How To: Love Your Lymphatic System
My interest in the lymphatic system began last year when I had an out of nowhere urge to pick up my body brush after two years of dust gathering in the bathroom cupboard. My main motivation was due to breast tenderness during PMS and honestly, the intuitive sense that things weren’t flowing as they should be.
After feeling immediate results from daily dry body brushing, I started to look into the lymphatic system more deeply; then everything starting to click.
The lymphatic system is a network of organs, lymph vessels, cells, and nodes that work alongside your circulatory system. It acts as a system of detoxification, removing waste and is an often overlooked and integral part of the overall immune system. And I know the body knows how to detoxify itself, but our friend the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own pump, so it requires our helping hand for movement and flow, particularly if we’re living in the toxic overload of city life. Not only does the lymphatic system promote healthy circulation, it supports our kidney and adrenal glands and nourishes our overall nervous system.
The cool thing is about lymphatic system support is that its simple, immediately effective and generally, very enjoyable. And a life without cold hands and feet is a life I really, really want to live.
How to tell when lymph isn’t flowing?
Swollen glands, puffy face, bloating and water retention, headaches, sinus infections, brain fog, breast tenderness, food sensitivities, lowered immunity, stiffness in the body when waking up, fatigue, dry and itchy skin and cold hands and feet.
An obvious, and kinda misleading one. When I first learnt about the lymphatic system in my yoga teacher training, I mentally marked it as a ticked box. Why? Because I move my body every day and I don’t work a desk job. Walking is my main form of transport and yoga, which is a great place to start for lymphatic health is my daily form of exercise. What else could I need!? Hint. Softness.
Internal and external hydration is essential for a flowing, moving lymphatic system. The most obvious cause of stagnant lymph is chronic dehydration, so up your intake of filtered or spring water (especially if you’re drinking caffeine and alcohol), warm water with lemon (fruits like citrus and pineapple are supportive for lymphatic flow) and green juice.
Dry Body Brushing
When I put a call out for lymphatic practices on instagram stories this was number one. It honestly takes 2-5 minutes each morning. This brush is cheap, and excellent. If you’re into essential oils you could add grapefruit rosemary or eucalyptus but honestly, don’t think about it too much. Brush toward the heart, rinse off in the shower and then cover yourself in almond or black sesame oil.
Ah the ultimate lymphatic yoga go-to. Stand on your head, your shoulders, your forearms, but my advice? Take a supported legs up the wall. Why? You can hold it for 20 minutes, not five. And bonus points? This restorative pose draws the body into the parasympathetic, rest and digest state, because of course, there can be no flow in the body when there is chronic stress.
To be very real for a moment. A few years ago I wouldn’t even have a massage because I was so bad at being still and resting. Even the thought of it was boring. I know. Fast forward to now and I would be on a daily massage program if possible. After being in Bali last month and having almost exactly that, I was blown away at not only how good I felt, but how bright and shiny my skin looked. The biggest takeaway though? I had no PMS symptoms at all that month.
Using a salt scrub in almost the same way you would a body brush is another really indulgent and enjoyable way to get lymph flowing. Stand on a towel in your bathroom and scrub from the feet up toward the heart with enough intensity to turn your skin slightly pink. Rinse off in the shower or even better, slip into a hot herbal bath afterwards.
When I think Gua Sha I think Britta Beauty, so head over to her instagram page for literally, all your questions answered. While I don’t yet have a Gua Sha tool (holding out for her empress one) another sign I had sluggish lymph was when I started to break out a little around my jaw line after using a jade roller. I then transitioned to using it only on my neck, and my skin has never been better. I swear by her morning face massage, too.
Red Clover Infusion
Red Clover is part of the hormonal infusion blend I created (orders via email only) as a lymphatic and detoxifying herb, specifically easing lymphatic congesting and supporting conditions of the skin, muscles and joints. If you’re making a red clover infusion at home for lymphatic support, combine it 1:1 with dried nettle.
A self massage with warm oil from the Ayurvedic tradition that I’m planning on re-introducing during the winter months a few times a week for keeping the body warm, hydrated and glowing. Heres a tutorial video.
Your favourite tools and practices? Share below or forward this post to a friend who could really benefit!