“Keep your Lymph System flowing smoothly, and the whole body system will go with the flow !!”
Friends, our human body is the most precious and beautiful gift from God to us.
We have to take care of this amazing gift to live a happy and prosperous life.
And the key to taking care of our body is to develop a healthy lifestyle and listen to the body while it is whispering and not wait for it to scream.
Lymph is as vital as blood to the human body. We cannot survive if there is no lymph node.
It is true that some of the lymphatic nodes are removed from the body during the treatment of diseases like Cancer. But it does not mean that these nodes are not crucial for life, or we can live without lymph nodes.
In fact in Ayurveda, Lymphatic System is treated at first in case of any infection.
So it becomes important to learn how to fight against lymphatic disorders like swelling of lymphatic nodes.
First, let us cast some light on the Lymph System, its importance, and what causes lymph to swell.
What is a Lymph?
Lymph is a colourless fluid which consists of WBC’s (White Blood Cells), especially Lymphocytes which protects our body against infection.
What is a Lymph Node?
Lymph nodes also known as lymph glands are masses of the tissues that plays an important role in protecting the body from infection and cancer.
Each lymph has tiny bean-like structures at various points. These bean-like structures are called Lymph nodes.
They occur in clusters just like a bunch of grapes. Nearly 600-700 lymph nodes are present in our body.
According to Layman, these nodes are the lumps of tissues found in the body that help to combat disease by destroying antigens.
These lymphs form a complex network of vessels called lymph channels throughout the body to circulate body fluids and fight against infection.
This network forms the Lymphatic System of the body.
The lymphatic nodes and lymphatic vessels are among several structures belonging to the lymphatic system.
These vessels of your lymphatic system run right alongside the vessels of the circulatory system.
Where are Lymph nodes located?
The nodes are present throughout the body, for example in the armpits, behind the ears, groins, sides of the throat, under the chin and jaw, etc. And some are present deeper within the body like in the inner abdomen, near the intestine, etc.
There are no lymph node or lymph glands in CNS (Central Nervous System).
Functions of Lymph Nodes
The Lymphatic System and Immune System act as the Defense System of the body.
Some of the functions of Lymphatic nodes are:
- They help to fight against germs like bacteria and viruses and destroy them.
- They destroy damaged and dead cells by removing them from the bloodstream. In this way, they contribute to the proper functioning of the Circulatory System also.
- Produces and carries WBC’s (White Blood Cells) which contains antibodies that fight against infection.
- It acts as the sewage system of the body and filters waste and toxins. For example, it destroys cancer cells.
What causes Lymph Nodes to Swell?
Generally, lymph nodes or lymph glands swell when they respond to illness or infection.
The swelling in the lymph nodes which are present in the head and neck usually is due to the following reasons:
- Ear Infection
- Cold or Flu
- Tooth Infection
- Skin Infection
- Sinus Infection
- Strep Throat (Pain or Irritation in the Throat)
- HIV Infection
- Tonsillitis (swelling in the tonsils which causes difficulty in swallowing)
- Tuberculosis (T.B.)
- Mouth Sores
Apart from these infections, Lymph Nodes can also swell due to some serious diseases like:
1. Immune System Disorders
Immune System Disorders like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis can also cause nodes of the lymph to swell.
Lupus: It is a disorder in which the immune system attacks its own tissues. Inflammation caused by Lupus can affect various organs of the body like joints, kidneys, blood cells, brain and heart.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: When the Immune system mistakes the linings of the joints as “foreign” elements like harmful germs, it attacks and damage these linings and cause painful swelling in the joints of hands and feet. It is called Rheumatoid Arthritis.
These two diseases are autoimmune diseases.
You can also read about 9 Healthy Recipes to Boost Immune System
Any cancer that spreads in the body can cause lymph node swelling.
For example, Lymphoma is a cancer of the Lymphatic System that causes nodes of the lymph to swell.
Leukaemia, which is a cancer of blood or bone marrow.
Metastatic Cancer, which means the spread of cancer from initial to new areas of the body.
Swelling in lymph node tells about the extent to which cancer has spread in the body.
You can also read about 15 Warning Signs of Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore
3. Sexually transmitted diseases
Some sexually transmitted diseases that cause swelling in lymph nodes are Syphilis and Gonorrhea.
Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Armpits (Axilla)
Lymph node swelling in the underarms can be due to infections in the arm.
Doctors check the lymph nodes in the armpits to investigate Breast Cancer.
A lymph node in this area indicates the extent of cancer spread in the body.
Swollen Lymph Node in the Jaw and Neck
Swelling in the lymph nodes of the jaw and at the sides of the neck are the most common.
It may be due to the infection around the areas like tooth infection or respiration infection.
Or it may be due to cancer in the head or neck.
How long the Lymph Nodes stay swollen?
Lymph node swelling can be caused due to minor viral or skin infections generally disappears after 2/3 weeks.
However, they can double the size of lymph nodes quickly in 2/3 days and may not disappear completely.
How to treat Swollen Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes swelling which is caused by viral disease becomes normal when the infection resolves.
Sometimes the doctor prescribes antibiotics in case of infections which cause lymph glands or nodes to swell.
If there is a pain in lymph node or swollen glands, we also take some pain-relievers.
For example Paracetamol, Aspirin. We call these pain relievers as over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers because we take it without the doctor’s prescription.
But we should not take pain relievers in excess as they directly affect our Liver.
Instead, with a little change in our lifestyle and using natural methods, we can get relief. Because Naturopathy deals with the root cause of the illness.
We might go for some natural remedies like Essential Oils, for the treatment of swollen glands or lymph node which not only shrinks the swollen area but is very useful in reducing pain also.
Top 13 Essential Oils for Swollen Lymph Nodes
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense Oil has been used to relieve indigestion, recovery of a wound, wrinkles.
It can also be applied to slow down pain and fight against pathogens.
We can say that this oil super heightens the immunity.
Frankincense Oil minimises the growth of cancer cells. It reduces pain as well.
How to Use:
Make a solution of Carrier Oil and Frankincense Oil and massage gently on the swollen node. We can ingest it also.
Put 2-3 drops in your beverage or water and drink.
Peppermint Essential Oil
It is a nutrient-rich oil. It contains Vitamin-A, Vitamin-C, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Calcium, etc.
It helps to fight against bacteria on the infected lymph gland or nodes and minimises pain.
How to Use:
Take some drops of Peppermint Oil and massage directly on the abdomen or the painful swelling area.
Massage with 2-3 drops on the chest or inhale to cure sinus infection which also causes lymph node swelling.
Or add 2-3 drops in regular Green Tea or Ginger Tea.
Peppermint and Ginger Tea has amazing stomach benefits.
Wintergreen Essential Oil
Wintergreen is a medicinal plant. It has been used to manage fatigue, in respiration problems, lung infection, etc.
It numbs the infected area to reduce swelling, pain and promotes blood circulation around the swollen glands.
It contains Methyl Salicylate which is used in antiseptics.
Wintergreen Oil is used in balms to relieve joints pain.
How to Use:
Apply a few drops on the swollen area. It gets absorbed in the skin when you apply. It numbs the painful swollen area and provides relief.
Put 1-2 drops in the warm bath water.
Ginger Essential Oil
It is derived from the Ginger Root. It helps the body defence system to fight against bacterial diseases, fungal infections, cancer and arthritis.
It contains Gingerols, which is an excellent source to reduce swelling and pain.
How to Use:
Take some Ginger Oil and apply over the swollen glands or lymph node.
We can also drink 2-3 cups of Ginger Tea as it cleanses the intestine.
Or chewing 1-2 fresh slices Ginger also do wonders.
Grapefruit Essential Oil
It is made from the peel of Grapefruit. It contains Limonene, which helps the immune to fight against the germs.
It increases the ability to fight against tumours and cancer cells that cause lymph node swelling.
How to Use:
Take some Jojoba Oil and add some Grapefruit Oil to it and massage in the infected area.
Lemon Essential Oil
Just like Grapefruit, it also contains Limonene. It helps the liver to fight against toxins.
It also helps to fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
How to Use:
Take a glass, fill it with warm water add 2-3 drops of Lemon Oil to it. And drink this water, or we can directly drip 1-2 drops in the throat. It cleanses the lymphatic system.
Make a solution of Carrier Oil and Lemon Essential Oil with equal quantities. And massage on the swollen glands or lymph node.
We can also add 10-12 drops in the bathing water.
Fennel Essential Oil
It prevents the wound from becoming septic.
It is also taken orally with the Olive Oil to get rid of toxins in the liver. It has a distinct flavour.
How to Use:
Place one drop of Fennel Oil on your toothbrush while brushing. It acts as an antimicrobial.
Take some drops of Fennel Oil in the palms and rub over stomach and bottom of feet for improving Digestive System.
Carrot Seed Essential Oil
Carrot Seed Essential Oil contains antioxidants that help to build Immunity. The oil is also used as an antiseptic.
It provides bright and lustrous skin also.
How to Use:
Take a dropper bottle.
Add Carrot Seed Oil to it. Mix Geranium Oil and Carrier Oil. Shake well.
Apply a thin layer all over the body and massage.
Cypress Essential Oil
It is an excellent antiseptic and a detox.
It supports lymph nodes as it reduces pain and doesn’t let the germs around the wound to increase.
How to Use:
Dilute 4-5 drops of Cypress Oil with the Oils such as jojoba, coconut or almond oil and massage.
Or add 8-10 drops in the warm bathwater.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium Oil is an excellent remedy for swollen glands or lymph node.
It works like a painkiller when it is applied on the swollen lymph.
How to Use:
Drip 1-2 drops of oil into the hands and massage at the muscles of the back, the bottom of the rib cage, neck and base of the skull.
We can use Oils like Jojoba, Almond and Coconut if the skin is sensitive.
Apart from that, we can also add 1-2 drops in personal care products like cleanser, shampoo, etc.
Orange Essential Oil
It is extracted from the Orange fruit. It reduces pain and inflammation from the lymph node.
How to Use:
Take some Orange Essential Oil on your palm. And gently massage at your lymph nodes behind the ear, in the armpits, on the legs or wherever there is swelling.
It is the best method to stimulate the Lymphatic System. It relieves us from pain.
For best results, massage regularly.
Angelica Essential Oil
Angelica Root Oil helps to boosts the immunity and is very useful for joints.
It is also known as, the oil of angels.
How to Use:
Add 1 or 2 drops of Angelica Root Oil to the Oils like Olive Oil or Jojoba Oil and massage at the swollen body part.
We can also add a few drops in the bathing water.
Bay Laurel Essential Oil
It is a popular essential oil and is useful in the treatment of Arthritis.
It provides relief in cold, flu, tonsillitis, swollen gland or lymph node and loss of appetite.
Bay Leaf is also used to treat cancer and is used in cosmetics and shampoos also.
How to Use:
Add 2-3 drops of Bay Leaf Oil to a teaspoon of Carrier Oil, mix it well and gently massage on the lymph nodes such as the armpits or knees.
We can also use it for hair growth by adding a few drops to the oil we use for hair massage.
Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano Essential Oil is a powerful oil rich in anti-bacterial and medicinal properties.
It helps to fight infection, injuries, reduce inflammation and strengthen body resistance.
The essential oil is also helpful in preventing cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Its oil is beneficial in reducing swelling related to the swollen gland or lymph node.
How to Use:
Blend two to three drops of oregano with other oils and massage it on the pain areas such as armpits and Knees.
You can also take a few drops of oil and rub it on the affected areas.
Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Juniper Berry Oil contains many medicinal properties that help to fight infections.
It is helpful in reducing pain and is the best therapy for the Lymphatic System.
It gives relief from stagnation and boost the immune system and promotes the lymphatic system.
How to Use:
Add three to four drops of Juniper Berry Oil with Avocado or Almond Oil.
Mix it well and apply it to the painful or swollen areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How dangerous a Swollen Lymph Node is?
Swollen gland or lymph node become a major concern when they appear without any apparent reason. It can be due to some minor infections.
Or when they persist along with high fever or night sweating, it means that your body is pointing out something which needs urgent action.
It may be due to any Immune System Disease like HIV or Cancer.
2. How do Swollen Lymph Nodes feel like?
Lymph nodes which swell due to infection are rubbery in touch and usually move.
These swollen lumps are small in size. These are common in the neck and under the jaw like Tonsils.
But if they are rigid and don’t move when we push them, then we need to go to a physician.
3. Does a Swollen Lymph Node always mean Cancer?
Not at all! A lymph node may swell due to various reasons like viral or bacterial infections.
For example, tonsils swell due to bacterial infection.
Mostly, swelling of lymph nodes takes place in one area at a time.
When there is swelling at more than one area, it may be due to infections like Strep Throat, Chickenpox or may be due to Immune System Diseases or Cancer.
4. Do Swollen Lymph Nodes go away on their own?
Lymphatic swelling caused by bacterial or viral infections often goes away on its own within some days or after 2/4 weeks.
But if they don’t disappear or returns, it may be due to some chronic diseases which require medications.
Essential Oils are quite beneficial in reducing the painful swelling in the lymphatic system.
They help to combat with the pathogens around the wound which cause the lymph node to swell.
Essential oils act as pain-relievers, antiseptics, and as a detox.
It also contains therapeutic properties that are beneficial for lymph movement and circulation.
So we can rely upon them to minimise the causes and infections caused by diseases like lymph nodes.
But we should not ignore the extent of swelling and pain in the lymph as it may be due to some severe disease and may become a big matter of concern if we neglect it.
You can also use these essential oils or the blend of these oils for lymphatic massage or lymphatic drainage massage.
It is important to note that one must take advice from a qualified health care professional before using or taking any essential oil.
There is an urgent need to go to a doctor:
- If the lymph nodes have suddenly popped up without any reason.
- If the lymph nodes continue to enlarge.
- If they do not shrink or disappear even after 2-4 weeks.
- If it feels hard when you touch these swollen glands or if they don’t move when push.
- If the swelling is accompanied by continuous fever, night sweats or weight loss.
- If it becomes difficult to breathe and swallow.