Swelling or discomfort in the neck (near the ears), throat, groin, or armpits, sometimes accompanied by sore throat or fever, are symptoms of swollen glands.

What are Swollen Glands?

From Modern Western Medicine

Swollen glands are actually enlargement of the lymph nodes, which is caused by the proliferation of white blood cells within the glands. The rapid multiplication of these cells occurs in the face of an antigen, or disease-causing agent, that is present systematically within the body. The activity of the white cells causes inflammation within the lymph nodes. Swollen glands are known medically as lymphadenopathy.

Swollen glands are a very common symptom and usually occur as a result of infection or allergic reaction. Swollen glands occur frequently in childhood.

In rare cases, swollen glands can be a symptom of lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, or a metastasis.

Treatments for swollen glands caused by infection usually include antibiotics or antihistamines for an allergy. In the case of cancer, radiation or chemotherapy is used.

From Traditional Medicine

The glands are a good early warning system that the body is being overloaded with toxins. Pollutants from the air, water, soil, and food all migrate into the body’s tissue fluid, which exists like a giant lake that surrounds cells, or tiny islands. In addition to pollutants are bacteria and viruses that also occupy the tissue fluid. In its effort to cleanse the system of all the toxins, the body circulates the tissue fluid into the lymph system. When these toxins become excessive, the immune system responds by creating more scavenger cells, such as macrophages and lymphocytes, specifically CD4 cells, which infiltrate the lymph nodes and attack the viruses, bacteria, and pollutants. Eventually these antigens are neutralized and eliminated from the body, but before that happens, lymph glands swell. The body is sending a signal to you that it’s time to clean up your act by eating a healing diet, getting gentle exercise and therapeutic massage, and taking appropriate herbal remedies to support the lymph system. These and other recommendations are made below.



Food to Eat

  • Whole grains: Boil brown rice, ginger, carrots, and onions together in lots of water. Eat soupy.
  • Leafy, green vegetables, such as collard, kale, and mustard greens
  • Root vegetables
  • Miso soup
  • Sea vegetables, especially nori and arame
  • Fish, preferably white fish, such as haddock, cod, flounder, and scrod
  • Spirulina
  • Chlorella


Herbs to Treat Swollen Glands

  • Goldenseal (blood cleanser): 30 drops, two times per day
  • Echinacea (antibiotic): 30 drops, two times per day
  • Milk thistle (liver cleanser): 15 drops, once a day



  • Magnesium: 400 mg per day
  • Zinc: 15 mg per day
  • Selenium: 70 mcg per day
  • Beta-carotene: 15 mg per day
  • Vitamin C: 100 mg per day
  • Vitamin E: 100 IU per day



  • Gentle walking, daily
  • Stretching exercise to release lymph from blocked areas
  • Yoga



Take warm baths to relax the body, especially muscle tissues that are contracted and preventing lymph from moving freely.