Principal Body System: Lymphatic
Definition: Lymph, lymphatic vessels and structures or organs containing lymphatic tissue (large numbers of white cells called lymphocytes) such as the spleen, thymus gland and lymph nodes.
Function: Returns proteins and plasma to the cardiovascular system; transports fats from the GI tract to the cardiovascular system; filters body fluids; produces white blood cells, and protects against disease.
The lymphatic system is a major part of the immune defense system - it's the body's waste disposal system.
The Lymphatic System is probably right at the bottom of the list when it comes to being noticed - it's certainly one of the least remembered systems. Yet it's absolutely critical for health. Think of it as the body's waste disposal system - proper functioning of the lymphatic system is essential in order to properly eliminate waste. The lymphatic system is the body's detoxification system, and without it working properly, the body will get very, very sick.
It has three functions: fluid recovery, immunity, and lipid absorption, lipids being essential molecules which make up the building blocks of the structure and function of living cells. It's designed to rid blood of acidic and toxic waste, filtering the toxic matter into the body’s major detox organs, the liver and kidneys.
The whole lymphatic system is connected together by a web of vessels similar to a second circulatory system of the body, which it works alongside carrying proteins and lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, to various tissues in the body for cleansing and sorting, to maintain a healthy, cleansing fluid-balance within the body.
The lymphatic system resembles that of the blood circulation, in that it's a mesh of tiny (lymph collector) vessels under the skin carrying fluid (lymph) into larger, deeper vessels which eventually discharge into the blood stream. The lymphatic system does not have a ‘pump’ like the circulatory system does (where the heart creates a ‘beat’ to push/pump the blood around the body). The lymphatic system has to work against gravity, so requires daily movement by the body and proper breathing in order to move lymph through the lymphatic vessels, and to pass it through the filters in the lymph nodes.
Approximately 70% of the horse’s body is water, which means that anything affecting this fluid balance can have a profound effect on the horse’s well being. If movement is limited or in the event of severe illness, toxins can build up and blockages (typically puffy legs) appear. If the skin breaks, infection can occur, and it's all the more difficult to treat as by now the immunity system overall is significantly compromised.
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