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Plants that were historically used as dyes, such as berries, cherries, beets and turmeric, were commonly used as lymph movers, or what we now know as antioxidants. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all traditional dyes and well-documented antioxidants.
Pomegranates are the lymph movers for the fall and beets and cranberries support healthy lymphatic flow in the winter.
In Ayurveda, the study of rejuvenation and longevity is called rasayana. Rasa mean lymph, and so, rasayana is the study of the rasa or lymphatic system. If Ayurveda – which is still one of the largest systems of medicine in the world – is saying that the study of lymph is the study of longevity, and it has been saying so for at least 3000 years, I believe the lymph deserves our attention.
Your Lymph: A Busy Two-Way Street
While the lymph, according to Ayurveda, brings nutrition into the cells, it is most famous for its role in removing waste from the body. The lymph drains the intercellular spaces all over the body. Any waste, debris or toxicity finds itself first and foremost in the lymph to be processed out of the body. Thus, strategies for better lymph flow are valuable tools for optimal overall health.
Perhaps Ayurveda’s premier herbal lymphatic support is a root called Manjistha (Rubia cordifolia, meaning “red root.”) Classically used as a red dye like its lymph-moving cousins mentioned above, Manjistha is an herb I have been using clinically with great effectiveness for over 30 years.
Upping the Antioxidant Ante
In one study, Manjistha was found to provide powerful liver support when the liver was exposed to higher and higher levels of toxic chemicals. One mechanism by which Manjistha was shown to do this was by boosting the production of glutathione levels. Glutathione is perhaps the body’s most powerful antioxidant. (1) In two other studies, Manjistha was found to be a potent antioxidant and, in one, even out-performed some classic antioxidants such as EDTA and vitamin E. (1,2) Remember, antioxidants generally work their magic within the lymphatic system. Manjistha was also shown to protect the good fats in the liver and lymph from lipid peroxidation, which is when good fats become bad fats within the body. (1)
When the lymph gets congested, you might experience tiredness, stiffness in the morning or stiffness that moves around the body. The skin can break out in an attempt to flush toxins through the skin that healthy lymph would otherwise manage. Sinus irritation, the inability to tolerate certain foods, environmental sensitivities, holding onto water in the hands and feet, and bloating around the belly are all signs of lymphatic congestion. During menstruation, the breasts can become tender and hold water, as the lymph drains the reproductive fluid. If you experience any of these, consider the following techniques to support healthy lymph flow.
Other Lymphatic-Moving Techniques:
- Fill 50% of your plate with green veggies (they are alkalizing and move lymph).
- Sip hot water every 10-25 minutes each day for 2 weeks.
- Increase your seaweed intake – seaweed naturally contains iodine, which supports healthy lymph.
- Practice nasal breathing exercise. Check out my 12 Minute Workout.
- Dry brush skin daily (called gharshana) with raw silk gloves.
- Enjoy daily oil massage with Lymphatic Massage Oil.
- Try Manjistha – 400mg 1-3 times per day with meals.