Dry skin brushing is something that I have found beneficial and very invigorating. This simple action can be helpful to the lymphatic system as well as the skin, assisting with issues of arthritis, cellulite, high blood pressure, depression, skin issues and also helping to keep your immune system functioning optimally.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and plays a role in elimination by releasing up to 2 pounds of toxins a day. Dry brushing helps to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, unclogging the pores and allowing the body to more easily release toxins. Dry brushing also increases circulation to the skin making it look healthier and more vibrant.
But the benefits of dry skin brushing extend beyond skin deep. It also helps to cleanse the lymphatic system. Because I feel the lymphatic system is one part of the body that is rather unknown, I would like to take a moment to talk about the function and structure of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a one way drainage system going from bodily tissue to the circulatory system. It consists of a network of lymphatic capillaries and vessels that carry away excess fluid, protein, toxins and material that is too large to be absorbed directly into the capillaries of the circulatory system (mainly fats). This fluid, called lymph, is drained from the tissue to veins near the heart, where it can be transported to the circulatory system and excreted from the body. Also contained in lymph are lymphocytes and other cells related to immunity. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help to destroy foreign organisms.
One issue with the lymphatic system is that, unlike the circulatory system which has the heart, the lymphatic system has no pump. It, therefore, relies totally on the movement and contractions of skeletal muscles to drive the movement of lymph forward. Strategically placed lymph nodes are located in major joints, including the neck, armpits, groin, elbows and knees, so that when we move the joint, also inadvertently encourage movement of our lymphatic system as well. In a society where being sedentary has become the norm, it is so important to do what we can to help our lymphatic system, and dry brushing is simple and effective at moving our lymph.
So now that you know why it is helpful to dry skin brush, let me tell you how to do it. You will first want to purchase a natural bristle brush with a handle. They are inexpensive and can be found in the health and beauty section of most stores. I like to do it in the morning before I take a shower. During the night our bodies have a chance to process out toxins, and with the limited movement of sleep, dry brushing can really help to detoxify and energize the body. Start brushing at the feet. With long and soft sweeping strokes, move up the leg to the torso. Do one leg, and then the other leg, always moving in the direction of the heart. Move up the torso to the heart and then move to the hand, brushing up the arm to the heart and then do the other arm. Once you are done, take your morning shower. This will help to wash off any dead skin cells and really revitalize the body.
At first, the brush may feel harsh, but you will get used to it. If you have any skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis, do not brush over areas where the skin is broken. When you first start dry brushing, it may cause the skin to break out in tiny pimples. This is just the body’s way of detoxifying and it will soon pass. Dry brushing should be done at least once a week and can be done every morning is you like. I do suggest giving you body a rest from dry skin brushing for a week every other month. If you become to accustom to it, I feel that it loses its effectiveness.
I hope you have learned something new about the lymphatic system and find this information helpful. Give dry brushing a try and let me know what you think.
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Cohen, B. J., Taylor, J. J., & Memmler, R. L. (2009). Memmler's structure and function of the human body (9th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott William & Wilkins.