Several years ago dry brushing was touted as a simple and very successful way of reducing cellulite. While I am all for getting rid of those unsightly lumps of bumps, I am more concerned with overall wellness and optimizing detoxification. Dry brushing is an incredible way to assist the body’s natural ability to eliminate toxins. Dr. Scott and I recommend that all of our patients adopt this easy and effective body care practice.
Every person has several major routes of elimination from the body:
• Lymphatic system
• Skin – our largest organ of elimination.
Proper dry skin brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, exfoliates and invigorates the dermal layer of the skin and assists the body to eliminate toxins both through the skin and by stimulating the deeper layers. Up to one third of all the impurities of the body are excreted through the skin. This equals more than one pound of waste disposal through the skin, if it is healthy and cared for, every day.
The Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing
• Exfoliates the entire dermal layer of the skin
• Increases circulation
• Accelerates toxin elimination
• Stimulates the lymphatic system
• Increases cell renewal
• Improves digestion
• Improves kidney function
• Reduces cellulite/relieves stress
• Strengthens the immune system
• Helps prevent premature aging
• Stimulates both the sweat and sebaceous glands – are the hormone and oil producing glands. This contributes to healthy, moist supple skin.
While dry skin brushing helps to remove the dead skin cells that sit on top of the skin it also serves to gently stimulate the lymphatic system to encourage the discharge of metabolic waste. The lymphatic system, which is made up of lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus gland and the tonsils, can be stimulated with proper dry skin brushing.
If toxins are not eliminated through the skin layer, the liver and kidneys must work harder to remove toxins, pesticides, chemicals and environmental influences we have exposure to. Because of our daily environmental exposures, these organs can quickly become over taxed and sluggish, causing toxin buildup and contributing to toxin overload in the body. In addition to stimulating the lymphatic system directly, dry skin brushing stimulates the circulatory system to carry waste to the surface of the skin to be released through the pores and sweat glands. This stimulation has the dual function of removing dead skin cells thereby making the skin, our largest eliminatory organ, more supple, healthy and moist; it also moves the deeper layers of the lymphatic and circulatory system by increasing blood flow to the surface skin layers where the blood can oxygenate and nourish the skin surface. This is how dry skin brushing reduces cellulite and reduces the overall stress load of the body to help prevent premature aging and wrinkled skin.
How to Brush
Use this illustration as a visual guide
Use a natural bristle brush that is designated only for this function. This is the brush we use:
Your Skin Brushing Regimen
Do not get your brush wet except to wash it with warm soapy water periodically.
The lymphatic system is made up of a continual series of one-way valves that promote flow of lymph upward. For this reason, always stroke upward when you dry skin brush. Begin at the feet and including the feet work your way up the body toward the heart.
Use long flowing movements: brush the feet, brush up each leg all the way around from the ankles to the knees and then from the knees to the hips. Stroke one leg from the foot to the hip and then do the other leg, always working upward toward the heart. Brush the front, sides and back of both legs.
The lymphatic system responds to gentle pressure so press firmly, not hard, and use long flowing movements. The abdomen is stroked in a clockwise direction: begin at above the pubic bone and move the brush to the right hip, stroke upward to the right rib cage and then across the upper abdomen in the respiratory diaphragm area to the left rib cage; from the left rib cage stroke down to the left hip and then make the turn to end back at midline just above the pubic bone. Stroke the abdomen in this clockwise manner for several rotations.
Use long strokes beginning at the hand and continuing up to the shoulder, and then lightly from the shoulder up the neck. Do one arm completely, then do the other arm. Brush all sides of each arm. Stroke from the top of the thighs upward across the buttocks; be sure to include all the surface area of the buttocks. Brush up the back form the waist to the shoulders and brush the back of the neck.
Round strokes on the breasts similar to the circular motion you used on the abdomen are best for the chest area. Brush up from the breasts to the front of the neck and throat. Do not brush your face with the body brush. If you wish to brush the face a softer brush and specific motions are required.
If your skin turns red when you brush, you are brushing too hard. Back off a little. The skin should turn a pink color with proper dry skin brushing. A complete skin brushing will take no longer than 5 minutes. Shower or bathe immediately after your brushing is completed. Shower or bathe with warm water and finish with a cool rinse. This warm/cool method also stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory systems and causes the skin pores to open and close providing a massaging/stimulating effect. For best results, skin brush every day.
After showering dry off vigorously and massage your skin with pure plant oil such as sesame, coconut or almond oil. (If you have no tree nut allergies.)
Do not skin brush over inflamed, swollen or broken skin or where you are experiencing cuts, rashes, infections or any poisonous rash, such as poison ivy or poison oak.
The benefits of lymphatic drainage/stimulation have been known for hundreds of years. A wonderful article written in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association addressing the lymphatic system can be found here:
Bruno J. Chikly, MD, DO. Manual Techniques Addressing the Lymphatic System: Origins and Development. J Am Osteopath Assoc. October 1, 2005. vol. 105, no. 10, 457-464.
So, not only will dry brushing smooth out your skin and reduce cellulite but it will also provide all of these other amazing health benefits. Add this simple, less than five minute, personal care regimen into your daily practice. Your body will thank you.
Disclaimer: Results may vary. Information and statements made by Dr. Ellen Antoine, Dr. Scott Antoine or any representative of Vine Healthcare are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.