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Glands (swollen)

General characteristics

General characteristics

The term 'swollen glands' refers tho the condition where the glands in the jaw, throat (tonsils), face or neck (also the armpit and groin) become swollen, painful and tender to the touch.

The 'glands' themselves are actually lymph nodes, pockets of specialised tissue full of infection fighting cells. The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, a network of vessels that runs alongside the blood vessels, covers the entire body and collects wastes and fluids from the tissues and transports fats and nutrients from the small intestines into the blood. Lymph fluid also contains high concentrations of immune cells called lymphocytes that seek out and destroy anything considered unwanted or harmful. The lymph vessels themselves contain no muscle in their structure, so rely instead on the rhythmic movement of surrounding muscles to propel and push fluids along.

The glands become enlarged in response to infection (with bacteria, virus, fungi etc.), the immune cell production goes into overdrive and leads to the enlargement that we see and feel. They can also enlarge in response to nearby inflammation, allergies, food sensitivities, environmental pollution and cancers.

Healing objectives are to fight any infection and assist the job of the lymphatic system by keeping it free flowing and free of congestion.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Keep the diet full of fresh vegetables, dark green leaves, fruit, wholegrains, nuts and seeds etc.

Avoid processed foods, junk foods, refined carbohydrates, dairy, sugary foods as they slow down the circulation of the lymphatic system and encourage stagnation of fluids.

Use lots of warming spices in your meals like ginger, garlic, chilli, cardamon, mustard, horseradish, turmeric, cinnamon and the like to boost circulation.

Eat plenty of vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits, berries and kiwis. Make a warm drink from the juice of 1 lemon, a fingernail sized piece of grated raw ginger, a tiny pinch of chilli powder, a teaspoon of honey and hot water. Drink up to 3 cups daily.

Include plenty of raw garlic, onions, leeks and other onion types in your daily cooking for their fluid thinning and moving effects.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

A useful formula to cleanse and stimulate the entire lymphatic system and loosen the swollen glands could consist of equal parts of the dried herbs of cleavers, mullein flowers and/or leaves, red clover, thyme and marigold, with a pinch of powdered oak bark. Use a heaped teaspoon of the mix per cup and drink 3 cups daily.

A stronger, deeper acting formula could contain the tinctures of figwort, burdock root, wild indigo, blue flag, liqourice and bayberry. Use equal parts of each (say 25ml of each) and put a teaspoon of the mix in some water then add 5 drops of pokeroot tincture. Take this for a week or so for deep and long lasting effects.

A Dr Christopher classic for swollen glands is 3 parts mullein leaf tincture to 1 part lobelia tincture. 20 drops, 4 times daily. Or use the same formula using the dried herbs to make a tea and soak the nodes in the tea until cooled, several times a day.

Gargle every few hours with sage tea to ease pain and inflammation and fight pathogens.

Add a generous pinch of chilli/cayenne to herbal teas or tincture doses to help speed up healing.

Take echinacea or reishi mushroom to enhance immunity.

Marshmallow root tea is very soothing for swollen glands and helps to disperse the hard swelling.

Violet leaf tea can help to ease congestion, swelling and pain.

Natural healing

Natural healing

A very gentle lymph draining massage can help to clear congestion the nodes and relieve inflammation and pain. The lymph channels drain and empty into the veins at the sight of the upper abdomen so this is the direction to massage towards. Eg. if the swollen nodes are in the groin, massage gently upwards towards the chest, if the neck nodes are swollen then massage down towards the collar bones.
For nodes that may have become very hard over time use a warm castor oil pack over the area to disperse and clear the node. Soak a cloth in caster oil and place a hot water bottle over to keep the area warm. Wrap in a towel and relax for half an hour or so. Repeat every other day.
Gargling with cider vinegar in a little water can provide relief.

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