There’s no arguing that when we feel our best, we can put one hundred percent of ourselves into the things we’re most passionate about. Whether that be your family, your career, a creative pursuit, or a passion project - you want to give it your all. And when your body and all of its functions are well supported your path is clear to live the way you want.
Your body is very good at filtering out the bad stuff and disposing of it, while ensuring all the good things get to where they need to go. But just like you appreciate a helping hand when someone offers it to you, so does your body. If you can do something to facilitate what your internal systems do naturally, you should. Because the more efficiently your body can operate, the easier day to day life becomes, and the better you feel on a regular basis.
That’s why we want you to check in with a frequently overlooked part of your immune system - the lymphatic network.
Your Lymphatic System
The main function of your lymphatic system is to cleanse your body of toxins and protect you from new toxins introduced into your body. It draws waste out of your tissues and into your bloodstream, where the waste then travels to your spleen to be purified.
Your lymphatic system includes lymph nodes and lymph vessels that drain fluids from the tissues of your body. These specific fluids contain waste products, toxins, and immune cells and move them to your lymph nodes for filtering. Your lymph vessels are what maintain the fluid balance in your body by returning the filtered lymph fluid back to your bloodstream.
Your immune cells travel by way of the lymphatic system and gather where your body senses a foreign invader. This is what allows your body to fight off infection and illness. Here is where we find the underlying importance of maintaining a healthy lymphatic system - doing so leads to a resilient and strong immune system1
What is Lymphatic Dysfunction?
Lymphatic dysfunction occurs when this system operates poorly, causing fluid build up in your body tissues. This is something you can see when your legs or arms become swollen, though it can affect other parts of your body as well.
A poor functioning lymphatic system can be the result of a number of incidents ranging from illness to injuries to surgery. Because lymph fluid is what transports your immune cells to where your body needs them, it will naturally travel to areas that need the most urgent healing activity2.
But surgery and some injuries can leave you immobile for a long period of time. This can turn into a problem for the transportation of lymph fluid because it relies on the movement of your smooth muscle tissues to travel through your body, stagnant activity can lead to a build up of toxins that aren’t being filtered out of your tissues or bloodstream.
Even if you aren’t recovering from surgery or injuries, your body can still benefit a great deal from regular care of your lymphatic system. Our bodies build up toxins from both external and internal sources every day. External toxins can come from a variety of items that you use frequently including certain foods, toiletries or personal care items, the air you breathe, even the water you drink.
But your lymphatic system needs help with movement and drainage. Unlike your vascular system, where your heart moves your blood through your veins, there is no autopilot for lymph fluid. So how does this system stay operational? It relies heavily on you contracting and relaxing your muscles to maintain the motion of your fluids and prevent the build up of toxins.
There are several easy ways to help the function of your lymphatic system including:
- Daily exercise
- Drinking plenty of water
- Consuming anti-inflammatory herbs
- Including plenty of veggies in your diet
One specific way you can ease the burden on your lymphatic system is by performing a lymphatic massage on yourself. This method of rhythmic pressure and movement targets the flow of lymph fluid throughout your body and encourages it to travel toward your heart to go through the proper drainage channels3.
Here are a few tips for performing a self-massage:
- Use gentle pressure - only enough to move the surface of your skin
- Move slowly and rhythmically
- Guide your motions toward your major lymph nodes - neck, armpits, and groin. Ex. fingertips to elbow to armpits
Another option in place of a self-massage is dry brushing. This is an excellent addition to your daily self-care routine that not only leaves you feeling relaxed, but will also contribute to a healthier immune function. A common technique in Ayurvedic practices, dry brushing helps stimulate the flow of lymph fluid and increases blood flow. The bristles have the added benefit of opening your pores, stimulating your sweat glands, and removing dead skin cells.
OWL’s new Dry Brush is made with all-natural palm bristles to help exfoliate and moisturize your skin. This alternative to synthetic brushes is perfect for use before showering and to encourage the motion of your lymphatic system.
Using a dry brush is similar to a self-massage. You’ll want to use gentle pressure and rhythmic motions. For lymphatic stimulation - place a few drops of essential oil such as frankincense, rosemary, or cypress in the palm of your hand. Run the brush over the oil to coat the bristles. Starting from your feet, use gentle strokes moving up your legs toward your heart. Starting from your fingertips, stroke gently up your arm toward your heart. And starting from your neck, gently stroke downward toward your heart.
Enhance the Detoxification Process
Since the purpose of lymphatic stimulation is to rid your body of toxins, self-massage and dry brushing are the ideal additions to the cleanse process. The OWL Reset Cleanse targets toxins and heavy metals to draw out of your body, dry brushing alongside a cleanse will only enhance the detoxification of your gut. Not to mention the removal of all that debris will provide an even more ideal landscape in which your gut and body can rest and restore, leaving you feeling nourished and healed.
Help Your Body
Much like your gut needs a periodic rest to repair itself, your immune system needs reliable support from you to ensure it can function in a manner that best protects you from illness and disease. A little bit of maintenance can go a long way to living a long, prosperous, and fulfilling life.
- The Lymphatic System: Integral Roles in Immunity - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Lymphatic system: an active pathway for immune protection - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Lymph Drainage Massage: How It Can Benefit Your Body (webmd.com)
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing