Dry Brushing + The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is part of the vascular system and an important part of the immune system, composed of a large network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph directionally towards the heart and out of major nodes (found in neck, under arms, and in the groin area).
The lymphatic or lymph system involves an extensive network of vessels that passes through almost all our tissues to allow for the movement of a fluid called lymph. Lymph circulates through the body in a similar way to blood.
There are about 600 lymph nodes in the body. These nodes swell in response to infection, due to a build-up of lymph fluid, bacteria, or other organisms and immune system cells.
A person with a throat infection, for example, may feel that their "glands" are swollen. Swollen glands can be felt especially under the jaw, in the armpits, or in the groin area. These are, in fact, not glands but lymph nodes.
The lymph nodes swell in response to infection, due to a build-up of lymph fluid, bacteria, or other organisms and immune system cells.
Think of the lymphatic system as your own personal toxic waste system. When it’s working properly, toxins are filtered out through your lymph system and out through your sweat! This is one of the reasons why it’s important to stop wearing antiperspirant / non natural deodorants. Your underarms are one of the main locations for toxins being drained from your body. It’s important to support this system by using natural deodorants that do not disrupt the process.
But what do these brushes have to do with any of this? Something you may have heard of in the past few years .. Dry Brushing.
What exactly is dry brushing?
Basically, dry brushing is… pretty much just what it sounds like. You take a body brush (look for one with firm, natural bristles, as seen here^) and use it to gently massage your body toward your major lymph nodes (when in doubt, brush toward the heart). This process brightens, the skin and also makes your moisturizer more effective, as it sloughs off dead skin. Best to dry brush right before heading into the shower to wash the dead skin away.
If you've noticed that your skin is all red after dry brushing, it's not just a result of irritation, and it actually isn't wholly a bad thing. The redness, which is just a bit of inflammation, is the result of increased circulation in the areas you've been dry brushing. Your body is pushing more blood to those areas, which leads us to our second benefit:
Aside from leaving you with glowing skin, dry brushing can encourage lymphatic drainage. All blood carries lymph fluid, which filters through the lymph nodes. Through dry brushing, you get the blood pumping through at a faster rate, which helps get the lymph through the body, therefore removing toxins and pathogens more quickly.
Dry brushing is a simple way to support your lymphatic system. Using long, light, repetitive strokes directly on your skin in a particular pattern (videos and diagrams can be found online - when in doubt brush toward the heart) can help increase circulation and improve lymphatic flow.
Face Dry Brushing Technique:
It is important to follow the flow of your lymphatic and blood stream when dry brushing. So guides like this one, and the video at the end of this post are great resources to learn from.
Due to the amount of synthetic and poor quality ingredients our bodies take in these days, our lymphatic systems get overworked and blockages can occur. Blockages can also occur due to lack of proper hydration, lack of exercise, prolonged sitting (desk jobs), etc.
By adding dry brushing into your routine you can drastically improve circulation and support your lymphatic system. One of the most important systems in our bodies.
As a general rule of thumb, dry-brush only one to two times per week. And don't forget to wash your brush with natural shampoo at least twice a month. If you have ultra-sensitive skin, try dry brushing once every couple of weeks to start :)
Links to our Dry Brushes:
A great video explaining how to dry brush your body: