January 23, 2017

How to Self-Drain Your Lymph System

Effective Ways to Keep your Lymph Circulation Moving

by Rob Fischer

Recently, a couple we know experienced a blockage in their kitchen. Neither well of their kitchen sink would drain. Instead, a smelly, greasy, green-brown sludge surfaced in both sides of the sink. This rancid cesspool-like substance just sat there stagnating.

Not until they cleared a blockage further down the drain did the system start to function and flow properly again.

Now, imagine the problems that can arise when your lymph system becomes plugged or backed up. It too is designed to carry waste away, but when it’s not functioning properly, the consequences are far more serious than a clogged sink!

how to self drain your lymph systemActually, your lymph system functions more like a highly sophisticated waste water treatment plant than merely a drain. The lymph system is crucial for maintaining a strong immune system, for healing, and warding off disease. The lymph system moves impurities and toxins out of your body and into the blood. The blood then transports these toxins to the liver and kidneys for purifying and elimination.

Your body contains at least twice the amount of lymph fluid as blood, but unlike your blood, there’s no organ (the heart) to pump lymph fluid and keep it moving.[1] Instead, it relies on muscle contraction and manual manipulation to move the lymph fluid.[2]

Your lymph system is equipped with numerous lymph nodes that act as filters along the way. Sometimes these nodes become blocked and swell. Researchers estimate that as many as 80 percent of Americans have sluggish lymph systems.[3]

Symptoms of a Sluggish Lymph System

When your lymph system becomes sluggish or blocked, it can have a profound impact on the rest of your body. It becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Because lymph cleanses nearly every cell in your body, symptoms of chronic lymph blockage are diverse but can include:[4]

  • symptoms of a sluggish lymph systemMore extreme allergies
  • Heightened food sensitivities
  • Frequent bacterial and viral infections
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Arthritis
  • Fibrocystic breasts or breast tenderness
  • Sinusitis
  • Loss of appetite and GI issues
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swelling of tissues
  • Fatigue
  • Mental fuzziness
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Parasites
  • Skin breakouts and acne
  • Cellulite

Causes of a Sluggish or Blocked Lymph System

The lymph system can become blocked or stagnant as a result of:[5], [6]

  • Inactivity
  • Illness
  • Surgery or injury
  • Toxic buildup 
  • Dehydration

8 ways to improve lymph drainage8 Ways to Improve Lymph Drainage

To keep your lymph circulation moving right along, you need to know the most effective ways to keep yours pumping.

1. Physical exercise

The body has a built-in need for activation. Remember, without an organ to keep lymph fluids moving, they require muscle contraction. Regular physical exercise is one of the primary ways your lymph system keeps flowing well.[7] Vigorous exercise such as rebounding [jumping on a therapeutic mini-trampoline] is reported to increase lymph flow by 15 to 30 times.

2. Breathing

As odd as it sounds, besides physical movement, breathing deeply is another chief means by which you maintain a healthy lymph system. Deep breathing through the diaphragm creates pressure and expansion that helps pump the lymphatic fluid. When paired with a simple movement of the arms and hands, it is an effective way to encourage toxin drainage from the lymph.[8] (When you exercise, you accomplish both of these at once!)

3. Massage

Physical manipulation of the lymph system is highly effective in relaxing toxins and lymph congestion. Since lymph does are close to the surface of the skin, it only requires a light touch – not deep tissue work – to activate the lymphatic system.

You can either have a professional provide a lymph massage, or you can perform this yourself. This process, sometimes referred to as “lymph milking,” involves rubbing (milking) the large neck muscles in front and back of your head. Always rub down towards the heart.[9] You can also massage other areas of your body that contain lymph nodes: under your arms, the crook of your elbow, the sternum, etc.

4. Drink plenty of water

Dehydration is one of the most common causes for the congestion of lymph fluid. Lymph fluid is 95 percent water, so your lymph system needs plenty of water to keep things flowing smoothly.[10]
The best lymph-moving rehydration technique is to sip hot water every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. If by the end of that day you are experiencing a dry mouth and are now thirsty for this once tasteless sip of hot water, this is a good indication you are dehydrated and your lymph is congested. If this happens, try this rehydration therapy: sip hot water every 10-15 minutes for 2 weeks straight.

In addition to sipping hot water as part of the lymph-moving rehydration technique, try to drink 1/2 your ideal body weight in ounces per day for two weeks as well. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, drink 70 ounces of water (almost 9 glasses) per day.

5. Herbs

A number of herbs are known to improve lymphatic health. Some of these de-stagnating herbs include: red clover, cleavers, manjistha, bupleurum, rehmannia, and butcher’s broom extract.[11]

6. Dry brushing

This is a common practice in Ayurveda medicine in which you take a brush with stiff bristles and brush your skin (always towards the heart) before you shower or bathe. Dry brushing stimulates the lymph system and sweat glands, opens pores, and removes dead skin cells.[12]

Brush long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction to help drain the lymph back to your heart.

7. Eat raw fruits and vegetables

Raw fruits and vegetables contain natural enzymes that help break down toxic buildup, thus aiding the lymph system.[13]

The fiber in these foods also cleans you out and helps prevent your digestive system from being overtaxed. Raw vegetables and fruit usually have a high water content, which helps purge your lymphatic system; without adequate hydration, lymphatic flow slows. Cucumbers, lemons and watermelon are examples of hydrating foods.

8. Avoid processed foods

Processed foods are full of pesticides, preservatives, sugar, food dyes, artificial ingredients and other toxic additives that contribute to toxic buildup in your system.[14] Since your lymph system is working hard to cleanse your body of toxins, it makes sense to reduce the amount of toxins that are going into your body.

We don’t typically hear much about the lymph system especially when it continues to do its job masterfully. But since so many of us experience health issues that can be traced back to a sluggish or blocked lymph system, perhaps it’s time to give our lymph system a cleanse.

Thoroughly cleansing the lymphatic system is the key to long-term and efficient weight loss, great health and living without pain.

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Rob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.



[1] Michelle Schoffro Cook, “11 Ways to Boost Your Lymphatic System for Great Health,” Care 2, nd, http://www.care2.com/greenliving/11-ways-to-boost-your-lymphatic-system-for-great-health.html/1.
[2] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP, “The Lymph System and Your Health,” Women to Women, nd, https://www.womentowomen.com/detoxification/the-lymph-system-and-your-health-2/.
[3] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP.
[4] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP.
[5] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP.
[6] The Chalk Board, “Detox Your Lymph: 10 Holistic Treatments for Your Lymphatic System,” 2/24/2015, http://thechalkboardmag.com/detox-your-lymph-10-holistic-treatments-for-lymphatic-system
[7] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP.
[8] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP.
[9] Dr. David Williams, “Exercises to Help Drain your Lymphatic System,” 6/29/2015, http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/lymphatic-system-drainage-exercises/.
[10] The Chalk Board.
[11] The Chalk Board.
[12] The Chalk Board.
[13] The Chalk Board.
[14] WikiHow, “How to Cleanse the Lymph System,” nd, http://www.wikihow.com/Cleanse-the-Lymph-System.


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