Blocking. Lymphatic. System. Syndrome.


[once I saw this acronym it had to be the name because this condition is anything but bliss]

For How to Treat This Condition go to Lymphatic Pump Therapy

What is it and Who gets it?

It is simply a blockage of the flow of fluids back to the heart.  What Fluids?   Those that are not blood.  Remember when you fell over and skinned your forearm and when you looked at it among the scratches there was an up-welling of a clear fluid that came before the blood oozed up?  That clear fluid was Lymph.  Lymph flows through transparent, soft walled tubes just like veins but since the fluid is clear you can’t see them and if you cut yourself the blood stains it so you don’t normally get to see it.  Soft walled tubes can be squashed and then the contents don’t flow as freely and you get a backlog also if molecules that are as large as the tube get into it then it is liable to block.  Over simplified I know but simple and understandable.

Many sufferers will have, or have had, one of the following conditions; 

MYALGIC ENCEPHALOMYELITIS:-                        M.E.;
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME:-                        C.F.S.;
POST VIRAL FATIGUE SYNDROME:-                    P.V.F.S.;
FIBROMYALGIA SYNDROME:-                              F.M.S.;
Irritable Bowel:-                                                     I.B.;
Glandular Fever;
Myofascial Pain Syndrome:-                               M.P.S.;
Chronic Habitual Hyperventilation Syndrome;
Chronic Epstein Barr Syndrome;
Organo-Phosphate Poisoning;
Yuppie Flu;
Somatoform Disorder;
Chronic mononucleosis;
Chronic mononucleosis;
Nervous Exhaustion;
Effort Syndrome;
Q Fever;

This is not to say that these are all the same condition, only that they are all capable of causing B.Ly.S.S..  For the flu and glandular fever suffers it is acute so will clear as soon as the body defeats the virus but for the others it is a chronic condition.  That is to say it will persist usually for years.  Those that get these conditions are generally the over busy, those who are highly committed to their work.  Typically the self-employed, teachers, upper middle management and particularly mothers.


Look for


The Mediastinum tender points.front page7

large areas of very firm tissues as mentioned earlier.   Hard back muscles or firm possibly ticklish leg muscles [check against your own soft, healthy muscles elsewhere].

Slight, light sweats can also be an indication of a blocked lymphatic system.

A firmness of the tissues in the abdomen in the shape of a reflection of Africa in the abdomen.  Never refer to this firmness as ‘A Lump’ to a patient.chest8a2

It is most unlikely there will be any swelling of the abdomen to see. If there is visible swelling do not touch. 

When massaging healthy patients [or ones whose problems do not extend to the abdomen] it is a good idea to carefully check the abdomen and learn what healthy tissues feel like. 

Do this with great care if you are not used to working with abdominal tissues, slowly and gently moving the closed fingers in a circular motion, work into the tissues.

When the therapist comes across a patient with B.Ly.S.S. the firmer tissues associated with this will be readily apparent.

In the figure here the patient’s lower right is the most congested, near the surface and very firm to palpation, the upper right is less firm and not quite so near the surface, the lower left is similar, the upper left is normal, i.e. it is soft and deep.

This is very typical of B.Ly.S.S. and has to do with congestion and adhesion.  Occasionally there will be a great firmness within the solar plexus region [in green here], remember this can also be an emotional reaction to extreme stress.  The shape as can be seen here is a reflection of Africa and the circle over the lower right has been likened to the dome of a Baby’s head but is only present during a severe attack.

There are a set of symptoms that are reasonably common to most sufferers, but there is more than one cause and more than one disorder that produce B.Ly.S.S..  Many disorders can block the lymphatic system and so produce some of the same symptoms.

In order to recognise B.Ly.S.S. below is a fairly comprehensive list [in order of frequency of occurrence] two of the first four symptoms together with at least a couple more strongly indicates B.Ly.S.S.


Long term [usually severe] fatigue

The tender points are over the sixth rib on the right and the fifth on the left, third ribs over nipple usually on right, occasionally on left as well.

Tender and Ticklish legs [The muscles feel firm]

Shallow breathing,   – Inability to hold breath

Substantial impairment in short term memory & or concentration

Irritable Bowel

Muscle aches & pains

Abdominal tenderness and Bloated feelings

Previously stable individuals, become short tempered and difficult, particularly with loved ones. Though it is a problem for all long-term illnesses it is marked that this group are unusually aware of it, possibly because of its fluctuating nature?   These individuals are the very ones that everyone used to rely on to do everything, they now seem incapable of functioning at all reasonably, and are constantly ill and tired.

General debility after working too hard that lasts more than a day.

Food Intolerances esp: Wheat and Dairy

Yeast infections esp: Candida, and recurring Mouth Ulcers

Low grade fever with flu like symptoms

Shallow, fast breathing

This is a common symptom that the sufferer is normally unaware of.  It builds up too much carbon dioxide in the system, which is associated with a blocked lymphatic system.  We should be able to comfortably hold our breath for half a minute, if we find that uncomfortable, then we are probably overbreathing.  Over-breathers need to practice tummy breathing.  To develop which they need professional help at first.  Since poor breathing habits can be a way into B.Ly.S.S. always have breathing routines checked by a professional from time to time.


It is difficult to live with someone who has B.Ly.S.S. because it is so unpredictable, “Well he managed to do that when he wanted to, and the doctor can find nothing wrong.”  It is still worse to suffer from.  Which family member, let alone employer, friend or acquaintance is still sympathetic after six months of undiagnosed and ever changing problems.  If the sufferer isn’t depressed by this, knowing that something is very wrong but no one will tell them what, even if they are believed, then they ought to be.   I am a great believer that anyone who is seriously ill with a long term complaint, especially this one, who does not become depressed on occasion, is extremely mentally ill.  Conversely those who do become depressed may need help to face their circumstances, but are usually healthy in mind if not in body.

“Have you ever hit a ‘Wall of Exhaustion’?”.

Long distance runners, especially Marathon runners, experience what they call “Hitting the Wall” usually somewhere over sixteen miles which is when their bodies have produced so many toxinsfor so long that their lymphatic system simply hasn’t managed to keep the interstitial fluid clear and once that is sufficiently overflowing with proteins they suddenly feel exhausted and ache all over.

Sufferers of B.Ly.S.S. also know this feeling and will understand the question “Have you ever hit a ‘Wall of Exhaustion’?”.  Unless you have had this happen to you it is hard to imagine but what happens is that on a perfectly normal day when you haven’t been doing anything particularly strenuous and you have been feeling perfectly well, you suddenly feel exhausted, not tired, exhausted.  Your limbs are heavy and you just need to curl up and go to sleep.  This can be at any time of the day even ten A.M. after a good night’s sleep and not having started work till nine.  But is commonly an hour or so after a meal.

“Have you ever hit a ‘Wall of Exhaustion’?”.  When I ask a patient this if the answer is “What do you Mean? Is it………..”.  So long as they don’t know what I mean I’m reasonably sure that they don’t have B.Ly.S.S., those that say “Yes” have understood the question so will almost certainly be sufferers, or long distance runners.  Those that say “No” have also understood the question so may well be sufferers.

Breath and sweat.

When the lymphatic system becomes blocked the body will react by trying to dump toxins in another way, in this case the breath may become noxious, so something to note, not take exception to.

If the toxins are pushed out in the sweat the whole body may sweat or in the case of a local blockage the patient may become locally sweaty, for example a dry body but damp legs indicates blocked at low abdomen. Damp foot indicates blocked at popliteal node or in calf.  Damp back indicates right duct blocked. Damp anterior chest, low abdomen and both legs indicates thoracic duct blocked.  Should the blockage be in the chest the whole body may be sweaty.  This does feel slightly different to normal healthy sweat, it is generally thinner and slightly cold, more like a fever sweat.  All of these will clear the instant you have the lymph flowing again.  This could account for the distinctive smell of some diseases.

B. Ly. S. S. or Odema

B.Ly.S.S. is not the typical puffy oedema that we are used to seeing from a twisted ankle but a more widespread area such as the whole of the back or all of a leg or both legs that are as hard as boards, also very firm tummies.  Think of a full hose-pipe with the tap turned on but the end turned off, it isn’t soft and nor is tissue where the lymphatic system is blocked and where the tissues are full of thickened ‘dirty’ fluid it is firm over a widespread area.

Other Thoughts 

Like many illnesses B.Ly.S.S. comes on a sliding scale of severity from barely impinging on the sufferer’s life to, in some cases, so severe that they are incapable of a day’s work.  Most sufferers are somewhere in the middle.  In fact in conditions that this applies to, but where the condition is extremely severe, e.g. With C.F.S. the totally bed ridden, they seem to have moved on a stage and their lymphatics are moving well, so these techniques will not help in the least.

The usually fluctuating nature of B.Ly.S.S. can mean that the sufferer takes some time before they realise that the recurring problem is the same old one and not just another wretched bug.   After the first onset the symptoms usually ease then return more severely, often the first attacks are mild but they become increasingly severe until the sufferer learns to stop provoking the symptoms.  They then settle to a prolonged low grade problem with occasional flares of varying degrees of intensity, still usually provoked by the sufferer forgetting their ‘Coping Strategies’ and attempting too much, or eating too much of the wrong thing.

 Blocking Lymphatic System Syndrome

           &   Lymphatic Pumps


1.  At least once a day, heat through the chest by warming both front and back, breast bone and spine, include the neck up to the chin, preferably for five minutes or more in a hot shower [hot water bottles will do], as hot as possible within reasonable comfort.  As this area warms up there may well be fairly constant burping for the first week or two, do not suppress this, it is highly beneficial. No burping may indicate that the tissues are not getting warm enough at depth so a nice hot drink will probably help.  Once the whole chest cavity is well warmed through, with or without burping, then try to stretch the internal tissues with gentle arm and neck stretching and deep breaths.   After the first fortnight continue doing this exercise 2-3 times a week and a slow but steady improvement is usually achievable.

2.  To augment this effect it is useful to give a big yawney stretch like the ones you did as a kid, was there a slight twist when the arms were overhead?  The reason for saying the one you do naturally is that the specific point that this effects is in a slightly different place on every individual.  So the stretch that is natural to you will be the right one for you and one that someone else does will be right for them, but not for you.  This stretch should be done at least twice on rising everyday of your life and it is a good idea to repeat it whenever you have been still for an hour or more.

3.  A slow breathing routine can be developed safely without supervision.  Breath to the count of sixteen. Breath in to a slow count of four.  A long sigh out to a slow count of eight, then hold the breath out for a further count of four.  Swallow twice.  Breath in and cough, or a giggle is more effective but some can not giggle to order

Breath in to a slow count of four, fill the low abdomen.  A long sigh out to a slow count of eight, then hold the breath out for a further count of four, breath in and cough, or a giggle.

Breath in to a slow count of four and try to fill the low abdomen.  Sigh out to a slow count of eight, then hold the breath out for a further count of four, breath in and cough or giggle down into the low abdomen.  

Repeat this at least          Twice A Day

Together these three pumps generally produce about a 20% improvement in stamina within a fortnight and reduce any aches considerably too.

Because the lymphatic system has just been stripped of white blood cells and these take a lot of energy to replace, and for the body have top priority, they will be tired for a day or so afterwards.

The Mediastinum Tender Points will not have changed after one or two treatments, but over a couple of years they do reduce to become almost lost.

With this treatment an increase in stamina of about 20% can be expected after a fortnight, but thereafter the pace of change slows drastically but can be as much as 80% after a couple of years.

The implications of problems with the thoracic vertebra are clear in that any drastic misalignment is liable to produce ‘creasing’ in the Mediastinum and so interfere with the flow of the lymph.  This would be especially true of a problem behind thecrus of the diaphragm in the area from T8 down to T11, just below most ladies bra strap, where the vertebra are free to turn below what is a great restriction especially in better endowed ladies.  Possibly a reason for the predominance of females who suffer from this disorder and certainly a reason for massaging the back carefully to release any muscular tensions.  Also consider the need for freeing the vertebra by sending to your ‘tame’ Osteopath /Chiropractor if you do not have the skill yourself.

Life style and ‘Coping Strategies’

Since many patients have had the problem for years they may have adopted many of the ‘coping strategies’ already, the fact that they have needed to can be a good indication that they have the problem.

Life-style changes are highly individual beyond the need for complete rest.  This is rarely seen as a possible option by the patient at first.  Much persistent and patient nagging by the therapist usually has the desired effect in time.

The hardest truth is, that there is, as yet, no cure.  So the patient must accept life style changes.  The ‘Coping Strategies’

For some the obvious early bed times is helpful but for others useless, they just lie awake.   It is always worth a determined try though.  Sometimes ittakes time to establish this sleep pattern but it pays once it has become habitual.

Some will have found that if they ‘blast’ through a tiredness barrier they will be able to come out the other side and carry on normally.  Unfortunately every time they do this they make the problem worse in the long term. Tiredness attacks become more frequent and more severe.  However there is another option which many will have discovered it is to ‘pace’ themselves through the barrier, working more slowly than they normally would but steadily.  This brings them through and appears to have little detrimental effect.

The truth is they should never ‘blast through’ when they are tired.  This most important of all changes, is rarely seen as a possible option by the patient for first six months or so, in general we are talking about the ‘doers’ in life, the ‘movers and shakers’, they have a real problem believing that others can do it without them, and a strong dislike of being an onlooker anyway.  Only after months of making themselves worse will they accept the need to slow down.

The rule of thirds is helpful to many in the less serious stages of the disorder.  One third of the day is for work; one third for restful activity and one third for sleep; each may impinge a little on the other but must be judged by the sufferer at the time.  They know when to stop if they listen to their body.  The restful activity may be subdivided into 2 hours active recreation and 6 hours resting recreation, so that 2 hour active period can occasionally be used for work but not regularly, certainly not more than once a week.

They must never return to work before they have fully recovered from any illness. An explanation of the thinking behind Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome can be most helpful here in understanding the absolute need to stop when ill or tired.

Towards the end of an infection the sufferer goes back to work too soon demanding the energy that the immune system needs to kill off the last of the bacteria or virus.  The result is that some, those that the immune system finds hardest to kill, survive, oddly it seems most likely they ‘hide’ in Lymph nodes, and slowly multiply again.  In time the sufferer becomes tired or ill again, but again as the body is almost winning, they work too long and too hard; every time this happens the body is faced with a strain specifically more resistant to its defences.

Food Intolerances

Due to too much caffeine, a Candida overgrowth, Irritable Bowel or other damage to the gut wall molecules that are not supposed to pass through it do so and enter the Lymphatic system in the chyle coming away from the intestines.  These molecules entering a restricted lymphatic vessel may restrict the flow quite severely.  This accounts for many suffers being intolerant of certain foods and also since the damage will be in different places and more or less severe also accounts for its varying nature from patient to patient and in the same patient from time to time.

I use the term intolerance advisedly as it is often referred to as a total allergy and this it is not on the whole.  Some people may have a total allergy to some foods but far more usual is an intolerance that fluctuates from severe when even a little of a particular food will bring on tiredness, to an ability to eat a relatively large portion of the same food at another time.

Typical problem foods are wheat, dairy and fats.  So Pasties and pies can be devastatingly tiring half an hour after being eaten for some while others will find that they can eat that but too much bread is devastating.

Even this problem can be overcome to some extent by teaching the use of muscle testing to teach patients to self educate about how much of a food they can eat from day to day.