Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen Lymph Nodes

What are Swollen Lymph Nodes?

There are over 600 lymph nodes in the body. Many are found right under the jaw line and around the throat, in the underarms, and on both sides of the groin, as well as in many other places in the body.

You can tell they are swollen by feeling, but proding and feeling too much can irritate the lymph nodes and cause the swelling to worsen.

Swollen lymph nodes are generally viewed as a signal that the body is:

  1. At work fighting some sort of infection (this may include various types of bacteria, viruses such as in the common cold, and some parasites, etc).
  2. That it is fighting invasions of foreign items (an example would be allergies to any number of possible allergic responses along with the inflamed cells that are transported to the nodes).
  3. That it is busy breaking down excessive metabolites and toxins that have been produced in other bodily locations and transported to these nodes.
  4. That there is the possibility of a major disease as would be the case in some cancers.

By far, the greatest number of problems causing swollen lymph nodes can be tied to one of the first three possibilities listed above.

Cancers, cancers of the blood, and other major diseases are very rare compared to the incidence of swollen lymph nodes caused by the first three stated above.

The body goes through this process without you having to think about it and many times the conditions listed in the first three cases are even placed in a category called self-limiting, which means that the problem will be resolved within a couple of weeks.

What Can We Do?

There are many things we can do to help the lymph nodes do their jobs, including

What is lymph?

Lymph is the interstitial fluid that is found between the cells of the body. The portion that is not picked up by the cells and the venous system enters the lymph vessels and is transported through at least one lymph node before it is ultimately returned to the blood stream at the right or left subclavian veins. At that point it mixes with the blood again.

Lymph picks up:

  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • fats from the digestive system
  • other metabolic wastes of cell metabolism
  • any other foreign objects

These items are then transported to the lymph nodes where they are dealt with.

Lymph has a composition similar to blood plasma. It also carries in it all of the objects that it has picked up. As this substance passes through the lymph nodes it picks up lymphocytes and proteins from the blood stream that feeds the nodes.

The System.

The lymphatic system can be divided into two systems.

  1. The first system consists of the thymus and bone marrow where the immune cells form and develop.
  2. The second lymph system consists of encapsulated and unencapsulated diffuse lymphoid tissues. The spleen and lymph nodes are encapsulated and the gut associated lymphoid tissues and the tonsils are unencapsulated.

We won't go on with that because this page is about swollen lymph nodes and it is at these encapsulated clusters of cells where a major part of the immune activities of the body takes place.


A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell that defends the body against infection by producing chemicals to destroy foreign molecules. There are several types of lymphocytes. They are the dominant acting cells in the lymph nodes.

Some of these lymphocytes produce antibodies (protein particles) that bind substances that are foreign to the body including bacteria and other infectious organisms.


Another type of lymphocyte is the macrophage. A macrophage is another kind of white blood cell which eats materials that are foreign in the body. They have the specific capability of engulfing and digesting any debris that has been carried to the nodes.

Why Do We Get Swollen Lymph Nodes?

Swollen lymph nodes can, and usually result when the lymphatic system is activey fighting off infection or is destroying other substances in the body such as toxins and metabolytes.

In addition to swollen lymph nodes, other symptoms may occur. These may include such things as upper respiratory irritations with an associated sore throat, fever, and a runny nose.

One may also be able to feel enlarged and lymph nodes commonly under the chin, in the arm pits, and at the groin. If the problem is self limiting it will resolve itself and the swelling will soon go down. The diagnosis of swollen lymph nodes rarely results in the need for emergency medical help.

Treatment Ideas.

Castor Oil.

If the lymph nodes are caused by numbers 1-3 as stated above and are causing discomfort or pain, you might try rubbing castor oil on the swollen lymph nodes, then covering them with flannel, then a plastic bag, then a heating pad. I have heard of many people having great success with this method. You can also appliy the castor oil packs to the stomach area which, according to Edgar Cacey's research in the 1950's, also helps.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar is another home remedy that has brought great relief to many people. Orally take 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, as is or diluted in water, according to your taste. And take it every four hours. Apple Cider Vinegar, while acidic, signals for your body to make ph buffers to counteract the acidity. This has an outstanding alkalizing effect on the body.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Onions and Honey.

I heard of a crazy recipe (actually two) that I thought I would try. We actually had the opportunity to try them over Christmas when we had lots of company. Some of which had colds in various stages. Everyone was impressed with the results.

The technique for making them is different but the results very similar. They are actually amazing. You might want to try one or both.

In the blender put:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (organic unfiltered)
  • 1 cup raw honey (local is best)
  • 8 cloves of garlic

Mix it for 1 minute on high speed. Put it in a glass container and keep it in the refrigerator for five days. Now, take 2 teaspoons every morning before breakfast - be sure to mix it in water or juice. Diluting it makes it very easy to take.

The other recipe is:

  • Chop a small onion and a few cloves of garlic. Put them in a jar and fill the jar with honey. Let it sit for a couple of weeks. You can use this honey which becomes kind of thin and syrupy just to eat as is, with or without straining.
  • Or add 2/3 cup of raw apple cider vinegar to 1/3 cup of the honey mixture that has been strained. Dilute 1 Tablespoon of the mixture in juice or water and drink it every morning.

We were very impressed with how well they worked. Try one or both. I think the second is my favorite but it takes a little longer. You just have to plan for it.


Another thing I have found that works is spirulina, a blue/green freshwater algae, which also has many other nutritious qualities and health benefits.


Note. While the swollen glands can be very uncomfortable, don't forget that exercise is still the best treatment to get the lymph moving through your system. Be sure to check out the next page which gives you many more ideas for maintaining a healthy lymphatic system.

Immune disorder. Mayo Clinic states that if your swollen glands are a result of HIV, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, treatment is directed at the underlying condition.

Cancer. Mayo Clinic also says that, "Swollen glands caused by cancer require treatment for the cancer. Depending on the type of cancer, treatment may involve surgery, radiation or chemotherapy."

Note. It is a good idea to seek professional help if the swelling lasts for more than two weeks and if it is accompanied with excessive and prolonged fevers, weight loss, and other worrisome concerns that you may have. Also, if the nodes are enlarged and are fixed to the skin, or are growing rapidly, it is a good idea to seek professional help.



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