The Lymphatic System

The Lymphatic System

lymph foot

The lymphatic system is a key immune response, responsible for dealing with inflammation and detoxifying your body from some 3 pounds of toxins each year. As the lymph system breaks down waste products it also recycles usable materials so that the body can use them for growth and repair. When the lymph system becomes congested, the body’s ability to detoxify and heal is seriously impaired. Clogged lymphatics have been linked to auto-immune conditions, infection, anxiety and depression as well as other imbalances. ⠀

One of the first things done in a foot zone is the opening of some key lymph drains. My drawing is rough, but you can see the location. When pressing a fingertip or knuckle into these locations, you will feel a softer spot between the bones and muscles. If this spot does not feel pliable and hollow, gently use your thumb or knuckle to massage it. As the drain starts to open, you will feel the area hollow out. It may be tender. This can take a few minutes if the lymph system is congested or if it has been working hard due to illness or disease.⠀
lymph drains
If you just have a mild cold or allergies, opening these three drains may help your body to get things moving. Sometimes your body just needs a little extra help. Your nose may even start running shortly afterwards! ⠀

If there continues to be puffiness or tenderness in these drains, however, you might need to do a little more. If you have a bug that you can’t shake, if you have swelling in your hands or feet, or if you have an infection, inflammation, or an auto-immune condition, there are many more locations that lymph is drained throughout a foot zone so a full foot zone can be really helpful. ⠀

In between zones, Dry Brushing is one simple thing that you can add to your daily routine that can help keep the lymph system flowing.
dry brushing
What is Dry Brushing? It is exactly what it sounds like. Each morning, before showering, use a natural bristled brush on your skin. Brush from the ends of your limbs in to your armpit or groin, and from those areas to your heart. This pulls all the surface lymph in the proper direction and gets it moving for the day.⠀There are additional benefits to Dry Brushing, such as increased circulation, skin exfoliation, increased energy and possibly a reduction in the appearance of cellulite.⠀

Besides Dry Brushing, here are five other things you can do at home to keep your lymph system happy.

In a nutshell, the lymph system likes movement. The lymph system doesn’t have a pump; it relies on your muscles to pump lymph back to the heart when you move. Exercise of any type keeps lymph flowing, particularly exercise that gets the limbs moving consistently – cycling, running, zumba, even walking. Pick your favorite!

Even at a relatively low intensity, jumping on a mini trampoline or balance ball can give a quick boost to your lymph system.

If you are familiar with tapping techniques, EFT, or acupressure points, these can also be used to encourage lymphatic drainage. As a bonus, you can get some stress relief along with some sinus drainage! Just Google “tapping for lymphatic drainage,” and many explanations and videos will pop up.

Citrus essential oils, lavender, and rosemary can be beneficial for lymphatic circulation, and they are inexpensive and enjoyable. Dilute well, and massage onto the feet. Spend some time really working in the oil and enjoy a mini self-massage!

Additionally, staying hydrated is necessary for the flow of lymph and other body fluids. Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your water and reap the benefits of both! Your body and immune system will thank you.

Take care of your body so it can take care of you! ⠀

“Regulating Rhythm” UFZC Round Table Presentation

“Regulating Rhythm” UFZC Round Table Presentation

characteristic_rock_drum_pattern

Various forms of rhythm have been found to provide a regulating effect for the nervous system. Epilepsy, ADD/ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Dysfunction, and stuttering are a few of the ailments that show a disruption in the normal rhythms of the nervous system.The use of rhythm may provide therapeutic benefits for individuals who are challenged with these conditions. For those who were not at the presentation,  I will be expounding more on this topic over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

The handouts provide a brief description of selected techniques, the individuals who may benefit most from these techniques, and many references to further resources for those who want to start learning more. Enjoy!

Rhythm & the Nervous System – UFZA Conference Presentation page 1

Rhythm & the Nervous System – UFZA Conference Presentation page 2

Natural Remedies for Sore Throat & Congestion

Natural Remedies for Sore Throat & Congestion

Natural Remedies for sore throatA friend called me recently, wondering what would suggest for a sore throat and congestion. It was the middle of the night, so she was limited to what could be purchased over the counter, or what she already had on hand. When it comes to being sick, I try to start with the gentlest approach, and then go from there. I usually start with food and essential oils. At some point, it makes sense to use the drugs available to us, especially if doing so prevents a doctor’s visit, a more serious prescription, a hospital stay or worse. So, from mildest to strongest, here are our favorite remedies for sore throat, cough, and congestion.

 

Honey: To sooth a sore throat or reduce coughing, a cup of hot water with a tablespoon of honey and lemon juice can be beneficial. If you have apple cider vinegar on hand, I like to add a tablespoon of it as well. Honey has been a traditional folk remedy for coughing, and recent studies have shown it to be as effective or more effective than traditional cough medicines (1,2,3).

 

 

 

Essential oils: To really break up congestion, I get out my essential oils. There are many that are effective, but eucalyptus tops the list. If you don’t have eucalyptus, try lavender, peppermint, or cedarwood. These first three oils are part of my Top 10 essential oils to always keep on hand. Eucalyptus is an expectorant, meaning it helps break up mucous so that coughs are productive. It is also antibacterial & antiseptic, and soothing for lungs and sinuses. Some researchers think it may be anti-inflammatory.

Remember, these are extremely concentrated, so always dilute well when applying to skin. For children, I recommend applying to the feet instead of elsewhere on the body whenever possible. For congestion and sore throat, apply the oil to the ball of the feet, the big toe, and the “neck” of the big toe, and you will cover all the reflex points for breathing and sinuses. Besides being safer, applying to the feet is also very effective. My youngest responds more quickly to oils on the feet than she does to an oral dose of traditional medication. I also like to diffuse a blend containing eucalyptus whenever we are stuffy to help keep us breathing (4). Diffusing or applying an immune blend with oregano or thyme is also a good idea whenever you are sick. Oregano is also in my Top 10 must have oils because of its antibacterial effectiveness.

 

ff cough drops

 

Cough drops: We like Luden’s cherry or Ricola if we just need mild soothing, but when we get really gunky I reach for Fisherman’s Friend cough drops. These contain menthol, claim to have been made for more than 100 years, look like that claim is true, and they work. They are great at bedtime when you need to break up congestion to breathe and need to stop coughing in order to fall asleep.

 

listerine old

 

 

Listerine: If your throat is killing you, and nothing else has worked, try gargling with Listerine several times a day. It has menthol, thymol, methyl salicate, and eucalyptol in it, man-made derivatives of the active ingredients in peppermint, thyme, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oils. Methyl salicate is related to aspirin, so it has pain relieving properties and may be anti-inflammatory.

 

 

 

theraflu

 

 

Over-the-counter Medicines: If all else fails, before heading to the doctor, we will try Mucinex D, Sudafed, or lemon-flavored Theraflu drinks. If nothing else has worked, and an ear or sinus infection is imminent, these are the toughest things we have tried that don’t require a prescription. The first two do, however, require a pharmacist to get them for you, so they won’t be available on those midnight trips to the store.

 

 

 

 

Sleep: This should really be #1 on the list, but often we put it last. I believe that when you take care of yourself, your body can heal itself, but most of this healing is done when you are at rest, so if you don’t rest, you really limit your ability to heal. If you have tried everything and you aren’t getting worse, but you aren’t getting any better either, try getting some sleep! Your body will thank you!

 

 

 

All sources accessed 12/11/15

  1. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/3/465.short
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ebch.1970/full
  3. http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=571638&resultclick=3
  4. https://umm.eedu/health/medical/altmed/herb/eucalyptus