Tattoos Impact Immunity | Natural Health Blog

Tattoos are Tainting Lymph Nodes


Article Summary:

  • New research suggests that metals may transfer from tattoo needles into the skin and then travel to the lymph nodes
  • This is risky because the lymph nodes play an important role in our immune system
  • We can minimize our accumulation of metals by using enzyme supplements, doing heavy metal detoxes, and having massages

Are Tattoos Healthy?

While tattoos were once reserved mainly for heavy metal rockers and rebellious young adults, nowadays you can find everyone from mild-mannered business executives to grandmas sporting some body art. Most people do some research into several tattoo establishments and ask others for recommendations to ensure they find a clean, reputable place where they can safely get inked. But according to new research, that might not be enough to prevent a tattoo from becoming dangerous to your health.

The study, which took place at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin, found that nanoparticles of metals from the needles may be deposited at the site of the tattoo and travel through the body, ending up in the lymph nodes.1Schreiver, Ines; et al. “Distribution of nickel and chromium containing particles from tattoo needle wear in humans and its possible impact on allergic reactions.” Particle and Fibre Toxicology. 27 August 2019. Accessed 4 September 2019. These results are based on an investigation that followed up research the team had conducted two years ago which offered evidence of pigment leakage that included metals, but they could not at that point establish where the metals were coming from.

To analyze the source of the iron, chromium, and nickel deposits seen in the lymph nodes of individuals with tattoos, the scientists tested the needles and discovered they were the culprit. The good news, at least, is that the metal-based nanoparticles were only evident in the X-rays of those whose tattoos used ink pigments that contained titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is a common component in many colored inks since it is a white pigment used to create certain colors. The needles apparently become worn down more quickly when inks with titanium dioxide are used, shedding particles that end up in our bodies.

Dangers of Metal Particles in the Lymph Nodes

In the short term, the presence of nickel and chromium might cause skin reactions such as rashes or irritations around the tattoo. And because these metals are allergens, they might produce swelling in the lymph nodes once they arrive there. The lymph nodes are small structures found around the body but with the largest concentrations around the neck, armpits, and groin area.

Anything that is potentially harmful to the lymph nodes or the lymphatic system is dangerous because they are an important part of the body’s immune system. The lymphatic system filters out invading bacteria, fights infection, and works closely with the immune system to protect your health. And there are many conditions that can arise when the lymph nodes or lymphatic system are damaged, including cancer and heart disease. To learn more about the lymphatic system’s role in our health, read Jon Barron’s comprehensive article, “Optimizing Your Lymph System.”

Protecting Your Lymph Nodes From Metals

Since the lymphatic system is already busy clearing germs and environmental toxins that make their way into the body, we don’t need to overburden it with the addition of heavy metals. If you have tattoos (or don’t but want to do what you can to safeguard your immune system), you can make a bit of effort to optimize your lymphatic system.

Some steps you can take in the right direction:

  • Take digestive enzymes with meals to help the gastrointestinal tract break down complex foods for better absorption and ease the work of the lymphatic system.
  • Use systemic proteolytic enzymes between meals because they will help cleanse the blood of waste and remove circulating immune complexes.
  • Perform regular liver cleanses to detox this vital organ that produces most of the lymph fluids that circulate throughout the body.
  • Do regular heavy metal detoxes to remove any heavy metals that have accumulated in any of your body’s soft tissue.
  • Exercise regularly and/or get massages from a therapist experienced in lymphatic drainage, a gentle form of massage that increases the flow of lymph fluids around the body. Keep in mind, your lymph system has no pump like your heart to move lymph fluid about. All movement of lymph is accomplished by muscle movement in your body. If you’re not exercising regularly, then you need to have regular massage to keep things moving.



1 Schreiver, Ines; et al. “Distribution of nickel and chromium containing particles from tattoo needle wear in humans and its possible impact on allergic reactions.” Particle and Fibre Toxicology. 27 August 2019. Accessed 4 September 2019.

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