The following practices can improve your lymphatic circulation, whether you have lymphedema or not. They will also help to prevent it. Think about how you can incorporate these into your life as daily or weekly habits.
- Dry brush massage
- Alternating hot and cold showers
- Regular exercise (40 minutes daily)
- Deep breathing
- Breast self-massage
- Lymphatic drainage massage
- Going braless so your breasts can move
- Making sure a bra is not too tight and no underwires – should be no red marks when you remove it
- Practicing yoga for lymphatic circulation
- Use herbal or homeopathic formulas
How to Perform a Dry Brush Massage:
- Use a long handled, natural bristle brush, with a brush pad about the size of your own hand.
- Start with the soles of your feet. Brush in a circular motion as you move up your body i.e. feet to legs, hands to arms, back to abdomen, and chest to neck. The face and inner thighs are sensitive areas and can be avoided. Brush with as much pressure as is comfortably possible until your skin feels pleasantly warm (this is usually about five to ten minutes). The massage is best performed when you arise in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
- Increase the cleansing qualities of a dry brush massage by following it with an alternating hot-cold shower (hot for three minutes, cold for thirty seconds) with 3 repetitions
Results of Dry Brush Massage:
- Dead layers of skin are removed and pores go unclogged.
- Blood circulation is increased to the internal organs as well as the skin, which promotes oxygenation and healing.
- The detoxification qualities of the skin remain intact and well functioning.
- Hormone and oil-producing glands are stimulated.
- Nerve endings stimulated in the skin help to maintain the health of the entire nervous system.
- The body’s natural defences against the common cold are assisted, especially when used with the hot-cold shower technique.
- Muscle tone is assisted and fat deposits are more evenly spread.
Hydrotherapy and Contrast Showers
Hydrotherapy involves the use of water applications in healing. Alternating hot and cold showers improve blood circulation, increase cellular oxidation, enhance immunity, strengthen the nervous system and flush cellular toxins into the blood. When we shower in hot water for less than five minutes, it has a stimulating effect on our circulation. Similarly, when we have a cold shower for less than one minute, we stimulate blood flow and metabolism. Cold applications first constrict and then later dilate blood vessels.
Strictly cold showers can potentially increase metabolic rate and benefit the glandular system – specifically the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenals and thyroid glands, increasing ACTH, TSH and the adrenal and the hormone, cortisol, as well as thyroid hormones. A cold shower in the morning helps us to “get in gear” by slightly elevating cortisol.
Physiological effects of a cold shower:
- increased oxygen absorption
- increased carbon dioxide excretion
- increased nitrogen absorption and excretion
- increased tissue tone
- increased white blood cell count and thus improved immunity
- increased red blood cell count
- decreased blood glucose
- decreased lactic acid levels in blood
- decreased heart rate
- heightened metabolism
- elevates cortisol and thyroid hormone
A rebounder is the equivalent of a small trampoline. Jumping on a rebounder greatly improves the circulation of lymphatic fluid within the body as muscular contractions push the fluid through the lymphatic vessels. When the muscular contraction is used in combination with deep breathing, lymphatic circulation is enhanced even more. This improves the body’s cancer-fighting ability.
Rebounding for ten minutes has the aerobic effect equivalent to playing tennis for forty minutes or jogging for thirty minutes.
Some of the additional benefits of rebounding include:
- gentle massage of the internal organs, including the liver and colon
- increased oxygenation on a cellular level
- improved muscle tone
- improved digestion, elimination and body detoxification
- easier weight management through calorie expenditure
- increased energy
- improvement in cardiovascular health
- stress reduction and release
- an increase in strength, stamina, balance and agility
When we move our arms, armpits and chest we assist lymphatic cleansing of our breasts.
Women who exercise at least four hours a week in their leisure time and are active in their jobs have a 30-60% lower risk of breast cancer.
Regular exercise enhances the metabolism of estrogen and lowers insulin levels.
Exercise at least four hours weekly, using your arms as much as possible. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy and that you can be successful in maintaining. Some possibilities include walking, jogging, swimming, rebounding, rowing, using a treadmill or elliptical machine, or dancing. find some exercise buddies to make it more fun.
Breast self-massage helps to stimulate lymphatic circulation to remove toxins from our breasts. Here is a simple description:
- Stroke your neck, moving the skin back and down towards collarbone (15x)
- Gently pump the armpit with palm under underarm (15x)
- Using flat surface of 3 or 4 fingers, softly make small semi-circles around outer part of breasts, gently working inward to the areola
- Gently pull the breast away from the chest wall while cupping it in your hand, moving the breast in a circular or up and down movement (allows lymph fluid to drain out through external lymph vessels in axilla)
- If you do find a lump, do not massage it – consult with your health care professional; 80% of all breast lumps are benign
- Many types of bra restrict the movement of the breasts and impede lymphatic circulation
- Wear a bra less than 12 hours daily, not to bed
- If there are red marks on the skin from the bra, it’s too tight
- Choose a bra that is cotton, has no underwires, and allows the breasts to move a little; wear it less than twelve hours daily, or go braless. Don’t wear your bra to bed.
Essential and Herbal Oils for Breast Health
Palmarosa, Lavender (contain perillyl alcohol which protects against breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Lavender prevents radiation burns)
Lemon, sweet orange, celery (contain limonene)
Rosemary, juniper (assist liver detoxification)
Frankincense (improves immune system and blood circulation)
Eucalyptis (causes cell death in breast cancer cells)
Calendula, phytolacca, red clover, dandelion, castor oil (Palma Christi), olive oil base
Pomegranate seed oil – strongly inhibits breast cancer cell growth (order from botanicoils.com)
Healthy Breast Oil can be ordered from Sat Dharam Kaur 519 372-9212
Herbs to Improve Lymphatic Circulation
- burdock root
- red clover
- wild indigo
- viola tricolour
Please work with a naturopathic doctor or herbalist when using any of the above herbs. They may not be suitable for all individuals.