The lymphatic system is rarely looked at by conventional medical practitioners unless there is an issue, but new research spearheaded by Jonathan Kipnis and his team at the University of Virginia School of Medicine might help to highlight the importance of this essential part of our body.

Contrary to the longstanding belief that the mammalian brain lacked a lymphatic drainage system, Kipnis and his team discovered that there are, indeed, lymphatic vessels in the dura mater, or the brain membrane closest to the skull.

Kipnis believes that these vessels were previously overlooked because of their proximity to the capillaries in the brain. However, the discovery of these lymph vessels confirm that the lymphatic system does indeed reach the brain, meaning that lymphatic functions such as waste removal and fluid drainage are present in the brain.

Over the past few months, I have been training for my bachelor’s certification in manual lymphatic drainage, a practice which can be used to treat numerous conditions ranging from pre-pregnancy edema in the legs to post-surgical lymphatic clean-up. This past Friday, I completed  my months-long journey by passing my certification exam.

Studies have already shown that manual lymphatic drainage has benefits for speeding up healing time after surgeries, reducing bruising, easing pain swelling. In light of this recent discovery, we may find that manual lymphatic drainage has more applications and can be used to treat even more conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and age related conditions.

Learning that the brain is connected to the body’s immune system has immense implications. Hopefully, we can use and expand upon this new knowledge to create new treatments for conditions and diseases that we previously believed to be unavoidable.

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