Guest blog post by Lisa Goodstein, DOM
Last week I wrote that Oriental Medicine does not recommend specific spring detoxification however; there are some gentle detoxification methods that can be easily incorporated into your daily life. One is drinking warm water with the juice from half an organic lemon squeezed into it first thing in the morning. (Lemon is sour and supports your Liver). If the lemon irritates your stomach, just drink the warm water without it. If you are constipated, or your stools are hard or your evacuation feels sluggish this will help, especially if you also have a glass of warm water before bed. Warm water does not mean room temperature. The water must be heated, not to a point of hot, but definitely warmed. Another method is dry skin brushing.
Dry brushing removes surface dead skin cells and stimulates the lymph system which removes a lot of our body’s waste. Poor lymphatic drainage contributes to arthritis, cellulite and high blood pressure. This technique can be done year round. If you are not currently doing it, this is a great time to start.
All you need is a bristle brush with a long detachable handle. Most health food stores carry these brushes. The brush must be used when it, and your skin is dry. (It is advisable to wash the bristles in warm soapy water every 2 weeks). Brush your body once daily prior to a shower or bath. The whole process only takes 5 minutes. If you do this daily, it is also good to take a few days break every month so your body does not become lazy, similar to the pulsing method while taking supplements. The technique is rather simple: always brush toward your lymphatic glands. There are several throughout our bodies but the two main areas are near the groin and underneath the clavicles.
Be gentle with your skin. If you brush too strongly, you could scratch or irritate your skin and not engage your lymphatic system, which is just shallow to your skin’s surface. First, start at the soles of your feet, then the tops and the ankles, move up your legs. Use long strokes on your legs toward the upper inner thigh. Brush your fingers, hands and arms towards your shoulders. On your buttocks and back, stroke towards the front to follow the lymph system. For your abdomen, use circular strokes from right to left – following the direction of your colon. Be gentle on your chest, the skin is thinner here – again, you are stroking towards your clavicles.
Areas to avoid include genitals, nipples particularly if you are a female; areas of skin which are infected or broken, eczema, psoriasis, and areas of bulging painful varicose veins. This method is not to be used on the neck or face because the skin is too fragile.
After your shower or bath, you can massage into your skin essential oils diluted in a carrier oil such as sweet almond, sunflower or sesame oil. You can use a single essential oil such as cypress, which is wonderful for detoxification or blend it with juniper and lemon or grapefruit in a very small concentration. Both of these citrus oils can be skin irritants and make you more sensitive to sunlight. Do not use them if you will be in the sun.
Examples of possible essential oil blends which assist the lymphatic system with 1 ounce of carrier oil: 6 drops cypress, 3 drops juniper, 1 drop lemon or grapefruit. Use this blend daily for not more than 3 days consecutively. To make a gentler blend you could try 3-4 drops of cypress and 5-6 drops of lavender, not to exceed 10 drops total. Experiment with the oils and discover what suits you. Cathy has pre-blended oils for the bath and individual essential oils on her Iris Herbal website.
I admit I do get out of the habit of dry skin brushing at times. When I remember to start again, I feel better and my skin looks healthier. Having a human body can be a lot to take care of! I hope you are enjoying Spring, this wonderful season of rebirth, and use some gentle detoxification if you feel it is appropriate. Always remember to check in with yourself. You are usually your best authority.
Lisa Goodstein, DOM