Keep our Rivers Flowing: An Ayurvedic Approach to the Lymphatic System

by Monica Tomasi, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist

The Yuba River has a good healthy flow to it lately; it is such a great place to visit after a long hot day to cool down. In Ayurveda, our lymphatic system is referred to as rasa dhatu, meaning “the river of life.” Our lymphatic system acts very much like a river with a network of pathways where the lymph travels and it serves as one of the body’s main vessels of immunity.

The primary function of the lymphatic system is to shuttle away lymph throughout the body and the main lymph nodes are located in the armpits, groin, neck, belly and chest. Lymph is full of white blood cells which are like “Immune Warriors” and white blood cells tend to collect in the lymph nodes when we get sick. This is also known as an immune response, which may be coupled with symptoms such as pain, swelling or fever, and an increase of mucous to buffer inflammation.

When the rivers of our earth become polluted or stagnant, they can become smelly, slimy, toxic and become an unpleasant place to visit. Likewise, the lymph system relies on plenty of fluids to keep the lymph river flowing, along with bodily movement to channel the lymph throughout the body. Keeping the lymph rivers flowing is essential to balancing our immune system. Today I am going to talk about herbs that you can get from the local farmers market and at HAALo along with a few of my favorite herbal recipes to help heal the waters of your body.

Fresh-herbs-blog

VATA

The lymph is made up of primarily water element and when the water element or rasa becomes depleted, which can occur through dehydration or depletion of vital minerals or nutrients, it is considered a Vata imbalance.

If the lymph system is depleted, then the lymph nodes may feel firm to the touch like a tiny marble under your finger, which may be a warning sign of things to come if not worked with. Warm herbal compresses, daily self-massage with warm sesame oil, gua sha, moist steams or baths with Vata essential oils can be very helpful for working with Vata dryness.

Symptoms may include: Coldness, dryness, hard lymph nodes, anxiety and emaciation

Vata essential oils: Rose, clary sage, vetiver, helichrysum, jatamamsi

Fresh Herbs that reduce Vata are: Basil, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, turmeric, licorice

 

PITTA

When pitta is out of balance it manifests as warm and inflamed mucous membranes and can lead to an inflammatory immune response localizing in the lymph nodes. Pitta needs to be soothed and cooled, and the mucous membranes needs to be nurtured or else Pitta will ravage the body like a wildfire.

The cucumber juice recipe in this article is just the thing to cool excessive pitta, along with staying out of the sun during the hottest hours. Going to the Yuba River as the sun is descending in the sky is a perfect opportunity for you to relax and to cool off any excessive heat accumulated throughout the day.

Symptoms may include: Swollen glands, painful lymph nodes, skin rashes, heat illnesses and anger

Pitta essential oils: Rose, lavender, frankincense, helichrysum, ravensara

Fresh Herbs that reduce Pitta are: Coriander, fennel, mint, parsley, turmeric, cilantro, aloe vera

 

KAPHA

When Kapha becomes out of balance there may be systematic swelling that can localize in the lymph nodes. To the touch the lymph nodes may feel swollen and may also feel cool to the touch.

A Kapha imbalance doesn’t need nutritive tonics such as the former two doshas, but it does need warming spices, vigorous exercise, gua sha and body scrubbing. The recipe for a body scrub is just the thing to warm up Kapha and to get motivation and movement of this sluggish dosha.

Symptoms may include: Swelling, fluid in lymph nodes, excessive mucous production, cysts and lethargy

Kapha essential oils: Grapefruit, cypress, rosemary, juniper, fir

Fresh Herbs that reduce Kapha are: Basil, coriander, fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, turmeric, chilies

salt-blog

Coconut Summer Salt Scrub

Prep time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb. Sea Salt (refined)
  • About 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 20 drops essential oil (refer to lists for Dosha balancing)
  • Add a small handful of chopped fresh herbs, from Farmers Market or your garden (Optional, refer to herb lists for each Dosha)

Scrubs are used to move rasa and to add a luster and to beautify the skin. Using less oil creates more agitation of the tissues and more vigorous movement of the lymph. Always scrub vigorously, in circular movements around the joints and start from the peripheral parts of the body and move towards the heart.

A salt scrub can be done 1–2 times weekly before you shower or plunge yourself into the river.

Cucumber-blog

Cucumber, Lime, Mint, Juice

Prep time: 15 minutes
Yield: Makes about 1 quart

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large cucumbers with peel, ends trimmed
  • Juice of 5 to 10 limes, depending on how juicy they are
  • A large handful of spearmint or mint leaves, from a Farmers Market or your garden
  • 1Tbs of rose powder for Pitta imbalance or 1Tbs of marshmallow root for Vata imbalance (we have these herbs at HAALo)
  • 1–2 soaked dates chopped
  • Approximately 1 cup of coconut water

Put first 3 ingredients in blender, and add enough water to fill 3/4 of blender. Hold the lid on the blender and purée until smooth. Place a mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the purée over it, extracting as much liquid as possible with a spoon.

Mix the herbal powder and the chopped dates into your elixir.

Roses are usually harvested before sunrise and they bring a cooling nature into your being, and marshmallow root helps lock in moisture on a cellular level.

Consider altering your internal climate with a cooling juice in the summertime. For people who have a ton of heat which can manifest in symptoms such as rashes, anger, hot flashes, inflammation and red hot skin, consider drinking this truly lovely and full-of-goodness, Pitta-reducing juice.

Monica-Tomasi-ayurveda-HAALoMonica Tomasi is an Herbalist, Certified Massage Therapist, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Mother from Northern California, who is dedicated towards sharing what has brought her fulfillment in life. Her love for healing modalities has taken her on a magnificent journey, and she finds herself happiest when she is learning or talking about Herbal Healing. Her highest calling is to use her Ayurvedic and Herbal knowledge, by making herbal formulas, guiding others into health and by having deep heart spaced connections with them.

Monica is taking steps towards a dream she’s had for a long time, which is to create a platform where she can find and connect with other Herb Nerds so they can share knowledge and “Nerd Out!” Monica shares her journey on her website and blog, and a podcast is on its way. She considers herself blessed because she is following her dharma – her purpose in life – and it brings her so much joy. What brings her even greater joy is sharing her journey with you.

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