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How does alcohol affect the lymphatic system and lymphedema?

Many of our clients receive body contouring treatments or lymphatic drainage massage (Endosphères Therapy) to look and feel their best. Many times, these treatments are done to get ready for a special event where good times and/or bad decisions may be made.


How does alcohol affect the lymphatic system and lymphedema

I often say “make good choices” as clients leave their appointments, which means don’t mess up their results and hard work. Lifestyle plays a major role in maintaining results. However, celebrating and having fun may entail some drinks, which ultimately may impair the results.


So, why avoid alcohol the same day as a lymphatic drainage treatment or a treatment that involves the lymphatic system?

1) Alcohol is a toxin.

2) It’s a sugar which may disrupt how fat cells are processed after a Cryoskin treatment.

3) You’ll cause more inflammation and lymphatic congestion.


First of all, the lymphatic system is a vital part of our body’s detoxification process. It is responsible for protecting our body from foreign invaders, getting rid of toxins, and removing fat cells.


Stating the obvious, alcohol is a toxin. While we’re kicking back a cold one or sippin’ a glass of fine wine, our body’s primary focus is processing the alcohol. Unfortunately, this means the lymphatic system is overloaded, and it doesn’t have the energy or resources to focus on fighting anything else. If you already suffer from a congested lymphatic system, it may not have an effective way to flush the alcohol out.


Most of us know alcohol is a diuretic and we are aware of the not so wonderful dehydrating effects, which is a common cause of lymph congestion.

Alcohol affecting the lymphatic system.

As for our body, how does alcohol affect our lymphatic system?


As your body begins to digest alcohol, the diuretic effect stimulates the kidneys to pass more fluid. It increases the rate lymph flows, but it’s due to fluid leaking out of the vessels into the body tissues. The diuretic effect and increased lymph flow may seem ideal for someone with lymphedema; however, those with lymphedema have a high concentration of protein in their tissues. Those proteins attract water which causes swelling. Diuretics may get rid of some of the water, but the protein content doesn’t change. The result might be a short term decrease in swelling, but the rebound effect will be a higher concentration of protein which will attract more fluid.


Swelling: How does alcohol affect the lymphatic system and lymphedema

If you suffer from lymphedema, your compromised lymphatic system now must cope with the extra pressure alcohol creates.


To sum it up, the two major consequences of drinking alcohol (aka not “making good choices”) that affect our lymphatic system are:

1) The lymphatic system has more work to do than usual since more fluid must move in a short amount of time.

2) The tiny muscles in our lymphatic vessels are also under the influence of alcohol and cannot pump as effectively.


Those living with lymphedema, or excess body fluid, already have extra stress on their body tissues. The question you need to ask yourself, are the drinks worth the extra stress on your body?

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