Try Dry Brushing to Detox Your Lymphatic System

We’ve talked about several detox methods on the blog before, but there’s one topic we haven’t scratched the surface of yet: dry brushing for lymphatic drainage. While it sounds like a mouthful, dry brushing is actually pretty simple, and best of all, it provides a myriad of benefits for the body and mind.

What Is Lymphatic Drainage?

Before we get into the details of dry brushing, let’s talk about lymphatic drainage. What does it mean, and why bother to begin with?

The lymphatic system is your body’s natural detoxifier, and stimulating the flow of lymph via drainage, or a specialized massage, keeps it working like a well-oiled machine. The lymphatic system is the network of vessels through which lymph fluid drains from the tissues into the blood. Lymph fluid carries toxins like bacteria, cell waste, and environmental pollutants from the bloodstream back to the lymph nodes, which destroy those impurities. The more efficient the lymph flows through your system, the better chance you have of reaping its detoxifying properties.

Photo by Svitlana

Why Use A Dry Brush?

Dry brushes are made with coarse, plant-based materials to help stimulate the movement of lymph fluids.

Though the lymphatic system and circulatory system are similar in that they both transport fluids through the body, the circulatory has a unique advantage: it can rely on the heart to pump that fluid around. The lymphatic system isn’t quite so lucky; it relies on muscle contractions to transport lymph through your system. That means that giving it a boost with a stimulating drainage massage can help to smooth out the process, especially if you’re suffering from buildups or blockages in your lymphatic system.

How To Use Your Dry Brush For Lymphatic Drainage

Using long, gentle strokes, bring your brush from any starting point on your body towards your heart or lymph node drainage area, which is found under the left armpit. Pay special attention to the abdomen, as the majority of the body’s lymphatic tissue lives in that area. Spend at least 60 seconds brushing, using slow, clockwise circles beginning from the right side of your body.

The key to a successful drainage is making sure you’re nudging the lymph in the direction of your heart or drainage area — the natural direction of the fluid. This means if you start from the feet or legs, you’re brushing upwards, whereas if you start on your hands, you’re bringing the brush up your arm, past your shoulder and to your heart.

Of course, you’ll want to be as gentle as possible at first, given that your skin will need to adjust to the intensity of the bristles. It’s recommended that you don’t exceed dry brushing more than twice a week. Avoid dry brushing if you have a rash, broken skin, or a sunburn.

Other Benefits Of Dry Brushing

Detoxifying benefits aside, dry brushing offers up a range of other upsides as well. One added perk is that dry brushes also double as an exfoliant, gently buffing away dead cells on the surface of your skin and making room for the bright, healthy ones to replace them. Dry brushing is also known to calm effects of anxiety and regulate levels of cortisol, the hormone that makes us feel stress.


Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.