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Lymphatic System

Lymphatic System Image

Fit as a Fiddle

Ever wonder why you tend to get sick more often when you are stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed? Well, the lymphatic system is a key component in keeping yourself healthy. Let’s dive deeper into the wonderful world of lymphatic drainage. I promise, it’s not as gross as it sounds!


“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise, we will not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”



Sick and Tired

According to Wikipedia, “the lymphatic system is an organ system in vertebrates that is part of the immune system, and complementary to the circulatory system. It consists of a large network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, lymphatic or lymphoid organs, and lymphoid tissues. The vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph back towards the heart, for re-circulation*.” The other main function of the lymphatic system is immune support. The lymph is able to carry antibodies and bacteria to the parts of the body that need it. If there is too much long-term stress in the body, your lymphatic system is prevented from flowing freely and the cortisol that is running rampant can eventually atrophy the lymphatic system. When this happens, the toxins that should be carried out of your body by lymphatic drainage stay right where they are. And since things are slow moving, your antibodies can’t get to the places that need them fast enough, leading to increased chances of illness. You will start feeling rundown, bloated and even have swollen glands when those lymphatic pathways are obstructed.



The Picture of Health

Now you’re probably wondering what you can do to keep your lymph flowing free and clear. Well, lucky for you, we have a list! There are many things that contribute to a healthy lymphatic system, like exercise, drinking lots of water, a healthy diet and managing stress. In addition to those, there are some less studied albeit trending with ancient roots that could be very simple additions to your daily routine


First, let’s talk about dry brushing. This is said to be an ancient holistic method for promoting lymphatic drainage. You can practice this by taking a bristle brush to dry skin and brushing toward the heart to promote circulation. This process also claims to exfoliate and open pores as a way to prepare the skin to release toxins when followed by a warm bath or shower. There is no firm evidence of this; however it has been a practice in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years!


Next up is the practice of ‘gua sha’, which is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most popularly, gua sha is being used on the upper body and face to promote lymphatic drainage. It can be done using your hands or most commonly, a gua sha tool which is made of jade, quartz or bone. Whichever tool you choose, you will need to use a facial oil like rose hip seed oil or argan oil to allow the tool to glide along the skin with ease. You will run the tool along certain pathways in the neck and face repeatedly to get the lymph flowing toward the lymph nodes and ultimately to where it belongs. You can search YouTube for gua sha techniques and undoubtedly get hundreds of video results that will show you exactly how to do it. Even if free flowing lymph is not one of your goals, the practice of gua sha is currently a very popular self-care or self-maintenance practice!


Another method used for moving lymph is lymphatic drainage massage (LDM). This is similar to gua sha in that it is a manual manipulation of certain areas to get things moving. However, the LDM is done over the whole body and can be used to not only move stagnant lymph, but to relieve pain caused by excessive swelling caused by lymphedema. Usually the first step of this massage is to get the lymph moving and released from where it has been stuck. The second part of the massage is to get that lymph where it needs to go. LDM may also be an effective technique for certain serious conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. It is best to speak to your health care provider before getting a lymphatic drainage massage. 


A New Lease on Life

Once your lymphatic system is back to flowing the way it should be, you may see the benefits that good lymph circulation brings.  For example, healthier skin, reduced swelling and bloating, relaxation, less headaches, quicker healing after an injury or illness, and a stronger immune system. With all the options that are available, let us know your favorite way to get that lymph moving!



**Additional Resources


Stress and its effect on the lymphatic system - Body Ballancer

Lymphatic system - Wikipedia

Rescue Your Lymph From Stress... Before It's Too Late! | John Douillard's LifeSpa - YouTube

Is Your Lymph Making You Sick and Tired? - Institute for Restorative Health

How Your Lymphatic System Works | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Dry brushing: Benefits, myths, and how to dry brush (

How to Use Gua Sha for Tension, Puffiness, & Lymphatic Drainage (

Lymphatic Drainage Massage: What it Is, Benefits & How To Do It (

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