In This Article
The Lymphatic System
As a nation, we spend billions of dollars on making the surface of our skin look attractive. But did you know that you have an inner skin that lines almost all the surfaces of the inside of your body? This inner skin continuously drains toxins from your body through the lymphatic system. It is said that we would be dead in just a few hours without it. If we treated our inner skin as well as we treat our surface skin, we would look amazing and prevent many chronic diseases.
In this video newsletter, I discuss the amazing dance that takes place right between the skin and the lymphatic tissue. It is here that the immune system works its magic. You do not want to miss this video and article as I take you step by step through the process of supporting immunity, skin and health.
Optimal Health Resides Between the Skin and Lymph
The skin’s impact on health, disease prevention and immunity has been underestimated. While the skin protects, nourishes and detoxifies the surface area of the body – this is really just the tip of an indispensable iceberg. The skin would be an extremely important topic to discuss even if I were just talking about the outside layer that wraps the body – but I’m not. The skin and its associate are about to blow your mind.
The skin wraps the outside of the body, all surfaces of every vessel, tube, and artery, every organ (including the lungs, heart, intestines, diaphragm, glands) and the cavities that hold all these organs. It is everywhere! The reality is that your skin turned inside out covers almost all of the human body and will determine your health, vitality, immunity and ever-so-important appearance.
Your Outer Skin Reflects the Health of Your Whole Body
Did you know that 80% of what your skin looks like on the outside is determined by the function of the skin on the inside? As the outer skin protects, nourishes and detoxifies the body, the inner skin does the same for the inside of the body and is responsible for almost every function of the body.
We spend so much time, effort and money caring for just the surface layer of the skin to make it glow and shine. Could you imagine how amazing you would look and feel if you cared for your inner skin in the same manner?
Skin Imbalances are a Sign of Toxicity
If the lymphatic system is not functioning well and the skin cannot drain, the skin becomes toxic, dry, wrinkled and non-functional. Skin rashes, acne, and just about every type of skin condition may be reflecting the function of your SALT.
But be warned, a chronic yet mild skin condition is your body telling you, “I can’t get the waste out through regular channels of elimination so I am dumping it out through the skin – I hope that’s OK.” No, it is not OK! We often just live with these nuisance skin irritations while the major detox channels are asleep at the wheel! We just can’t let these nagging signs of sluggish detox linger. We must support the cause of the blemishes you see on the skin. Even a poor complexion may be a sign of boggy lymph or a compromise in some other detox channel.
Below I describe how to help restore the function of the skin by de-stagnating the lymph vessels that drain the skin.
Meet the Skin’s Significant Other: The Lymph
The skin would not be able to perform all of its detoxifying, nourishing and protective functions without its associate, the Skin-Associated Lymphatic Tissue (SALT). Every square inch of the skin is drained by this lymphatic tissue and it is here, at this juncture, where it all happens.
80% of the immune response of the body resides in the gut, where the ciliated skin of the small intestine meets the lymphatic system. This is the largest concentration of lymph in the body, called Gut-Associated Lymphatic Tissue (GALT) and is just one example of the powerful relationship between the lymph and skin.
Vibrant Health and Skin in 3 Steps
STEP 1: Drain the Lymph. In my last video newsletter, I discussed the top three causes of lymphatic congestion.
- Stress: Cortisol acidifies the body and congests the lymph.
- Irritation of the intestinal villi will congest the GALT.
- Iodine Deficiency effects cellular metabolism and congests the lymph.
While these are the most common causes of lymphatic congestion I often have to directly de-stagnate the lymph to get the inner and outer skin to drain again.
For this I use two herbs:
Manjistha: A systemic lymphatic de-stagnating herb that is great for the skin anywhere in the body. When the SALT, GALT and MALT are draining well, the body can actually detoxify itself. If you are experiencing any of the Symptoms of Lymphatic Congestion, please read more about Manjistha.
Recommended Dose: 1 capsule, 3 times per day after food.
Red Root: If you are experiencing chronically swollen lymph nodes, think about using Red Root. This is a lymph detoxifying herb that specializes in congested and swollen lymph nodes.
Recommended Dose: 1 dropper full, 3 times per day after food.
STEP 2: Restore the Function of the Inner and Outer Skin
Neem: Neem is only one herb that has the ability to rejuvenate damaged skin in a comprehensive manner. Neem is often called the Queen of Skin and the Village Pharmacy in India because of its broad effectiveness. As I mentioned, if this herb can support the skin on the surface of the body it can also support the skin that lines the inside of the body*.
Support Digestion (the Skin Inside the Intestines)
Amalaki: Another herb that I use almost exclusively for the skin of the intestinal wall. This skin, or mucus membranes of the gut, drain into the GALT. If you experience any loose stools, mucus in the stools or intestinal irritation, consider Amalaki as an herb to support the lining of the gut.
STEP 3: Make That Skin Glow
Now that we have restored the function of the associated lymph that drains the skin, we are ready to make it shine! In 1998, after practicing Ayurveda for about 10 years, it became clear that during Panchakarma detox therapies, the skin was not really functioning well as an organ. As the skin is the largest organ of the body and a major drain on the lymph, I saw the need to design a line of products that would help it function optimally. I partnered with a natural pharmacist and skincare expert to design a totally chemical- and preservative-free skincare line that we called Medicines for the Skin.
The goal is to use the skin as a vehicle to stimulate better lymphatic drainage in the SALT and thereby restore function and glow to the skin. The basic design of my skincare line is to impregnate lymph moving and skin-repairing herbs into natural moisturizing factors which gently penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin. I invite you to read up on some of the amazing products we have created for restoring the natural function of the skin.
Dig Deeper: The Physiology of Your Skin and Lymph
When we care for the inner skin, we help prevent the majority of chronic diseases and enjoy radiant skin. We are wrapped on the inside and outside with epithelium of different sizes and shapes that are all governed by the rules of epithelial function – to protect, nourish and detoxify. Based on need, different types of skin line different structures. For example, the epithelium that lines the inside of the arterial wall is different than the epithelium that lines the gut or lungs, or the cavity in which these organs sit. But just as human skin may differ from whale or elephant skin, it is all skin just the same.
The skin is covered with cells called the epithelium. Different kinds of epithelial cells wrap the human body both inside and out. See the sidebar at right, Under the Hood, to learn about the different layers of skin.
Is Your Skin Worth its SALT?
Beneath the epidermis of the skin, and extending into the dermis, is a layer of lymphatic tissue concentrations called the Skin Associated Lymphatic Tissue (SALT). This is just one type of Mucus-Associated Lymphatic Tissues (MALT) that underlies all the epithelial skin of the body. The SALT skin provides immune and detoxification support to the inner skin. See the sidebar to learn how your lymphatic system works.
Your Inner Skin Is Your Immune System
The epithelium (skin) of the internal organs is most commonly drained via a series of lymph concentrations called Mucus-Associated Lymphatic Tissue (MALT). SALT is a form of MALT. All of the mucus membranes of the body have very active lymphatic drainage vessels. Remember, the highest concentration of lymph in the body is the GALT. It is here that nutritional fats, chyle, and toxic fats are transported from the villi and lacteals of the small intestine into the GALT.
If the lymph is moving, then the B and T lymphocytes (white blood cells in the lymph nodes) can identify and attack pathogens and invaders that may pose a threat. It is estimated that about 25 billion lymphocytes pass through each of the 500 lymph nodes every day when the lymph is flowing well.
This forgotten system of drainage, detox and immunity is the first system we treat in Ayurveda. It makes sense that we evaluate the ability of the body to drain its waste before we do anything else.