Your Mini Course in Lymphatic Drainage

Your Lymphatic System

A special thank you to Lisa Levitt Gainsley for sharing her knowledge and expertise of the lymphatic system. At the bottom of this interview you can find links to her book, podcast, and website as well as links to some of the Beauty Shamans tools to use with some of this new knowledge! 


Q: What is the lymphatic system? 

Your lymphatic system is touted as your circulatory system of your Immune System. It’s the bonus set of plumbing that filters and removes excess waste, bacteria and toxins from your body. Your lymphatic vasculature is approximately twice as vast as the cardiovascular system, but it doesn’t have a central pump like the heart to move the fluid around. Lymph flows in one direction: toward your heart. Because it is not propelled by a master pump, it relies on the pulsing of nearby arteries, skeletal muscle contractions, and breathing. That’s why self-massage, breath work, and exercise are invaluable to good lymphatic health.

 Your lymphatic system plays a number of critical roles in your body.

It’s an essential part of the immune system, producing white blood cells with the power to destroy harmful pathogens. It acts as a garbage collector, filtering out bacteria and toxins that can cause disease. It aids the digestive system by absorbing fat and fatty acids from your gut and transporting them back to your bloodstream, making them available as fuel to your cells. And finally, it maintains the fluid balance in your body by collecting, purifying, and draining excess fluids so your tissues don’t swell. It also sweeps immune cells through your body to weed out anything that threatens your well-being, making lymph your first line of defense against illness. This is how your lymph system keeps inflammation—an underlying factor in many diseases—at bay. 


As we go throughout our everyday life, toxins can build up in the body and interfere with our overall health, which can reflect in our skin. Stagnant lymph fluid can be one reason you feel achy and sluggish, get more frequent colds, wake up with puffiness in your face or experience breakouts. Your lymphatic system removes bacteria, viruses and waste by transporting lymph and immune cells throughout the body through a network of capillaries, vessels, tissues and organs. Your lymph moves slowly, but you can increase lymphatic circulation through self-massage, exercise and breath work which can help reduce the toxic toll on your body and enjoy better overall health. 


It’s just as important to minimize as many other factors in your life so you don’t over accumulate toxins. Some things to look at: Stress levels which can cause a spike in cortisol can be inflammatory. A poor diet with an abundance of processed food, sugar, and alcohol. Lack of exercise can inhibit the lymphatic system circulation. The good news is you can focus on eating clean foods, protecting your sleep and getting movement throughout the day which will increase lymphatic fluid circulation. 


Q: Why is it important to care for the lymphatic system? 


Not only is your lymphatic system what keeps you healthy- but it can also give you glowing skin, thinner thighs and reduce puffy eyes and acne. Traditionally lymphatic drainage massage has been used for its immune boosting benefits including speeding up healing and recovery from colds and flus, athletic recovery, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and side effects from cancer treatment. Now lymphatic massage is being touted in the beauty circles to reduce water retention, encourage weight loss and improve fine laws in the face and better skin.



 Q: What are some simple ways we can increase lymphatic circulation throughout the day? 

  1.  Drink plenty of water. This will help hydrate your cells and flush toxins.
  2. Take an Epsom salt Bath (Pour 2 heaping cups of Epsom salt into a warm bath and soak for at least 20 min) Do not use Epsom salts if you’re diabetic, have open wounds, or sensitive skin. If you are at risk or have Lymphedema, soaking in hot water is contraindicated. Try soaking in tepid water as an alternative.)
  3. Dry-brushing 3x a week. This is a wonderful way to invigorate your lymph circulation, release dead skin cells and reduce your lymphatic load. Brush towards your lymph node regions (neck, armpits, top of thighs, clockwise around the stomach towards your left hip, and ultimately up to your heart.)
  4. Get sufficient rest. The Glymphatic system in your brain does it’s cleaning while you’re asleep. This is essential for cognitive function and mood. This includes practicing Deep Diaphragmatic breathing & Meditation.
  5. Move your body every day. Lymph is dependent on your muscle movement so take some time to exercise- your lymphatic system will reap the benefits.
  6. Limit alcohol, dairy, sugar, gluten, and processed foods in your diet. Eat a clean diet of organic foods and anti-infammatory herbs.
  7. Limit toxic exposure to chemicals in cleaning products, skincare and environmental pollutants.
  8. Infrared Saunas and / or Infrared Biomat provide natural pain relief, increase detoxification, can reduce inflammation and benefit your immune system with their calming effect.
  9. Castor oil packs improve lymphatic circulation, can assist digestion, and increase immune T fighter cell function.
  10. Find Joy! The more joy you can bring into your life, the more you will reduce stress and connect to your meaning and purpose in life. Allow yourself to receive the goodness in the world. Our cells hold memory. Fill them with hope, positivity and belief in your health. This will counteract stress and empower you to harness your true nature.


Deep Diaphragmatic breathing Practice Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing (the change in chest pressure during diaphragmatic breathing encourages lymph circulation through the largest lymph vessel, the thoracic duct. Research shows that deep breathing also calms your nervous system.) 

WHY: Deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the largest lymphatic vessel in your body- the thoracic duct- which brings ¾ of lymph fluid from the lower half of your body up towards your heart. The change in diaphragmatic pressure when you breathe encourages lymph circulation. Research shows that deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain allowing the rest & digest, parasympathetic response to the nervous system to kick in and calm your body. Deep breathing is also beneficial for your heart, digestion, immune system, lowering stress that interferes with attention span and lowering blood pressure. 

The lymphatic system in the brain helps wash out plaque and toxins that build up. Stimulating the lymphatic system will help you be more alert and focused.


  1. Sit or lie down comfortably.
  2. Place one hand on your belly, and one hand on your heart.
  3. Inhale and expand your belly into your hand, Exhale and relax your stomach. 
  4. On your next  inhale the breath all the way from your belly up to your heart, filling your lungs with breath. Hold your breath for a moment at the top. Then exhale slowly.
  5. Repeat 10x,
  6. Scan your body for any tension and try to soften your jaw, throat and the muscles in your neck when you breathe.
  7. This is wonderful to do before you go to bed to help calm your mind and set yourself up for Good Sleep to benefit your Glymphatic System




Learning to love to exercise can be a lifelong pursuit for some. Hopefully once you understand how beneficial it is for optimal lymphatic function and what an instant mood booster it is you will be motivated to find the type of movement that brings you joy! Lymph vessels depend on musculo-skeletal movement and deep breathing to circulate fluid.When you exercise you can increase lymph circulation 10x. All types of exercise are beneficial to get lymph moving! It will help flush out stagnant toxins and circulate fluid, give you more energy and help combat that mid-day fatigue.


HOW: Here are some of my favorites:

Walking, Yoga, Rebounding/ trampoline - (and even jumping jacks) Dancing,Bike riding and Swimming- The water pressure when you swim acts like a compressor to help pump your lymphatic vessels and increase lymphatic circulation. Water is 8 hundred times denser than air. That compression stimulates the lymphangions to elicit the angiomotoricity response to propel lymph through your body. 


Take Epsom Salt Baths (soak for at least 15 min to allow excess toxins to release through osmosis) A nice long soak in a bathtub is a great way to unwind while also boosting the lymphatic system. I recommend adding Epsom salts as they contain a compound of sulfites and magnesium that flushes toxins and heavy metals out of your body. Soaking in an Epsom salts bath can reduce inflammation and improve circulation.


  1. Pour 2 heaping cups of epsom salt into the bath.
  2. Fill the tub to the rim with warm water
  3. Soak for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse afterwards
  5. Drink plenty of water to continue to rehydrate your body


Learning lymphatic self massage is easy. 

Massage your face lightly. The lymphatic capillaries that absorb lymph fluid reside just underneath the surface of your skin, above your muscle bed. Your touch should be light and nurturing. About a dime's worth of pressure is plenty. You’ll want to follow the lymphatic drainage pathways. I wrote a book on how you can master the technique yourself.

My book, The Book of Lymph  shows you how you can reap these benefits from home, for free by learning the principles of lymphatic self-massage. If you don’t have a lymphatic facialist in your area or if you can’t bear the expense of seeing someone in person, you can do it yourself!

Just follow the pathways of lymphatic drainage in the morning and / or evenings by massaging your face when you’re applying your face oil and moisturizer. 

You can join my online course, The Lymphatic Masterclass to learn self-care practices to keep your lymphatic system healthy.


Visit Lisa's website HERE

Listen to Lisa's Podcast HERE  - this is the link to Episode #2 where Lisa' interviews Shelly, founder of Beauty Shamans 

Get a copy of Lisa’s book: HERE




About Lisa 

Lisa Levitt Gainsley is a Manual Lymphatic Drainage practitioner, Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Author, Educator, and Speaker. Her work has appeared in Forbes, GOOP, ELLE, Vanity Fair, The Hollywood Reporter, Healthline, Health Magazine and more. She has worked at UCLA Medical Center and been in private practice for over 20 years.

Lisa leads lymphatic workshops across the country and has pioneered the field of Lymphatic self-care. Lisa’s book titled, THE BOOK OF LYMPH was released May, 2021 and has been translated to 17 languages.   



Want some tools to go with your new ritual?? 

Check out some of our favorite body and facial sculpting tools from the Beauty Shamans Collection HERE

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