The following suggestions are generally safe for most patients. Some patients may have issues with detoxification, and may need to move very slowly. If you have questions, please schedule an appointment to speak with your practitioner.* If you have had any lymph nodes removed or have had radiation therapy, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning these suggestions.
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to keep the fluids equalized throughout your body. It also works closely with your immune system. You’ve experienced this when your lymph nodes increase in size when you are sick. There is no pump for the lymph fluid so we need to work to get a sluggish lymph system going. For some people these techniques to stimulate the lymph system are only needed to get it started, while others need to do these on a regular basis.
Female Lymphatic System
Male Lymphatic System
All lymph has its final drainage place just above your collar bone. The main areas of lymph nodes are in the armpit and groin (imagine a line between your hip bone and pubic bone). The main drainage for the head is behind the angle of the jaw and a muscle just behind it (SCM). It is about one finger width. I give you these details because knowledge is powerful and so is imagery. Use these techniques below with this in mind.
Lymphatics of Head and Neck
Stand in a relaxed position. Hold your arms out parallel to the floor, palms down, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arms in small circles; forward ten times, backwards ten times. Then repeat this, now rotating in medium size circles and again in large circles. Repeat this cycle two to three times, several times during the day. Breathing while doing it will increase your lymph circulation even more! If this is too much, lie on your side and do one arm at a time, and do as many repetitions you can. If ten circles is too much for you, start with one. If you are flared up and can’t move your arms, move your wrists and ankles, breathe deeply, and laugh as much as possible.
Use one for 2-3 days, then add another for 2-3 days, then add another. Stop anytime you feel it stimulate your lymphatic system too much, causing a detox reaction that is too intense for you.
* If you have had any lymph nodes removed or have had radiation therapy, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning these suggestions.
Using a natural dry bristle shower brush on dry skin. Lightly scrub little circles on your skin from limbs inward towards the heart (as you do it more you can scrub with more pressure). Scrub the neck down to the collar bones. Scrub the back, chest, and abdomen in any direction.
Take a bath that is hot enough to sweat for about 20 minutes. To begin with use 2 cups of Epsom salt, and 1 cup of baking soda. As you continue doing this, you can add more salt and baking soda – up to 1 pound of Epsom salt.
At the end of the bath, shower off in refreshing (not freezing) tepid water.
You may use essential oils in the bath if you tolerate these well. Many people prefer lavender for this purpose.
Even if you cannot walk or jump on a rebounder right now, you can sit in a chair outside or by a window and do some simple breathing exercises. Here are a few basic breathing exercises to get you started.
Sit up in a comfortable position, maybe a chair or chaise lounge. Sitting outside is preferable or at least by an open window with some fresh air, if it’s not too cold. Get comfortable and relaxed. Just sit and let yourself breathe naturally, admiring the view and letting go of all thoughts or emotions right now.
Bring your attention to your lower abdomen – the area just below your belly button. If you like, you can rest the palm of your hand there, with your thumb resting on your umbilicus (belly button). Simply let your attention rest on the lower belly, observing the rising and falling of your belly with each breath. You are not making your breath do anything, you are simply observing.
After a few minutes of this, slowly take a deep breath, breathing right into the palm of your hand resting on your belly. Feel your belly fill with air. Then slowly exhale, allowing your hand to follow your belly down. As you inhale again, feel the expansion in your diaphragm (the lower part of the rib cage) as that gently expands with each inhale. As you exhale, notice again how the diaphragm feels. Do this gently and rhythmically for a few minutes. This rhythmic expansion and contraction of the diaphragm helps pump blood and lymph through the liver.
About Julie Galvan
I learned the basics of massage therapy from a fellow dancer. We would work on each other during our breaks, and before long, I would have a line of tired, sore dancers waiting for me to work on them during our breaks. Upon graduating from the University of Utah Modern Dance Department in 1987, I moved to San Francisco, where I continued working as a dancer and choreographer. I also received my Certification for Massage Therapy at the National Holistic Institute; a 500-hour certification course. In those days, that was practically a doctorate in massage. When a car accident slowed and eventually ended my dance career, I turned to Pilates and Yoga. At the same time, I had the great opportunity of being the Director of a free-standing birth center and Women’s Wellness Center. My interaction with so many women during their pregnancy and birthing experiences, as well as with women coming in to learn more about their bodies enriched and deepened my hands-on skills. This eventually led me to working at a busy, internationally-renown medical clinic, Gordon Medical Associates. During the 6 years I was there, I worked directly with several amazing doctors who taught me much and who were open to my unique view of healing.