Skin Brushing, Lymphatic System and Castor Oil
There are many ways to approach health. We can focus on diet, exercise, lifestyle, mental health etc. One other piece to consider is our personal care including taking care of our skin (skin brushing tops the list) and using other topical methods such as castor oil packs to promote health from the outside in; specifically, the lymphatic system which plays a key role in maintaining a strong immune system!
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a sub-system related to both the immune and cardiovascular systems. It is made up of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph organs. The lymph vessels are located throughout the body between blood capillaries and connective tissues.
The lymphatic system is different to the cardiovascular system in that is has no pump; it is a one-waylow- pressure system. The lymphatic system needs movement in order to work efficiently. When our muscles move, it stimulates our lymphatic system. The pressure changes in the chest cavity that occur during breathing also help to stimulate lymphatic flow.
Promoting lymphatic drainage is an important part of detoxification. Lymph nodes acts as filters cleansing the fluid before it reaches the blood stream. If the lymph is not working properly and doesn’t pick up interstitial fluid, swelling (edema) will occur.
Lymph organs include- lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils and MALT in the gut (Mucosal Associated Lymphoid Tissue). The gut contains the largest amount of lymph tissue in the body!
Signs of a poorly functioning lymphatic system:
Enlarged lymph nodes
Skin lesions/red streaks
Factors that negatively impact lymph flow:
- Sedentary lifestyle (sitting is the new smoking!)
- Tight fitting clothing- especially bras
- Antiperspirant (prevents sweating)
Things that positively impact lymph flow:
- Exercise- especially the use of a rebounder (a small trampoline)
- Deep breathing exercises
- Staying well hydrated
- Alternating hot/cold therapy
- Herbs- cleavers, burdock, nettle
- Lymphatic drainage creams
- Dry skin brushing
- Alternating cold hot showers/therapy
One way to maintain good lymphatic flow is to implement a technique called “Dry Skin Brushing”
The benefits of dry skin brushing
Brushing your skin is another great practice to include in brushing your teeth and hair each day! It takes as little as 2 minutes, or you can spend up to 15 minutes if you have more time.
Using a dry shower glove or soft bristled natural fiber brush (look for one with a long handle to reach your back) on your skin before a shower helps to not only unclog your pores which aids detoxification and improves circulation, but also stimulates your lymphatic system.
There are lots of great resources online/YouTube that will walk you through skin brushing. The motion of skin brushing helps to break up fatty deposits, so spend extra time in areas such as the thighs if you have cellulite.
Castor oil Packs:
Another effective method to support your health from the outside in is the use of castor oil packs. These have been used for over a hundred years and are helpful for a variety of conditions including:
- Liver and gallbladder issues
- Joint pain/ arthritis (reduces inflammation)
- weakened immune system (they stimulate lymphatic flow)
- Stress/ anxiety
- hormonal dysregulation
And much more!
Castor oil has the ability, unlike other oils, to penetrate through the upper layer of the skin.
Castor oil packs offer many positive effects on the body including digestion, absorption, detoxification, and elimination. Castor oil “packs” refer to the method in which the oil is applied. A piece of wool or flannel is the type of material you want to use or you may purchase one of these packs at a health food store. The pack should remain on the targeted area for at least one hour or overnight.
It is important to choose a good quality castor oil. It should be organic, cold-pressed, hexane-free and bottled in glass.
For more information and direction on how to make and use a castor oil pack with detailed descriptions, use this link: https://www.edgarcayce.org/media/10822/castor-oil-pack-instructions.pdf
Caution: Do not use castor oil packs when pregnant or menstruating or with cancer. Do not take castor oil orally! This is no longer recommended.
In summary, there are a variety of ways to support your health topically which also provide internal benefits. Dry skin brushing and the use of castor oil packs have both been shown to have positive impacts on the lymphatic system, therefore supporting overall immune health.
So don’t forget to add these into your daily/weekly regime to not only support your lymphatic/immune health but also to keep you looking and feeling your best self!
Nutritional Pathology Second Edition Brenda Lessard-Rhead 2015 pg. 5
Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology Eleventh Edition 2013 Elaine N. Marieb pg. 398-403
Hot Detox Julie Daniluk, R.H.N 2016 pg 51-54, 76-78