The lymphatic system is a network of fluid-filled nodes, glands, and organs that are present throughout the body. Although we may not feel it, the lymphatic system is a key detoxification pathway. It’s constantly cleansing toxins and protecting us from harmful foreign invaders. It works by carrying our body’s “toxins” away from the tissues and into the bloodstream, where it is then filtered by two of the body’s main detoxification organs: the liver and kidneys.
The lymph system flushes toxins that are introduced to the body from both external (food, air pollution, personal care products, water) as well as internal (damaged proteins and metabolic/cellular waste), making it one of the most important systems of the human body. Just like the liver and kidneys, it is important to give the lymph the attention it deserves. A healthy lymphatic system is directly related to the current state of our health and makes for a strong and resilient immune system to support our long-term health. With proper hydration, regular exercise, and some consistent self-care, your lymphatic system will be in tip-top shape, giving you a gorgeous inner & outer glow.
Here are a few simple practices to include in your daily and weekly routine to keep your lymphatic system vital.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
One of the most common causes of lymph congestion is dehydration. Since it is made up of 95% water, without adequate amounts, lymph fluid cannot flow properly. By adding a slice of lemon to your water, you are accelerating the detoxification process by flushing out toxins. Lemons are naturally super alkalizing and will help mineralize the body and lymph.
2. Eat plenty of raw foods.
The enzymes in raw foods offer extra support to break down toxic build-ups and to promote the clearance of harmful substances from the body. For optimal digestion, eat them on an empty stomach. Most fruits are digested within 30 minutes of eating. Eating plenty of nutrient dense fruits and vegetables will help you attain adequate amounts of water and alkalize your body, neutralizing harmful pathogens while simultaneously purifying your blood and lymphatic system.
3. Sip on lymph-boosting herbal teas.
There are many herbs that are beneficial for lymphatic health, they work by increasing lymphatic flow and accelerate the clearance of toxic substances. Red clover increases lymph flow, and helps to detoxify the body and reduce inflammation. Cleavers stimulate and help drain the lymphatic system.The Ayurvedic herb, Manjistha specifically de-stagnates lymph by detoxifying tissue and supporting lymph flow. In Chinese medicine, Burpleurum and rehmannia are used to help remove toxins deep within the body and on an on-going basis.
4. Breathe deeply.
Did you know that our bodies have three times more lymph fluid than blood, yet no organ to pump it? Your lymph system relies on the pumping action of deep breathing to help it transport toxins into the blood before your liver detoxifies them. This makes deep breathing a crucial component for lymphatic health. Take at least 10 minutes out of your day to sit down, close your eyes, and breathe – DEEPLY.
5. Get lymphatic massages.
This special form of massage targets lymph flow in the body by using pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate and clear the lymph tissues. This movement encourages the flow of proper drainage and stagnant toxins to be excreted from the body. Studies show that a lymphatic massage can push up to 78% of stagnant lymph back into circulation!
6. Brush off dry skin.
The best time to dry skin brush is just before you shower. Use a natural bristle brush and brush your skin in a circular motion upward from the feet to the torso and from the fingers to the chest. You want to work in the same direction as your lymph flows – toward the heart. Dry skin brushing is a great way to encourage the movement of lymph and blood in underlying organs and tissues of the body. This will help free any toxic build-up and stimulate your sweat glands & pores while getting rid of any dead skin cells. Dry skin brushing also does wonders for improving skin conditions and reducing cellulite. If the dry brush is too much for you – get a “gua sha” and implement all of the above.
7. Keep it flowing.
Exercise is one of the easiest ways to support a healthy lymphatic system. Yoga specifically. The natural flow of yoga that allows your muscles to contract and relax will prevent stagnation and relieve congestion by allowing lymph to flow free in the body. A Breath centered practice is extra clearing. Inversions such as headstands, handstands, or shoulder stands will reverse the effect of gravity and drain the lymph towards the heart to eliminate toxins. Yoga twists also help to flush the lymph. By squeezing the organs and muscles you are forcing stagnant lymph out of the tissues and stimulating lymphatic flow.
8. Try cupping and acupuncture.
Both modalities draw energy and blood flow to stagnant areas of the body, improving circulation and clearing blockages from the lymphatic system. Cupping focuses on the surface area of the skin, while acupuncture penetrates the skin. This stimulates QI flow, which strengthens the body, enhances immunity, and flushes toxins from the system. In addition, acupuncture is an extremely powerful way to manage stress levels, calm the mind, and sharpen focus.