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As a youngster I was asked by my mother to get the butter from the refrigerator and bring it to the dinner table. “Sure, Mom,” I said as I jumped up from the table and headed for the fridge. The following conversation ensued:

“It’s not here, Mom.”

“It certainly is, I put it there myself.”

“I’m looking all over. It’s not here.”

“Open your eyes. It’s right in the front.”

“I’m tellin’ you, Mom, my eyes are open. It’s not here!”

At this point Mom strode into the kitchen, walked up to the open refrigerator, and without so much as a glance, reached in and picked up the butter dish – which was, of course, on the middle shelf, right in front.

The obvious is often overlooked. Consider, for example, what the medical authorities have overlooked about the care of the human body. It’s at least as obvious as that butter dish should have been to me, especially considering that what they’ve missed is the single most important factor in preventing many fatal diseases, and that it can also prevent the years of ill health that generally lead up to them. By now you must be asking, “My God, what is it? What did they miss?”

The answer is simple: the lymph system.

What Does the Lymph System Do?

Most of what you know about the “immune system” is actually the work of the lymph system.

In biological terms, the lymph system is an astounding network of fluid, organs, nodes and nodules, ducts, glands and vessels that continuously and aggressively cleanse the system of waste matter. Millions upon millions of nodes – some no bigger than a pinhead, others the size of a lima bean – guard the passages into the body against the intrusion of destructive substances. Placed end to end in a straight line, all the lymph vessels in the body would cover a distance in excess of 100,000 miles – circling the globe four times!

There is actually three times as much lymph fluid in your body as there is blood. Except for cartilage, nails and hair, your entire body is bathed in lymph. If you could somehow see a picture of the network of glands and nodes inside your body, you would see what looked like an extremely fine sheath of lace covering and saturating everything.

You can actually feel some lymph nodes where they are close to the surface of your skin – on the sides of your neck, under your chin, under your arms, and where your legs meet your torso. (If you would like to see some unusually large lymph nodules, look at your tonsils.)

Unlike the circulatory blood system, the lymph system carries fluid only away from the tissues. It picks up wastes from all the cells and, through an intricate series of processes, breaks them down and arranges for their elimination from the body. Every day, billions of cells in your body die off and form highly toxic substances in the process. Toxins are also built up from the residue of the approximately 70 tons of food that we eat in a lifetime. Then there are pollutants and irritants in the environment, in cleaning products and cosmetics, and in all the other things we put in, on and around our bodies. The lymph system cleans it all.

The lymph system is also involved in producing white blood cells (lymphocytes) that seek out, capture and destroy foreign substances – such as bacteria and other “invaders” – and remove them from the body. The circulation of lymph provides ample opportunity for toxins to come in contact with the surfaces of the body’s powerful cleansing cells (such as macrophages and lymphocytes). In fact, more than 99 percent of soluble toxins (called antigens) can be trapped by the body’s lymph nodes.

Blind Spot

Unfortunately, the medical establishment didn’t “miss” this incredible system because they couldn’t see it, but rather because they weren’t particularly interested in it.

That’s because the lymph system doesn’t really fit into the standard medical approach, which tends to see the human body as a hapless victim, forever at the mercy of malevolent beasts that may attack it, and regularly requiring medical intervention to set it right.

In fact, if you look for information about the lymph system in most medical texts, you’ll find mostly references to “swollen lymph nodes,” and “lymphatic cancer,” and relatively little in-depth information about the lymph system’s function in healing and preventing illness.

As a result, this magnificent system’s purpose has long been misunderstood by the medical community, and its activities totally misinterpreted. Fortunately, there are other health approaches – including one called natural hygiene – that regard this system with more accuracy and respect. Instead of focusing on medicating symptoms, natural hygiene emphasizes the importance of supporting the body’s natural, internal cleansing mechanisms – helping it to rid itself of toxic wastes and hostile invaders.

Toxins are a major contributing factor in the development of disease – virtually all disease. If toxins are allowed to build up and remain in the body, they will eventually cause harm to some degree – from general aches and pains, to degenerative and autoimmune diseases, all the way to driving cells crazy, the result of which is cancer. (I cover the relationship of lymph system to cancer in depth in my book The Fit for Life Solution.)

If, however, toxins are removed from the body on a regular basis – so that what is going in and building up is not allowed to exceed what is being regularly eliminated – your system will be kept sufficiently clean to prevent distress and disease from ever getting started. The lymph system is an integral part of this internal defense system.

Given all this, doesn’t it make sense to do whatever you possibly can to assist and facilitate this mechanism for removing toxins? And yet most of us do nothing.

How to Cleanse Your Lymph Nodes

You may remember in the early 2000’s New York City’s Department of Sanitation went on strike and refused to pick up garbage. After just a few days, there was so much accumulated garbage that it blocked sidewalks and spilled into the streets, impeding traffic. Worse yet was the stench. It was a great big ugly, stinking mess, and if not corrected, it would have eventually shut down the city.

See what I’m getting at?

The lymph system is, quite literally, your body’s garbage collector. Fortunately, although it can be overwhelmed by continued neglect, our garbage collector never goes on strike. It is hard at work 24 hours a day in its relentless effort to keep the inside of the body cleansed and rejuvenated.

You don’t really need an in-depth, highly technical understanding of all the physiological functions of the lymph system. In fact, for the purposes of preventing ill health in general, and disease in particular, you already know practically all you need to:

That toxins build up in your body, and if not removed, they will cause you pain, make you sick and eventually drive certain cells crazy, turning them into cancer cells. If you support the lymph system by taking CARE of it (see sidebar below), it will not allow that destruction to happen.

And if you don’t? When the level of waste in the body builds at a greater pace than it is eliminated, the lymph nodes are overburdened and they enlarge. They simply cannot keep up, and the body’s other functions begin to suffer.

As overburdened lymph nodes swell and fill to capacity, the waste moves on to the next available nodes. Frequently, when swollen lymph nodes are identified, they are surgically removed, especially if cancerous cells are detected in them. But removing the nodes is not removing the problem. The problem is the ever-increasing level of toxic waste, not the nodes that are trying to contain it.

To prevent and reverse this condition, toxins must be cleared from the lymph system. This usually requires nothing more than a cleansing, nourishing, live-foods diet combined with a little physical movement. It couldn’t really be simpler, could it?

Yet medical experts are regularly baffled, mystified, dumbfounded by the obvious results of ignoring it – the rise in cancer, the onset and proliferation of various conditions and diseases. They say, “We don’t know,” “No one knows,” “The cause is unknown.” That’s because they are trying to find the specific causes for each and every one of the thousands of different possible ailments of the human body, when in actual fact there is only one: toxemia, otherwise known as a toxified system.

Simple But True

If it’s difficult for you to accept this concept of the unity of disease, you’re not alone. This is often the case with unfamiliar ideas, and of course, the obvious is sometimes particularly hard to see. Over 30 years, however, I have received hundreds of thousands of letters from people who have accepted the validity of this approach – mostly as a direct result of experiencing for themselves how removing toxins from their system ended pain and ill health.

Many doctors, like Daniel Clark, M.D., have been gradually convinced of the same thing. As he puts it, “With a regimen that cleanses the lymph system of toxins, I have seen countless patients recover from autoimmune diseases, cancer and chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis. I have cancer patients who are alive 19 years later because we worked on opening up the lymph system and restoring the immune system to proper functioning.”

While I was working on The Fit for Life Solution, another medical doctor – a friend whom I have known for more than a dozen years – asked what approach I was taking in telling people how to prevent cells from being driven crazy. After explaining to him the natural hygiene view of how the lymph system operates, I asked him point-blank, “How is it that medical doctors, including you, can go to school for 12 years and come away with no understanding of the crucial role the lymph system plays in preventing disease?”

He thought for a few moments and said, “You know what, Harvey? I don’t know why. It’s just not stressed. We learn the mechanics of it, but not its practical application.”

It is this epic oversight that is the very reason so many of the experts “don’t know” how to prevent illness, how to prevent chronic pain or how to prevent cells from being driven crazy.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? What they can’t see has not only been in front of them, but inside them, all along.

Facts About the Lymphatic System

  • The lymph system is a network of fluid, organs, nodes and nodules, ducts, glands and vessels that continuously and aggressively cleanse the system of waste matter.
  • Millions upon millions of nodes, some tiny, some large, guard the passages into the body against the intrusion of destructive substances.
  • Placed end to end in a straight line, all the lymph vessels in one body would cover a distance in excess of 100,000 miles (more than four times around the earth).
  • There is three times as much lymph fluid in your body as there is blood.
  • The lymph system is involved in the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that seek out, capture and destroy foreign substances such as bacteria and other “invaders,” and remove them from the body.

CARE Principles

CARE stands for “Cleanse and Rejuvenate Energetically.” In The Fit for Life Solution, Harvey Diamond explains CARE principles and expands on the importance of the following points in maintaining a healthy system:

  1. Practice periodic monodieting: Raw-fruit- and vegetable-juice fasts give the digestive system a break while increasing available nutrients and flushing toxins.
  2. Minimize consumption of animal products: This cuts down on the amount of work your digestive system, liver and kidneys have to do, and allows your colon to clear undigested and toxic fecal matter.
  3. Use your mental powers: Adjust your attitudes and belief systems to reduce stress and create a happier, more positive, less toxic internal environment.

This article has been updated. It was originally published online as “Look After Your Lymph!” on July 2, 2002.

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