Friday, October 06, 2017

7 Ways to Naturally Stimulate the Lymphatic System

Want to give your body a fighting chance come cold and flu season? In addition to being smart about washing hands, getting vaccinated, and avoiding areas of flu outbreak, you might want to consider boosting your own lymphatic flow.

What exactly is the lymphatic system? You may have had a doctor check you for swollen lymph nodes when you have felt under the weather so you’ve likely heard the term before. Lymph nodes are a key component to the lymphatic system, an intricate network of lymphatic vessels, nodes, glands, organs, and ducts through which lymph fluid flows helping to filter out toxins from your system and fight potential infections.

Unlike your circulatory system which pumps blood from the heart all around your body (upwards of 2,000 gallons a day!), your lymphatic system relies on the contracting and relaxing of muscles to push fluid down and around through lymphatic vessels and back up to the heart to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Lymph fluid carries white blood cells with it which play an important role in detecting pathogens (infectious viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc) and eliminating them before they spread. The glands and organs of the lymphatic system including the tonsils and spleen help to filter out toxin build-up and waste by-products that could potentially make you ill.

There are many ways you can naturally stimulate your own lymphatic system, some of which might surprise you:

Dry Brushing - brushing your skin in long upwards strokes from your feet and hands inwards towards you chest with a dry brush has been shown to trigger lymphatic drainage. The best skin brushes for dry brushing will have long handles and coarse bristles made with natural hair. Dry brushing also serves as an exfoliator, helping to clear skin congestion and soften skin tone and texture.

Inversion -  while gravity does its job pulling you towards the earth and keeping you from floating into the sky, when it comes to supporting a lymphatic flow back up towards your heart, gravity isn’t helping. That’s where inversion, or hanging upside down with secure foot straps, comes into play. Inverting the body helps to decompress joints and fill muscles and tissues with blood where the lymphatic system then drains the toxic build-up.

Rebounding - don’t skip out, join your kids on the trampoline, it could be good for your health! Rebounding, or essentially jumping up and down on a bouncy surface like a trampoline for at least ten minutes passively mobilizes lymph flow and boosts your blood circulation too.

Massage - manual lymphatic drainage techniques, or lymphatic massage, can be used to boost lymph flow through targeted, deep pressure manipulation of muscles and tissues. Stagnant lymph fluid will build up with toxins and congest the entire system; specialty massage like this can help mobilize that fluid and get it flowing once more to be filtered out.

Practicing Yoga - the gentle, flowing movements, stretches, and poses of yoga are great for enhancing flexibility, while the deep breathing practice and meditation supports stress relief and mindfulness. When it comes to boosting lymphatic flow though, it is many of the inversion poses of yoga which help, as well as the twisting and contorting that causes a natural contraction and release of muscles which the lymphatic system relies on.

Drinking Water - staying properly hydrated essentially helps to flush the lymphatic system along, preventing lymph fluid from sitting and building up more toxins. While drinking glasses of water regularly throughout the day helps, so does eating water-rich foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, soups, and smoothies.

Hydrotherapy - sure a nice warm soak in the bath sounds lovely, but when it comes to lymphatic flow, alternating between cold and warm water is actually key. Best done in the shower, switching from hot to cold water when bathing will cause your muscle tissues and blood vessels to expand, contract, expand, contract, and so on. This acts like a natural pump to cue the movement of fluid through your lymphatic system as well as kick start your immune system.

This is a guest blog entry.

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