If there’s one system in the body that doesn’t always get the love and recognition it deserves—it’s the lymphatic system. Critical for our health and well-being, the lymph system functions as our body’s garbage system, picking up toxins, waste, bacteria, and other molecular debris and bringing it to natural trash drop-off sites: the lymph nodes.
The lymph nodes are filtering stations that intake and destroy those substances brought in the lymphatic fluid. Lymph nodes and other essential parts of the lymphatic system like the spleen, thymus, lymphocytes, and lymphatic vessels form an intricate network that runs from the tips of our toes to the tops of our heads.
Unlike other systems and organs in our bodies that function automatically without us doing anything, the lymphatic system needs our help detoxifying and moving the fluid throughout our bodies. Otherwise, you can experience what is known as lymph congestion, which occurs when the lymph fluid is backed up and not being properly disposed of.
Signs You’re Experiencing Lymph Congestion
- Itchy and dry skin
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Breast swelling and tenderness each menstrual cycle
- Constipation or sluggish bowel function
- Brain fog
- Recurrent headaches
- Puffy skin
- Fatigue or sluggishness
- Bloating and water retention
- Chronic sore throats and swollen tonsils
6 Ways to Clear Lymph Congestion and Support Your Lymphatic System
Lymph congestion can be caused by stress, eating an unhealthy diet, exposure to harmful chemicals, dehydration, lack of movement, and living a sedentary lifestyle. To clear lymph congestion? Do the opposite by caring for your body and supporting your lymphatic system with these six methods.
- Yoga and stretching
Yoga, stretching, and other forms of physical movement are amazing for clearing away lymph congestion because the relaxation and contraction of muscles move the lymph. Yoga, in particular, with its focus on breath, is especially supportive of the lymph system. Additionally, poses like inversions and twists stimulate the flow of lymph through the body.
- Gua sha massage
Facial and body gua sha massages are another easy way to get your lymph flowing. Gua sha massages support lymphatic drainage by moving stagnant lymph towards the lymph nodes for proper drainage and detoxification.
Read More: Gua Sha 101
- Eat more red-staining foods
Of all the foods and herbs that support lymphatic health, red foods are especially powerful. In Ayurvedic medicine, red-staining fruits and vegetables like berries, pomegranates, and beets support the lymphatic system with their potent antioxidants that combat free radicals, toxins and reduce inflammation.
- Dry brushing
Dry brushing is one of our favorite self-care rituals that naturally move your lymph. Like gua sha, dry brushing is another way to stimulate circulation and clear lymph congestion. Dry brushing (the right way) will help guide the lymph to the lymph nodes, improving overall flow.
- Stay hydrated!
If you need another reason to make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, here it is! Dehydration is one cause of lymph congestion. Think about it: When your body is dehydrated and low in fluids, your lymph will struggle to flow and move through the body. Combat lymph congestion by drinking a healthy amount of water (generally half your body weight in ounces) each day. Power that up with an adequate amount of salt, such as pink himalayan for mineral consumption and electrolytes.
- Be mindful of your skin and body care products
Exposure to chemicals and oxidative stress is a sure-fire way to slow down and potentially damage your lymphatic system. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out on what you’re eating, the water you’re drinking, the chemicals in your air, home, and cleaning products, and making sure the skincare and personal care products you put on your skin are safe and support the lymph system with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.