How much do you know about lymph drainage?
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
- acne and skin problems
- ENT problems such as sinusitis
- difficulty losing weight
- digestive issues
- puffiness in face, neck, ankles
- hormone imbalances
- itchy skin/eczema
- joint pain
- muscle stiffness
The symptoms of a poorly functioning lymphatic system are so wide ranging as it affects every part and system in our body.
What is lymph?
Lymph is a colourless fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system which runs alongside the circulatory (blood) system. It maintains fluid balance in the body and acts as a filter against microbes, organic wastes, toxins and other debris. It carries lymphocytes throughout the body to fight against infections.
Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system has no pump so it can easily become sluggish which affects its functioning. So, we need to give it a little help – think of your lymph as a clear flowing stream rather than a stagnant pond!
How can you support your lymphatic system?
Here are some simple things you can incorporate into your life to help your lymph flow and overall health:
- Movement – any exercise is good. Whether you prefer cardio, strength training or dancing or walking, cycling or swimming, movement gets your lymph flowing. If you have a sedentary job, make time to move during the day.
- Breathing – deep diaphragmatic or belly breathing is amazing for both your nervous system and your lymphatic system. Take a few minutes to practice this every day. When you breathe in, expand your belly and you should feel your diaphragm (the dome-shaped band of muscle at the bottom of your ribcage) move downwards. As you breathe in, your belly deflates and your diaphragm moves up. This movement helps lymph flow.
- Yoga – the perfect combination of movement and deep breathing that uses muscles throughout the body. Specific poses such as inversions and twists can help support lymph flow.
- Massage and self-massage and Gua Sha – the lymphatic system is located just beneath the skin so light pressure touch is required. Try gentle stroking movements down the side of your neck down to your collar bone.
- Reflexology – in particular a specific branch of reflexology known as RLD or Reflexology Lymph Drainage has been shown in a study to reduce lymphedema (swelling in the arm) of breast cancer patients who had lymph nodes removed.
- Dry brushing – after a shower is best if you’d like to affect your lymph. Brush towards your heart and avoid brushing over irritated skin or wounds.
- Re-bounding – bouncing on a mini-trampoline is easier on your joints than running. Rebounding is so good for lymph flow as it acts as a pump against gravity to propel lymph up towards your heart. Try 5 to 10 minutes a day.
- Drink water – lymph is 95% water so it makes sense to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water will help to flush out toxins and it’s advised to drink more after carrying out any lymph drainage treatments or self-care .
- Include garlic, onions, cloves, cayenne, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, curry in your diet – not only are these beneficial for heart health but they also relax the lymph vessels to accentuate flow
- Sauna – sweating helps rid the body of toxins. Try an infra red sauna which is more comfortable to sit in than a traditional sauna.
Lymph Drainage Treatments
If you’d like to try a professional treatment, I offer lymph drainage treatments via the face and neck and through the feet.
You can enjoy my bespoke Detox Facial Flow treatment that combines Thai Herbal Poultice Massage with Dr Vodder’s Method of Manual Lymph Drainage (just the MLD part of the treatment is available on request).
You can also receive the innovative Reflexology Lymph Drainage treatment as part of a regular reflexology session. More information is available here:
Research – Reflexology for the management of secondary lymphoedema in patients affected by treatment for breast cancer: An exploratory study.
Authors: Sally Kay, Judith Whatley, Philip Harris (European Journal of Integrative Medicine Volume 4, Issue 3, Pages e359-e360, Sept. 2012)
Lymph & Longevity The Untapped Secret to Health by Dr Gerald M. Lemole
The Book of Lymph by Lisa Levitt Gainsley CLT