Lymph Love: Supporting the Immune System through Self Care Practices
It hasn’t felt like a normal winter here in Northern California. With the devastation from the fires in early November and the smoke that polluted the air for weeks after, we’re leaning on lymphatic remedies to support our immune system. You don’t have to live in in the smoke zone to benefit from these simple at home remedies. Eating heavy food from the holidays, traveling and less physical activity in the cooler months makes this the perfect time to focus on supporting the natural flow of our lymphatic systems and to come back to these practices often. Staying hydrated internally + externally helps our lymphatic system, aka our immune system, do what it does best—helps our body naturally remove toxins from the body, promotes healthy circulation, supports our kidney and adrenal glands and nourishes our nervous system.
One of my favorite self-care routines is a lymph love self care night in. If I’m feeling like my energy is a bit sluggish, my digestion is “off” or feel colder than usual, I’ll plan out an evening to indulge in the practices below. I’ll light candles, put on soothing music and create a calming environment to drift off to sleep after I’m done. Its amazing to wake up in the morning feeling rested, in my body and with more grounded energy. You don’t have to follow this routine exactly, but I’m sharing it to inspire your own unique home practice.
Eat a light dinner
I’ll usually prepare a simple soup with medicinal bone broth packed with healing immune supporting roots like astragalus and reishi. If you don’t have these roots, add in turmeric or ginger for a medical kick. I love roasted squash soups, brothy bean + greens soups or a simple miso soup with rice is also satisfying.
Electrolyte salt water
Adding Atlantic grey salt to my water has done wonders for my hydration since being introduced to this practice by our Ayurvedic teacher, DeAnna Batdorff. For someone who would forget to drink water, a sign of chronic dehydration, I find myself enjoying water with sea salt throughout the day and have noticed a big difference in my energy and mood when I don’t stay hydrated this way. I’ll make sure I pour a big glass before doing the salt scrub + bath. Electrolyte water should taste slightly saline with about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon grey salt in a 8oz glass of water.
Pour a warm bath
An hour or so after my light dinner, I’ll pour a hot bath to dip into right after my salt scrub. Sometimes I’ll add fresh or dried aromatic herbs like mugwort, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena or chamomile to a small muslin bag to toss into the bath. Though this step is optional, the herbs help to create another level of calm and invite us to soak in the magical properties of the plant realm as we relax in the bath. If you’ve never done this, I highly suggest it.
If the only ritual you took away from this short guide was to do a salt scrub, I’d be happy. Salt scrubs have been life changing for me in terms of promoting healthy circulation, creating warmth in my body and leaving my skin feeling silky smooth + glowy. Its a ritual I’ll always make time for because I know I’ll feel the benefits immediately, plus it helps me get into my body and out of my head before bed. You can buy great scrubs, but making your own is inexpensive and easy to do.
HOW TO MAKE A SALT SCRUB
Use inexpensive finely ground sea salt and an oil of your choice to form a thick paste. Sunflower oil is tridoshic, meaning good for all body types, but I prefer to use sesame as I’m after its warming nature. You can mix the salt + oil in a jar or small bowl to the texture of your liking, making sure its not so oily that the salt doesn’t exfoliate and not so salty that its too exfoliating or rough. Stand on a towel in your bathroom and apply the oil starting at your feet and working in upward motions towards your heart. You’ll want to “scrub” until your pink, indicating fresh blood coming to the skin. Work your way up vigorously as this helps to pump the lymph and get your circulation moving. Gently scrub your neck + face if you feel called to, though that can be irritating for some folks. Finally, slip into your bath carefully and try to focus on your breath for 10-15 minutes or until you’re ready to get out.
Bundle up for tea + bed
When I’m done with my bath, I’ll slowly get out of the tub and pat dry with a towel so I don’t remove the oil from the scrub. I’ll get into a plush robe and comfy socks then get under the covers in my bed with a warm mug of tea and a good book. Sometimes I’ll do a guided mediation instead of tea if I’m feeling super grounded and tuned in. When I’m ready for bed, I’ll throw on warm pjs and turn off the lights. I tend to do this ritual two times a week and I find it helps support my digestion, circulation and lymphatic flow but its up to you tune into what feels the most nourishing during the week.