we’ve touched on the lymphatic system before with 10 ways to detox your lymph, but this complex network of fluid-filled nodes, vessels, glands and organs, running throughout the entire body is so incredibly important, it’s worth mentioning again and again. It is one of the most important and often forgotten systems in the human body that is essential for detoxification and, if it’s not working efficiently, we end up with a list of symptoms that can lead to some serious issues down the road.
Why It is so Important: Although the lymphatic system isn’t talked about as much as other systems in the body, it has a vital role in our health and requires a little extra TLC from us. The main function of the lymphatic system is to cleanse toxins and protect against harmful invaders in the body. What this means is, it carries our body’s waste from the tissues and into the bloodstream for removal. When you think of all the toxins that our bodies comes into contact with these days, whether it be through food, air, cosmetic product chemicals, our water supply, or even just the natural metabolic wastes our bodies produce that need to be flushed daily, you begin to see how vital this system is for our health.
The main issue is, that unlike our blood, lymph does not have a pump, and easily becomes congested and stagnant. What’s more, stress is the number one cause of lymph stagnation, along with toxin buildup, that not only leads to impaired immunity and disease, but fluid retention, swelling, cellulite, the inability to lose weight, PMS, low energy, low immunity, chronic sinusitis, swollen glands, eczema, arthritis; the list goes on and on.
Your lymphatic system is your first line of defense before all other issues begin to arise; all the more reason to give it the attention it deserves.
The Fix for Your Lymph: It’s actually quite easy to get your lymphatic system moving. The solution comes to us through a simple, relaxing, and incredibly effective means – massage. The lymph channels cover almost every inch of our bodies, running just under the skin, so a very light massage, working with long strokes with the flow of the system is all it takes to stimulate it. It’s amazing that something so basic can have such a remarkable impact!
The daily Lymphatic system Massage:
- Warm your oil (see our picks below,) about 1/4 cup is what you will need for your whole body.
- Using long strokes on the arms and legs and and circular strokes on the joints, always massage in the direction of the heart.
- Start with the legs and feet, using oil and/or pulses, and both hands, begin to massage between and under each toe, stroking upward to the ankles and eventually the legs. When you get to the joints, pause and massage in small circular strokes. Continue and lightly stroke upward, paying extra attention to areas of large lymph nodes, such as behind the knees.
- Draw upwards through the thighs using fingertips and the palms of your hands, concentrated on the back of the thighs and buttocks area where toxic waste likes to accumulate in the fatty tissue. With regular practice, this will help to reduce cellulite in these areas.
- Once you complete one leg, go on to the next. When you reach the groin area, where there are many nodules, massage both sides at once, stroking upwards, outwards towards your hips, and inwards over your stomach.
- Continue to massage the abdomen in clockwise, circular motions. On the stomach, follow the movement of the intestine moving your hands upward on the ride side, across, and then downwards on the left side.
- Now concentrate on each arm, again, starting with each finger, knuckle, and joint, massage in small circular motions, then on to the forearm and upper arm using long feathery strokes. When you reach the armpit, using your thumb and forefinger in a pinching motion concentrate on the armpit and upper breast area where there are also many nodes. Do this on each side and stoke from the armpit over the top of the chest toward the chest center.
- Massage upwards toward the chest and the heart, massaging each breast, and under each, in circular, clockwise motions, and then down towards the stomach.
- Finally, work towards your head, massaging your neck, especially under your chin, where you might usually notice swollen glands when you begin to get sick. Using your fingertips, massage in gentle circular motions, eventually reaching the base of your skull and again finishing by bringing all movement down and around through the center of the the body.
- Once complete, make sure to have plenty of water, take time for a nice warm bath, or stretch a little bit to continue to help these toxins be easily removed.
Extra tips for your massage:
– The massage takes about 15 minutes and up to an hour (if you have significant stagnation and really want to give your body some love).
– It’s best practiced daily, right before bed or when you wake up.
– And additional practice involves using dry pulverized grains, or pulses, as they are referred to in Ayurveda, to increase stimulation and exfoliated the skin, similarly to the way dry brushing works, giving the therapy an extra beneficial layer.Make sure you consume a lot of water after the treatment to help flush these toxins out.
– Don’t massage too hard. Lymph is a sensitive system and requires a gentle touch; too hard and you will collapse the lymphatic, actually diminishing the flow instead or increasing it.
– Calendula is an herb that may be very helpful in improving your lymphatic drainage, and mixed with sesame oil this can be a particularly soothing and grounding practice, especially during the fall and winter months. The oils used can actually help enhance the purification process providing additional therapeutic, anti-inflammatory, circulatory and even antibacterial properties. Check out how to make your own here, or if you would prefer to purchase it already made, try this one made by Tata Harper.