Lymphatic Function in Schizophrenia: Understanding this mental health condition

There is available evidence suggesting that abnormalities in the lymphatic system function may be associated with schizophrenia, specially the vessels located in your brain (the ones that drain wastes from your brain). In this blog you can find what schizophrenia is, its main symptoms, how the misfunction of the lymphatic system could be related to this mental health condition and what lifestyle changes you can introduce in order to improve its symptoms. Let’s start with the basics…

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that affects how people think, feel and behave. It is due to the mix of hallucinations (see and hear things or voices that are not perceived by others), delusions (firm beliefs about things that are not true), and disorganized thinking and behavior. For people with schizophrenia daily life can be pretty hard because they have lost touch with reality. 

Many people with schizophrenia don’t know they have a mental health condition, so they don’t  know they need treatment. For that reason, it’s important that relatives (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) pay attention to the symptoms in order to help  them get a diagnosis and proper treatment.

What are the main symptoms of schizophrenia?

Symptoms of schizophrenia produce changes in how people think, feel and behave. The most common are:

Delusions.  To believe in things that aren’t real or true. For example, being harmed or attacked when they aren’t. They may think they’re famous, but they are not, etc. Most people with schizophrenia have delusions.

Hallucinations. It’s when you see or hear things that other people don’t observe. For people with schizophrenia, these things seem real. Hallucinations can occur with any of the senses, but hearing voices is most common.

Disorganized speech and thinking. It’s hard for people with schizophrenia to talk to other people because their disorganized thinking and misconception of reality makes them have a disorganized and unrealistic speech. In other words, when you ask them something, they will answer something completely different or not related to your inquiry.

Unusual motor behavior. Some examples are:

  •  childlike silliness
  •  being agitated for no reason
  • lack of focus on specific goals (unable to complete tasks)
  • may not want to follow instructions
  • inappropriate social movements
  • unusual movements
  • no movement or response at all

Behavioral changes. People with schizophrenia may not be able to function in the way they could before their illness started. For example:

  • don’t take a baths
  • do not make eye contact 
  • cannot show emotions 
  • speak in a monotone voice 
  • not be able to feel pleasure
  • lose interest in everyday or social activities
  • unable to make future plans

How is the lymphatic system related to schizophrenia?

The meningeal lymphatic vessels (lymphatic vessels in your brain) remove wastes and toxins from your brain to keep it healthy and working properly. Studies showed that when your meningeal lymphatic vessel don´t work properly, it produces cognitive impairment (changes in the way your brain perceives and processes information) that can result in behavioral changes (like those seen in schizophrenia). There is also evidence of changes in the functional activity of the lymphoid tissue of the inguinal lymph nodes in patients with schizophrenia. In other words,  when the lymphatic system doesn’t work properly, your body, especially your brain, is unable to clean by itself and can not regulate the cognitive and immune function properly.

In short, accumulated fluids and wastes produce or exacerbate these behavioral and cognitive changes seen in schizophrenia. However, further research is still needed to fully elucidate the role of the lymphatic system in the pathophysiology of this mental health condition.

What lifestyle changes can enhance lymphatic and immune function in schizophrenia?

There are some lifestyle changes that could enhance lymphatic function in individuals with schizophrenia, however, these tips don’t replace professional treatment (medication and talk therapy), they can be part of an holistic approach, here some of them:

  1. Exercise: Regular physical activity improves brain health and circulation promoting waste clearance and cognitive function. 
  2. Healthy Sleep Habits: Adequate and quality sleep is crucial for glymphatic function (the glymphatic system in charge of cleaning your brain while you sleep). So sleep well, to feel and function well.
  3. Dietary Modifications: A balanced and nutritious diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods may support brain health and potentially enhance lymphatic function. 
  4. Lymphatic drainage massage: MLD boosts your lymphatic function, improves circulation, speeds up waste explanation, boosts your immune system, reduces stress and anxiety, etc. 
  5. Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact brain health and cognitive function. Practicing stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, specialised massage techniques or yoga may help lower stress levels. 
  6. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential for overall brain health and function. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day will support the glymphatic system in clearing waste products from the brain.

By incorporating these lifestyle changes to their mental health treatment (medication and talk therapy, etc.), people with schizophrenia may potentially enhance glymphatic, lymphatic and immune function, which could contribute to improved cognitive function and overall brain health.

If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill and Islington. We are always glad to help. If you like this blog, please share!



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