How to Detox Lymph System: 13 Best Strategies

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Detox lymph system with these 13 do-now strategies to enhance your energy, digestion, hormone balance. 

Lymph System 101

Your lymphatic system is the largest circulatory system in the body—a widespread network of connective tissue and fluid that surrounds nearly every organ and system.

The lymph system is responsible for:

(a.) Delivering nutrients to various tissues and organs; 

(b.) Flushing and draining toxins/wastes; 

(c.) Maintaining fluid balance in tissues; 

(d.) Serving as “home” to your immune system

A healthy, flowing lymph system (“the drains” of your body) is vital for feeling your best—amazing gut health, hormone balance, vibrant energy, a strong immune system. 

It’s the lymph system’s job to pick up and dispose of cellular “trash” like white blood cells, bacteria, viruses, toxins and other molecular debris from every tissue in your body.

Fun Lymph Facts

  • The lymph system delivers fats as fuel for in-between-meal energy, in the form of triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides and/or cholesterol on bloodwork may just mean you have “clogged” lymph. 
  • Any undigested proteins, carbs and fats get filtered by the lymphatic system. If your lymph is not working right, then undigested food particles and wastes also “clog” your system. 
  • Your lymph system affects your immunity. Your Spleen (the largest lymphatic organ) produces white blood cells (T-lymphocytes) to help the immune response. Swelling of tissues when you get a runny nose, sore throat or head cold are all signs your lymph is under stress.
  • Lymph drains wastes from every cell and organ in the body—including your heart and digestive system. 
  • Lymph provides elimination pathways for all toxins passing through the intestines, skin, respiratory tract and more. Sweat, tears, urine and waste are all a byproduct of natural lymph cleansing. 
  • Cellulite may be an indication that your lymph and liver/gallbladder are stressed or unable to excrete toxins. One of the primary causes of cellulite (fat deposits in the skin) is fluid retention in fat tissue that builds up with toxic wastes.
  • The lymph system drains 3 pounds of plaque and other toxins from the brain each year.  Poor lymph drain from the brain and central nervous system has been linked to psychological, brain fog, fatigue, poor sleep, cognitive and immune concerns. It is important to detox lymph system.
  • The lymphatic system moves primarily via muscular contractions or exercise. Lack of regular exercise can congest the lymphatic channels that drain the body and brain—particularly while you sleep. 
  • Lymph is vital to removing debris from the tiny spaces between cells within the body. A chronically congested lymphatic system needs internal cleansing in order to help you “detox” naturally.

Signs of a “Clogged” Lymph System

Detox Lymph System - Young Lady Feeling Stressed

Signs of a clogged lymph are similar to a “sluggish” or fatty liver. They include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating or constipation
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Allergy and immune system deficiencies  
  • Water retention
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Brain fog
  • Itchy and dry skin, or skin breakouts
  • Cellulite
  • Stubborn weight gain
  • Chronic sinusitis, sore throats, colds, and ear issues
  • Breast swelling with the menstrual cycle
  • Swollen glands
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Ineffective “gut healing” protocols
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Parasites
  • Dysbiosis and yeast overgrowth
  • Difficulty getting your weight to “budge”
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Food sensitivities 
  • Edema or swelling in your hands or other body regions

Many people’s lymphatic systems have become severely congested thanks to years of consuming pesticides in fresh foods, artificially engineered packaged foods, antibiotics, environmental toxins, inadequate exercise, sleep deprivation and more. 

Fortunately, a lymph detox or “reset” can be accomplished simply, without drastic, unsustainable life changes.

The key is not found in going meat free for life, guzzling an olive oil lemon concoction to extract gallstones, or juicing every morning; the key is making conscious choices on a daily basis. 

Many people find that, by using a handful of simple gentle detox and lymph support efforts, drastic measures are not necessary at all.

13 Simple Strategies to Detox Lymph System

#1. Hydrate with Clean Water

Detox Lymph System - Drink Water

Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of clean, filtered water. Well-hydrated tissue help moves out waste material. Consider investing in a stainless steel or glass water bottle and home counter top filter (like Berkey) or under-the-sink filtration system (like Pure Effects). 

#2. Eat Hydrating Foods Too

Think: Fresh veggies and fruits. A big chunk of your body’s hydration needs should come from water-dense fresh fruits and vegetables. . This fluid, along with sipping water throughout the day, helps keep your lymphatic “pipes” lubricated and draining properly.

#3. Move it 4-6 days

Incorporate 30-60 minutes of movement most days of the week (4-6) to encourage lymph flow and circulation. Refrain from doing the same thing every day. Balance & mix up exercise with things you enjoy: Strength/Weights, Flow (Yoga); Aerobic (cycling, walking, hiking, swimming, dancing); and occasional HIIT. In addition, try rebounding—jumping on a trampoline or jumping up and down for 10 minutes per day—it is reported to increase lymph flow by 15 to 30 times.

#4. Sweat Most Days

In addition to movement, heat is also encouraged for lymph detoxification. Try a heated yoga class, infrared sauna, hot-cold showers or therapy, breaking a sweat, outside play in the spring/summer.

#5. Reset Your Circadian Rhythm.

Your body’s natural cleansing rhythms happen on a biological clock. According to Chinese Medicine, your body has a natural time of day when one system is working the hardest. Reset your circadian rhythms by trying to align your schedule with your body’s rhythm’s including:

Wake-Up: 5-7 am
Breakfast: 7-9 am
Mentally Taxing Tasks (Creative Flow): 9-11 am
Lunch: 11 am-1 pm
Detail Oriented Tasks: 1-3 pm (planning, emails, logistics)
Small Snack: 3-5 pm (something with sea salt; avoid sugar)
Dinner: 6-8 pm
Evening Wind Down: 8-11 pm (focus on self-care)
Bed: 10-11 pm

#6. Sleep Enough.

The body detoxifies most while we sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours per night in a completely blacked out, cool room (68 degrees or below). Try a sleep mask if room is not completely dark.

#7. Dry Brush

Detox Lymph System - Dry Brush

Dry brushing is an age-old process of brushing skin with a natural brush to stimulate lymph flow, improve circulation, and exfoliate skin. Brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and helps the body detoxify itself naturally. Dry brushing can be done daily over the whole body, preferably in the morning before showering. As a good rule of thumb, always brush toward the center of the body. Starting at the feet, brush the bottoms of your feet and up your legs in long, smooth strokes, then move on to other parts of the body—brush each section of skin 10 times. For lymph flow, in particular, brush toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains. This is one of the best strategies to detox lymph system.

#8. Try Acupuncture or an Acupressure Mat

Acupuncture is a Chinese Medicine modality that can help “unstick” the lymph system with its emphasis on strengthening the immune system, and promotes proper circulation of energy in the body. Acupressure involves firmly pressing or lying on specific points on the body to stimulate innate self-healing abilities contained in the human body by discharging muscle tension and improving circulatory system functioning. Lying on this mat is one way to do so—without making an acupuncture appointment. Aim for 5-10 minutes per day of acupressure, or weekly acupuncture sessions. 

#9. Deep Breathing Practice.

Lie on your back, breathe in through your right nostril for 10 seconds; and out through the left nostril for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5-6 cycles. Not only do muscle contractions initiated by deep breathing help move lymphatic fluid, the mindfulness practices that go along with deep breathing are some of the best ways to manage stress.

#10. Inversion.

The inversion process decompresses the joints of the body and stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory system. This brings blood and oxygen to the tissues, which helps to clear the muscles of toxic build-up. Lie on your back with your feet up the wall to encourage blood flow. 

#11. Sleep in Loose Clothing & Avoid Tight Bras.

At night, between 10pm and 2am is when the body naturally goes through a major detoxification process, so make sure you’re allowing the lymphatic fluid the most freedom to move. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and bras— especially under the arms or groin area where you have lymph nodes—which can impede normal lymphatic flow.

#12. Boost Digestion

Detox Lymph System - Apple Cider Vinegar Shots

Try Apple Cider Vinegar Shots with meals to aid in digestion and de-bloating. (1-2 tbsp in water), as well as digestive enzymes, and of course chewing your food (really well). 

#13. Replace Coffee.

Coffee is a natural diuretic (meaning it dehydrates you). Coffee (instant) is the most cross-contaminated food with gluten; coffee beans are also commonly known to contain mold if not a quality source, not to mention the circadian disruption and cortisol disruption caffeine can trigger in the body.  Given the fact that cortisol is also cleared and brought into balance via the liver, and coffee and caffeine is also processed in the liver, a break from coffee could give your liver a natural “lift” without extremes. Consider a 30-90 day break from your Cup of Joe in replace of more liver-friendly Other alternative include: Cacao, Teecino, Green tea, Herbal tea (ginger, dandelion, echinacea).


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