one for the ladies....

...not that we don't love the men subscribers, but this one is for us ladies-- the ones with a "pair of ladies"...A post dedicated to the shedding of light on lymphatic drainage and its impact on breast health. 

A few weeks ago, on a morning like any other, I was getting myself ready for the day with my typical routine: brushing my teeth, putting a few curls in my hair... a spritz of perfume and a few swipes of deodorant. But something felt a little weird on my right armpit. It was tender and when I felt around I could feel a little lump. At first, I thought this was just something muscular; after all, I had been doing a lot of yoga and had been more active in general with the nice spring weather. I didn't think much more about it and went about my day. 

The next day, at a regularly scheduled acupuncture appointment that was part of my post-foot surgery after care, I mentioned the tenderness in my armpit to the doctor. He probed with a few other questions and asked to see my tongue which then launched us into one of the most informative conversations I have ever had! As an aside, I just need to say how refreshing it is to have found amazing practitioners like Dr. Johal (and a myriad of others who I trust with my alternative medicine needs) who treat your body like what it is: a system, searching for the root cause to treat/ address rather than symptoms that get treated with bandaid solutions.

Together with his (wonderful!!) associate, Sonia, Dr. Johal helped me understand more about the lymphatic system and about the important drainage point under the breast where the underwire of our bra sits, creating constriction. When the lymphatic system becomes strained like this, it gets clogged up! And this is (the scary part...) how bumps and lumps, how cancerous bumps and lumps can show up, if left untreated.

I came in that day for my foot, but feel so glad that I brought up what I noticed in my armpit; it was an education providing a plethora of helpful tips and tricks which initiated some really important changes to my daily routine; I have included them below for you to consider as well! 

Oh, and I did have the lump/ tenderness I had been experiencing checked out via ultrasound. My results, no doubt thanks to the proactive tips listed below, came back A-OK! I no longer have any tenderness and lump has disappeared. Aren't our bodies just so fascinating? The little messages they send to help bring our awareness and attention to where it needs to be. It blows me away how simple, common sense things can make a world of difference. And, thanks to the wonderful practitioners in my life, I can help spread the word about them.... to help other ladies take care of their 'ladies'. You can thank me later for the excuse to go braless ;)

Tips for Supporting Lymphatic Drainage & Breast Health!

1) Dry Brush!!

 This isn't just a once-and-a-while treatment at the spa! You need to brush daily, ladies! Many lymph vessels run just below the skin and  brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally. 

If that's not enough, you'll love these other benefits too! 

  • Exfoliation: By exfoliating the skin, you clear oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Use a more delicate brush on the face, though.
  • Reduce Cellulite: Dry brushing can help smooth and exfoliate the skin and is said to improve the look of cellulite. 
  • Increase Energy and Blood Flow: Brushing gets things moving! Its invigorating and can bring a surge of energy (best to do your brushing in the morning). Some brushes have copper bristles which can add an extra boost of energy. 

All you need is a proper skin brush (a firm, natural bristle brush with a handle); I recommend these brushes from Living Libations. I have the set and all are great but find I use the copper energy brush the most. You can also find these brushes locally; I've seen these and other brands available at Community Natural Foods.

Brush daily, before you shower/ dress. Use soft and smooth strokes; your skin should be slightly pink after brushing but it should not hurt. 

  • Start at the feet and brush up the legs in long, smooth strokes. Always brush toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains.
  • Next, do the arms, starting with the palms of the hands and brushing up the arm toward the heart. 
  • Lastly, brush the abdomen and under the breast area up towards the heart.

... I call this my ... I call this my "Lymphie Support Collection"; lotions and potions (and brushes) ordered from Living Libations for dry brushing and massaging. 

2) Go Bra Less!!

Ok, ok! I realize we live in a society where this is still taboo/ may not be appropriate in all settings (especially at work, lol). But for real, take that thing off at your first opportunity!! As soon as you get home, unhook or take it off ASAP! Again, the area where that underwire sits is an important drainage area. Also, its worth getting a proper bra fitting and throwing away any bra's (underwire or otherwise) that feel uncomfortable in any way. 

Unhook, gently rub the area underneath the breast (use two fingers, gently glide them under and up toward the heart) and let the girls be free! Sonia from Dr. Johal's office has more to say about this in her awesome blog post on Elephant Journal (click here). Not only will you be further informed about an important matter, but you'll have a good chuckle at the way she convey's the message!

...an overview of the lymphatic system (courtesy of lymph system.net) showing the drainage 

3) Consider a Breast Massage Oil and/or Lymph Tonic!! 

Sonia also recommended this breast massage oil for me (also from Living Libations); this is great to use at the end of the day after you've taken off your bra or in the morning after you dry brush. The botanicals may prevent and reverse cysts, rejuvenate cells, and increase immune cell activity!

They also have a Lymph tonic that you can use in conjunction with the oil and dry brushing, available in a "Breast Health Bundle" set here. The tonic is is an undiluted blend of circulation-enhancing essential oils that effectively generate lymphatic flow throughout the body and helps  the lymphatic system flow and function at optimum levels.

4) Detox in a Relaxing Epsom Salt Bath!! 

Run yourself a tub and pour in the epsom salt (if you're like me, you won't mind indulging in this nightly!!). Epsom salt baths help stimulate your lymph system and encourages increased oxygen and blood flow to our body.

An added bonus, Epsom salts are also great for stimulating the pancreas to form digestive enzymes, which are necessary to detoxify our bodies. Soaking in Epsom salts boosts the body’s magnesium levels because it is easily absorbed-this helps our muscles relax and is why these baths are perfect right before bed! 

...swollen lymph nodes in the armpit (courtesy of adam.com)

5) Switch to All Natural Deodorant!!

This one I struggled with. I hate sweating and I love the smell of my Donna Karan 'cashmere mist' scented deodorant. But, the truth is that all those chemicals are not good for you, sweating is!! Its your bodies natural way to maintain its temperature, expel toxins (supporting proper immune functions and helps prevent disease related to toxic overload and helps kills viruses and bacteria. 

I've switched to an all natural salt stone which is unscented but keeps me dry and odour-free; simply wet the stone and apply like usual.

Natural deodorants are more common these days; I've seen them in many of the local drug stores. You can find the salt stone as well as Rocky Mountain Soap Co's liquid crystal deodorant  (all natural, toxin free and lightly scented for those of you who want a little fragrance) at Community Natural Foods. 

...Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Liquid Crystal Deodorant & an all natural salt stone 

Ok, you're all set to get/ keep your lymphie system flowing' and keep your ladies happy and healthy! Of course, these tips are not a substitute for your doctor's advice; its always important to check with your health care practitioner about what is specifically right for you; I simply hope to spread awareness about helpful and important preventive  self-care techniques that can help avoid bigger issues down the road! 

With Love & Light, 

.cjd