While most people like to focus supplements to remove heavy metals, or focus on their liver and digestion when it comes to detox, one crucial system often gets left out of self-care regimens — your lymphatic system. In this article, I will discuss why it is important you support your lymphatic drainage for overall health and well-being. And steps you can take TODAY to start doing just that!
You have to make sure your detox pathways are clear before embarking on any detox. And your lymph is one of those detox pathways you want to ensure are working properly because it transports toxins out of your body. The last thing you want to do is embark on detox protocols or take supplements that release toxins into your bloodstream and body if your lymph is stagnant or congested.
Your lymph, which travels alongside your circulatory system, is responsible for a myriad of functions, including transporting toxins out of the body. And unlike most systems in your body, your lymphatic system doesn’t just function automatically. That’s right; there are physical requirements from you that your lymph relies on to do its job.
So how do you assist this crucial system in your body?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The essential functions of your lymphatic system
- What lymph is composed of
- The unique way lymph fluid moves through your body
- The vital steps you must take to keep this system healthy
What Does Your Lymphatic System Do?
Your lymphatic system is a crucial component of both your detoxification pathways, as well as your immune system. It also plays a vital role in the utilization of dietary fat.
Composed of a network of tissues, vessels, organs, and lymph nodes, your lymphatic system moves a fluid called “lymph” through your body. Lymphatic fluid is made up of white blood cells (especially lymphocytes), and fluid from your intestines called chyle.
This fluid works in concert with plasma (the liquid part of your blood). As plasma moves through your tissues, delivering nutrients and receiving waste products, a small amount of fluid seeps through your capillaries and into your tissues (called interstitial fluid). This excess fluid (now called lymph) is then collected by your lymphatic system and returned back to your bloodstream.
This never-ending process allows for the maintenance of fluids in your body.
Some other crucial functions of your lymphatic system include:
Protection Against Foreign Invaders
As part of your immune system, your lymph produces and releases immune cells called lymphocytes, along with other immune cells. Your lymph is one of your first lines of defense, as these immune cells are called into action to fight off foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and mold.
As your lymph moves through your body, these bacteria and foreign invaders are passed through your lymph nodes (of which you have around 600), where they are neutralized by immune cells.
Assists In Fat Absorption
Before the fat that you consume can be transported to your tissues, it must first be carried through your lymphatic system. Lymph vessels that live in your digestive tract’s lining absorb the fats from the food you eat through vessels called lacteals. Your lymph then carries and transports these fats into the venous circulation, where they can be used by your cells and tissues.
How Your Lymphatic System Moves Through Your Body
While your heart is primarily responsible for pumping your blood through your circulatory system, your lymph uses a different mechanism entirely.
Unlike your blood flow, lymphatic flow relies on the movement of your body to push it along. Contraction of muscles, breathing, pressure change in surrounding tissues, blood vessel pulsation, intestinal peristalsis, and external body compression (like massage) are all ways in which your body can help your lymph fluid flow.
Therefore, if your lymph begins to stagnate, there are practices and techniques that you can use to instigate the flow of lymphatic fluids.
7 Ways To Support Lymphatic Drainage
#1 Dry Brushing
One of the ways to help your lymphatic fluid move through your body is through gentle external pressure on your body. With dry brushing, you use a specific brush with stiff bristles to massage your body along your lymphatic channels.
One common mistake that people make while dry crushing is to apply too much pressure. Your lymph is very sensitive, and too much pressure could actually compress it instead of helping it to flow.
When dry brushing, you always want to move the brush up towards your heart. Start at your feet, and move up along your limbs, stroking each area two to three times and then moving on. When you reach your abdomen, brush in a circular clockwise motion, and then begin from your wrists, up to your shoulder, and then to your clavicle.
While dry brushing is an excellent way to care for your lymph on a daily basis, massage can be a real treat for your lymph as well. Of course, you can do self-massage and assist your lymph in moving along, but many massage therapists also offer a specific style of massage called lymphatic drainage massage.
Lymphatic drainage massage works in the same way as dry brushing in that it offers external body compression.
You can also use reflexology on your feet to stimulate lymphatic drainage. Reflexology is the application of pressure on specific areas of your hands and feet which correlate with the different organs systems of your body.
By massaging the area in front of your ankle joint you can loosen the band of connective tissue there that may contribute to lymphatic blockage. You can also massage the area at the base of your second and third toes as this tissue corresponds with your lymphatic system.
Any form of physical activity will get your lymph moving. When you exercise, you’re not only creating contraction of your muscles, but your lymph will also get the benefits of the movement of your breath.
With that being said, using a rebounder (AKA mini-trampoline) is by far one of the most effective ways to get your lymph going with physical movement. Because the movement on a rebounder is vertical, it helps to push your lymphatic fluid up along its channels. Research shows that rebounding may even be an effective strategy for combating lymphedema (swelling in arms and legs due to lymph blockage or removal).
If you are interested in giving rebounding a try, I highly recommend the Cellerciser®. It is a high quality exercise product that allows you to exercise all of your muscles at the same time. And I mean ALL of your muscles. It’s not only a time-saver, it’s also a low impact exercise that is great for people with injuries or even disabilities.
#4 Essential Oils
Using essential oils is an excellent way to stimulate the movement of your lymphatic fluid. Research shows that when essential oils are used in aromatherapy massage, it stimulates your immune system and lymphocytes’ production in particular.
One of the most effective lymph-moving essential oils is geranium. Geranium oil not only assists in cleansing your lymph, but it also promotes blood flow and can help support an healthy inflammatory response, as well as work as a supportive antioxidant.
The citrus family of essential oils is also a good choice for lymph movement, including lemon, orange, and grapefruit.
I also love the unique lymph essential oil blend from Vibrant Blue Oils. It is specially formulated to increase circulation of fats and white blood cells within the lymphatic system for optimal delivery of nutrients to cells and removal of waste from the cells.
Herbal remedies are nature’s medicine. These powerful plants often go unrecognized for their ability to help bring balance and vitality to our bodies. Yet, they have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine systems.
When it comes to moving your lymph, cleavers are one of the best herbs to add to your regimen. Research shows that cleavers not only enhance immune cell production but they assist in the movement of both your circulatory and lymphatic system. In doing so, they provide a significant boost to your body’s ability to detox.
Another excellent herb for cleansing, in general, is dandelion. This herb is not only anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but it helps to protect your liver and enhances your ability to produce lymphocytes.
You can find cleavers and dandelion in tinctures, capsules, or you can brew them in water and enjoy them in a tea.
#6 Deep Breathing
Along with being an excellent way to calm your mind, deep breathing also assists in the movement of your lymphatic fluids. When you breathe, your diaphragm moves up and down. This movement of your diaphragm is essential for the return of lymphatic fluid back into your circulation.
As you breathe, you push your lymph along and assist its journey back into your bloodstream, which therefore allows it to pick up and remove more toxins from your system.
Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is centered in your belly instead of your chest. Simply breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of four, hold, and then exhale through your mouth. Within moments you will likely experience a wave of relaxation as your lymph and nervous system begin to find a natural and calm rhythm.
#7 Hot And Cold Showers
One interesting yet very effective way to move your lymph is through hydrotherapy — specifically, hot and cold showers.
When you alternate between hot and cold water, it causes your blood vessels to dilate and then contract. This stimulates the movement of your circulation, which in turn stimulates lymphatic flow.
To perform this type of hydrotherapy, begin by standing under warm to hot water for one or two minutes, then switch to cold water (as cold as you can handle) for 30 seconds. At first, it may seem incredibly uncomfortable, but as you get used to the cold water, this practice becomes easier and easier. You can also start with luke-warm water and work your way up to cold.
Don’t Forget Your Liver
No matter what aspect of health you’re working on, there’s almost always some liver involvement to be aware of. When it comes to lymphatic drainage, your liver plays a key role in supporting detoxification in general and supports the production of lymphatic fluid.
In fact, it’s estimated that your liver produces around 25-50% of the lymphatic fluid in your body. Therefore, if your liver is stagnant, your lymph is going to pay the price as well.
Practices that support your lymph like dry brushing, massage with essential oils, and detoxifying herbs like dandelion all support liver health as well. However, unlike your lymph, you can’t mechanically manipulate your liver’s function — you have to nourish it from the inside-out.
Liver health is something that I personally take very seriously. From years of research, along with trial and error, I’ve found specific research-backed nutrients that contribute to liver health when taken regularly. That’s why I created Daily Detox.
Daily Detox is your all-in-one liver support supplement. It’s packed with nutrients coming from foods and herbs that are known to support the healthy function of your liver.
Your liver is responsible for over 500 functions in your body. When you care for this vital organ, the impact can be felt everywhere — including your lymphatic system.
Your lymphatic system is a crucial part of both immunity and detoxification. As your lymphatic fluid moves through your body, it pulls toxins out of your tissues and supports the flow of nutrients to your cells.
Unfortunately, it’s possible for your lymph to get backed up or stagnant. When this happens, it has a direct impact on detox and immunity.
If you haven’t given your lymph some love in a while, it may be time to start incorporating targeted lifestyle practices to enhance your lymphatic flow. These practices are simple yet effective.
In addition, caring for your liver is a crucial component of lymphatic health. Be sure to incorporate some sort of daily liver-love into your lifestyle practices to support lymphatic drainage.
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