Lately, I’ve been thinking about what one of my mentors said. Paraphrased, it goes something like this: the body has an innate intelligence. Our role is simply to remove the obstacles blocking the flow of that intelligence so healing can occur naturally.
What does this look like from a seasonal health standpoint? We’ve now entered late winter, which is generally wetter and less cold than early winter. It’s the time of year that the channels of the body can start to feel a bit boggy or sluggish.
Perhaps it’s more difficult for you to wake up, or you’re noticing more respiratory mucus in the morning. Richer foods and decreased physical activity during the past few months may have slowed everything down, and now it’s time to shift gears with the changing seasons by giving some TLC to your lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is a complex network of fluid, nodes, glands, vessels and ducts; it also includes the spleen, thymus and tonsils. In essence, it’s the sewer system of the body and its job is to transport waste products from the cells to the major organs of detoxification so those wastes can be eliminated. As you can imagine, blockages in this system have the potential to significantly impair the body’s innate healing capacity.
We all know what happens when the sewer system in our home backs up, and it sure isn’t pretty. Possible signs of a sluggish lymphatic system include, but are not limited to:
- Stubborn weight gain
- Chronic aches and pains
- Dry or itchy skin
- Water retention
- Frequent colds
Stress, lack of exercise, dehydration, chronic digestive issues and an overly acidic internal environment can all contribute to lymphatic congestion. As you could probably guess from this list of risk factors, it’s quite common to experience some degree of lymphatic stagnation in this day and age. The good news is that there are some simple daily activities you can do to support the smooth, unobstructed flow of your lymphatic system.
Breathe deeply and move your body
Unlike the heart in the circulatory system, the lymphatic system has no pump to propel its fluid throughout the body. It relies on actions like deep diaphragmatic breathing, brisk walking and other types of aerobic activity. If you want to get fancy, try rebounding on a small trampoline.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Without adequate water, the lymph fluid cannot flow. Again, think of the importance of water in a sewer system.
Dr. John Douillard recommends sipping hot water every 10-15 minutes throughout the day to decongest the lymph. He says, “Do it religiously for one day. If by the end of that day you are experiencing a dry mouth and are now thirsty for this once tasteless sip of hot water, this is a good indication you are dehydrated and your lymph is congested.” Continue for two weeks and see what you notice.
This process is made much easier with a thermos or stainless steel insulated bottle to keep water hot for hours.
Dry brush your skin
Dry brushing is the practice of using a natural bristle brush on your skin to exfoliate, increase circulation and stimulate the flow of lymph.
This practice is best done in the morning before you shower. Start at the feet and work up your body applying firm strokes to the legs, arms and back, always brushing toward the heart. Apply clockwise strokes to the abdomen to follow the natural movement of the intestines. Use enough pressure that your skin becomes rosy and slightly tingly but not irritated.
Eat more beets and other red foods
Foods with red pigment tend to be great lymph-movers. This includes cherries, pomegranate, cranberries and beets. Try making this grated beet salad recipe regularly to give your lymphatic system a boost.
By clearing the body’s drainage system now, you are ensuring that the toxins released from various organs and systems during the springtime have somewhere to go. This can reduce or prevent common spring imbalances like skin breakouts, flare-ups of eczema or psoriasis, seasonal allergies and late-season colds.
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