What do you know about your lymph system?
okay, okay, sock it to me guys! I can only imagine what some of you might be thinking...
not a hell of a whole lot.
WHY would I need to...
Little to none and I'm fine with that thank you.
Oh no, here's where she starts with the really out there natural stuff!
I get it!
But you do realize you are talking (well sort of) to a self proclaimed science/biology uber geek right?! Just because I do eastern medicine does not mean for one hot second that I feel it isn't important to know and teach others interesting facts including....
Each person's body contains between 500 and 700 lymph nodes which are tiny organs.
There are more concentrated clusters of lymph nodes in your groin, underarms and neck.
The lymphatic system is (in my world LOVINGLY) sometimes referred to as the sewage system of the body.
The lymphatic system is connected and fluid flows from lymph node to lymph node but only travels in one direction and since there is no pump to move the fluid it is dependent on being physically squeezed by muscles and tissue around them (which movement and massage can assist with).
Okay, either you're with me or I've lost you at clusters in your groin... (Cue the Jerry McGuire type moment where this line is applicable!)
So why do I care about the lymph system you ask?
Well, (in all seriousness) because my own Grandmother died from Lymphatic Cancer waaay too young (just 42 years old, which feels like I'm just around the corner from!) and from a very young age I've been borderline (if I can't lie a little bit to make myself less crazy on my blog where can I?) obsessed with a fear of following in her footsteps. Thankfully, studying chinese medicine gave me a huge reprieve from that obsession and I now think of it very very differently (another blog post I think!) BUT, that said, it still doesn't mean that I feel like I shouldn't be proactive where I can be.
Enter dry brushing to promote lymphatic drainage and movement.
Sounds exciting right?!
Oh, the story I could tell here! Let me give just the brief version and share that the first time I ever experienced body brushing it was at a tres fancy spa at a retreat in Austin TX, where a middle aged man body brushed me raw all the while sharing with me that he was once a suspect for the "mailbox bomber." Because nothing says, $200 massage like a discussion about the FBI and homemade explosives am I right! (How do you gauge how much to tip on that one...)
But after a long swearing off period I learned more about body brushing and now it's a simple, quick, and lovely part of my routine.
So here's the quick and lowdown...
If you move your body in certain ways and/or massage, brush or basically compress certain areas it gets your lymph moving more that in otherwise would. Because the lymphatic system is responsible for detoxing your body and healthy immune response and because the lymphatic system has a tendency to lack movement, gather gunk and yucky accumulations (including potentially cancerous cells) it is nice to help it out. It helps your immune system function in a healthy and balanced way, clears out the gunk...
PLUS, dry body brushing...
-increases circulation to your largest organ - your skin - and make it healthier and more radiant
-decrease dry skin
-may help decrease cellulite by helping breakup and redistribute fat deposits in the skin
-helps calm and regulate the nervous system by gently stimulating nerve endings
-improve muscle tone
-help your body wake up
So here's what you do....
1) Get a nice brush (they aren't expensive) with natural bristles something like
2) BEFORE you shower or bathe (skin should be bare and dry) use the brush and brush from your extremities towards your heart. Being sure to spend extra time and sweep over and past the areas where the majority of the lymph nodes are (groin, armpits & neck). *GO all the way from your arms over your armpits and to your torso for example* You are essentially brushing towards your heart where the subclavicular drainage areas are that drain the gunk out of the lymph system for excretion.
3) Avoid brushing any areas that are red, rashy, etc. and brush as softly or with as much pressure as is comfortable aka use your own good judgement.
4) Ideally this should be done before showering daily or however often you shower, but don't beat yourself up if you do it when you can that's great!
5) Shower as usual :) (and take your brush in to rinse off dead skin and gunk every so often too!
If you want to watch a simple video start with this one:
There are lots of other more in depth patterns and videos with info online too, but you know me... I like quick, moderate and sustainable over elaborate and exhausting!
PS. If nothing other than loving the fact that someone made a website called LymphNotes.com I feel compelled to share the link with TONS of other western type lymph system info, feel free to geek out and join me!
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