How To Deal with Swollen Lymph Glands (Nodes)

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Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, my second major weapon in the battle against swollen lymph glands.

Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, my second major weapon in the battle against swollen lymph nodes.

Swollen lymph nodes (glands) are a much more widespread problem then I’d realized. How to deal with them, to get the swelling down? For thousands of worried sufferers, that’s the question.

Wait. Two things: Firstly, if I slip and call them lymph glands instead of nodes, that’s what our family always called them…but Internet usage seems to go mostly with nodes, so we’ll try to stick to that. Secondly, we first have to ascertain that those swollen glands aka nodes under the jawline or down the side of the neck, sometimes even on the chest or up on the head, are not cancer indicators. Right?

Right.

Fortunately, that’s not all that difficult to do, or at least it wasn’t in my case. There are various self help discussion sites online that detail the stories of hundreds if not thousands of folks who did it the AMA way, i.e. via biopsy and lab work. That’s fine if it works for you. However, I’m a believer in avoiding doctors to the maximum extent possible. They don’t know my body like I do, nor have most of them studied alternative health options to any significant degree.

By the way, if you don’t know what a “biopsy” is, think of it as a core sample dug out of your flesh. My wife has (among many other issues) a serious challenge with skin problems, some of which are clearly stress triggered psoriasis outbreaks and some of which are without doubt parasite related. The doc had no clue about either, but he did “take a biopsy”–i.e. core sample–right out of the middle of one of her sores one time.

It took a while for that core sample gouge to heal, too. Biopsies may be essential in some situations…but I’ll avoid them if at all possible.

Besides, cancer lumps don’t come and go. That’s the indicator, right there. If the swelling in my lymph nodes could be reduced at times, it was not a cancer problem.

The first sure test of that came up about three months ago. I’d been working out, lifting weights over my head in front of a mirror in order to monitor my form, when I noticed the right side of my neck seemed to have a lump that shouldn’t be there.

Sure enough. The lymph node under my right jaw was always the first to swell whenever infection came along, but this swollen neck thing was a new and revolting development. It wasn’t overly painful–just slightly tender to the touch–but obviously needed to be dealt with.

We always have leftover antibiotics on hand. MD’s will prescribe them at times when neither my wife nor I think they’re a good idea, but we’ve learned that when it comes to battling with doctors, it’s best to pick your battles if you want to keep your present practitioner. So we accept the prescriptions but don’t always take them, simply storing the antibiotics in case we decide later that we really do need them.

The other always-on-hand item is colloidal silver. Pam won’t use it any more despite the fact that it literally saved her life in 2005. She’s afraid she’ll turn blue and would prefer to die than do that.

Vanity much?

Anyway, I took antibiotics for a few days, chased it with colloidal silver (scientists are now discovering that amping up antibiotics with silver greatly amps up the effectiveness of the antibiotics), and the neck swelling went away just fine.

Until a couple of weeks ago, that is.

This time, the swelling was worse. There were swollen lymph node lumps running all around to the back of my neck (on the right side) and down almost to the clavicle.

Hm.

Going back on antibiotics this soon after the last go-round didn’t sound quite right, but I tried it–with colloidal silver reinforcement as usual.

It didn’t work.

Oh, it worked some. Enough to reduce the swelling temporarily…but then the tide reversed once again. The lumps were increasing in size. Time to bag the antibiotics (and silver)…as soon as I could figure out the next step.

That turned out to be apple cider vinegar. There are several great sites online where ACV (apple cider vinegar) users detail their experiences with the stuff. It’s been used medically since the time of Hippocrates. Nine out of ten people commenting online report positive (gland shrinking) results. Since it also helps alkalinize the body by encouraging the pancreas to kick out more sodium bicarbonate, and since that’s a good thing, some users have taken to sipping ACV diluted in water all day long. Others take down straight shots, either chasing it with water or just…doing the shooters.

Hey, why not? I’d tried apple cider vinegar once before, long enough to prove to myself that it didn’t do squat against a full blown head cold, but this might be different. Safeway had some great stuff, too, Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, in business for more than 100 years.

I found out three things:

1. Sipping didn’t work for me. I’ve gotten acclimated to sipping ice water all day, but adding even a little ACV was enough to get me to…quit drinking water. Not a good thing.

2. Straight tablespoons (not full shots) worked best as long as I immediately chased the cider vinegar with water. Bragg’s is so strong that it stings the back of my throat harder than anything else since Everclear (nearly pure alcohol), which I’ve not tried since I was in my twenties.

3. The ACV got some initial results…but whatever this infection might be that I’m fighting, it’s a toughie. The first day of using ACV, the overall swelling went down by a good fifty percent, but just like with the antibiotics and silver, the luck did not hold.

I needed something more.

Could bouncing on a mini-trampoline get swollen lymph glands to clear themselves?

Could bouncing on a mini-trampoline get swollen lymph glands to clear themselves?

One evening while I was sitting at the computer, pondering, the mini-trampoline suddenly came to mind. Would it work to clear lymph gland infection?

It just might, I thought. My ex and I had once owned a mini-tramp, back in California during the late 1980’s. I’d used it a handful of times, after which–like most exercise equipment–it went to the garage and was never touched again. We didn’t even bother to take it with us when we moved to Montana in 1989.

However, it made sense. The following day, having to make a run to Sierra Vista anyway, I stopped at our local Big 5 store. There were no other customers in sight, but four ladies stood behind the front counter, pretty much elbow to elbow.

“How can we help you?” The least unattractive gal asked, and I answered,

“Do you have any mini-tramps here?”

Fortunately, none of the females clobbered me. Either the remark went over their heads, or they didn’t care. All my partner in conversation said was, “Yes, we do!”

They had two sizes, a 40 incher and a 48 incher. I picked the big one, mostly so I’d be less likely to fall off.

Grimly enough, bouncing around on a mini-trampoline turned out to be anything but fun. As a young buck, I was a pro athlete on the rodeo circuit, but Pam watched me bouncing rather rigidly and observed that it looked like I had a broomstick taped to my spine. She was right. Also, the tendons behind both knees were killing me after less than a minute of bouncing.

Sheesh.

However, things began to loosen up after the second minute. I made it for six minutes that time–which was enough for starters in 103 degree sunshine. We can’t put a mini-tramp in the house; our ceilings in the home I built by hand are way too low for that.

Impressively, the glands were down noticeably at the end of the hopping stint.

Vibration seemed like it might indeed be a key.

But wait. There’s more.

The 4 cycle Ryobi brush cutter vibration turned out to a great reducing agent for swollen lymph glands.

The 4 cycle Ryobi brush cutter vibration turned out to a great reducing agent for swollen lymph glands.

This year in southern Arizona, the monsoon rains have been phenomenal, producing so much overgrown vegetation that in many places our patch of the Sonoran desert looks more like a jungle during this fine, hot August of 2013. It occurred to me that if jumping up and down on a mini-trampoline was helpful for reducing swollen lymph glands, perhaps rattling my physical body’s cage with the vibrations of a gas powered Ryobi brush cutter might do even better.

So, after taking a break to get cooled down and rehydrated, I fired up the green beast. Whacking a clear path from the house to the laundry shed (over the top of driveway gravel, no less) took another hour or more.

When the deed was done, the glands were noticeably less swollen.

This was important primarily because it’s easier for me to work for an hour than to officially exercise for a minute. If I’ve got a job to do, time flies. If I must exercise, time goes in reverse and bites me in the rear.

All right, then. I kept up the apple cider vinegar intake. After all, you never know, and the alkalizing effect couldn’t hurt. Overall, though, things were looking good. The butterfly hanging around on local mesquite stems seemed to symbolize my good fortune. The swollen glands were about to “flutter by”.

The butterfly, of a species we'd not seen before, hanging out on the mesquite....

The butterfly hanging around on local mesquite stems seemed to symbolize my good fortune.

The next morning, the swelling had once again increased a bit.

All right. Time to drag out the mini-tramp. This time, I managed to stay atop the silly thing for a full ten minutes, but it wasn’t easy. In fact, building our house was easier, emotionally speaking. Various joints acted up, griping not at the strain but at being bored to the point of complaining.

One more night, up in the morning–and the thought of bouncing on that beautiful yet unattractive mini-tramp was revolting.

The Ryobi brush cutter needed new blades after having been battered against all those driveway rocks two days earlier. The nodes were…how were they? Hm. About a third of maximum swelling. Much, much better, but not quite fully fixed yet.

I could go to Home Depot, see if they had replacement blades for the brush cutter. Yeah. I could do that…or I could take a hike around the property, packing both camera and camcorder, taking pictures of wildflowers and seeing how many illegal immigrant tracks I could find heading north through our property.

Yeah. There was a plan. For nearly an hour in the a.m., I took pictures of morning glory blooms. They’re not native to this desert, but we’ve got them now, ever since high flying, superheated gas clouds from the Monument Fire of 2011 dumped uncounted numbers of seeds all over this acreage. The vine-borne blossoms blanketed the land that summer, barely made an appearance in 2012, then roared back with a vengeance after the major rain dumps this year.

The morning glory blossoms...came roaring back after the major rain dumps this year.

The morning glory blossoms…came roaring back after the major rain dumps this year.

Time for a nap. I usually write all night, rack out for a few hours before and after dawn, get up to help my wife for a while, then catch a few more zzz’s from late morning until early afternoon.

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“Pam,” I told my sweetheart later in the day, “I think I’ll take a hike around the property. I should be back by four.” It was only a few minutes after three.

“Okay. See you when you get back.”

When I did get back, it was five p.m. and my wife was nearly in tears. This area is what people from northern Arizona call the Mouth of the Dragon. Illegal immigrants and drug runners have regular routes running from the Border (one mile to the south) on up to safe houses in Sierra Vista and beyond. Our rattlesnakes are mostly Mojave greens, the deadliest pit vipers on the continent. When I hadn’t returned at the appointed time–and knowing I tend to be punctual–she’d begun to worry. When I didn’t answer my phone, she’d come close to panic.

Her son had calmed her a bit when she called him. “If Fred was in trouble, Mom, he’d have called.”

The thing was, she had not called my phone at all. I’d felt no vibration, but most of all, there was no voice mail message, no record of a missed call. Nothing. Most likely, she’d hit the wrong speed dial number, but you can’t convince her of that.

Nonetheless, the miracle had finally happened. My swollen lymph nodes were no longer swollen. Oh, there’s still a bit of swelling under the jawline, but no more than I’ve been used to for the past 70 years. Nothing back around on the side of the neck, reminding me of Senator John McCain’s lumpjaw.

Walking turned out to be the key secret. How about that?

I’m good at walking.

Besides, it seems right. We humans were not evolved to be sedentary. Our forebears were hunters and gatherers, homo sapiens who knew that to stop moving meant death.

And there you have it. I’m continuing to take apple cider vinegar, a minimum of three separate tablespoons per day. I didn’t do any excessive walking today. The mini-tramp has not been touched for two days in a row. This is the first full day (24 hour period) with neither of those remedies being applied, and the glands–uh, nodes–are “staying down”, at least for the moment.

That’s my experience to date. Feel free to share yours in the Comments.

Simon Says 001

UPDATE: September 22, 2013

Recently, at least two viewers of this page found it by searching for swollen lymph glands caused by lifting weights, especially lifting over one’s head. Those keyword searches prompted me to say this about that:

I hadn’t thought about the possibility, but it could be that heavy weight lifting really can trigger swollen lymph glands. I say this because for several months (3 or 4 at least) prior to noticing my own swollen nodes, I’d been doing just that–lifting weights over my head. I’m crowding 70 years of age, had realized that my military press capability had gone way down in the last 50 years, and decided to build my strength back up for that particular lift.

Our home has low ceilings, so using a barbell would have been problematic. The weights would have impacted the ceiling boards with every lift. So, instead, I used a pair of 25 pound dumbbells, one in each hand, but lifted them simultaneously as if there were an invisible bar running between them. The idea was that when I’d gotten the reps high enough–three sets totaling at least 100 reps–I’d move up to 30 pounders, and go from there.

As it happened, I was just about ready to do that (move up to 30 pounders) when I realized the few minutes of heavy lifting every night…seemed to be creating a problem in my left shoulder. After a few weeks of thinking that over, I quit the overhead lifting entirely.

But the swollen glands, I now realize (after thinking back), were noticed while I was still lifting, a week or two before I quit.

Summary: I don’t know for a fact that the lifting triggered the gland swelling, but it certainly does seem coincidental, and I do not believe in coincidence. You’ll need to draw your own conclusions, of course.

And finally, now that some weeks have passed since I first wrote this article, how are my lymph nodes doing?

Well, not bad, really. I’ve quit the vinegar entirely. It’s nasty stuff, and it didn’t seem to be doing anything worthwhile that I could tell. I’ve never gotten back on the mini trampoline since those first two sessions. But any form of mild thumping (fingertips) near a swollen gland does seem to help, and walking is still my Holy Grail of node swelling reduction.

I finally realized there were swollen lymph spots all over my body–neck, right armpit, right side of groin, left rear side of skull, etc. But they’re all pretty much under control at this point. That is, when they do get big enough to be worrisome (or just plain irritating), I can get them back to a “low roar” in short order.

UPDATE: October 2, 2014

It was necessary to wait until I was sure to post this latest tidbit, but I can now say with confidence that, for me at least, nothing works better to reduce lymph node swelling(s) than a simple wand massager with a “buzz” setting that vibrates vigorously. During the year following the last update, nodes running down both sides of my neck were proving stubbornly problematic. I’ll spare you the unimportant details, but for a period of several months–with nothing else working, including walking–I tried a fairly lengthy regimen of supplements form the Nature’s Sunshine company that are specifically designed to cleanse and drain lymph nodes.

The supplements worked…sort of. But the improvement only went so far, and that wasn’t far enough.

Then about three weeks ago, I bought a wand massager. Moving the vibrator head slowly along the swollen nodes for 15 minutes a day produced remarkable–and more importantly, consistent–results. I do have to confess to being on the lazy side and a bit lackadaisical about my self discipline; when the nodes are knocked down far enough that they don’t “bug” me, I wind up skipping the daily massaging routine until the swelling increases enough to once again be bothersome.

But the massager works.

One of the beautiful things about using a wand massager is that it’s easy to find a way to let the time pass while the massage motor is running. My favorite method is to hold the massager in my left hand so my right hand is free to click my computer’s mouse during a game of Hearts.