Back to Basics
Dry skin brushing is one of the oldest and most effective treatments for detoxing and rejuvenating your body as well as maintaining positively radiant skin!
Despite my best intentions, I often find myself researching and experimenting with the next-best-thing, letting fall from my awareness what I know to be vital health care practices. Like the peddler whose children run barefoot, I don’t always practice what I preach 🙂 Through grace, I do eventually re-member and connect with myself through this ancient daily practice.
Did you know that your skin is the largest elimination organ in your body? It releases about a pound of waste each day…every time I think of this I am amazed! For this reason, the skin is often called the 3rd kidney, eliminating one quarter of the total toxins from the body (the lungs are the 2nd kidney). It is also be the first organ to show symptoms of inflammation, reduced immune response or toxicity in our system. Like the canary in the coalmine, it is important to pay attention to its signals before imbalance progresses. When toxins are produced faster than the body can process and release them, they are suspended in fat and interstitial spaces in an attempt to protect the organs. This toxic buildup results in soft and connective tissue inflammation and excessive buildup of lymph fluid (think fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and a multitude of immune system disorders). Toxic build-up and sluggish lymph circulation impairs your body’s ability to function optimally. A few problems related to limited lymphatic function are:
- Acne breakouts that are slow to heal, often with scarring
- Bumps under the skin surface
- rashes and hives
- Sensitive, allergic skin
- Premature aging skin
- Cellulite (inflammation of the connective tissue and lymphatics)
- Varicose veins
- body odor
- Excess scarring and stretch marks
- Edema or phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) are other obstacles that can impede the lymphatics
- eczema and psoriasis
While these disorders can be attributed to other imbalances within the body, the lymphatic system often plays a major role.
How the Lymph System Works
The function of your lymph vessels is to collect waste materials.They operate in much the same way your blood vessels do. The main difference between the blood flowing in the circulatory system and the lymph flowing in the lymph system is that blood is pressurized by the heart, while the lymph system is passive. There is no “lymph pump” like there is a “blood pump” (the heart). Instead, fluids ooze into the lymph system and get pushed by normal body and muscle motion (think exercise) to the lymph nodes. They are like little one-way valves distributed throughout your skin. By brushing your skin in the direction towards your heart, you help circulate the lymph for better functioning. (FYI: Exercise can increase lymph flow ten to thirty fold. Regular exercise is the most important factor in keeping a healthy lymph flow. Rebounding or jumping on a trampoline is also a wonderful way to stimulate the lymphatic system. Sweating through exercise or saunas also boosts circulation and lymph detox.)
Lymph is a clear liquid that nourishes the cells with water and nutrients. Lymph is blood plasma — the liquid that makes up blood minus the red and white cells. Think about it — each cell does not have its own private blood vessel feeding it, yet it has to get food, water, and oxygen to survive. Blood transfers these materials to the lymph through the capillary walls, and lymph carries it to the cells. The cells also produce proteins and waste products and the lymph absorbs these products and carries them away. Any random bacteria that enter the body also find their way into this inter-cell fluid. One job of the lymph system is to drain and filter these fluids to detect and remove the bacteria.
- The lymphatic system aids the immune system in destroying pathogens and filtering waste so that the lymph can be safely returned to the circulatory system.
- Its also removes excess fluid, waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, cancer cells, and toxins from these cells and the tissue spaces between them.
- In addition, the lymphatic system works with the circulatory system to deliver nutrients, oxygen, and hormones from the blood to the cells that make up the tissues of the body.
Dry skin brushing also effectively exfoliates your whole body to remove dead skin cells, excreted wastes and external pollution (including dirt and skin care products) that can build up and clog your follicles. Clogged follicles inhibit your skin from effectively releasing toxins.(Regular sweating can also help with this.)
If toxins are unable to escape through the skin they will either be stored in fat cells, contributing to cellulite and other fatty deposits, or they will be re-circulated back into the blood stream, overworking the kidneys, liver and other detox organs. Thus a seemingly simple and easy therapy like dry skin brushing can support the proper balance of your whole body. Dry brushing gives it a helping hand as well as exfoliates the outer dead skin cells
If the lymphatic system becomes congested, blocked, damaged or severed, fluids can build up in the connective tissue leading to edema. After a time, cell pathology may begin. If there is damage in the connective tissue due to burns, chronic inflammation, ulceration, or other factors, the lymph system transports damaged cells, inflammatory products and toxins away from the area. The more quickly this can happen, the faster recovery will be.
The liver is very permeable to fluids which flow freely into the liver’s lymphatic system. The liver is an expanding and contracting reservoir of blood, lymph and bile. If circulation is weak, these fluids will have a tendency to congest the liver.
Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing – Much More than Skin Deep!
Everyone knows that exfoliating the skin is great for creating radiant healthy looking skin. But did you know it’s also an essential tool for good circulation, strengthening the immune system, stimulating the nervous system, toning the muscles and improving digestion? Here is a list of the many inspiring benefits of dry skin brushing:
- Stimulates blood and lymph flow. The lymphatic system is an important part of your cleansing and immune system. White blood cells called lymphocytes carry nutrients to cells and remove waste. The lymph flows outside of the circulatory system to bathe, cleanse and restore all of our cells, but it must be returned to the blood vessels to dump its waste. It does this through tiny lymph vessels with one-way valves to the heart. If we don’t move the lymph quickly enough we end up with swollen tissues, particularly in the ankles. Exercise, massage and skin brushing help to speed the process and clear the lymphatic system.
- Removes dead skin cells. Dry skin is a sign of detoxification. It is important to remove the dead cells to keep from clogging the system. This will also improve skin texture and renew the skin cells.
- Stimulates the hormone and oil glands. With daily brushing and bathing, the skin can produce the oil needed to stay healthy, Sweating is an important part of detoxification but when your system is clogged, you may experience foul body odor and extra work is put onto the bladder, kidneys and liver. With regular exercise and cleansing the skin, you will notice that your sweat no longer smells. However, with increased detoxing on your whole body cleanse, you may find it gets worse before it gets better.
- Reduces cellulite. It will require 5-15 minutes of daily brushing over a period of 1-4 one months to begin seeing results. When you massage the connective tissue and stimulate the skin, it allows for the release of toxic deposits stored in the fatty tissues. It is possible that is may facilitate the release of stored emotions as well 🙂
- Strengthens the immune system. Dry skin brushing can reduce the length of infections and illness by moving the toxins more quickly through the system and stimulating the lymph to move waste matter out.
- Stimulates the nervous system, tones the muscles, tightens the skin. By stimulating nerve endings in the skin, this technique will rejuvenate your nerves and activate individual muscle fibers, resulting in toner muscles. The increased blood flow to skin, and removing of dead cells, stimulates the creation of new skin cells which tightens and regenerates overall skin health.
- Nurtures your body. Maybe one of the most important benefits of this practice is purely the pleasure of nurturing your body. Learning to love your body is essential for weight loss and the healing of any bodily “dis-ease.” Spend this time, 5-15 minutes per day, giving your body the attention it craves and deserves. It works hard to support you. Giving it superior support will reward you many times over.
Selecting a Dry Skin Brush
Choose a dry skin brush that has natural fiber bristles and a long handle for reaching all of your back. The bristles may feel too firm at first, but your skin will acclimate to this over time. If you have very sensitive skin, you may want to start with a softer brush or use a dry towel in the beginning.
How to Use Your Dry Skin Brush
- Brush your dry body before you shower or bathe, preferably in the morning. Sometimes I like to add a drop or two of a circulation-boosting blend of essential oils. My favorites are juniper & ruby red grapefruit.
- Start at your feet and always brush toward your heart. Use brisk, light strokes toward your heart. (I like to do a moving meditation, imagining stagnant energy moving toward my heart for love transformation 🙂
- Brush all the way up your legs, then over your abdomen, buttocks, and back. If you have cellulite on your hips and thighs, spend a little more time there. For complete dissolving of cellulite, brush for 10 minutes daily for several months. (Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself. Treat yourself as you would a loved one, cellulite or not. What you love and accept has an easier time releasing. There’s truth to the saying that what we resist, persists 🙂
- Brush lightly on sensitive areas like breasts and more firmly on areas like soles of the feet.
- When you reach your arms, begin at your fingers and brush up your arms, toward your heart. Brush your shoulders and chest down, always toward your heart.
- Avoid brushing anywhere the skin is broken or where you have a rash, infection, cut or wound.
- Finish by taking a shower and if you choose, alternate cold and hot water to stimulate the lymph further while boosting circulation. You will love how invigorated you feel!
- Dry off and massage some plant oils into your skin. Sesame, jojoba, avocado, coconut, or a blend such as Sweet Sisters Flow Bath & Body Oil with formulated with cellulite-reducing essential oils or super moisturizing Shea Butter Cream are wonderful choices.
- If this is uncomfortable at first, brush only lightly & for a short period of time. Soon you will brush using more pressure & will enjoy the process.
I encourage you to give this practice a few weeks to become a welcome part of your daily routine. Here’s to smooth, soft, radiant skin and a healthy YOU!