors that go into that one. And then people who are really, really sick, you have to go easy with lymphatic work because they’re going to, they’re much more sensitive to detoxification. You can do a lot. You can do too much which would not hurt them but you can overload the system a lot. It just makes them feel bad for a long period of time. It can slow down the healing process but if you just want to get rid of chronic pain and get rid of some swelling and go harder, faster, stronger, longer and take care of some of these chronic issues that you’ve had for a long time you can easily do these things to yourself because you should do them. People say how often should you work the lymph. Every day of your life. Every day, you should do some lymphatic work because it’s always fighting off toxins all the time.
I think I’ve heard you talk about the vagus nerve before and the parasympathetic nervous system. Does that play a role in lymphatic?
Oh, yes. Big time. Well, the vagus nerve is called cranial nerve number 10 out of 12. You got one on the left side. You got one on the right side. They actually come down out of your skull and they exit right where the largest lymph node of the neck sits which is right at the top of the neck right behind the angle of the jaw, right at what we call cervical one, atlas one on the left and on the right. If you’ve got a clogged lymph node right there, you already mastered at the vagus nerve as it comes out of your head. Then that travels down the neck right there. If you’ve got blockages in what’s called your deep cervical lymph nodes in that region, it can be affected. Then it’s going to wrap around the esophagus behind your sternum where you have a ton of that GALT, gut associated lymphoid tissue. It’s going to exit the stomach and go to all the organs. If you’ve got a lot of toxins, inflammation in the abdomen then your vagus nerve is going to be impacted and affected. They’re finding that toxins will travel up through the vagus nerve. Then it’ll go make its way into the brain. It’ll go and activate the immune cells in the brain called the microglia. And then it all starts to ravage your brain. And then that’s when you can get brain inflammation. And then not to mention that the vagus nerve, being part of that parasympathetic nervous system and that’s the one that’s supposed to put you into wine, dine, feed, breed which means rest and relaxation and growth mode. That’s really important because if you’re always in sympathetic mode which is fight/flight, that’s tightness and tension in the body. Everything tightens up. Tight tissue doesn’t accept fluid flow well. You need to hit the vagus in order to relax the body and then that relaxed tension now you can get things to go and flow. Not to mention the hormonal component.
If someone’s in a very stressed, sympathetic state what do you do with those type of patients? Do you do breathing exercises?
You can do some breathing exercises absolutely. That’s one way to do it but here’s the beautiful thing, man. Remember, I told you before about how all these systems run together. When you do a lymphatic reset, you’re going to stimulate the vagus at the same time because all those areas where you have a lot of blocked lymph is where the vagus resides. When you manually press there and stimulate there and move those, you stimulate your vagus nerve. It’s a win-win situation when you do that but that’s why my hierarchy number one is the autonomic nervous system. That’s the sympathetic system, the parasympathetic system and the enteric nervous system, the gut brain. It goes back to those three.
Okay. Have you ever tried taping your mouth at night for like keeping your mouth closed?
I do it every night. It is one of the biggest tips that I give to my clients because anybody who comes in to see me they typically have dysfunctional breathing and they’re big mouth breathers. I usually put them through the BOLT test to see what their body oxygen level test is. Most people only reach like 10 when they do it. They’re severely hypoxic. I have them tape their mouth at night when they breathe. It makes a big, big difference when they do it. Then they can get that hydraulic pump going at night. Then back to the lymph and the brain. That drains at night when you sleep through the cerebrospinal fluid because your brain is supposed to shrink a little bit at night with norepinephrine and epinephrine changes. And then everything shrinks a little bit. Then you power wash through the cerebral spinal fluid and the venous system and it drains through. What drives that mechanism is the diaphragm. So that moves the cerebrospinal fluid pump. It’s called the cranial sacral pump for people who are cranial sacral therapists. If you’re breathing through your nose, you have a bigger hydraulic to drive that pump. You’ll drain your brain much more efficiently that way. Most humans breathe through their mouth at night when they sleep.
Yes, for sure. I’m sure it makes a huge difference.
That’s a big one. That changed my life that one right there.
Now, have you had a chance to use the Relaxator much? As far as do you see that as something that can increase the pressure inside the thoracic area to move lymph more? Do you think that would be a useful exercise for that?
Yes, I do. It was very helpful for me and I give it to my clients as well. It helps them practice it because it is sensory cue for them to be able to feel something. I like to be able to have something that they can control because they get so much anxiety about “I’m not sure how fast or how slow”. Sometimes you’re trying to help their anxiety and you give them more anxiety. I give them that and it’s really helpful on them to get the eccentric strength of the diaphragm because I want them to get the slow exhales because as you know, the slow exhales stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. You can build up that eccentric strength quite nicely but as you know, through that, when I have to tiptoe them in because if you restrict the flow too much you’ll just send them through an anxiety and then they start to panic. It’s the same thing with taping the mouth shut. Some people I’m not able to do that or I have to change the type of tape that I use because I have a lot of people that see me who have been through emotional trauma or abuse or sexual abuse and they get a lot. When you go near the mouth and the throat it kicks up a lot of the emotional responses to pain or trauma.
I’ve known people it takes a while for them to get used to it. They might wear it for a couple hours and tear it off in the middle of the night. Then eventually a lot of them who don’t have any issues like that will eventually be able to wear it through the night and benefit from it.
Now, I just use a big strip of kinesiology tape.
I have a colleague. He’s a Buteyko Instructor out of New York City. He’s in his 80s but he has a lot of swelling in his legs where he uses compression, these mechanical compression things to squeeze. Squeezors as he calls them. Is that is that a lymphatic issue?
Most likely, it’s a lymphatic venous. If you want you can get that from COPD. You can also get it from stagnation and liver is a big one but also lymphatic. Then you have to say to yourself okay, is it one leg or both?
For him it’s both legs.
Then what you do is you reverse engineer and you check the pipes all the way up. Most likely if it’s both legs, it’s a blockage near the top in the abdomen through both sides that comes down. Those socks, they can be helpful but you got to remember where is it trying to push everything. Lymph will be an issue in some way, shape or form but you may have other issues going on as well especially for his age.
He’s been using one of our products, the BodyStream recently. Ever since he started using that he only has to use the compressors like once every or he only has swelling like every three to four days now whereas before he had to use the compressors every day. I don’t know if you have any, I guess you don’t really know what the cause of his swelling is. I don’t know if you can address why you think that might be beneficial. The BodyStream is the CO2 suit that your body absorbs the CO2.
You just think about the ratios also of oxygen, the carbon dioxide and then what that’s going to do for everything on expansion and compression.
When I look up lymph issues, one thing that I see a lot is like those rebounders or trampolines you think that’s beneficial for…
It can be but you got to be careful because what happens is if you are jumping up and down and you got blockages is you are just going to move into a block. I tell people, same thing. You release the lymphatics manually then you jump up and down. Different story. Most people need to have that done. Jumping up and down is great. First of all, because most people don’t do it and two, it is freaking fantastic for your vestibular system and your inner ear which is going to feed in to help your vagus nerve to relax you and plus it’s fun to do. That’s a big movement of pressure. If you don’t have one of those rebounders, you actually have some that are built into your anatomy. They’re called calves. All you do is jump up and down on the balls of your feet and then your calves/your soleus is called your second heart. They’re actually the pumping mechanism that moves the venous blood towards the heart because it’s the movement that moves the venous blood. The heart is going to move the artery.
In a similar line of thinking the trampoline and if you have a blockage, what about people who go on detoxes? Could that be more harmful if you have blockages in your lymph system, if you’re trying to do a detox?
Yes because the detox have to get out in the same way. You want to work, clear the lymphatics but you have to go slow on that too because all that stuff has to get out because if you’re already struggling with detox, I already know you got a detox problem. Last thing I’m going to be able to do is overload you with one. That’s what people try to do is they just crush their body with too many things. You have to remember this that even these good therapeutic interventions, they’re also stressors. The longer you’ve been under stress and the more you’ve been sick, you lose tolerance for that. You can’t do as much because you’ll one, overload the system or two, you’ll shut the system down. Then it’ll just entrench itself and it’ll make it way harder to change something. You got to tiptoe in. A lot of people, they go on these detox programs. I see them take 20 different supplements. I’m like okay well, let’s think about this logically. You putting those into what? A gut that’s probably a hot mess that you got to break down. I know you got lymph issues but all those supplements turn into what?
Waste, same damn thing. You got to clear the pathway first. That’s why I’ve talked about the sequence of things. There’s a phrase that I use all the time that I learned from studying classic osteopathy, osteopathic medicine because that’s where a lot of the original work was founded in lymphatics by the founder of osteopathic medicine Andrew Taylor Still. They have a phrase. It’s three words. Drainage precedes supply. Drainage precedes supply which is a really nice way to say what I’ve been telling you for the last hour is that drain the pathways before you work on the supply side.
What happens is most everybody else does it the exact opposite way. Then I say to myself well, most people are really, really sick. There’s more chronic disease than ever before and chronic pain. Whatever we’re doing, it ain’t working. Then how about you just flip the process around? I always tell people, if you don’t like the solution, change the problem. Maybe we’re chasing the wrong problem as opposed to having the wrong answer for the right problem. Does that make sense?
Why not work on the lymphatic system? I’m here to tell you that it’s what I needed for me. Then when I started to get out there and tell other people, I just saw the same kind of reaction to them doing it and hearing about it. Then they said the same thing. If this was so important, why didn’t somebody else tell me this before? I’m like well, maybe you should ask them that. That’s a damn good question because they should have but it doesn’t have to be complicated either. I tell people this stuff is so simple sometimes it’s stupid. I make it so easy when I show it to people they’re like that’s it. You mean that’s all you got? I’m like yes. Who the hell told you it has to be complicated to work?
Speaking of the supply side, is there any benefit like on a certain type of diet to provide less waste for the lymphatic system? If you’re taking too many supplements, it’s probably not beneficial for the, it’s probably a lot of extra waste for the lymphatic system where like a high fat diet versus a low fat diet for example.
That’s a tough question because nutrition is so individual for everyone. I’ll give you a couple of things that I’ve found. One of the best pieces of advice I got from nutrition is from a friend of mine Coach Stan John who said, stop eating like a five year old. That’s a good start. What does that mean? It means stop eating crap food. Then people say what’s crap food? You already know what it is.
How many times have you been told it? You know what it is, you just don’t do it. Don’t eat crap. Eat good stuff. Start there. That’s going to help you almost more than anything. Number two is that I found that most people have a digestive system that has low enzymes and low stomach acid because of so much stress. They’re not able to break down the food and the supplements they eat. That’s why the vagus nerve works so great because the vagus nerve increases stomach acid production but sometimes people need, maybe sometimes need to supplement with some digestive enzymes to help increase stomach acid production. Sometimes it can be HCl, sometimes it can be Berberine, sometimes it can be spray bitters because not everybody can take HCl. If you have an ulcer or H. Pylori, you don’t want to take HCl but the other ones can be helpful for you. I mean, that’s a big one right there, man. I tell people when you have digestive problems you always have to start north to south which means you start from the brain and you work your way down. You don’t work from the gut up. You go the other way around. That’s why you have to look at the brain from the vagus nerve to the throat, to the tongue and to the stomach acid. If you don’t have enough stomach acid there ain’t a damn thing in the world going to work. I don’t care what you do. You’re done.
What about fasting, is that beneficial either intermittent fasting or like not eating as much throughout the day or like fasting for several days like a day or two or three days?
It can be for some. People with metabolic syndrome don’t always do well with intermittent fasting because it can do a number on glial cells in your brain but it’s not for everyone.
Would that produce less waste in the lymphatic system to kind of clear out? Would fasting produce less waste, metabolic waste and toxins obviously?
Overall well, yes because you’re giving yourself a little bit of a break on putting food in.
Autophagy, you could have more autophagy. It’s like a breakdown.
Or maybe the breakdown of proteins to make glucose and everything like that while you’re fasting.
Yes. I know for me the Mediterranean diet is one of the top ones that I recommend for people to do. Intermittent fasting actually worked quite well for me personally, when I did it but I had to work up to the 16 hours was too much for me. I started at 12 and then I increased an hour each time. I found the sweet spot for my metabolism was 15 for me but I usually will tell people to try that but there’s some people with metabolic disorders that might not turn out well for them but I can’t say more than that because it’s highly individual. The first one is stop eating the crap. Then people that are like but I already good. Then that’s when I’d tell you might want to look at the enzymes and hydrochloric acid and minerals because most people are lacking minerals particularly the trace minerals because you can’t make enzymes without minerals. If you’re mineral deficient, you’re enzyme deficient. You can’t go through the Krebs cycle to make ATP. In most people stress depletes minerals. I already know you got a mineral problem because you’re standing in a minute…
What are the most common minerals that people are deficient in?
I don’t do individual minerals. I give everybody trace minerals to do. The big ones are the ones that most, I’m not a big believer in driving just one. I mean most people got a magnesium issue but because if you drive in physiology too much on one thing you’re going to shut down another. You got to be careful with that stuff. I just give people the trace minerals or fulvic and humic minerals because they’re natural detoxifiers as well. I’ll give them that before I give them minerals.
I know in your story in the past, you’ve talked about when you started doing lymphatic work the amount of fat loss you had in the first month or two and how fat stores toxins and other things.
I lost 30 pounds. Yes, 30 pounds of swelling, puffiness, inflammation, body fat. I’ve been bodybuilding since I was 17 years old. I mean trying everything but if you got a lot of toxins in your body, got a lot of inflammation, you’re not going to lose weight. It won’t happen because the fat is used as a protective mechanism because fat surrounds toxins for protection. Fat is an organ. Then fats have hormones too and a lot of inflammatory ones. Then I’m going to go back to an example. Fats surrounds toxins. If you have a lymphatic system this dysfunctional you’re going to have more toxins. Then you are going to put on what? More body fat. Then here’s the thing, you’re going to go to the gym and you’re going to train and you’re going to work out. You are going to put yourself under more stress. Then you’re going to burn body fat, which releases what? More toxins. More toxins inside of a system that can’t already handle toxins. What’s going to happen is that you’re going to feel worse most likely or two, you’ll lose the weight and then you’ll put it all back on because the body doubles down. Then it’s going to say okay well, I’m just going to double protect you then we’re going to put it back on again.
It’s the same thing. You got to look at the underlying system of okay well, why is the body putting the extra pounds on to you? “I am good, man. I do everything all the time. I still can’t lose weight”. Well, then you got to think about, first of all, you got to ask why in the hell is your body not letting you lose weight? Maybe it’s keeping you that way to protect you.
If you optimize your lymphatic system, your body is going to feel safe to release the toxins and therefore the fat?
Yes because if it’s not working well, that would be a stupid thing for the body to do. Yippee, just have at it. No because like you said dude, that’s not going to turn out well. Not going to work out well at all. I’m going to keep you this way. Like hey, I’m sorry, if you hate the way you look in the mirror but it’s better than being dead, man. It’s taking the path of least suffering. The body never does anything without a reason. It’s not stupid. It’s always got an agenda. The agenda is save your life, expend the least amount of energy to do it, take shortcuts whenever you can and try not to have pain.
That’s the top four. Everything else is trying to accomplish that. If you can help it with those four, it’ll let you do the other ones.
I guess what are the top ways to, I guess identify problems with the lymph system and then also like what are the top ways to resolve or optimize your lymph system on a daily basis? What are the things you can do?
Probably the way to look at if you have a lymphatic system issue is one, if you’ve been struggling with something for a long period of time and you’ve not been able to get better from a chronic pain standpoint, definitely swelling and inflammation that you have in your system but also can be from chronic disease that you have. It’s a safe bet that it’s an issue and then also take some time to assess the skin. Skin irritation is a big indicator of lymph health and a lot of tiredness and a lot of fatigue. You can almost develop any symptom whatsoever in the body when your immune system goes but I also tell people take the time to press in some of those areas that I told you about today. The top of the neck, right behind the jaw, right at the top of the collarbone, above the collarbone there if it’s puffy or swollen or tender, right at the shoulder joint in the front. Rub in your abdomen, right between the navel and the sternum. Press in there a little bit then go to the creases of the groin and go behind the knees and see is it tender? Is it really tight? Does it feel puffy? Those will let you know that you got some lymph issues. Beautiful thing when you just did that you help clear it at the same time. Just do it in the order that I told you.
That is amazing on my toothache just working on those lymph nodes and kind of massaging it and kind of going down through the body.
Yes because a lot of that, you very well may need something in there. I’m not a dentist but you may have but if you, a lot of the reason you get the pain in there is from pressure that builds up. If you can drain the lymph node from the tooth then the pressure around the nerve decreases. That tooth is going to drain to the same place, the neck. I always tell people work both sides at the same time.
The tooth is festering in there and not being able to get removed properly with a clogged lymph system.
What was quite fascinating is they’re finding that when people have gingivitis or gum disease, that’s a precursor to autoimmune disease and they’re finding that the bacteria in the mouth travels through the lymphatic system and settles in joints. They find bacteria in the mouth settling in knees or in hips. The lymphatics is one of the primary ways that it does that because one of the pioneers in lymphatics named Vodder, who pioneered the Vodder Technique saw that joints drain to the deep lymphatics of the body. If you have joint inflammation or RA or something like that then you got to go to the deep lymphatics. That is not skin. Skin is not deep lymphatics. Deep lymphatics are abdominal primarily. That’s why you got to work the whole system. That’s why what the hell are you in my gut for when my knee hurts? Well, I’m going to draw it out for you and then you’ll see. Then I’m going to tell you, by the way, when I press on your abdomen, you’re not supposed to scream and want to punch me in the face. That’s not normal. You need to get rid of that. That’s not a normal reaction.
I guess what you teach is primarily the massaging certain parts of the body. Is there other techniques that you teach in your course and in your website?
There’s a couple of other ones but that’s the biggest one. Once you know the basic concepts then you can create many different techniques. I tell people there’s no miraculous, best lymphatic technique. There’s just different lymphatic techniques but I will tell you that if you don’t do it in the right order, I don’t care what the hell you do. It’s not going to work the way that it needs to. You work those points that I just mentioned. That is a big start and then after you do those then you can start to get some of your movement, then you can start to get some of your breathing and then begin to pay attention to it. Just removing the primary blocks first and then start to do those other techniques. Here’s the beautiful thing. Many people who do breathing and movement didn’t know they need to clear the nodes first. Many people don’t know about breathing or movement or lymph nodes. They need to do all three. Those are three things that can transform somebody’s life. Here’s the thing I learned a long time ago. We have a tendency to think that the information that we know, everybody else knows and does it because we live it all the time, we talk about it all the time. We’re discussing the diaphragm and vagus nerve. 99% of the population has no freaking idea what we just talked about. Those are the people that we need to do this for. It’s a mistake that a lot of people in this industry take for granted because it’s basic information for them but to somebody else it is not even in their wheelhouse or conclave. You always have to go back to over and over and over and over ad nauseum to basics and fundamentals because it’s always new, this is really critical. It’s always new to somebody who doesn’t know it yet. More people don’t know about it. I can’t tell you, you probably run into it. I can’t tell you when I go up to people in the medical community and I talk about taping your mouth shut. They look at me like I’m a Martian or something. The same thing with lymph. I got people that are gastroenterologist who have told people lymph’s got nothing to do with gut problems. You need to find another gastroenterologist because it does. People get into a certain discipline or wheelhouse. You got to be careful because you see it everywhere first of all because you’re looking for it. You forget about all the other things that are around you that have to contribute to that. You got to be careful when you become myopic like that. I think that’s one of the reasons why healthcare and medicine is broken because we’re getting worse at that. We’re getting too much into the minutiae.
I mean the body is a system.
You have to take that lens off. You can take an individual’s cell out and study in a petri dish and tell me everything about that cell but that doesn’t mean squat to me because I know when I put that cell in with all the other ones, it’s going to completely change its behavior. Humans do that.
I guess it’s like dissecting a book or something. You can like dissect the letter A, how many times it appears. Then you can like use a microscope to look at the letter A and how many dots, how much ink it uses and all that but then there’s the word and then there’s the paragraph and then there’s the whole story. There’s a whole. When you just focus too much on the smallest possible thing then you’re missing the whole picture I guess of how everything works together, the whole story.
Well, that’s not how systems work. It’s called Complex Systems Theory. That’s how the body works. You can’t pull out an individual part and then study it. You can’t make that one part better and stick it back in and inspect everything else to be better. It doesn’t work that way. It’s the interactions between all of the other ones together. That cell, if I put it in with all of your other cell, it changes its group behavior but if I took that cell and I put it in another human being, it’s going to change even more because it’s going to react to the story of those cells which is written in your cells. That’s why, I look at research and I’ll look at double blind studies but I always tell people if my patient wasn’t in your study. I don’t care.
Yes, it’s true. It’s true.
You got some fundamentals that can go somewhere but it doesn’t mean it’s going to automatically extrapolate out to my person because physiology changes based on context.
Let’s take someone that’s like running, they do exercise. Maybe they run or they lift weights but let’s say they run. They’re moving their diaphragm. They’re moving their body and everything like that. What are they missing in terms of why might they have lymphatic issues if they’re moving their body and like breathing and moving their diaphragm and all that and getting blood flow to their skin?
Kind of like what we talked about back before just because you look great and you can perform great doesn’t mean that you’re…
I’m just saying they’re meeting two of the criteria for good lymphatic.
Well, we kind of covered that a little bit before where you got blocks you don’t know about because those should be enough but I’ll be honest with you. I got people who train all the time are the most unhealthy people and inflamed people I’ve ever seen in my life. I go in and I touch their body and they’re a hot inflammatory mess because training and movement that creates inflammation. You’re breaking down tissue on purpose and you’re supposed to because that’s how you become resilient. You break down cells, you cause inflammation. That’s the easy part. The magic comes when you can repair it and regenerate and recover. Like I said before is that inflammation has two stages pro-inflammatory and then you’ve got the waste removal and repair part. Pro-inflammatory, that’s the breakdown part. Then you have repair and waste removal. That’s the second part. Most people get stuck in the first one. They’re always breaking down. Then I’ll go in and then I’ll do an assessment on them. Every place I touched kind of hurts or is tender. They’ve just got so much systemic, full body inflammation everywhere that they’re stagnated. They can’t get rid of it. That’s one of the reasons why. It’s also a missing link in elite athletes because most elite athletes, they have everything measured, poked and prodded. Then I bet you nobody ever checked your lymph for you or if they did, they did it on accident because all these places are people that have pushed on before and I did too. I was just the one thinking about lymph. Let me give you an example. I’m a chiropractor, man. I know your spine inside and out. I know the C1, C2 atlas and axis. I mean I can move that stuff all day long in my sleep. I’ll push up here and then I’ll be like oh well, you got a little bit of subluxation, fixation there or tenderness on the nerve. Not once in all my years that I think to myself wow, that lymph node needs some work because I just wasn’t thinking lymph but I was pressing on lymph. When I stick my finger right there that was what I was joking about before but I’m not joking. I mean I hit lymph. I hit nerve. I hit blood in and out. I hit fascia. I hit everything in one shot. If you think about it, the only thing I’m actually ever physically touching the whole damn time is your skin.
When you went to chiropractic school, what did they teach about the lymphatic system or did they spend much time on it?
Oh, damn. I can’t even remember if they did, man. If they did, I didn’t care because I was there to study the spine and the nervous system. Give me the good stuff, man.
When you’re feeling around your body what are you feeling for? How do you know you’re touching a node or is there a certain feel to it?
It’s one to know where they are. You got a lot underneath your jaw first of all, the cranial region but then it just comes also with knowing what they feel like. They got different sizes but the nodes clusters are larger. It’s like you’re hitting a little bit of a frozen pea in a way, little pellets that it feels like underneath there. Then you just watch for the response. One, it can be tender particularly if it’s stagnated but some can be a little bit harder than others but not necessarily tender. Sometimes that’s just a normal variant for people. It’s just looking for the reaction but that pressure comes with time too because listen, I can make anything hurt if I press hard enough. It’s just something that you get through experience when you press on yourself. It’s a comparison. It’s much easier to compare one spot.
Because I felt something on the side of my mouth. I didn’t feel the same thing on this side. I assumed it felt kind of like a little ball like a ball sort of.
You have a contrast. The only way your brain learns if it has a choice, an A and a B. It needs something to choose from because you don’t have a choice until you know you have one. You have to go from either one and then you can feel it. Then it just takes practice but at least in the world of healthcare, I find that people are not very good with using their hands.
Do you find that a typical massage that you would get out of a massage place touches the lymph in a significant way or no?
Everything touches the lymph no matter what you do is what I am saying. The difference is…say that again?
Is that beneficial getting a massage for your lymphatic system?
It’s always going to move lymph but then it’s where you massage and the order that you can do it in is the difference. Let me give you an example. When you go to a massage therapist where do most start you? Lying on your back or lying on your stomach?
Usually the ones I’ve gone through, they work on your back first, usually around the neck and then down to your lower back is my experience.
Most often, not always but most often you’re lying on your stomach which means they start to rub you where?
In my back.
Well already, I’m pushing into a drain point in the front that could be blocked. I’m starting on the wrong side if I’m thinking from a lymph perspective. I can rub my hand up and down your leg and I’m going to move lymph every time I do it but I’m just going to ask you where the hell are you moving it to? That’s why you have to remove and check those lock points first. If you’re thinking from a lymph perspective or for me, I’m thinking from a blood flow perspective at the same time. I’m going to go and clear some areas in the front first before I go back and do the massage part. You just got to say what’s your ultimate goal of your massage?
Have you had any massage schools seek you out to learn more about the lymphatic system to incorporate into their massage therapy?
Not necessarily to a school to do it because of the zombie apocalypse lately but I have people that come to learn me from all different disciplines. People that are just everyday people to fitness trainers to medical professionals of all different types. A lot of people have studied different lymphatic techniques because there’s quite a few you can choose from. They’re all wonderful. They all work. They come and learn from me too which I love to see because it just means that they’re trying to become better at their craft. Then they see that my approach is usually very different than the other ones because here’s what happened. I took all of my prior years before getting sick of studying chiropractic and osteopathic Eastern medicine and pain science and neuroscience and movement. I had all those in my wheelhouse. Then I just integrated that with lymph. Now I blend them together. When I teach lymph, I’m not just teaching you lymph. I want you to understand how all the different systems read or relate to each other. They’ll come to learn from me of all different types.
I’m sure they find probably in your life as well that you found that the therapies that they do are much more effective when the lymph system is working properly.
I found that to be the case. I tell people it’s not something that’s designed to take the place of what you’re doing. It’s designed to accentuate, accelerate, enhance what you already know.
Like a force multiplier.
Exactly. That’s exactly what it is. If you just think from a logical standpoint of how could things not be better because you increase flow of blood and lymph. The fluid, that’s the life of the body. The cells can’t function without the fluid. The nerves can’t function without the fluid. That’s everything. That’s a huge thing for people to grasp here is it to still do your techniques. Maybe it’s not even lymph techniques. You’re doing ART or a Graston or FRC or whatever three letter acronym you want to do these days. They all work. I’m just telling you do some lymph work before you do that. Then you’ll notice, in my experience, that the outcomes of those are even better.
For sure. I guess for people interested in your work what kind of resources do you have available at your website?
They go to the website stopchasingpain.com. That’s kind of the central hub where you can do a lot of different ways to choose to learn. We’ve got a membership site that you can join. Then there’s about 900 videos in there. That’ll keep you busy for a little while. Then we have different videos that you can purchase and stream and watch for life anytime you want. Then we also have coming back next year, we took a little break for the last two weeks of this year where we do workshops that are webcasts where they’re one day and two day options. Lymphatic Mojo is probably the most popular one because it’s worked so well. Then we have one on the vagus nerve and then we have a few other ones as well. Those will be posted up. Then we also have our own podcast that’s been out for about 12 years, long time, that they can listen to. Listen, if you want to find some stuff on Stop Chasing Pain, you’re not going to have any trouble finding it and finding something that might work for you. I also do see clients in person in New Jersey and virtually over Zoom. You got those options as well. If you want to contact me directly, you do that through the same website. Then I’m on all the social media. I’m on probably all of them but the one I spend the most time on right now is Instagram. That’s probably the best way to follow me for social media one. Facebook a little bit, tiptoeing into TikTok there but most of it is on Instagram for the moment and I’m also on Twitter of course.
Okay. Very good. Well, I think the work that you do is super important because not many people know about it. I know so many people in my life that my mom, she’s had chronic pain, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease. Just so many things that I think that your work could help her with. There’s so many people in my life that I want to tell them about your work and to learn about what you do. I hope that our audience can, I hope we can spread the word through our platform and get the word out about what you do because I think it’s super important. I appreciate you taking the time to be on the call today and explain everything for us.
Well, thank you very much, my friend. I had a good time. I really enjoyed the questions. They were very good and thought provoking. I agree with everything you just said so ditto on that. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to get the word out on the lymphatic system and something that I think is life changing. Thank you so much.
I agree totally. Thank you. Take care.