Techniques to Use at Home To Stimulate Lymphatic Drainage

By Julie Galvan CMT

The primary function of the lymphatic system is to keep the fluids equalized throughout your body. It also works closely  with your immune system. You’ve experienced this when your lymph nodes increase in size when you are sick. There is no pump for the  lymph fluid so we need to work to get a sluggish lymph system going. For some people these techniques to stimulate the lymph system are only needed to get it started, while others need to do these on a regular basis.

All lymph has its final drainage place just above your collar bone. The main areas of  lymph nodes are in the armpit and groin (imagine a line between your hip bone and pubic bone). The main drainage for the head is behind the angle of the jaw and a muscle just behind it (SCM). It is about one finger width. I give you these details because knowledge is powerful and so is imagery. Use these techniques below with this in mind.

Basic things that encourage your lymph to get going are

movement, laughter, and deep breathing!


Simple movements to stimulate the lymph circulation in the chest and underarm area in particular.

Stand in a relaxed position. Hold your arms out parallel to the floor, palms down, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arms  in small circles;  forward  ten  times, backwards ten times. Then  repeat this, now rotating  in medium size circles and again in large circles. Repeat this cycle two to three times, several times during the day. Breathing while doing it will increase your lymph circulation even more!  If this is too much, lie on your side and do one arm at a time, and do as many repetitions you can. If ten circles is too much for you, start with one. If you are flared up and can’t move your arms, move your wrists and ankles, breathe deeply, and laugh as much as possible.

To stimulate your lymph begin with one of the following methods daily*.

Use one for 2-3 days, then add another for 2-3 days,  then add another.   Stop anytime you  feel  it helps you stimulate your lymphatic system without causing a detox reaction that is too intense for you.

 Dry Brushing

Using a natural dry bristle shower brush on dry skin. Lightly scrub  little circles on your skin  from limbs  inward towards the heart  (as you do it more you can scrub with more pressure). Scrub the neck down  to  the collar bones. Scrub the back, chest, and abdomen in any direction.

Contrasting Showers

The  last minute or so of your shower make  it hotter  than usual. Then the last 30 seconds turn the water to tepid. When you leave the shower you shouldn’t be cold, but refreshed.

 Salt Scrubs

Alba  Botanica has a very nice salt scrub. I like the combination of oil to salt and they use a very effective essential oil  for  the  lymph…grapefruit. Cypress is another. If you choose to do this continually,  it is very easy and much less expensive to make it yourself.

Contrasting Baths

Take a bath that is hot enough to sweat for about 20 minutes. To begin with use 2 cups of Epsom salt, and 1 cup of baking soda.  As you continue doing this, you can add more salt and baking soda – up to 1 pound of Epsom salt.  At the end
of  the bath, shower off  in  refreshing  (not  freezing)  tepid water. You may use essential oils in the bath if you tolerate these well.  Many people prefer lavender for this purpose.

Combine dry brushing, salt scrubs, hot bath once a week.
Conscious Breathing

Even if you cannot walk or jump on a rebounder right now, you can sit in a chair outside or  by  a  window  and  do  some  simple  breathing  exercises.  Here are a few basic breathing exercises to get you started.

Sit  up  in  a  comfortable  position,  maybe  a  chair  or  chaise  lounge.  Sitting  outside  is preferable or at least by an open window with some fresh air, if it’s not too cold.  Get  comfortable  and  relaxed.  Just  sit  and  let  yourself  breathe  naturally,  admiring  the view and letting go of all thoughts or emotions right now. Bring your attention to your lower abdomen – the area just below your belly button. If you like, you can rest the palm of your hand there, with your thumb resting on your umbilicus (belly button). Simply  let your attention rest on  the  lower belly, observing  the rising and falling of your belly with each breath. You are not making your breath do anything, you are simply observing.

After a  few minutes of  this, slowly  take a deep breath, breathing  right  into  the palm of your hand resting on your belly. Feel your belly fill with air. Then slowly exhale, allowing your  hand  to  follow  your belly down. As you inhale again, feel the expansion in your diaphragm  (the  lower part of the rib cage) as that gently expands with each  inhale. As you exhale, notice again how the diaphragm feels. Do this gently and rhythmically for a few minutes. This rhythmic expansion and contraction of  the diaphragm helps pump blood and lymph through the liver.

If you have any questions, please ask your healthcare practitioner.

*if you have had any  lymph nodes removed or have had radiation  therapy, please consult with your  healthcare  practitioner  before  beginning  these  suggestions.

For as long as she can remember, Julie has always had an insatiable curiosity about the body. While seeking her degree in Modern Dance, she was introduced to bodywork and shortly had a long line at lunch for those seeking relief from their aches and pains. At that time, she did everything she could imagine; all kinds of stretching, moving, imagery, self-talk, in concert with her in depth knowledge of anatomy and how the body moves. By the mid-90’s, she discovered CranioSacral Therapy. This set a trajectory of recognition, acknowledgment and interacting with the intelligence each body has to heal itself. She went onward to Lymphatic Drainage, Visceral Manipulation and recently added Neural Manipulation and The Franklin Method to her bag of tools. If this wasn’t enough, she became inspired and intrigued with the Frequency Specific Microcurrent. She now considers it her dance partner in bodywork. Its ability to tap into the intelligence of the body in a kind, supportive way, dovetails beautifully with the work she’s been a student of for so many years now.