I hereby take this opportunity to…wait, wait, what am I saying? It’s never that serious.
Hello peeps. Today I’ll introduce you to, by far, the weirdest body part – the lymph nodes (lymph glands). These, as you will learn, are a key part of the human immune system.
Now, I know in high school teachers focused on white blood cells and made them out to be the ultimate bacteria assassins.
Well, they are, but even Jet Lee, Jason Statham, and the likes need sidekicks from time to time (it is rare but it happens).
The lymph nodes give the white blood cells the support they need to ward off viruses and bacteria that infiltrate the body. Unfortunately, they don’t get a lot of credit for the work they do.
This is evident by the fact that not many people are aware of their presence. For this reason, they advertise their presence. Every time they work overtime to try and bail out the white blood cells and prevent imminent doom, they swell up and advertise their presence.
I tend to think they’re attention seekers (haha. but that’s just me hating. There is a scientific explanation behind their swelling).
But on the bright side, they make us aware of the ‘World War’ going on in our bodies. They whistle blow and get us to act on the problem before it gets worse. While the white blood cells are efficient, they prefer keeping their actions covert.
Today, in this piece, we shall discuss lymph nodes and the lymphatic system, the common conditions that affect them and as we come to the end, we shall scrutinize some essential oils and blends that help you manage the lymph conditions. So here we go.
What Are Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped glands located in different parts of the body. They’re an important part of our immune system.
Reading this, you probably have heard of them – unfortunately, in relation to cancer (its diagnosis and treatment). For this reason, you might have thought that having them is a sign that you are soon meeting your maker. But on the contrary, everyone has lymph nodes. As a matter of fact, their presence is crucial to our health.
The lymph nodes are part of a larger body system – the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels, organs, and nodes in the body. The lymph nodes are more like the filters in the system. They trap viruses and bacteria and other invaders before they cause infections.
The lymph nodes are also tasked with the responsibility of controlling the transportation of the lymph fluid (an infection-fighting) fluid all over the body. This fluid carries the white blood cells through the lymph vessels and delivers them where they are most needed. It’s similar to how the capillaries, veins, and arteries transport blood throughout the body.
Most people are aware of the nodes present under the chin. These are just some of the more than 500 lymph nodes present in the human body.
They’re scattered all over: under the armpits, around the groin, in the neck, in the veins, and in the digestive system. When you’re fighting off infections, you’ll notice that they swell up.
Think of the last time you suffered a sore throat. When you felt around in the area under your jawbone, you noticed some bumps under the jawbone right? These were lymph nodes.
At the time, they were swollen. When you get a serious cut in your arm, the nodes under your armpits swell up making it painful to lift and drop your arm as you normally would.
Common Lymph Node Problems
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Inflammation or swelling is by far one of the most common problems lymph nodes face. As I’ve pointed out above, lymph nodes swell in reaction to fungal, viral and bacterial infections.
In addition to this, they may swell up as a result of cancers like leukemia, injury, and lymphoma and courtesy of certain types of medication.
Note that when the nodes swell up, they do so in clusters – a cluster at a time.
But in cases where the infection is severe, like is the case with mumps, rubella, syphilis, Lyme disease, Hodgkin’s disease, HIV, cytomegalovirus, the lymphatic system goes into overdrive and several clusters of nodes swell up.
Clearly, a swollen lymph node is a sign that all is not well with your body.
Before we get to expound on what having swollen lymph nodes means let’s have a look at some symptoms associated with swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms include:
- Pain and tenderness of the lymph nodes
- A runny nose and sore throat
- Hard, rapidly growing and fixed nodes
- Night Sweats
Note that the above symptoms are subjective to the cause of the swelling of your nodes.
What Having A Swollen Lymph Node May Mean
You have a common virus or an infection.
This is the common cause of lymph node and gland swelling. The nodes swell up with the lymph fluid as it responds to an attack.
Bacterial attacks can be treated with antibiotics while viral attacks could be handled with vaccines. Most doctors will recommend lots of fluids and rest for your swollen nodes caused by an infection. They might throw in some disease-specific medication to help fasten the healing process.
You have mononucleosis
This one is interesting. Infectious mononucleosis (mono/glandular fever) is spread by air or by saliva. As such, you can acquire it by sharing cutlery, kissing or coughing. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus which belongs to the same family as the herpes virus. Most of us have encountered this virus.
Its name, glandular fever comes from the fact that it causes the lymph glands to swell. The swelling is as a result of the body producing a large number of lymphocytes to try and counter the Epstein-Barr.
But the swollen glands are not the only sign of mono. In addition to this, you also might develop severe fatigue, a sore throat and an enlarged and tender spleen.
And yes, in case you’re wondering, the spleen plays a part in warding off viruses and bacteria as well. It is important to note the sequence of events. First, flu-like signs and symptoms will emerge and later the lymph glands will swell up (this is usually several days later).
If you suspect you have mono, it is advisable that you refrain from kissing (even your significant other). Before you think of getting it on, talk to your doctor and get tested.
Unfortunately, even after testing and getting a positive diagnosis, there isn’t much the doctors can do other than helping you keep the symptoms under wraps until the symptoms clear.
Pregnant ladies are beautiful. They have a glow that I absolutely love. Unfortunately, pregnant women are most vulnerable to all kinds of conditions and diseases.
In this case, swollen lymph nodes is a big concern. When this happens, it might be an indication of a bacterial infection – toxoplasma.
Though this bacterium can be acquired through the ingestion of contaminated water or meat, the most common way is by coming into contact with cat feces (accidentally swallowing tiny particles…this is gross but you will be shocked how often this happens).
If you are tasked with the duty of cleaning the litter box, it is important that you relegate that duty to someone else once you learn you are pregnant. Contracting this bacterium while pregnant puts you at the risk of passing it to the fetus and causing a miscarriage, death or birth defects.
Things just got damn serious huh? For this reason, pregnant ladies should get to their doctor immediately to determine the cause of the swelling. If it is toxoplasmosis, it should be handled immediately.
You are super anxious
This one is rare (you can breathe easy now). However, it’s common for persons prone to panic attacks and who have anxiety disorders.
There are situations in which anxiety leads to a weakened immune system. This, in turn, leads to the contraction of minor infection and viruses. The end result is swollen lymph nodes which lead to even more anxiety and panics regarding the state of health.
The capacity of anxiety to suppress the functions of the immune systems is known all too well. However, swollen lymph nodes are not the number one sign of anxiety. They are a possibility but not a characteristic symptom.
If you notice yourself obsessing about your swollen lymph nodes and realize that you are fueling your anxiety all the more you should get in touch with your doctor. You just may be in need of some anxiety specific therapy to lift you out of the anxiety.
To keep this from happening, you should try:-
Healthy distractions in your life: Call a friend and speak to them about your anxiety and fears. Talk about fun things to lighten the mood. You could even try completing a puzzle or watching funny shows like the Big Bang Theory or Young Sheldon.
Jogging: This is a perfect way to get rid of anxiety. In addition to ridding your body of anxiety, it’ll keep you fit. Jogging will trigger the body to release endorphins which help you relax and reduce the cortisol levels in your body.
Drink plenty of water: Yes, dehydration can lead to swollen lymph nodes. Scientists have not exactly confirmed this, but they believe that there is a connection between the two phenomena. Drinking water will also help with your anxiety.
These are just some ways to keep your anxiety in check. If you have other tricks up your sleeve, try them too – anything to get your moods high and anxiety low.
You are down with lymphoma
Scary isn’t it? So I should start by saying this: it is highly unlikely that a single cluster of swollen glands and nodes is a sign that you have lymphoma.
Lymphoma is cancer affecting lymphatic leucocytes which report to the lymph nodes for duty. I have tried to keep things simple and to the point. Lymphoma comes in two types:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Hodgkin lymphoma
Additionally, there are about 60 subtypes of the non-Hodgkin lymphoma. So note that we are not discussing the uniform disease. Non-Hodgkin disease is the common type.
It accounts for about 4% of new cancers in the U.S alone each year. The risk of developing this cancer is about 1 in 50. So there is no need to freak out.
You will not be considered for lymphoma unless your lymph nodes are excessively swollen and without an underlying condition for a long time.
Swollen lymph nodes courtesy of lymphoma is accompanied by unexplainable weight loss, night sweats, fatigue and bizarre itching. The swollen lymph nodes will be uncharacteristically painless.
With that said, do not be one of those people who consider a week of swollen lymph nodes coupled with sneezing to be a sign of cancer. There are high chances that the nodes are just busy at work.
Other common causes of swollen lymph nodes include:
- Ear infections
- Mouth sores
This is yet another problem associated with lymph nodes. In this particular condition, tissues related to the lymphatic system and the lymph nodes malfunction and prevent the normal movement of the lymph fluid inside the vessels. Consequently, the retained fluid seeps into the legs and arms causing them to swell up.
Lymphatic obstruction is split into two:-
- Primary lymphatic obstruction
- Secondary lymphatic obstruction
Primary lymphedema is inherited. Individuals with this condition are born with it.
Secondary lymphedema, on the other hand, is caused as a result of the accidental removal of lymph tissue during surgery. The most common is the removal of lymph tissue in the armpits during a breast cancer surgery.
What Are The Best Essential Oils For Lymph Nodes
Using essential oils an effective way to manage the suffering, pain, and discomfort that comes with obstructed or swollen lymph nodes.
If you are a doubting Thomas (quite unlikely if you are an Oliviarite), you are probably wondering how essential oils can help lymph nodes function better.
Well, to make a believer out of you, below is a short list of the best essential oils that work wonders on lymph nodes.
This essential oil is made from Gaultheria procumbens. This is a plant with medicinal properties. It has been in use for ages.
It is used to treat respiratory conditions, fatigue, lung infections, and sinuses. Research conducted on this extract over the years reveals that wintergreen oil is rich in Methyl Salicylate. This compound has analgesic, anti-inflammation, antiseptic and anti-arthritic qualities.
When massaged on the body, it has a numbing effect which helps to reduce the pain experienced. But besides numbing the inflamed lymph nodes, wintergreen oil also improves blood circulation to the areas around the affected lymph nodes. This results in reduced irritation, pain, and sensitivity.
2. Bay Laurel
This essential oil is also known as Laurel Leaf essential oil. It is extracted from Pimenta racemose leaves. It contains myrcene, eugenol, limonene, ternipen 4-ol, chavicol and other chemical compounds that work to reduce the inflammation of the lymph nodes over time.
It’s also worth noting that it is an excellent antifungal and antimicrobial oil. With these properties, it helps to ward off infections and reduce the pressure and load applied to the lymph nodes.
Additionally, bay laurel oil has helped quite a number of people to fight breast cancer and other cancer types.
If you want to benefit from this essential oil, you can include it in a blend. This way its powers combine with those of other potent essential oils to give you a powerful blend.
Simply add 8-12 drops of by laurel to an ounce of jojoba oil and massage the swollen lymph nodes will do the trick.
Needless to say, ginger essential oil is extracted from ginger root. Ginger root is a favorite spice to many culinary lovers. Scientists have conducted numerous research and tests on the root and have discovered something fascinating about it – it contains over 100 chemicals that work to improve human health.
Some of the compounds present include linalool, camphene, nerol, cineole, terpineol, geranial, pinene, and zingiberene. Consider the gingerols for instance.
They break down toxins present in body organs as well as the lymph nodes. This, in turn, leads to a reduction of accumulated toxic substances which usually end up triggering node inflammation.
Additionally, ginger oil is a perfect treatment for swollen lymph nodes especially because it reduces pain courtesy of the inflamed and sensitive nodes. The gingerols act on the vanilloid receptors and minimize discomfort.
Aside from reducing toxins and breaking down toxins, this essential oil also gives the immune system a major boost…your body will fight fungal and bacterial infections, arthritis and cancer with great efficiency and ease.
This essential oil is prepared from the peels of grapefruits. It is not made from the pulp like most think.
It is useful in managing inflamed lymph nodes. It has this ability courtesy of limonene. Limonene is a natural compound that boosts the immune system to fight against infection and inflammations.
Other compounds present in grapefruits and that are worth pointing out include myrcene, pinene, sabinene, and terpinene.
These compounds complemented with vitamin C help in the fight against cancer and tumors that cause the swelling of the lymph nodes.
Who knew – grapefruits are sumptuous but more to this, they help get rid of toxins in the liver and other body organs in addition to cleaning out the lymphatic system?
Lemon is similar to grapefruit essential oil in that it’s rich in chemical compounds that help body organs like the liver to get rid of toxins.
Besides detoxification, lemon oil also works by stimulating the lymph drainage to reduce inflammation caused by the lymphatic system.
There are a lot of talks that go on regarding lemon essential oil – and for good reason. It does a fantastic job on many fronts (not on swollen lymph nodes only).
Essential Oil Blends And Recipes For Lymph Nodes
Recipe 1: Swollen Lymph Node Deflator Blend
What you need
- Fractionated coconut oil – 1 oz. (30ml)
- Peppermint – 6 drops
- Ginger – 8 drops
- Frankincense – 4 drops
- Amber bottle
The lymph node swelling is to your benefit. It only means that the lymphatic system is working as it should. However, this does not mean that you should live with the pain and discomfort that follows. There is a way out – this deflating blend. Try it – it works wonders.
With the coconut oil at room temperature, add the essential oils and mix. Stir the ingredients using a stainless steel spoon.
Once the blend is ready, soak a cotton cloth in hot water. Wring the cloth to get rid of excess water and place the cloth on the swollen areas. Repeat this step several times.
Once the affected area is warm enough, apply the blend. Massage it on the skin. Apply gentle pressure and be keen to work with your pain tolerance. Repeat this process 5 times daily.
Recipe 2: The Lymph Toxin Expeller
What you need
- Juniper Berry – 7 drops
- Lemon – 5 drops
- Black pepper – 6 drops
- Avocado oil – 1 oz. (30 ml)
It is not enough to soothe the symptom of your swollen lymph nodes. You should act to get rid of the cause of the swelling.
With this blend, you can do just that. The blend will eliminate toxin in your body, and strengthen the immune system to ward off viruses and bacteria in your body.
Mixing up this blend is quite simple – no confusing steps. Mix the ingredients together massage the affected areas.
Recipe 3: Lymph Stimulating Massage Blend
What you need
- Geranium – 5 drops
- Wintergreen – 6 drops
- Tea tree – 2 drops
- Grapeseed oil – 30ml
- Dropper bottle – 1 oz. (30 ml)
The best way to detox your lymphatic system is to gently massage it. Not only is this effective, it is also enjoyable and relaxing. You can treat yourself to a well-deserved and earned massage right after a shower.
Mix the ingredients in the dropper bottle and use it when needed. For great results, you could have a friend or significant other perform the massage. But if you opt for this, you have to point out when it gets too painful. You do not want your relaxing session to turn into a pain.
If you please, you can mix and match the amounts needed as you please. You just need to be careful with circulatory oils – they are considered hot oils.
Recipe 4: Detoxifying Bath Blend
What you need
- Juniper – 10 drops
- Helichrysum – 4 drops
- Grapefruit – 8 drops
- Dead Sea Salts – 1 cup
This is yet another blend to suck the toxins from your organs and the lymphatic system. Your liver could benefit from this blend.
The beauty of this blend is that the ingredients seep into the body as you relax and enjoy a warm bath after a hard day at work.
To whip up this blend, mix essential oils and the Dead Sea salts before you pour the mix into your warm bath.
Recipe 5: Revitalizing Essential Formula
What you need
- Cypress – 3 drops
- Juniper – 5 drop
- Grapefruit – 4 drops
- Bay Laurel – 6 drops
- Almond oil – 1 oz. (30 ml)
Get back your groove and energy by using this blend.
To whip up the blend, mix the ingredients along with the almond oil or any other preferred carrier oil in your 30ml bottle. Massage generously over your body.
Recipe 6: Flu Easing Formula
What you need
- Cedarwood – 6 drops
- Aloe vera gel
The blend also works with colds. Flu and colds two are common conditions that cause lymph nodes under the jaw to swell up. This blend will help to decongest the circulatory and lymphatic system. Coupled with aloe vera gel, the blend is quite something.
Massage this blend on your chest to help reduce swelling. This massage will move the lymph fluid from your neck and chest to your underarm lymph nodes.
And In Conclusion
Lymph nodes are part of the elaborate lymphatic system. This system makes up almost half of the immune system. This means that without it, our health is severely compromised.
The fact that it blows the whistle on most infections and conditions makes it all the more important. To keep lymph node symptoms in check, it helps to make essential oils part of your lifestyle.
If the symptoms seem to get out of hand even after using the blends above, the underlying condition is a serious one and you need to visit your doctor.