If you are currently in cancer treatment and had lymph nodes removed due to a cancer diagnosis, you may have experienced swelling and pain from lymphedema. Lymphedema can be very painful, which can make it hard for you to feel well enough to return to work or perform your daily activities. Compression garments such as compression sleeves and lymphatic massages can be effective ways to help treat pain and swelling associated with lymphedema. A lymphatic massage can help promote the movement of lymph fluid.
Dry brushing is an old Ayurvedic practice you can do at home, just prior to taking a shower to help stimulate your lymphatic system. All you need is a natural bristle brush with a long handle to help reach your back and lower limbs. It may seem weird to use a brush on your dry skin. However, dry brushing is a great practice to help increase circulation, promote lymph flow and drainage, and provide a gentle exfoliation for removing dry and flaky skin.
Here are the steps you need to take to start dry brushing at home
1) Purchase a natural bristle brush such as the one pictured above
2) Just prior to taking a shower, take your natural bristle brush and start at the ankles, using long strokes from the ankle to the top of the thigh. Continue until you have used the brush on the entire leg. Then, proceed to the opposite leg.
3) Move to your arms by taking long upward strokes from the top of your hand to your shoulder. Then, repeat on the opposite arm.
4) Move to your back area, by using your brush and taking long strokes of your brush from the waist up to the top of your shoulder. Continue until all of your back area has been brushed.
5) Never use the dry brush on your breast, face, or any other sensitive areas. You can use small circular motions with the brush on your stomach area or skip this area.
6) Once you complete dry brushing, take a shower or bath and add some natural moisturizer on your skin such as shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, or some other all-natural moisturizer.
7) You should dry-brush at least two to three times per week to help stimulate your lymphatic system.
Finally, if you currently get lymphatic massages to help with managing pain from lymphedema, try using a dry brush in between massage appointments. The lymphatic system is a part of our immune system. When the lymphatic system is not working properly due to cancer treatment, the removal of lymph nodes, or some other illness, we can naturally stimulate the movement of lymph with dry brushing. You can find a natural dry brush from natural food markets, Target, Walmart, Ulta, and on Amazon.
National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute (2019, October). Introduction to the Lymphatic System. Retrieved from: https://www.training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/lymphatic/