By: Ellen Symons
Ellen is a registered massage therapist, the owner of Body Poets and a dedicated daily dry-brusher.
Three years ago, after taking a workshop that persuaded me of the benefits, I started a daily dry brushing habit. Mainly, at the time, I wanted to improve my immune system and to have softer, less dry skin in winter. My shins were flaky and itchy, my arms were rough, and as a friend once said about himself, “I didn’t think at 50 I’d have to deal with grey hair AND acne!”
Since my 20s, I’d been dealing with the discomforts of Raynaud’s Disease that caused lack of blood flow to my fingers and toes. More recently, my doc had told me that I had the beginnings of age-related venous insufficiency (a.k.a. swollen ankles!), and I noticed that my eyes were often puffy in the mornings. I wondered if I could change all these things by improving my lymphatic flow with dry brushing.
Now, I was dealing with some other health issues, such as a sluggish thyroid and an inflammatory reaction to wheat gluten, that certainly played a role in these complaints of mine. But heck, I thought, dry brushing is easy, it’s not much of a commitment, and let’s see what it can do.
Three years later, I consider that, like flossing, meditating, or exercising, dry brushing is one of those things that I will be doing as long as I have control over my body and brain. In other words, it works for me.
I’ve changed the way I brush a little. Instead of starting at one foot and working up to the heart on each side and then down to the heart from the upper body as I described in my original post, I focus first on some of the main lymph drainage areas. When I’m pressed for time, at least I know I’ve got the main spots covered. These are:
- inner thigh and groin
- abdomen and collarbone
- underarm and upper chest
Then I fill in with the rest of the body, always going toward the heart, legs down to feet and toes, arms down to hands and fingers.
I brush around the collar bone and face, again always moving in small circles or strokes toward the heart.
And courtesy of chiropractor Dr. Mark Lynch via Facebook, I’ve added a new bit of drainage for the head and sinuses, that is easy and really works to keep congestion down and immunity strong.
You can make all this as long or as quick as you need on any day. It’s consistency over time that matters.
Then I hop in the shower (you can finish your shower with a cool rinse), and after drying off, I apply a natural lotion or oil.
Initially I was not faithful about using lotion or oil after my shower but in the past few weeks I’ve been doing it regularly, and it makes my skin even smoother and less flaky than with dry brushing alone.
Okay, you want to know: Has it worked? What changes have I seen?
- I still have Raynaud’s Disease, and I still have low thyroid levels, but my fingers and toes don’t react as quickly to the cold, and my blood hormone readings are more balanced
- My age-related venous insufficiency is virtually gone (I don’t get sock lines the way I used to!)
- My shins are less dry – they don’t shed inside my tights in the winter!
- My arms and face do not break out the way they used to (but alas, I do still have the grey hair)
- My eyes are rarely puffy (some of this change is from eliminating wheat gluten from my diet)
- By dry-brushing twice a day when I feel a cold coming on, I’ve managed to stay clear of most of the bugs that have been going around at work
- After brushing, I feel an energized tingling of my skin all day long that helps me wake up and feel vital
This is not a true scientific experiment, so you’ll have to do your own tests to see how dry brushing works for you. Whatever you discover, I’d love to hear your reports from the field!
Photo of hands showing Raynaud’s Disease attribution: “Raynaud-hand2” by No machine-readable author provided. Jamclaassen~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Raynaud-hand2.jpg#/media/File:Raynaud-hand2.jpg