What are lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes are small, spherical organs of the immune system responsible for the processing and breakdown of infectious bacteria, fungi, viruses and microorganisms. Sometimes, particularly during periods of illness and hormone disbalance, individuals may experience bloating and inflammation of their lymph nodes in the face and other regions of the body, such as the underarms, neck, breasts, and groin - depending on the circumstances, this may or may not be a sign of a potentially concerning disease. Lymph nodes cannot be felt or palpated in the body unless they are swollen, as small, hard and warm balls under the subcutaneous tissues. It’s important to educate people regarding lymphatic health and how they can ensure they immune system stays on top of its game.
However, on the daily, our lymph nodes need cleansing and a little help regulating water retention and keep the body free of unwanted toxins. The lymphatic system, unlike the cardiovascular and circulatory system, lacks an efficient pump to keep the fluid in constant motion. It relies largely on gravity, compression and gross bodily movements of muscle contractions to keep it going, much like veins do. One method, from the field of alternative medicine, is known as lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage is usually performed by massage therapists, physical therapists and specialized physicians and immunologists. Not surprisingly, some of these methods can be easily conducted on oneself and can greatly benefit the body and the mind, taking only about 5 minutes of the day. This is both helpful to the immune system, relieving its burden, as well as the overall outer appearance of the skin and face.
Bloated face? Headaches? Chronic runny nose?
Some of the most common everyday complaints heard at the doctor's office are those of sinus congestion, migraines and inflammation or bloating in the upper body and face. An excellent facial lymphatic drainage technique can be an efficient management technique for these symptoms, while it is important to treat the underlying problem first and foremost. Lymphatic drainage may also be done after surgery and alongside medical treatment. It flushes the toxins in the head and neck to the appropriate lymph nodes to breakdown the microorganisms responsible for the inflammation, draining the sinuses of the skull and relieving fluid retention from the face.
The 5 steps to a good, relaxing facial massage
- Ensure your hands are clean
- Apply a pea-sized dose of coconut, argan or olive oil
- Steam your face if you prefer or do so in the shower
- Ensure that your touch is gentle, circular, deep and feather-soft and DO NOT compress the skin or apply crude touch
Rub the center of the forehead firmly in a circular motion (30 s)
Rub the temples and down the sides of the face (30 s)
Rub under the eye with the ring finger or little finger in a crescent shape, along the edge of the bone (30 s)
Rub the arch of the eyebrow and outward to the temples (30 s)
Begin under the eyes and push outwards towards the ears (30 s)
Push down under the ears and push down the areas near the nose (30 s)
Massage down the neck and into the junction of where the collarbones meet (30 s)
Massage from the inside of the collarbones out into the shoulder and into the chest (30 s)
Everyday tips to improve lymphatic flow in the body
Wearing baggy clothes - tight and constricting clothing, including bras, vests and binders, can trap vital lymph nodes in the axillary and thoracic regions. Wear binders and bras without metal underwiring and check for comfortable elastic. Finally, remove them when you go to bed to promote excellent circulation, as waste accumulation in the venous system increases during the night and at rest.
Dry brushes, exfoliating gloves and foam-rollers - these items are both affordable and effective at increasing lymphatic flow and drainage throughout the body, particularly the lower extremities and the back. Warm up the bath or run a hot shower, and before you hop in, scrub gently at your arms and legs against gravity, toward the heart and chest region, where the powerhouse lymph nodes lie.
Cold shot - after that well deserved hot shower, with its many benefits of muscle and mental relaxation, increased circulatory flow and antibacterial benefits, give yourself a shot of cold water. Lymphatic vessels constrict under low temperatures and dilate in response to elevated temperatures. When creating a hot-cold temperature gradient shock in your body accordingly, you would be forcing the lymphatic system to "pump" stagnant, toxic fluids accumulated in your limbs and vital areas against gravity, thus improving the health of the immune system greatly.