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 Qigong and Taiji: The Lymph 

When we look carefully at these practices in relation to what we now know about lymphatic function and its healing role it appears as if much of Qi Gong and Yoga/Pranayama practice were developed specifically with the enhancement of lymphatic function in mind. Breath, movement and posture all have specific effects on the production and circulation of the lymph.

In the West we have divided the body fluids (blood, lymph, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, extracellular fluid, intracellular fluid) into specific categories. From the paradigm of the west it seems the Chinese may have overlooked important information with their broad, non specific view of "Qi, blood and fluids". However, the lymph fluid is actually part cellular water and part blood plasma. The blood plasma is actually comprised, in part, from lymph fluid.(38) Some of the cerebrospinal fluid finds its way into the lymphatic system.(42) In this way each of the individual fluids really make up one fluid. Do we miss something by the reduction of integrated systems into a multitude of separate catagories and parts? May we learn something by simultaneously embracing or, at least exploring, the more simplified view of the Asian traditions?

Qi Gong and Yoga/Pranayama practice appear to activate a number of mechanisms associated with the lymphatic system:

  1. Lymph generation
  2. Lymph propulsion
  3. Immune function
  4. Cerebrospinal fluid circulation
  5. Nutritive function

1. Lymph Generation
The actual generation of the lymph has long been attributed to the filtration of blood plasma from the capillaries (40). As recently as 1985 this was recognized as the primary source of the lymph. This idea overlooks a significant detail that is at the essence of the tremendous health benefits of Qi Gong. A major portion of the body's lymph is produced by the identical physiological process that generates the body's chemical energy.(68)

To recapitulate oxydative phosphorylation:
6O2 + C6H12O6 + (BMR) = Ergs + 6CO2 + 6H2O
Six molecules of water are generated for each six molecules of oxygen that are metabolised in energy production.

In a moderately active 70 Kg human between 2100 and 2800cc of lymph enters the blood stream daily at the sub-clavian vein through the thoracic duct. Through the calculations of the Krebs cycle the cells are producing approximately 950cc (30) of pure interstitial water daily. In a vigorously active person or one engaging in minimally strenuous exercise, such as walking, Qi Gong or Pranayama up to1400cc of aerobically generated interstitial water can be produced, circulated and eventually passed into the subclavian vein daily.

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 About The Author
Roger Jahnke OMDRoger Jahnke has been in the health field since 1967 beginning with body therapies, herbal medicine, Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation. He turned his attention seriously to Oriental medicine in 1972 with study at the North......more
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