Ah, the lymphatic system. The poor, often ignored and rarely understood lymphatic system.
This unsung hero is essential for the body’s natural detoxification process, hormonal health and balance, immune health, and healthy, clear skin.
So let’s take a closer look and sing ALL of its many many praises, plus chat about how to support this essential system for wellness within and glowing skin.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic or lymph system involves an extensive network of vessels that transport a fluid called lymph.
The lymphatic system runs throughout the body similar to the circulatory system.
But whereas the circulatory system has a pump (the heart), the lymphatic system does not. (source) As a result, lymph fluid can easily get stagnant.
What does the lymphatic system do?
And why is a healthy lymphatic system essential for health and wellness?
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND DETOXIFICATION
Again, lymph fluid carries wastes and toxins away from tissues. It’s therefore a key detox pathway and necessary for proper detoxification.
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Have you ever noticed that your lymph nodes in your neck or armpits get swollen when you’re sick?
This is because the lymphatic system is a key part of the body’s immune system, working hard to fight off whatever has you under the weather.
Lymph fluid carries virus- and infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body.
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND HORMONAL BALANCE
Proper detoxification is essential for healthy, balanced hormones, as the body detoxes excess and used hormones as well as toxins and wastes. This is why supporting the body’s natural detox pathways is foundational to supporting hormonal health.
Just as important of not more: lymphatic fluid also helps circulate the essential hormone progesterone throughout the body.
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM AND SKIN HEALTH
Stagnant lymph also impacts the appearance of the skin a.k.a. our body’s largest organ!
When lymph is stagnant, toxins and wastes can accumulate, leading to puffiness, dullness, and breakouts.
How can you keep your lymphatic system healthy?
Needless to say, we need lymph to flow (flow, FLOW!) for optimal health and a healthy glow.
Luckily, there are some very simple strategies to keep your lymph moving and grooving for a healthy lymphatic system and all the far-reaching benefits that come with it!
6 simple ways to boost lymphatic drainage and flow
1. Get moving!
The number one reason lymph becomes stagnant is simply because we spend so much time sitting on our bootays these days (yes yes, I’m a poet.)
Exercise and movement stimulates lymphatic flow throughout the body. This is just another major benefit of exercise and motivation to get up and moving!
The best exercises for lymphatic flow involve jumping or bouncing: running, rebounding, jumping jacks, and jump roping. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes each day, and to build up to 30 if you’re able.
2. Dry body brushing
Though dry body brushing has become incredibly popular in recent years — with well known wellness “gurus” like Gwyneth Paltrow and supermodels like Miranda Kerr singing its praises — this simple skincare-meets-full-body-wellness practice definitely isn’t anything new.
It’s actually been used as a tool in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries now.
Nope, it was NOT invented by Goop! (And I’m pretty sure I got hooked years before Gwyneth — just saying. Plus the Body Unburdened dry body brush kicks Goop’s brush’s snooty butt!)
Dry body brushing is exactly what it sounds like: brushing your dry skin with a dry brush.
When done following the proper technique, this is a FANTASTIC way to support lymphatic flow on a regular basis.
It also provides skin with an amazing exfoliation, increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production for smoother and firmer skin, preventing ingrown hairs, and reducing keratosis pilaris a.k.a. chicken skin. For this reason, many devotees swear that it helps reduce the appearance of cellulite!
For all the details on dry body brushing including the proper technique, check out my blog post: 4 Benefits of Dry Body Brushing That Will Have You Hooked on This Ayurvedic Practice
3. Let’s up the wall yoga pose
Don’t let the simplicity of this yoga pose fool you! (And yes, it’s a real yoga pose — Viparita Karani.) It’s a wonderful way to drain lymph from the legs to the lymph nodes in the groin.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit down on the floor next to a wall.
- Swing your legs up the wall while laying your back down on the floor.
- Scoot your bottom towards the wall until they’re touching.
- Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes, breathing deeply while you’re down there.
4. Gua sha facial massage
Have you tried gua sha yet!? Like dry body brushing, it’s become very trendy in recent years but has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Gua sha helps move and drain lymphatic fluid plus increase circulation to the skin and smooth fascia tissue beneath the skin.
What does this mean for your skin? Less puffiness, more clarity, more nutrients to the skin, reduced fine lines over time, and an undeniable GLOW!
For me, I’ve personally seen the biggest improvement with the puffiness under my eyes and in my cheeks, and the “11s” between my brows.
Gua sha is traditionally practiced with gemstone tools. A flat stone like the Body Unburdened gua sha stone with a comb edge are the most common and traditional, though if you’re tight on time and typically find personal care falling to the bottom of your to-do list (feel ya!) the rose quartz gua sha mushrooms allow you to massage both sides of your face at the same time and to help you make gua sha a regular part of your routine.
… this is important because you’ll see the most benefits from gua sha when it’s practiced regularly — 2-3 times a week!
Learn more about gua sha in this blog post: Gua Sha: The 5-Minute Face Massage that Gives Skin a MAJOR Glow
5. Deep belly breathing
Deep belly breathing helps stimulate lymphatic flow and drainage in the abdomen. It’s also a wonderful way to relax! Two great reasons to make this simple practice part of your daily wellness routine.
Simply find a quiet space and 3-5 minutes of free time. Gently place your hands on your stomach. Breathe in for a count of 8 seconds, feeling your belly fill with air, then out for another count of 8 seconds, and continue.
6. Keep hydrated
Lymphatic fluid is primarily made of water.
So needless to say, dehydration can cause the lymphatic system to slow down.
This is just one more reason to hit your hydration goal each day! Remember: aim to drink half your body weight in oz of water, plus more to make up for any diuretics and exercise.
So what do you say? Ready to get that lymph flowing!?
Figured you’d be!