How to support your immune system?
Updated: Mar 5, 2018
As February comes to an end this week, we will move away from our monthly theme "Boost your immune system". However, to keep sustaining your lymph, and more generally your immune system, there are 2 simple practices, easy to put in place, that you can practice all year long that have so many health (and beauty) benefits... and that you can practice in your bathroom!
This practice has been used for centuries in different countries around the globe, such as Sweden and Japan.
- What is the largest organ in the body?
- What is one of the most important elimination organs in the body, playing a large role in daily detoxification?
- The skin!
So don't neglect it!
As mentioned, it is not only a question of beauty, such as improved skin appearance, reduction of cellulite, toning of muscles, but first and foremost, it has an incidence on the blood circulation and the lymphatic drainage as well as the nervous system.
It takes just a few minutes. You can do it directly in the shower, before doing the second practice that I will describe shortly.
But first, here is how to dry brush:
You will need a brush in natural fiber (see image).
You start brushing under your feet, in circular movements, then your entire feet. Once you reach the ankles, you do long strokes up the legs. On the joints, such as knees or hips, you use circular movements.
You continue moving up the body, in the direction of the heart.
Be gentle with your belly, use gentle circular movements and be very careful with your breasts.
When you reach the heart, you move to start from the bottom up again, starting with your fingers, hands, arms, following the same pattern: long strokes along the limbs, but circular movements around the joints (elbows, shoulders).
The only exception of this movement towards the heart is in the back: there you move from the neck down.
This general pattern is important to follow, as we follow the path of the lympathic fluid (going towards the heart)
Now that you are fully stimulated, you can move to the next practice...
Abhyanga - warm oil self-massage
This practice comes from India, and more particularly from their traditional medicine, ayurveda.
Abhyanga refers to wam oil self-massage, practiced daily.
The benefits are numerous, from aesthetic to health benefits.
Abhyanga has the following benefits on health (and many benefits on aesthetics as well, not listed here)
it lubricates the joints
it increases circulation
it moves the lymph, assisting in detoxification
it calms the nerves
it allows better and deeper sleep
it stimulates the inner organs of the body
You can also practice it in the shower, after dry brushing and before showering.
There are some specific ayurvedic oils, with special herbs, but you can also simply opt for the following oils, traditionally used in ayurveda:
sesame oil during fall and winter (as it has warming properties)
coconut oil during the warmer months (as it has cooling properties)
Prefer organic oils (feed your skin as you would feed yourself!).
You can also use other oils, such as almond oil for instance, but those two are safe go-to oils.
Boil some water and place the oil in a small bowl, in a bigger blowl filled with hot water (bain-marie).
Then you will roughly follow the same path you took for the dry brushing, moving from the extremities to the heart. Use long strokes on the limbs, and circular strokes on the joints. Massage your abdomen and chest in broad circular motions (clockwise).
On your abdomen follow your large intestine: move up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side.
Massage any time between 5 and 20 minutes, the longer, the better!
Try to massage your scalp when you get a chance (the day you would wash your hair), and always massage your feet.
Make sure not to soap off the oil, just rinse with water, except for your intimate parts and your armpits. In that manner your keep the benefits (as well as the nutrition and protection) of the oil massage.
For more information about how to practice abhyanga, you can view this video