Simple At-Home Tricks For Lymphatic Drainage

Puffiness, bloating, inflammation, and swelling –- these are all signs of lymphatic buildup, which doesn't feel (or look) great. The lymphatic system is one of the ways the body rids itself of waste, and if it isn't functioning properly due to fluid accumulation in the lymph nodes, swelling in the face and limbs can occur — also known as lymphedema (via Healthline). The condition is painful and can limit mobility, sometimes leading to mental health issues like depression.

"We don't talk enough about lymphedema," says physical therapist Raakhee Patel, PT, DPT, CLT. "Stage 3 lymphedema can be devastating," Patel tells Healthline. 

Clogged lymph nodes can be a result of too many salty foods, dehydration, or lack of regular movement. The post-holiday season may be flashing through your mind right now, and that's exactly when our lymphatic systems may be lagging (via L'Officiel). Here are a few tips to keep the swelling down and inflammation at bay.

Dry Brushing

Using a brush with rough bristles and dry brushing your body may help support the lymphatic system. This exfoliation method opens pores and promotes sweating. When you dry brush regularly, you'll get rid of dead skin cells, which in turn, makes it easier for the body to detox. Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic technique and has been utilized for centuries (via Healthline). You should start at your extremities and work your way towards the heart with the brush, according to L'Officiel.

Lymphatic drainage massage

To perform a lymphatic drainage massage on yourself, you'll want to apply light pressure and long, steady strokes. Direct your motions towards your internal organs, where any built-up toxins can finally be filtered out. If you can feel your muscles as you're massaging, that pressure is likely too firm (via Healthline). You'll probably notice a small burst of energy after performing this simple yet effective massage. Our bodies are wise, and sometimes they just need a little help from us, according to Wildfire Wellness.

Gua Sha

You've likely heard of gua sha and jade facial rollers to help define the angles of your facial features. This ancient Chinese massage technique of dragging a smooth stone tool along the face also helps with circulation and a healthy lymphatic system (via Healthline). Added plus: your skin will glow. Use facial oil and apply tender pressure in repeated motions. Gua sha is said to tackle motionless energy, and chances are you'll notice a change in your looks after a few weeks with a consistent gua sha routine!

Get your legs up

The simple yoga pose of elevating your legs up against a wall is an effective, relaxing, and easy road to lymphatic drainage. This technique improves circulation, and when your legs are higher than your heart, the blood can flow back to the heart and be reoxygenated (via Health Digest). This position can also calm the body pretty quickly, which is great to remember if you're prone to anxiety or panic attacks. When your legs start to tingle and feel numb, then it's time to come out of the pose.


Drinking plenty of water prevents swelling and water retention, as well as (obviously) having numerous other health benefits. Hydration is key to a healthy lymphatic system. If you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, try buying yourself a cute (and large) water bottle and bringing it everywhere. If adding ice, lemon, and cucumber makes hydration more enticing, then go for it. Water makes up for nearly 95% of lymphatic fluid (via Recover Wellbeing), so adequate water is required to help it move around.

Eat foods for lymphatic drainage

As with any body system, proper nutrition is going to best support its function. Incorporating some nurturing foods into your diet will help move stagnant lymph fluid and decrease inflammation. According to Sun Warrior, these foods will give the lymphatic system a healthy boost: ginger, turmeric, seaweed, garlic, citrus, cranberry, nuts, and seeds. Try adding them to your diet, especially in home-cooked meals. And if that feels too big to tackle right now, start by eating some oranges and picking up some turmeric tea from your local health food store.

Adaptogenic Herbs

Herbs are powerful allies when it comes to healing the body, and there are several you can befriend to improve lymphatic drainage with just a quick trip to the grocery store. Astragalus root is great for congestion and can also ease swelling. Whether in a tea or supplement, it's a powerful one for the lymphatic system. Goldenseal is a potent anti-inflammatory and can be taken in a tincture form or applied as a salve to the muscles. Echinacea is another super-powered herb for overall wellness and lymphatic health, per Herbalism Roots.