Healing Acne The Herbalist's Way - The Lymphatic System.
In part two of this series, we learned about the importance of keeping our elimination pathways clear in order to prevent stagnation in the body. Acne can definitely be aggravated by sluggish elimination, and that’s where alterative herbs come into play. However, there is another category of alterative herbs that must be considered for complete stagnation removal and these are known as lymphatic herbs.
The Lymphatic System
The lymph is considered to be part of our circulatory system and is made up of organs, vessels, ducts, capillaries, and fluids all of which have no way of circulating itself without stimulation.
The lymphatic system has four functions in the body:
• The removal of fluids between the cells (interstitial fluid) of tissues and then circulating that fluid back into the bloodstream.
• Circulates fatty acids into the bloodstream
• Transports immune cells to and from the lymph nodes
• Creates and circulates lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) throughout the body
Having impaired lymph drainage can lead to poor immune system response and sluggish detoxification. Since the lymphatic system does not have its own pump to move through the body like our blood does, it has to be stimulated through exercise, breathing properly, and the force of gravity. Doing these things will better help your body to eliminate toxins properly.
Healing Acne - Acne and Your Lymph
The lymphatic system is so underrated, but it plays an integral role in our body’s ability to detox, regenerate and nourish tissues, filter through metabolic waste, and support a healthy immune system.
You may have heard that acne is caused by an excess of toxins, waste, and hormones when your body is no longer able to eliminate them. When this happens, your body has no other choice but to eliminate these things the best way it can, often through your skin. Even though the skin is our largest organ and is an elimination pathway, it should not be used as the main pathway to eliminate excess waste. That’s a job for your liver, kidneys, and digestive system. When our skin is erupting in acne, something’s not right and those other elimination pathways need to be supported better.
Skin problems such as acne are often the result of poor elimination. Instead of metabolic waste being “washed” away by the lymph into the bloodstream and then “filtered” through the liver and kidneys, the waste just builds up. By stimulating the lymph, waste management can be kept under control and so can your acne!
A congested lymph won’t normally be the underlying cause of acne, but it can certainly make acne worse because waste hangs out in your body longer than it should. It's very important to have a stimulated lymph in order to support clear skin.
Signs of a Sluggish Lymph System Include
• Getting sick often
• Frequently inflamed lymph nodes
• Frequent colds
• Acne along the jawline, ears, mouth, and cheeks
The Best Lymphatic Herbs for Acne - Draining the Lymph
Lymphatic herbs are a specialized sub-category of alterative herbs that are specifically used for draining the lymph. They can be used to dissolve cysts, shrink swollen lymph glands, and of course, help heal acne.
Lymphagogue (lymph movers) Actions Include
• Increased lymph fluid solvency (helps break up and disperse metabolic waste within the lymph system)
• Stimulates lymph circulation
• Promotes the formation and drainage of the lymph
• Warming or cooling in nature
Lymphatic Herbs are Indicated for Conditions like:
• Stagnant tissues
• Swollen lymph nodes (sore throat, tonsillitis, etc)
• Pelvic congestion
• Fibroid, benign, and cancerous tumors
My Favorite Lymphatic Herbs for Clearing Acne
Here are my personal favorite herbs to use for stimulating the lymph to really get the juices flowing!
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Cleavers is well known for its ability to treat all sorts of lymphatic issues. It is commonly used for many conditions that involve localized inflammation or where lymphatic drainage has been impaired (think of swollen and painful glands like the ones you get on the sides of your throat when getting sick).
Cleavers may work very subtly, but its ability to increase capillary dilation will have your lymph circulating and painful lymph glands softened in no time.
Cleavers Preparations for Lymph Drainage
You can use dried or fresh cleavers to make this tea.
Simply chop up 1-2 teaspoon of fresh or dried herb and add it to 1 cup of boiled spring water. Let steep for 5 minutes and enjoy! Drink this tea up to 3 times per day. You can also try this tea for the same effect.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) aka Marigold
Used as an effective treatment for wounds, stagnation, and as a general “immune tonic” since the days of Western European folk medicine, calendula still shines as one of the best lymphagogues to have in your medicine cabinet.
Calendula is best suited for those with dulled immunity and unresolved lymph stagnation, so if you catch colds easily or they linger for a long time and you have hardened lymph nodes (without active inflammation), calendula is your remedy!
Calendula Preparations for Lymph Drainage
Use 1 TB of dried calendula flowers in 1 cup of boiling spring water and steep for 10 minutes. Drink 2-3 cups per day until your lymph nodes soften and drain. Try this tea for easy use.
***In rare cases a low grade fever may occur due to detox when using calendula.
Use 1-10 drops of calendula tincture in a little water 1-3 times per day.
Calendula Petal Garnish
Brighten your salads, salsas, quiche, frittatas, scrambled eggs, savory rice, and cheesy dishes with a sprinkle of fresh calendula petals!
Add it to your mineral rich bone broths in the winter for an extra immunity/lymphatic boost and your sun teas in the summer.
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia)
Another wonderful multipurpose herb for healing acne is of course, Echinacea. When there’s lymphatic sluggishness, septic debris in the bloodstream (usually characterized by fatigue and a foggy mind), low fever, dull skin, and general exhaustion present, acne can easily take root. But worry not! Echinacea is well appointed to the task of eliminating all of these symptoms, because yes, Echinacea also happens to be an effective lymph mover.
Echinacea Preparations for Lymph Drainage-
Echinacea Tea and Strawberry Popsicles
• 1 ½ cups of fresh sweet strawberries (or any sweet berry)
• ½ cup of raw local honey
• 1 cup of strong Echinacea infusion, cooled
• Blend the ingredients until smooth
• Pour into popsicle molds and enjoy a tasty treat that’s both delicious and good for your skin!
The video below illustrates exactly how to make and use Echinacea tincture.
Here are some more wonderful lymph moving herbs to consider!
Non-Herbal Remedies to get Your Lymph Moving
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil is known for its ability to break up blockages, enhancing circulation, and stimulating the flow of lymph fluid.
To Make a Castor Oil pack, You Will Need:
• Castor oil from your local health food store (I like Heritage
and Home Health---these are affiliate links)
• Flannel or another scrap piece of cloth
• Plastic wrap
• A hot water bottle or hot pack of some kind (I use microwavable rice heating pads like this one)
• At least 1 ½ hours of free time
• A small towel
• Another towel or blanket
Let’s Get Started
• Begin by soaking your piece of cloth in the castor oil. I usually just squirt it on until the flannel is soaked through
• Apply the cloth to the area that needs decongesting (breast, lymph nodes in the throat, under the arms, or groin etc)
• Wrap the area with plastic wrap so that you don’t get oil everywhere
• Put the small towel over the area and then apply your heat pad or hot water bottle
• Bundle up with a blanket
• Let the castor oil do its work for at least 45 min to an hour
• Shower afterwards
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to get your lymph moving by increasing lymph flow and drainage by up to 30 fold the normal rate. So you see, getting regular exercise into your daily routine is an important factor in staying healthy and acne free!
Taking herbs will only help your lymph to a certain degree. It’s really all about getting your butt off the couch and moving around a bit.
My Favorite Exercises for Healthy Lymph Flow Include:
The force of gravity will drain your lymph in no time! Feeling fatigued and sluggish? Go jump rope, rebound, or just jump up and down where you’re standing to feel refreshed and revitalized in just a few minutes, that’s all there is to it!
Gentle stretching will stimulate lymph drainage in a nice relaxing way. I recommend stretching when you wake up in the morning to get things flowing nicely and once more before going to bed.
Yoga works exceptionally well for this and there are tons of videos on youtube to help get you started.
An inversion table allows you to fully stretch out the spine and invert yourself upsidedown while being strapped by the feet.
This allows the joints to decompress and stimulates both the circulatory and lymphatic system and allowing lymphatic fluid to drain.
Practicing yoga is an excellent way to move the body in ways that stimulate the lymphatic system and encouraging detoxification.
The various poses and inversions contract and lengthen the muscles which help drain lymphatic fluid toward the heart which accelerates the rate of cleansing.
Self Lymphatic Massage
Gently tapping right above your collar bone will stimulate lymph drainage in the throat and sinuses. If you have ever woken up with a puffy face try this trick! Not only will it depuff your face, it will also drain your lymph which will help heal your acne faster.
While it may be a bit uncomfortable and scratchy feeling at first, dry brushing is one of the best ways to get your lymph moving. Not only will it help drain toxins, it will also make your skin super smooth after the first week of daily brushing. Try adding one drop of cypress, eucalyptus, yarrow, or rosemary (or a combination of these)to the bristles of your dry brush. You can do this easily by placing one drop of essential oil on your palm and then rubbing the brush across the oil to disperse it evenly.
How to Dry Brush for Lymph Drainage
• Using light and short brush strokes, begin at the soles of your feet and brush upwards towards the heart
• Brush your legs front and back
• Brush your torso and back
• Brush the palms of your hands, your fingers, and then your arm all towards your heart
• Brush down your neck and chest
Try dry brushing daily for at least 2 full minutes before bathing. Doing this will open your pores, remove dead skin cells, stimulate circulation, and of course, make your skin beautiful!
***One side benefit is dry brushing will actually help break up cellulite! Who doesn’t want that??
Have you healed your acne through lymphatic drainage? Please share in the comments!
You may also enjoy reading:
The Complete List of Comedogenic Oils
12 Ways to Treat Acne Inside and Out
Homemade Drying Lotion for Acne
5 Easy Remedies for Cystic Acne
Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation Naturally Without a Trip to the Dermatologist
Natural Home Remedies for Acne Scars
Healing Acne- The Herbalist’s Way Part 1
Healing Acne- The Herbalist’s Way Part 2
2 Ingredient at Home Microdermabrasion
Essential Oils for Hormonal Acne
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