What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is a one-way-network of vessels that moves lymph fluid from the body’s tissues into the circulation system. Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system lacks a “master pump” mechanism and relies mostly on muscular contractions to squeeze the lymph vessels to control its ability to move fluid. Your lymphatic system plays a large role in immune function. It consists of vessels, ducts, nodes, and other tissues. There are about 600 lymph nodes in the body which are located in your neck, chest, armpits, abdomen, groin, and knees. As the lymph vessels move fluid out of the tissues, waste products, bacteria, dead cells, and large protein molecules are collected. The waste products are carried to the lymph nodes to be broken down and eliminated, while the protein-rich fluid is transported back to the heart to rejoin circulation.

The lymphatic system helps maintain fluid balance in the body, absorbs nutritional fatty acids, and serves important immunological functions by recognizing and responding to foreign cells, microbes, and cancer cells, and by producing white blood cells in bone marrow which circulates throughout the body and in the lymph nodes, removing toxins.