Optimal lymphatic flow is vital for beauty and overall well-being. But it’s only just recently getting the PR it deserves.
So we want to give the lymphatic system the credit it deserves – because, for decades, it’s been overlooked, underappreciated and almost neglected in teachings and textbooks. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this crucial system and the role it plays in helping you create a more vibrant, beautiful life.
THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM 101
The lymphatic system is the body’s natural cleansing and filtering system (think: your body’s personal plumbing service) and is responsible for:
- removing waste + harmful substances
- recycling nutrients back into the bloodstream
- sustaining healthy cells
- strengthening immunity
- supporting digestion
- maintaining homeostasis within the body
Clearly, it has a BIG job to do and is intricately connected and plays a crucial part in the health of every other system and organ within the body – especially the circulatory, immune, nervous and digestive systems.
Our body’s natural detoxification system is a complex network of hundreds of nodes + one-way vessels that sits just below the surface of the skin, collecting and sweeping away waste, toxins, pathogens and impurities. And because of today’s toxic society and adopting more sedentary lifestyles, we must be even more diligent in supporting lymphatic drainage.
However, a healthy lymphatic system requires a little help on your end and support from external forces to get things flowing
Because here’s the thing: this system doesn’t have an internal pump to assist these processes (unlike the circulatory system that is propelled by the heart that continually pumps blood) and we have 3x more lymphatic fluid than blood in our bodies – so having a fully functioning lymphatic system fully relies on YOU. But, no pressure. 😉
Without manual support to stimulate lymphatic drainage, this system can become blocked or clogged. Just like a sedentary, stagnant lifestyle can lead to serious health issues (have you heard that sitting is considered the new smoking?), it works the same way for the lymphatic system.
If lymphatic flow is stagnant or congested, it slows down all of the vital functions we mentioned above and cellular health starts to significantly decline – leading to signs of aging, dullness, puffiness, sensitivities, acne and inflammation. Not to mention, brain fog, fatigue, gut issues, serious health conditions and degenerative diseases.
Simply put, lymphatic stagnation is. not. good.
It’s through movement and flow that the skin + body are detoxified and nourished. Think of a stagnant, muddy pond vs a fresh flowing river. That’s your lymphatic system. Which one do you want within you? Well, the good news is that you hold the power to work with your body to help clear that fluid and create a fresh flow of health and healing, from head to toe!
So here are 8 simple, accessible (and fun!) tips to activate your body’s natural cleansing + detoxification system and to awaken your skin’s natural glow from within.
P.S. I’ve been personally trying out these tips and must say, they’re nothing short of life-changing. Spoiler alert: My skin’s never looked better and after incorporating these rituals, I feel more clear, energized and (not to sound too dramatic or anything 😉 ) I feel more ALIVE.
Awaken your lymphatic system (and your inner child!) by jumping on a mini-trampoline (aka a rebounder). Rebounding is by far one of the most effective forms of exercise to support lymphatic drainage and studies have shown it can increase lymph flow up to 30 times – and immune functions by hundreds of times!
Because lymphatic vessels flow vertically throughout the body, rebounding is believed to be the best, most beneficial way to activate the lymphatic system (and every cell in your body!) due to its same vertical motions, continuous contraction + relaxation of muscles and tissues along with the gravitational pull caused by bouncing.
More benefits from a regular rebounding practice include:
- Stimulates lymphatic drainage and profound full-body detoxification
- Improves digestion (which also impacts your lymphatic system)
- Increases mitochondrial health and cell renewal
- Optimizes circulation and oxygen flow throughout the body and brain
- Positively supports the thyroid and adrenals
Bounce your way to better lymphatic flow, flush out toxins and boost immunity – all while having so much fun! (Our team has a blast rebounding during office breaks – and it’s helped to also boost productivity and creativity, too!). Low-impact and lymphatic-boosting, bounce daily for about 10 minutes for maximum lymph benefits.
Here’s one of the best ways to rebound for lymphatic health – and it’s been dubbed: the lymph bounce. Gently bounce up and down, but without your feet ever leaving the trampoline! That’s the key. (But of course, you can also jump a bit more vigorously for cardio and to boost blood flow.)
Don’t have a tramp? Simple exercises like yoga (especially inversions such as headstands or legs up the wall), stretching or walking all work to get lymph flowing and support detoxification too. Simply put, when you move, lymph moves. So try to make movement a daily habit for healthy lymphatics – and a healthy life.
Brush away dead skin cell buildup, clear out stagnation, release toxins and open pathways for optimal lymphatic drainage, from head to toe – and in 2 minutes!
This ritual has been practiced for centuries in cultures all across the world, but dry brushing’s rich history is deeply rooted in India’s most ancient holistic healing system, Ayurveda. Known as Garshana, this traditional detoxification ritual is practiced to support the removal of stagnant waste (also known as ama) from the body to promote optimal vitality and longevity.
Here’s how to do it: Before showering, brush using light, gentle strokes moving from your extremities towards your heart (this motion follows the pathways of the lymph vessels). It only takes a couple minutes a few times a week but has a long list of benefits including boosting blood flow (and in turn, lymphatic fluid), increasing immunity, improving the appearance of skin and aiding in detoxification.
2 minutes to a healthier lifestyle and lymphatic system? Yes, please.
Speaking of dry brushing… we can’t wait to release a brand new beauty tool SOON! Stay tuned for this 2-minute lymphatic-loving ritual that’s going to change your skin.
A lymphatic activator and toxin eliminator you always have access to – your breath. While short, shallow breathing can lead to lymph stagnation, deep, diaphragmatic breathing (aka belly breathing) encourages the movement of lymph and dramatically increases the elimination of toxins.
The thoracic duct is the largest lymphatic vessel (draining the majority of lymph fluid) and movement through your breath in your diaphragm helps to contract this vessel and accelerate lympahtic drainage. Plus slow, conscious breaths not only optimize lymphatic flow, but helps to decrease stress and engage the parasympathetic nervous system (something we all need more of in today’s culture).
Follow this simple breathing practice with 3-5 breaths at a time, a few times a day:
- Inhale through your nose for 3 counts (letting your belly expand)
- Hold breath for 3 counts
- Exhale through your mouth for 6 counts (letting your belly sink towards your spine)
Breath Tip: Try laying on your back with your knees bent for a more beneficial breathing experience – and remember, the exhale is everything. Elongating your exhale helps to oxygenate the blood and activate the lymphatic system even more effectively.
LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE MASSAGE
Gentle massage movements awaken the lymphatic system, detoxify skin tissue and deeply support the nervous system. Whether you opt for a body tool or book yourself in for a professional Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage, this is one lymph-loving practice you’ll definitely want to try asap for benefits that you’ll experience immediately – in body, mind and soul.
The intentional shape of this wooden tool along with light massage motions following the pathways of lymphatic flow on the body makes you feel like you just had a massage – but from home! This is such a powerful way to promote drainage, release toxins and visibly improve the appearance of skin.
A full-body massage or facial also work wonders in releasing fascia, loosening connective tissue and simultaneously supporting healthy lymph flow. Schedule a professional massage with a therapist certified in Manual Lymphatic Drainage for a treatment that incorporates the proper pressure, direction and speed for optimal lymphatic drainage.
Cleanse your body inside and out with cold showers (or alternating between warm + cold) to get stagnant lymph moving. Trust me, this tip isn’t as terrible as it sounds! Coldwater causes blood vessels to contract (vasoconstriction) and expand (vasodilation) – stimulating circulation and in turn, pumping your lymphatic vessels.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to do a polar bear plunge straightaway or keep the temp cold the entire time – you can work your way up to colder temperatures for longer periods of time or try oscillating between warm and cold water. After enjoying the warmth of your shower, finish with about 60 seconds of cold water to really wake up your systems and support your wellness within.
This lymphatic-boosting tip can help to powerfully improve immunity, metabolism and your mind + body connection, even productivity and creativity. The trick is to focus on slow, deep breaths (remember your diaphragmatic breath ritual from above!) even when the water temperature drops, this helps to support stress levels and allows you to actually enjoy the fresh flow of water – and lymphatic fluid!
We’re big fans of hydrotherapy at the PP HQ and our Founder, Bethany, regularly takes cold showers (and you’ll find me swimming in the freezing ocean first thing in the morning) and our in-house how-to girl, Sarah, is writing more on this topic next week, so stay tuned!
Another way to let the healing benefits of water help stimulate lymphatic drainage is by taking an epsom salt bath! Soak your stress away (remember, destressing is so important for lymphatic health!) while also supporting detoxification. And if you’re unable to exercise for any reason, this is one way to get fluid moving without actually moving. 😉
Dehydration is one of the biggest culprits of a sluggish lymphatic system. Lymph is largely comprised of water (96%!) and requires adequate hydration to flow properly and remove waste most effectively. Every day our bodies lose fluid (from excess sweating, chemicals, dehydrating diets and more) so it’s essential to up our hydration intake – and quality.
Here are a few ways to boost hydration in the body on a daily basis:
- Add sea salt, lemon and even chia seeds to your water for deeper, longer-lasting hydration.
- Eat your water! Add in more water-rich fruits and veg into your diet.
- Sip warm water throughout the day.
- Incorporate more green juices/smoothies to support hydration + digestion.
And of course, give your body only pure, living water to help flush out toxins instead of contributing to heavy metal or toxic buildup in your body.
After all this movement talk, now you can cozy up on the couch with a hot mug of herbal tea for lymph support. 😉 Try adding these adaptogens and herbs to your daily diet to promote flow from within. This list of herbs are extremely beneficial in de-stagnating lymph and expediting detoxification – while also boosting immunity, stimulating circulation, supporting the gut and giving you radiant skin!
- Red clover
You can take these herbs in the form of supplements, tinctures or teas! Try making a lymph-loving infusion by steeping herbs overnight (at least 8+ hours for maximum benefit) and sipping in the morning. Plus this helps enhance hydration which we know is also essential for a happy lymphatic system!
Proven to have a positive impact on the lymphatic system, infrared rays support detoxification at a cellular level. Natural and non-invasive, these invisible rays are able to penetrate tissue (without the harmful effects of UV rays) to help optimize lymph node functioning, facilitate proper lymph flow and drainage along with targeting toxins in the cells for a deeper detox and healing.
Exposing your skin and body to infrared light on a regular basis (for about 10-20 minutes a few times a week) helps to increase your core temperature which in turn stimulates circulation and, as we’ve learned, creates a ripple effect to get lymphatic fluid flowing. Along with activating these processes above, following benefits can also be experienced within the body:
- restore immunity
- reduce inflammation
- expedite healing
- rejuvenate tissues
- improve mitochondria function
- increased relaxation + nervous system support
- deliver a fresh flow of blood, vital nutrients and oxygen
- help balance hormones
- boosting your mind and mindset!
For the best results, find a sauna or smaller device that incorporates multi-wavelengths (the most effective wavelengths can range from 630-670 and 810-880) to work with the body at differing levels for a wider range of health benefits for the surrounding blood vessels, lymph pathways, nerves, and even skin.
Now that we know how life-giving lymphatic drainage is, we want to challenge (and encourage!) you to commit to these practices. Find ways to incorporate at least a couple lymph-loving practices every single day!
Here’s one example of an easy, daily routine that loves on your lymphatic system – and the one I’ve been following for several weeks that has been literally life-changing.
- Wake up and drink warm water with sea salt, lemon and chia seeds.
- Rebound, practice yoga or stretch for 10 minutes.
- Dry brush.
- Shower and oscillate between warm and cold water.
- Apply Body Oil and incorporate a lymphatic paddle.
- Take multiple breaks at work to practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing.
- Wind down with an epsom salt bath or an infrared sauna session.
- Sip a lymph-loving herbal tea (or make an infusion for the next morning)
- Get to bed on time and take a moment of gratitude for all the ways you loved on your lymphatic system (and self) all day long.
We hope these tips help you create a more connected relationship with your lymphatic system and that you fall in love with these practices, your skin’s new glow and a fresh feeling of clarity, vitality and abundant living.
And stay tuned for more lymph-loving resources and education all month long!