You are probably familiar with the term “lymph glands (nodes).” There are hundreds (600-700) of lymph nodes scattered throughout your body. Apart from protecting your body from viruses and bacteria, one of the lymphatic system‘s most important function is to trap and destroy cancer cells. (1) The lymphatic system also removes excess fluid and waste products from the interstitial spaces between your cells.
Basically when your lymphatic system becomes compromised, this fluid can begin to build up, causing an array of issues. That’s why when you are sick, these nodes tend to become swollen because fluid inside them, called “lymph” becomes clogged with waste products and white blood cells.
Because your lymph depends on the motions of your muscle and joints to move it, it’s very important to stay active. This also explains why people who lead a sedentary lifestyle tend to have a weaker immune system.
How To Improve Lymphatic Drainage
Because the lymphatic system is such an integral part of a healthy immune system and keeping your body free of waste and even cancer, it is imperative you assure the lymph continues to move efficiently throughout your body. There are several ways to do this.
1. Keep Moving
Lymph relies on your bodily movements to move through your body. And the best way to do this is by exercising regularly.
Even walking daily can go a long way to helping move lymph that counts on muscular actions to push it up through your body.
Rebounding (using a mini trampoline) is one of the best exercise you can do to move lymph.
The reason this is such a wonderful exercise for moving lymph is that “at the top of the bounce, your body experiences a moment free of gravity and at that time, all of the one-way valves in the lymphatic vessels open to allow the fluid to move upward.”
If you don’t have a rebounder, you can do this by simply bouncing on your toes.
2. Regular Massage
As stated, the key to lymphatic drainage is to move. Moving will cause your muscles to contract, which moves the lymph.
In the same way, massage can help stimulate the flow of the lymph within your capillaries that are located just below your skin.
There are registered therapists that are trained specifically in lymphatic massage, but you can also do this yourself by using gentle pressure to move and stretch your skin in the direction of your heart and away from your lymph nodes. This will help to get the lymph moving and increase detoxification.
3. Castor Oil
Edgar Cayce, a well-known healer stated that castor oil is an effective agent for keeping the lymphatic system clean and moving properly.
As well, William McGarey, a physician in Phoenix, Arizona and author of The Oil That Heals, reports that, “when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system.”(2)
In his book, he states, “in two separate studies patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.”
Researchers know that when your lymphatic system is not working properly, all of the waste and toxins essentially build up, eventually causing you to become sick.
In fact, according to Dr. Mercola, “lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease.”
When castor oil is absorbed through your skin, it can help raise your lymphocyte count, which ultimately means your lymphocytes can increase the amount and speed at which they remove all of the unwanted toxins from your tissues and thus, help you to heal.
One 1999 study published in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, revealed that topical castor oil will not only stimulate the lymphatic system but as well, increase the number of lymphocytes.(3)
When using this treatment, place the castor oil pack on your lower abdomen and/or your liver area.
4. Inversion Table
An inversion table is a perfect way to help move lymph. It is a padded table that essentially allows you to lie upside down while strapped in by your feet.
This process helps to decompress your joints and thus stimulate not only your lymphatic system but also your circulatory system.
By doing this regularly, you allow the blood and oxygen to reach your tissues, which then helps to remove any toxic buildup in your muscles.
Inversion allows you to take advantage of gravity to pull the lymph through your body. (4)
There are several supplements that are known to help with lymph drainage.
Red clover: This herb has been shown to be effective for treating both acute and chronic lymphatic congestion as well as swollen lymph nodes.
As with many herbs, they often work best when combined with other herbs that have complementary actions.
Cleavers (clivers or goosegrass): This herb has been used for centuries to stimulate and help flush out toxins, decrease congestion, and reduce swelling in the lymphatic system.(6)
Manjistha: This herb is best known known for its ability to penetrate deep into the body tissues where toxins accumulate.
It then binds with these toxins and essentially neutralizes them and their damaging effects.
It also helps with removing toxins from the blood as well as cleansing your lymphatic system, liver, kidneys and all other major organs. (7)
Astragalus: This herb can help release congestion and reduce swelling, especially when used with Echinacea. (8)
Bupleurum and rehmannia: These herbs are used in Chinese medicine to treat lymphatic conditions and maintain an efficiently running lymphatic system by naturally removing toxins from deep within your body.
Spanish Black Radish: This herb is shown in studies to induce the body’s detoxification enzymes and support healthy liver and gallbladder function.
It further helps to promote healthy digestion, which in turn, also helps with effective detoxification through the lymph nodes connected at your gut. (9)
Another way help improve lymphatic drainage and ensure healthy lymph function is with the use of enzymes.
Enzymes help break down food and to expedite numerous metabolic processes. They are also essential for helping your body to clear toxic-waste buildup in your lymph and blood.
Take enzymes between meals to help your body digest and breakdown any organic “debris” and toxins in your circulatory and lymph systems, which will help increase lymphatic flow.
Another key action of enzymes is that they can help “ease the burden of allergy-like compounds, freeing the immune fractions traveling in the lymph system for other work,” according to Chalkboard Magazine. (10)
7. Dry Skin Brushing
Your skin is the largest organ on your body. Dry skin brushing is exactly what it sounds like. You run a dry, soft-bristle brush over your bare skin.
Many beauty blogs recommend brushing your limbs and torso, always motioning toward your heart.
Do this for a few minutes every day to increase blood flow and circulation, which will help your body and lymphatic system clear away toxins.