Dry Brushing: Is it an Answer to Lymphedema?

istock 182830021Dry brushing is a common Ayurvedic practice that has existed for centuries. It is believed to offer several benefits, from reducing cellulite to aiding in systemic detoxification. Because dry brushing has been linked to lymph drainage, some people wonder if it is a practice they should learn to help them manage the symptoms of lymphedema. Here, we discuss what it means to dry brush and what it may or may not mean for the person with lymphedema.

The dry brushing technique involves running a dry-bristled body brush over the skin using a particular motion. The coarse, natural fibers that make bristles exfoliate the skin, which is believed to assist with the elimination of toxins through the pores. Few studies have been conducted to observe the value of dry brushing. Data does suggest that, when done gently, this practice is generally safe. Dry brushing is even available as a spa service in many facilities. But does that mean is has therapeutic value? The jury is out.

The Lymphatic System and Dry Brushing

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and is involved in fighting off infections. Lymph fluid flows through the lymphatic system and gets filtered through lymph nodes that are located throughout the body. Sometimes, the lymph nodes may become swollen if the body is trying to process a high toxic load or is fighting an active infection. This swelling in the lymph nodes is usually temporary. Dry brushing is thought to help the body process toxins by stimulating the pores to open up. When the pores are opened through dry brushing, it is easier to sweat, increasing lymph activity and elimination.

Although there is limited data to support this belief that dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system to work more efficiently, the practice remains popular. If you are interested in exfoliating your skin so it looks more radiant, dry brushing may be something to do. Some people find dry brushing very relaxing, which can be beneficial for anyone, let alone a person who is managing a chronic health condition. But can it work for lymphedema? Probably not.

Lymphedema is caused by a disruption in the lymphatic system that prevents lymph fluid from circulating and draining properly. The result of this “backup” is swelling and discomfort. Dry brushing, if it did cause lymph to move more adeptly, might just worsen the problem by sending too much fluid at one time. Being a potentially serious medical condition, lymphedema is not something to manage with home remedies. It is a disease that requires specialized care. We are proud to offer that at our office in Glendale. To learn more or schedule your visit, call 323-442-0416.

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