The Lymphatic System
Our body is a vessel superhighway. Arteries, veins and lymph vessels run in parallel supplying the tissues with nutrients, removing wastes and transporting blood cells. Lymph vessels are the body's sewer system. It is where toxins and wastes of cellular metabolism are brought back to the heart for distribution and finally excretion.
Wastes found in the lymph system are fat soluble. This means that any fat soluble pesticide, hormone or vitamin will be excreted into lymph for removal. Also found in the lymph are fatty acids.
Another function of the lymph system is to transport white blood cells (WBCs) and antigen presenting calls (APCs) between the lymph nodes and organs of the lymph system: spleen, adenoids, tonsils and thymus gland. WBCs are the faithful soldiers of infection, while APCs are the cells responsible for the immune system's ability to recognize a foreign invader. The lymph system is a very important component of immunity!
Factors that impede the lymph system from moving properly, allowing waste to be excreted are:
- heart failure, salty diet, overweight/obesity, tight clothing, sedentary lifestyle, trauma, infection, scar tissue or surgery.
SKIN BRUSHING TO THE RESCUE
What is it?
Skin brushing is the art of moving the lymph through the vessels, from the periphery to the heart, to help reduce swelling, improve lymph circulation and remove toxins from the body. Skin brushing greatly enhances a detoxification protocol by sloughing off dead skin cells, opening pores, helping the skin regenerate and eliminate toxins.
How does it work?
Lymph flows unidirectionally. Just like veins, there are one way valves in lymph vessels that prevent back flow. And also like veins, lymph depends on the contractions of muscles to move it through the vessels. Skin brushing with a rough skin brush moves the lymph through the vessels back towards the heart where it can eventually be excreted into the intestine for removal from the body.
Skin brushing is best done with a natural bristle brush that is quite firm but not painful to use. There are different brushes for the face and body to reflect the sensitivity of the skin. The goal of skin brushing is to start at the periphery of the body working your way back to the heart. This means working from the hands and feet inwards.
Benefits of skin brushing
1. Healthy Glowing Skin- removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores, reduces ingrown hairs, increases blood flow to skin to regenerate the tissue, stimulates the oil glands which control the pH of the skin, nourish the tissue and deter pathogens.
2. Detoxification- stimulates lymph flow towards the heart, promotes removal of wastes from the body
3. Support the immune system- stimulating the lymph system helps the transport of lymph cells and white blood cells through the body. A properly functioning lymphatic system means the body is ready to fight off pathogens in the form or viruses, bacteria, fungus and parasites.
4. Increase vital energy- stimulating the nerves, lymph and skin supports the movement of qi within the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the stagnation of qi is felt as pain. Keeping the system moving and functioning properly supports qi flow, decreases pain and increases vitality!
What do I need?
You can use one or more of the following:
- natural bristle skin brush (medium)
- loofa sponge (firm)
- face cloth for sensitive skin (soft)
Bodecare has a beautiful line of skin brushes:
Caring for your brush
A few sprays of antibacterial tea tree oil diluted in water (10 drops per 2 cups water) is all you need to keep your brush clean and avoid bacterial and fungal growth.
Skin brushes should not be shared, and can be stored in a dry place to avoid mould and mildew.
Brushes can be washed with natural shampoo every few weeks and placed in a warm dry place to dry.
Its easy, safe, and feels great! Give it a try!
Dr. Ariel Jones ND