Fact Check: NOT All Disease Symptoms Result From Lymphatic System Expelling Toxins

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: NOT All Disease Symptoms Result From Lymphatic System Expelling Toxins Many Causes

Are all disease symptoms the result of the lymphatic system expelling toxins? No, that's not true: Such claims are a "vastly oversimplified concept of how disease in humans occurs," an expert in infectious disease told Lead Stories. Several factors, including exposure to infectious agents, environmental and lifestyle conditions, and genetic predispositions, cause diseases. Though there are some lymphatic system diseases, not all diseases result from the lymphatic system expelling toxins. The lymphatic system does not "detoxify" the body, as a video on social media claims, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health confirmed.

A version of the claim appeared in a video shared to Instagram on March 11, 2024 (archive), with a text overlay that stated, "DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DISEASE VS DETOXIFICATION." A caption with the post read:

Real enlightening & powerful convo with @YAHKIAWAKENED -- we took a deep dive into holistic health practices and the impact of embracing natural healing methods

πŸ”— in bio for full conversation

πŸŽ₯ @drewyeeez

Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-03-12 at 7.55.43 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken Tue March 14 07:55:43 UTC 2024]

The video above implied that "incurable diseases," such as herpes and diabetes, are actually "curable" because they are symptoms of the lymphatic system detoxifying itself rather than through other mechanisms.

Lead Stories reached out to Dr. William Schaffner (archived here), a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and expert with the Infectious Disease Society of America (archive). He responded in a phone interview on March 14, 2024.

"No medical textbook and no teaching in medical school that you will find will provide such a simplistic concept of disease occurrence" as that in the video because "human biology is vastly more complicated than that," Schaffner said.

Though there are some lymphatic system diseases, not all diseases result from the lymphatic system expelling toxins. The lymphatic system does not "detoxify" the body in the manner described in the video, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) (archive) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (archive) wrote to Lead Stories in an email received on March 14, 2024.

The man in the clip identifies himself online as Yahki Awakened, whose claims Lead Stories has previously fact checked. He runs an online herbal supplements company. On its website, the store touts the claim that the "Body Was Created To Heal & Regenerate Itself."

The interview originally appeared in a video shared to the YouTube channel Sway's Universe on March 7, 2024 (archive). Yahki Awakened made these claims at the 15:37 mark. In the video he stated that "disease is not a disease at all," adding that:

... The creator created our body with a self-healing mechanism called a sewage system which is called the lymphatic system. So anytime you start experiencing any of these discomforts, we run to the doctor because the doctor have taught us that these are symptomologies of diseases but what happened if that's a lie, these are actually symptomologies of detoxification.

Lymphatic system protects body from infection

A part of the immune system, the lymphatic system is a network of organs, vessels and tissues that the Cleveland Clinic describes (archive) as working "together to move a colorless, watery fluid (lymph) back into your circulatory system."

The NIH, which is invested in lymphatic system research and recently established the first National Commission on Lymphatic Diseases (archive), noted that the lymphatic system operates as a waste-removal (archive) or sewer system (archive).

"It would be more precise to say that, instead of the function of 'expelling toxins' referred to in the video, the lymphatic system's role is 'waste clearance' or 'removal of cellular debris and waste," wrote the NIAID, adding that:

The lymphatic system is composed of lymphoid organs distributed throughout the body and lymphatic vessels that transport interstitial fluid (ISF), antigens, lipids, cholesterol, immune cells, and other materials. The lymphatic system is critical for fluid homeostasis, lipid metabolism and immune defense.

Lymphatic system drains lymph fluid from body tissues, returns it to the blood

As the heart pumps blood outward, gases and chemicals are exchanged through various body parts. Throughout this process, water, proteins and other substances -- fluid collectively known as lymph -- leak through tiny blood capillaries into the body tissue and are drained by the lymphatic system. Lymph is sent through the lymph nodes, or tiny clusters of immune cells that fight off infections, that act as a "sieve" to clarify the body of substances, particularly infectious agents, so that they don't continue to circulate, according to Schaffner.

The NIAID added that while the lymphatic system clarifies tissues, and dysfunctions in the lymphatic system (archive) have been implicated in many disease manifestations, not all diseases result from the lymphatic system expelling toxins, as the video claimed. The agency continued:

Sneezes and coughs do eliminate excess mucus or remove material collected in the sinuses during an infection. However, these reflex mechanisms are hijacked by the infectious agent to enhance their spread, so they are both 'cleansing actions' and also 'disease' manifestations. It is true that many symptoms of infections are the result of immune activity, and that the actual cause of this activity could be distinct from the symptoms. However, symptoms, manifestations, the body's defenses, and tissue repair processes are all part of the disease state. Infections or autoimmunity are actual diseases, even if some of what a person experiences are 'symptoms.'

Many factors cause diseases

There are many ways in which diseases occur in the body, most commonly through genetic causes, environmental sources and infectious agents.

"In a vast oversimplification, [Yahki Awakened] has seized on an 'intoxication theory of illness' that holds all illnesses are due to some sort of toxins or poisons, and if we can just get them out of our system, we would remain healthier, disease-free, or have a much lower occurrence of disease, and we would live longer," Schaffner said.

Genetic predispositions, like those that determine a person's eye or hair color, may also determine what diseases a person will inherit throughout life. These "diseases that run in the family" include conditions like heart disease (archive) or sickle cell disease (archive).

Environmental conditions or external factors may also cause certain diseases. People who smoke cigarettes for long periods are more likely to develop lung diseases or cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (archive).

Contagion or germ theory (archive) explains the contraction of infectious diseases, the NIAID told Lead Stories. A dysfunctioning lymphatic system can exacerbate some of these diseases. Infectious agents can also cause disease when entering the body in various ways, such as when a viral or bacterial pathogen enters the body through a wound or is inhaled or ingested.

Lead Stories has fact checked other claims related to germ theory, which can be read here.

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  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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