A major part of being healthy is to ensure that any toxins that enter our system are effectively identified by the body and escorted out in a harmless fashion. There are many systems, organs, and glands in place to make sure this occurs, but unfortunately, many of them have become clogged and compromised to the point of complete dysfunction. One of those important systems that aid in the removal of toxins and has become incapacitated in many ways, is the lymphatic system.
Purpose of the lymphatic system and signs it is clogged
The lymphatic system is a complex drainage or “sewer” system that consists of glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland, and tonsils. Its role is to cleanse our cells by absorbing excess fluids, fats, and toxins from our tissues and into the blood where it can eventually be filtered out by the liver and kidneys.
Unfortunately, due to our toxic burden, nutritional deficiencies, and relative inactivity, this system has become increasingly polluted. If you suffer from any of the following, it may be a sign your lymphatic system needs a serious cleanse:
- Skin conditions
- Unexplained injuries
- Excess weight or cellulite
- Chronic fatigue
- Sinus infections
- Digestive disorders
If you identify with any of these conditions, you will want to strongly consider incorporating the following 10 factors to help cleanse your lymphatic system.
If you have a toxic lymphatic system, the best approach is to start slow on the exercise, and be consistent. Think of the tortoise rather than the hare in the beginning and as you get more energy you can incorporate more vigorous and intense exercise.
One of the easiest, safest, and most profound exercise you can incorporate is rebounding. This is the simple act of lightly bouncing up and down on a “mini trampoline”, which is the perfect movement for stimulating lymph flow, and toning other detoxification organs as well.
If exercising isn’t in your wheelhouse yet, or you want to add on some additional body work, you can also consider alternative treatments that can get the lymph flowing.
A lymphatic drainage massage is one easy way to detoxify your lymph system as a skilled practitioner will stimulate circulation and drain fat, fluids, toxins, and other waste products away from your cells for proper elimination.
Acupuncture, an ancient and effective TCM treatment, also helps open up pathways (meridians) in your body to help stimulate lymph flow and help remove toxins from the body.
An infrared sauna is also an excellent and easy option, as the sweat excreted through your skin can help release the toxic burden on your lymphatic system and allow it to work more effectively.
Hot and cold showers
Although it may seem a little sadistic, a hot and cold shower has merit when it comes to benefiting the lymphatic system. The hot water helps dilate the blood vessels, and the cold contracts them, creating a “pump” action that helps force fluid that may be stagnant in the system.
Since your lymph system has no central pump of its own, this therapy and others which stimulate this type of action are great solutions to get it flowing properly again.
Caution is required when using this therapy if you have a heart condition or are pregnant.
Use dry brushing
Using a natural bristle brush, brush your dry skin in a circular motion before showering. Start with your feet and move towards the torso, and do the same from your fingers to the chest. You want to flow in the same direction as your lymph circulates, towards the heart.
This stimulates the lymphatic system into action as well, and helps open up the pores for easier toxin removal (a hot and cold shower after this dry brushing session would be ideal).
Drink adequate amounts of clean water
You’ve heard it before – drink your water! However, I must point out that if you don’t properly source your water, you’re actively adding to your toxic burden by ingesting easily absorbed toxins often present in water such as fluoride, chlorine, VOC’s, and more.
So, ensure you are investing in a filtration system proven to work well, or look to get spring water from an approved source free of these types of contaminants. Then you can safely consume up to half your body weight in ounces of water a day (160 lbs = 80 ounces of water).
To make sure you get this right, consult our Guide To Drinking Water. Don’t be afraid to add a little lemon juice as well.
Avoid restrictive clothing
It’s important to not wear tight clothing that can cut off proper circulation within the lymphatic system. This can cause blockages to occur and toxins to build up in different areas of the body.
Areas of particular importance where this may occur is bras for women that may be too tight in the axillary lymph node area (armpit area), and in the inguinal lymph node area (groin) where tight fitting underwear could cause a problem over time.
It’s fine to wear something tight from time to time, but avoid being excessive and keep the bra off as much as possible.
Another method of “pumping” lymph properly comes from deep breathing. Since our bodies have 3x more lymph fluid than blood, this exercise becomes increasingly important in order to get the toxins into the blood so they can be detoxified by your liver and kidneys.
So breathe deeply, and exhale smoothly to facilitate this process.
Eat foods that promote lymph flow
Eating a clean, nutrient rich, and mostly raw food diet rooted in produce is the first step to promoting healthy lymph flow. Some particularly cleansing foods for the lymphatic system include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Low sugar fruits
- Ground flaxseed
- Brazil nuts
These types of foods will help provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, EFA’s, and enzymes to cleanse your lymphatic system more efficiently.
Avoid foods, personal care products, and environments that cause lymph stagnation
Half the battle of cleansing your system is providing it with enough power to do so, and that can’t be accomplished if you keep polluting your body with a variety of toxins.
This means avoiding conventional personal care products loaded with parabens, petroleum, and phthalates, and staying out of heavily polluted areas by opting for more oxygen rich environments.
In addition to that, avoiding the following foods are critical to improving your lymphatic health:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Conventional dairy
- Conventionally raised meat
- Refined grains
- Processed foods
- Preservatives and additives (MSG, colours, etc)
- Table salt
- Baked goods
For a short list of the worst and most common toxic ingredients to avoid like the plague , read Ingredients to Avoid – Top 10.
Take herbs that stimulate lymph flow
Herbs are great natural stimulators, and when used appropriately can be very useful for kickstarting various areas of the body. Your lymphatic system is no different.
Some great herbs to consider for teas, juices, and more include:
- Wild indigo root
- Red clover
As with most chronic conditions, a multi-faceted approach is often the only way to do a proper clean up of any system, and that goes for the lymphatic system as well. So be sure to layer in all of these factors for a much more comprehensive cleanse, and enjoy the improved health that comes with rejuvenating the lymphatic system.