Essential oils are concentrated oils made from fruits, herbs, and flowers that are used as a natural therapy to bring the body back to a balanced state. They are used as aromatherapy or as a part of a massage oil blend to stimulate cellular function and help the body heal.
Here are my top essential oils for detox and lymphatic function! Alongside an alkaline diet and light exercise, these oils should be used sparingly in the shower, in natural massage oil, or in a diffuser to help the body circulate its waste more efficiently.
But before I get into the best essential oils for lymph flow, it is important to cover why the lymphatic system is key to a healthy body and why its stagnation is the precursor to inflammation and chronic disease.
Why Is The Lymphatic System Important?
The lymphatic system is known as the body’s sewage system and immune system, helping to circulate extracellular waste, toxins, and acids from tissues and organs back to the kidneys for elimination. It is also responsible for creating white blood cells in the lymphatic nodes that act as the body’s army against foreign invaders.
The lymphatic system is twice as long as the blood network, and it circulates alongside the blood system to every area of the body, acting as a sink drain for cellular waste that accumulates due to cellular activity. For example, when we exercise, we create lactic acid due to cellular activity and respiration, and a healthy lymphatic system can circulate this waste to its network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, and lymph organs such as the spleen and the thymus.
When the body produces too much acidic waste due to a poor diet and lifestyle, the waste overwhelms the system, which itself has been weakened by the frequent cleansing and immune response. Therefore, the lymph fluid can get stuck, since the body’s septic tank is unable to excise waste from the body quickly enough, which causes the cells to bathe in their acidic waste.
And if the kidneys are also weakened due to excessive protein intake, stress, fear, and anxiety, they may additionally start working at a subpar level, preventing water-soluble waste to be purged out of the body through urine.
Imagine needing a plumber because your whole house is flooded with toxic bathroom waste! That is exactly what can happen in the body without any symptoms from the outset. But over time, a chronically underperforming lymph system can cause chronic inflammation and the onset of many diseases, including cancer.
What Lymphatic Experts Say About Lymphatic Drainage
The following are select excerpts from doctors and health practitioners who participated in the 2021 online lymphatic rescue summit.
You have over 700 lymph nodes in the body, depending on the resources that you look at. And the lymph nodes are basically the detoxification, little mini kidney filters in the body that kills viruses, parasites, fungus, cellular waste, and metabolic waste. All the stuff you don’t want in your body, the lymphatic system’s job is to get rid of it…you can’t absorb nutrients if you can’t get rid of toxins and that’s what people need to understand…So you have to do your lymphatic system work first and then you do the supply chain, second. We call it garbage out, groceries in. Garbage out, groceries in. So most people are trying to put the groceries in but they haven’t taken the garbage out yet.
Perry Nickelston, DC, NKT, FMS, SFMA
For my fibro patients, what I’ve learned over the last 20 years specializing in fibromyalgia is that a stagnant lymphatic system oftentimes leads to chronic diffused achy pain, brain fog, low moods, constipation, and IBS. Many of the things that we see and associate with fibromyalgia are oftentimes a byproduct of a deficient lymphatic system…When your lymphatic system is not working correctly, you’re going to find that you have more water retention…Lymphatic congestion symptoms are numerous. If we look at some of these symptoms, these are some of the common symptoms that people have with all kinds of illnesses. So, headaches, brain fog, swollen lymph nodes or tonsils, lack of energy, recurrent sore throats, mucus, postnasal drip, or congestion in your sinuses, puffy eyes.
Rodger Murphree, DC, CNS
Anything that’s going to dehydrate you, especially caffeine coffee, please, be careful. Use it as a treat. Alcohol is not your friend when it comes to any lymph drainage…I’m going to encourage you to completely fast from anything liquid, other than water or herbal tea. Just try it for three, four days and just see…You want a good amount of flow and one way of adding that flow is to hydrate yourselves because that’s really what lymph is. Lymph is the aqueous solution that gets emitted from the cells onto into the lymph system.
Dr. Eric Zielinski
The lymph system doesn’t have a heart like the blood system does to pump it. So it has these little valves and it requires the contraction of the muscles around the lymphatic vessels to actually move the lymphatic fluid along. So rebounding can be fantastic. And of course, our breasts as women are highly, highly infiltrated with lymphatic vessels. So it’s really important to make sure that your lymph is moving. If you want to keep your breasts healthy. And many of the toxins that we know that can be damaging to the hormonal system and to women’s female endocrine system are what are called fat-soluble toxins, and they’re stored in the breasts. So it’s really important to either self-massage or skin brushing or manual lymphatic drainage or exercise.
Ginger Nash, ND
10 Ways to Cleanse Your Lymphatic System Naturally
Unlike the blood that has the heart as its pump, the lymphatic system does not have a natural pump. This means that we must take a personal effort in helping to circulate the lymph throughout the body and back to the kidneys. Here are 10 effective ways you can ensure that your lymphatic system is healthy so that you can not only detoxify your body properly but also assimilate nutrients that nourish your cells and tissues.
Both too much and too little exercise can be taxing on the lymphatic system. Too much can result in an overabundance of lactic acid in the body, while too little can cause lymphatic stagnation. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of lymph stagnation; therefore, investing in daily yoga, stretching, and light exercise practice will improve its circulation and function immensely.
Eat an alkaline diet
An alkaline diet is comprised of raw and organic fruits and veggies that hydrate, detoxify, and help move the lymphatic system with their astringent chemistry. Fruits, in general, are the most cleansing and astringent foods found in nature, and fruit breakfast is one of my most important health habit recommendations (since it breaks-the-fast and cleans the body from its nighttime regenerative efforts) when it comes to healing the body.
Stay away from dairy, artificial sugars, fat, and protein
Proteins, fats, artificial sugars, and dairy are mucus-forming (lymphatically stagnating) and highly congesting. They acidify the body with their foreign or complex chemistry, making it harder for the lymphatic system to circulate and expel waste.
Certain lectins – or toxic plant enzymes found in grains and seeds – are known to cause gut and body inflammation, especially for those with gut sensitivities. However, if you truly enjoy grains and beans, make sure that they are organic and that you sprout them before consumption.
Take lymphatic, kidney, and immune-supporting herbs
Drinking teas and tinctures comprised of lymphatic herbs will help the body assimilate the anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and diuretic chemistry and promote healthy lymphatic flow. My advice is to start with them slowly and increase the dosage with time, especially when it comes to lymphatic tinctures.
Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing promotes lymph movement in the skin – the largest organ in the body. Always brush in the direction towards the kidneys and emphasize the areas where stagnation usually builds up (breasts, abdominals, under the arms, the neck, and the pelvic area).
Use essential oils
Circulatory and diuretic essential oils help the body move the lymph effectively from cells to lymphatic centers and back to the kidneys.
Gentle lymphatic massage
A gentle lymphatic massage will help stagnant lymph move through tissues if done correctly. Moving the lymph is best done with strokes in the direction of desired lymphatic flow. Major strokes should always be directed toward the kidneys.
It’s important to mention that if one’s system is too congested and the kidneys are not working properly, a normal lymphatic massage may aggravate the body. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, approach body massages delicately or opt in for more gentle dry skin brushing and sauna sessions.
Sauna and hot yoga
Sauna and hot yoga not only open up the skin’s detoxification pathways, but they also promote lymphatic and blood circulation that moves fluid and energy throughout the body. Movement and sweating are important to proper body detoxification.
In addition, given that breathing constitutes approximately 70% of our body’s detoxification efforts, deep yoga breathing helps circulate air and energy flow throughout the body, keeping the tissues and organs nourished and oxygenated.
If you’re a woman, take underwires out of your bra
As women, we have many glands in the chest area and need to be careful not to constrict them with clothing that could stagnate lymph flow – most notably bras with underwires. If you’ve had breast cancer or it runs in your family, it’s really important to promote circulation in the breast tissue as often as possible.
How to Detox Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are an incredible healing tool for every natural health practitioner, but it is still medicine and it is important to note that it is highly potent and even poisonous to the body when absorbed by the body in their concentrated states (especially in high amounts).
My recommendation is to diffuse or dilute the oil by only consuming a few drops of it at a time when it comes to creating a massage oil, utilizing essential oils in an air diffuser, or adding a drop to your chemical-free body wash in a hot shower.
Another few big tips are to skip days of usage so that the body is not overwhelmed and can assimilate the oil chemistry properly and to never use essential oils around pets (essential oils are toxic to them).
These are key points of how to take precautions with essential oils:
- Do a patch test with a carrier oil to see whether you’re allergic; if you get irritation, burning, headaches, or asthma attacks, you should avoid the essential oil in question
- Never ingest essential oils, as many of them are toxic when consumed in their concentrated form; if you’re using them for cooking purposes, make sure they are approved for culinary use
- Only purchase organic oils, as these provide the best health benefits
- Everything you place on your skin is absorbed directly into the bloodstream; since essential oils are concentrated, less is always more, and diluting essential oils in water and oil is always recommended as a safe practice
You can use essential oils for aromatherapy (ideally when doing yoga or stretching), in personal/cleaning products, in the shower (by adding a small drop to body wash or shampoo), and in massage oil.
What is the Best Essential Oil for Lymphatic Drainage?
In general, essential oils with diuretic properties – or cleansing properties – accelerate lymph flow. Although there is no one best essential oil for lymphatic drainage, Rosemary is my chosen essential oil for promoting circulation in the body.
The reason why I prefer it over all the other essential oils is that in addition to its excellent circulatory properties, it also promotes the movement of the glymphatic system – or the brain’s lymphatic system. It is likewise very decongestant to the sinuses, helping relieve inflammation and stagnation in the sinuses and head area. It is fantastic for cold season congestion, feeling heaviness in the head area, or even after a stroke or head injury.
Other Powerful Essential Oils for Detox
Geranium essential oil is astringent and diuretic and helps with depression, circulation, inflammation, blood pressure reduction, and more.
Lemon (and other citrus oils, such as orange and grapefruit)
Lemon essential oil boosts mood, reduces stress, is anti-inflammatory, and helps boost the immune system; it is a reliever of asthma, allergies, mental fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, and nervous tension.
Patchouli essential oil is known to boost the immune system and is considered one of the best home remedies for acne, eczema, inflammation, and cracked and irritated skin; it is wonderful for skin lymphatics.
Tea Tree essential oil has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is very effective at reducing swelling in the lymph glands; it also promotes wound healing and skin issues.
Frankincense is known to increase the production of cytokines and T- cell interactions, which helps the body fight pathogens in the lymph nodes; applying frankincense oil mixed with a carrier alleviates inflammation and pain.
Again, I want to specify the importance of purchasing essential oils that are 100% organic. The label “natural” can be misleading and not always means unadulterated with chemicals. The organic standard will ensure that your oils are free from pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals so that you are consuming chemistry that is at its most refined and healing.
One of my favorite organic herbal stores – Starwest Botanicals – also sells organic essential oils. As one of the oldest organic herbal stores in the United States, I support its devotion to best environmental practices and its mission to bring the highest quality medicinal products to consumers!
*Please note that Starwest Botanicals is the herbal store of my preference and is my affiliate partner. You won’t be charged anything by purchasing herbs through the link on my website, but a small part of the proceeds of your purchase will help support the growth of my small business. Thank you!
Essential oils were used as early as Egypt 2,000 years ago for medicinal, beautification, spiritual, and ceremonial purposes, and to this day, they help elevate the body emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The essence and vibration of the plant are registered in its oils, and this energetic blueprint works with the body to either uplift, detoxify, or tonify its cells and bring them to a state of homeostasis – or balance.
By utilizing the immense healing power of essential oils for body detox, you can strengthen your immune system and help your body circulate its waste more effectively to prevent acidosis and chronic disease.
And if you’d like to learn more about natural body detoxification, my free guide 3 Things to Know to Heal Illness Through Detox is available on my home page. It will show you how to detox your body properly, minimize detox symptoms, and provide you with a simple 3-month cleansing plan that will regenerate cellular function and reverse your illness symptoms.