In Ayurvedic medical practice, the lymphatic system is the first to receive attention for any health complaint.
The lymphatic system is comprised of the lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, adenoids, and spleen.
The importance of these cannot be stressed enough; lymph is a clear fluid that contains white blood cells and travels through the body ridding it of toxins.
These tissues and organs produce, transport, and store these crucial T and other white cells.
The lymphatic system is the foundation of the greater immune system.(1)
You might say that the lymphatic system is the body’s constant drain cleaner.
Lymph doesn’t circulate the brain.
In 2012, neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered a previously unrecognized brain drainage system that quickly transports waste from the brain to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through a series of alternate pathways.
They dubbed it the “glymphatic system” because it behaves like the lymphatic system but through glial cells in CSF. CSF carries nutrients to the brain and carries away waste.
“Waste clearance is of central importance to every organ, and there have been long-standing questions about how the brain gets rid of its waste. This work shows that the brain is cleansing itself in a more organized way and on a much larger scale than has been realized previously…We’re hopeful that these findings have implications for many conditions that involve the brain, such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.”(2)
This was news to scientists because brain research is usually limited to those whose bodies have died.
The glymphatic system works only when the body is alive, and it’s a forceful one at that.
“Understanding how the brain copes with waste is critical. In every organ, waste clearance is as basic an issue as how nutrients are delivered. In the brain, it’s an especially interesting subject, because in essentially all neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, protein waste accumulates and eventually suffocates and kills the neuronal network of the brain.”
The glymphatic system is especially active during sleep, when the body is resting. Like the garbage collectors who pick up our household waste in the early morning hours when there’s little road traffic.
This fact makes the quality and quantity of sleep all the more important. If the glymphatic system doesn’t have enough time to adequately clean the brain, waste can accumulate, causing plaque, which can lead to neurodegenerative disorders.(3)
Consistently getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night is imperative for an efficient glymphatic system.
Foggy brain and failing memory from toxin build-up
In Ayurvedic practice, the glymphatic system is known as “tarpaka kapha”. If toxins and waste aren’t thoroughly drained, the pathways can get clogged, causing moodiness, failing memory, and a foggy brain.
Imbalance and improper function of tarpaka kapha can be caused by a weakened digestive system, extreme stress, emotional trauma, and/or lack of sleep.
To get things flowing again, an Ayurvedic practitioner may prescribe inhaling nasya oil, regulating blood sugar, and herbal treatment with bacopa (brahmi).
Bacopa is an herb rich in chemical compounds called bacosides that repair damaged neurons.
Studies have shown improved memory, digestion, and respiratory function after long-term use of bacopa powder.
Brahmi is another name for bacopa monnieri—it’s also known as hyssop and Indian pennywort. This herb is also effective in treating asthma, epilepsy, and ulcers.
Getting enough sleep is critical for good health. Those night-time drain cleaners take a while to make their way around the brain; if you cut their time short, you may eventually feel it—in more ways than one.