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Lymphatic System and Skin

Lymphatic drainage and what you need to know

What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is part of our immune system; its primary function is to help the body protect itself from infections and diseases. It is a network of lymphatic vessels that carry lymph, a clear watery fluid. This fluid moves through the body's vessels to clean them before draining them through lymph nodes, where white blood cells filter out impurities. The most prominent nodes are in the neck, groin, and armpits. They all work together to make sure lymph vessels bring the “clean” fluid back into your bloodstream. The other functions of the lymphatic system include maintaining body fluid levels, absorbing digestive tract fats, and removing cellular waste.

To keep the lymphatic system strong and healthy, doctors encourage you to drink plenty of water, stay physically active, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and limit your intake of processed food and other chemicals. Prioritizing sleep is also essential to keep the lymphatic system in good shape

What are the benefits of lymphatic drainage and its effects on the skin/body?

As the body’s largest organ, skin reflects our internal health. The link between the lymphatic system and skin is incredibly close and the tiniest of changes within the lymphatic system can manifest in the skin, usually in the form of water retention (puffiness)and inflammation.

Our face and body is the atlas of lymph nodes and vessels, these are located not far under the surface of the skin. The skin and lymph have to work in harmony to maintain a healthy friendship. If there is stagnation under the surface of the skin due to muscular tension, the lymphatic system cannot remove the waste and toxins properly. And vice versa, if the stagnation is caused by the build-up of toxins within the lymphatic system, due to an unhealthy diet, alcohol, lack of movement, it shows on the skin in the form of bloating and puffiness.

One of the answers to get the two (lymphatic system and the skin) to work in harmony is to do a lymphatic drainage massage. Lymphatic drainage moves the lymph around the body providing the removal of any waste products and distribution of the nutrients within our body and skin. Result - healthy glow inside and out.

As the lymphatic system produces white blood cells, it helps to fight viruses, bacteria and infection, including these in the skin. Lymphatic drainage is your natural remedy for all types of skin inflammation. Other conditions that have been shown to improve are eczema and acne.

Cellulite is another condition that is linked to the build-up of toxins and fat accumulation within the skin and connective tissues. Though there is no easy way to treat cellulite, lymphatic drainage promises an improved metabolism of fats and can aid detoxification altogether, resulting in a diminishing of dimples associated with cellulite.

Are there any side effects of lymphatic drainage massage?

The gentle technique of lymphatic drainage can be deceiving. What might feel like feather-like movements of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) kick start powerful processes within the body.

Though suitable for all, a few conditions are not recommended for lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage can be detrimental if you suffer from major heart conditions, kidney failure, acute inflammation and cancer.

Other common contraindications are the first trimester of pregnancy, thyroid problems, chemotherapy and menstruation (since it can increase the flow).

Bear in mind, just like any form of manual stimulation, the effects of MLD can leave you feeling very thirsty, dizzy and lightheaded. This is due to powerful detoxification. Drinking a lot of water after the massage is non-negotiable.

What are the DIY methods available or at-home massage/treatment for the body and the face?

If you are interested in taking a dip into the world of lymphatic self-care rituals, here are some suggestions. Remember that our lymph system is quite delicate and requires a completely different approach compared to other types of treatments. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to the lymphatic system, "less is more"all the way (ie less pressure, less speed).

Start with your skincare products. About 60% of what you put onto your skin get absorbed into your lymphatic system. Choosing a non-toxic, clean skincare line is a great start to your DIY self-care.

Dry Skin Brushing is an excellent way to promote natural exfoliation of the skin. It stimulates lymph flow, circulation and encourages cells renewal. I recommend brushing gently in long strokes always moving towards the heart. When it comes to the face, brush strokes down towards the clavicle bone.

Guasha and Jade Rollers are excellent ways to decrease puffiness and swelling. These tools became extremely popular in the last years in the beauty industry, however, it is important to differentiate the circulation system from lymphatic drainage. If you are working on your lymph, move your guasha and jade roller down your neck first.

Lymphatic Cupping is a therapy that uses small suction caps to improve blood flow and to relax sore muscles. Lymphatic cupping is performed in a continual movement of the cups to drain lymph towards the lymph nodes.

All of the above can be easily bought online, needless to say, the benefits are greater when done by a professional. Make sure you do your homework about application techniques. If performed incorrectly, it can trigger an adverse reaction.

Infrared Saunas

Sweating has been proven to show many health benefits in many cultures. It helps the body to get rid of toxins, aids digestion, helps weight loss, clears skin complexion and brings out the glow.

Infrared saunas are much more accessible to people with sensitive skin compare to dry heat saunas. Due to lower temperature, the light of Infrared saunas can penetrate the surface of the skin down to cellular level and remove waste products, hence balancing out the lymphatic system.

Getting to know your body and understanding its needs will always lead to more self-awareness and well-being. It’s important to stay in tune with it and take holistic measures to optimize the lymphatic system.

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