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Ayurveda, Anti-Aging and Dry Brushing

Ayurveda, Anti-Aging and Dry Brushing

The process of aging, which is known as “jara” in Ayurveda, is just one of the many inevitable changes we all experience as we grow older. Our skin, being our body's largest organ, shows the greatest sign of aging and is also the fastest organ to age.

Since ancient times, skin care has been one of the most important aspects of self-care. From ancient Egypt to ancient Greece, our ancestors searched for that so-called "fountain of youth" in an effort to reverse the effects of aging on their bodies. Various techniques, practices and concoctions were developed, which founded the science of skin-care that we call today as cosmetology.

The Ayurvedic view of aging is very different. In particular, Ayurveda posits that the approach to skin-care approach must be more holistic. For example, while Ayurveda recognizes that it is important to apply various natural ingredients applied to the skin, a youthful appearance can also be achieved by living a congruous, coordinated and well-balanced lifestyle. Ayurveda offers safe and solutions to anti-aging known as the Rasayana Chikitsa, or rejuvenation therapy, which engages both the mind and body.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at skin aging from an Ayurvedic perspective.

What are the Causes of Skin Aging?

The appearance of our skin as we age is considered as one of the key measurements of one's overall health and well-being. By definition, aging is a biological process and happens as the rate of cell degeneration becomes more dominant than cell regeneration. It is a natural phenomenon and is influenced by both internal and external factors. Every skin cell in our body ages as our years increase. Though we may not be able to stop it from happening, having knowledge about the stages and causes of aging can help us work against its effects.

The skin aging process involves four key phases, namely:

  1. Decline of skin cell activity due to lower energy levels
  2. Decline of skin cell renewal
  3. Loss of skin firmness
  4. Occurrence of age spots and wrinkles

Internal factors which contribute to skin aging are generally genetic-related factors that are out of our control. These include heredity, hormones (especially for women, the most drastic changes of which take place during menopausal years) and cellular recession (namely when cell turnover and metabolism begins to slow down).

External factors which contribute to skin aging are a different story. Luckily, these factors are not only controllable, but also likely to have the greatest influence on the process of skin aging. In this section, we list the top three culprits of skin aging. These are commonly considered the most significant factors that hinder our efforts to improve our skin appearance and keep it looking youthful for longer.

    1. Sun Exposure

      Specialists say that about 90% of all visible signs of aging are caused by overexposure to the sun. The harmful exposure does not only happen when you have been sunburned; any outdoor activity in the sun, such as gardening, jogging and even driving can contribute to skin aging. While sunscreen can be a helpful way to reduce sun damage, no amount of sunscreen (regardless of its SPF) will fully protect you against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

        2. Stress

          Unreleased stress, tension or strain can also cause a counterproductive effect to our anti-aging efforts. When you are stressed, your body's production of the stress hormone cortisol becomes elevated. Cortisol encourages the skin to produce sebum, which causes acne and oily skin. Further, it also affects our skin's microcirculation and hydration levels, which in the long term may lead to a dull skin appearance. And just like the sun’s UV rays, stress can also cause free radical damage.

            3. Poor Lifestyle Choices

              Needless to say, our food choices and overall health go hand in hand. While nothing can be that bad when done in moderation, regularly consuming sugary, fatty and salty foods in high amounts can impact skin quality. First, sugary foods can cause insulin levels to rise, which in turn can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which can manifest in many ways, including skin breakouts and sagging. Secondly, salty foods can cause water retention, which can make our skin look puffy. Lastly, fatty foods can cause skin inflammation, which can manifest in the production of excess oil.

              Smoking can also wreak havoc to our skin, as it depletes our skin tissues of much needed oxygen. When this happens, the skin will function improperly and age faster. Smoking also damages the skin capillaries that are responsible for removing harmful free radicals. This is the reason why most smokers suffer from sallow skin and show age lines earlier than they should.

              How Does an Imbalance in the Three Doshas Influence Aging?

              In a related post, we discussed how the three doshas play a role in our life and health. Doshas are energetic forces present throughout the human body. Each dosha represents two natural elements and its related properties. Vata represents space and air, which are elements that govern movement and communication. Pitta represents fire and water, which are elements that govern digestion and transformation. Lastly, Kapha represents earth and water, both of which are elements of cohesiveness, structure and lubrication.

              According to Ayurveda, these doshas have a fundamental influence on our cellular health and the appearance of our skin. Consequently, an imbalance in the doshas can affect skin health and skin aging. However, if you know your dosha, you can take steps to prevent skin problems before they even begin. To give you some insight, Vata imbalance can cause poor circulation of blood and nutrients to the different layers of the skin; Pitta imbalance can affect the metabolic functioning that balances the various chemical and hormonal reactions of the skin; and Kapha imbalance can affect the skin’s moisture balance.

              There is a corresponding skincare regimen for each skin type and dosha imbalance. For Vata skin types, it is recommended that the skin is nourished through rehydration in order to avoid signs of premature ageing; applying essential oils and natural moisturizers to the skin is highly advised. For Pitta skin types, applying oils and sunscreens are highly advised and must be done regularly. For Kapha skin types, performing daily gentle cleansing and exfoliation together with an oil massage is highly advised.

              Anti-Aging Diet from an Ayurvedic Perspective

              There is nothing new about the concept that a well-balanced diet can pay dividends when it comes to skin care and anti-aging. But did you know that there are certain foods that contribute to premature ageing? As a rule, intake of the following foods must be lessened or avoided in order to better reduce the signs of ageing: dairy products such as cheese and soymilk, meat products (especially red meat), sugary foods such as pastries and chocolates, foods that are deep-fried in oil such as fries and junk foods, processed foods such as hot dogs and bacon, and beverages such as caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.

              There are also certain foods that promote a youthful appearance and should be an integral part of a regular diet. Ayurveda calls this kind of diet the Rasayana diet. This diet consists of foods that help build our vital essence, or “ojas”, and also help balance the Vata dosha, which is the dosha with the greatest influence on our aging process. Ayurveda recommends eating ojas-building foods such as almonds, walnuts and ghee; anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric and sandalwood; lymph, blood and liver cleansers such as leafy greens; and fruits that contain high amounts of cell-renewing antioxidants such as mangoes, figs, watermelon and grapes.

              Ayurvedic Skin Therapies to Combat Premature Ageing

              Ayurveda also offers exceptional herbal treatments in the form of body wraps that can effectively restore the youthfulness of the skin. Herbs such as turmeric (haridra), drumstick (shigru), neem (nimba), eucalyptus (taila parni) and myrobalan (haritaki) are commonly used. Some of the ayurvedic treatments that use these kinds of herbs are as follows:

              Darvi Lepam - this therapeutic body wrap is made of turmeric and other exotic medicinal herbs; it is applied to the skin in the form of a gentle massage, and is the perfect herbal therapy to make the skin look more radiant, smooth and nourished.

              Hatitaka Lepam - a combination of freshly ground drumstick leaves and pavitra sukhoshan jal, this aromatic body wrap contains potent antioxidants that can deeply penetrate the skin cells leaving it cleansed, moisturized and nourished.

              Kaya Lepam - a special combination of herbal powders, coconut milk, almond milk and rice extract, this unique body wrap aids in removing dead skin cells, improving the skin's texture and eliminating fine lines.

              Neem Body Wrap - a combination of pureed neem leaves and eucalyptus oil, this body wrap smoothens the skin and is perfect for relieving pain and damage associated to over-exposure to the sun.

              Sandalwood Body Wrap - this body wrap is made up of freshly ground sandalwood paste, which is popular for its antibiotic properties; when gently applied, it can effectively clean the skin and remove small brown spots or freckles.

              Other Ayurvedic Therapies

              In addition to those described above, there is a very specific Ayurvedic treatment called Panchakarma, which is a holistic treatment that aims to balance all of the doshas in the body through total rejuvenation and waste removal. Panchakarma cleanses the body on a very deep level, and restores physical and mental balance. It is considered one of the most potent homeopathic treatments in Ayurvedic medicine. In fact, many practitioners recommend applying the treatment on a seasonal basis in order to rid the body of the many toxic materials caused by illness, poor diet, stress and environmental factors.

              A number of treatments are performed or linked together during the course of a Panchakarma treatment. The following treatments target the skin and are just some of the therapies that may be performed during a Panchakarma treatment:

              Abhyanga - this is a massage treatment that uses a special mixture of herbs and oil and is formulated to thoroughly penetrate the skin, remove impurities and restore its arterial and lymphatic circulation. It relaxes the mind and body, and enhances the body's natural ability to help the nutrients reach the starving cells. It also helps remove stagnant waste materials and promotes the internal healing of the body.

              Garshana - this is a treatment that uses dry skin brushing, and aims to enhance the body's lymphatic circulation. It cleanses the skin and helps remove stubborn dirt. This treatment is conducted prior to other Panchakarma treatments, so that other oil and herbal treatments will be able to deeply penetrate the skin.

              Udvartana - this is a treatment that uses a special paste made of sesame oil infused with exotic herbs, and aims to gently exfoliate the skin to rejuvenate the skin's natural radiance. It is also a lymphatic massage treatment that opens up the pores, eliminates blockages in the blood vessels, and stimulates heat in the tissues and fat metabolism.

              The Importance of Dry Brushing

              As discussed above, the process of dry brushing is essential to enhancing the body’s lymphatic circulation, cleansing the skin and helping remove stubborn dirt. The health benefits of dry brushing are greatly enhanced through the use of an ionic body brush, which has its origin in ancient Ayurvedic practices. Our ionic body brushes are made with extra-fine ion-charged copper bristles, which naturally create negative ions that protect your body from free radicals and have numerous other health benefits. In addition, the molecular composition of our unique bristles encourages the direct and immediate absorption of negative ions into your skin, which increases the benefits of dry brushing, including the speed of detoxification.

              Final Thoughts

              The aging process is a challenging human experience, and the desire to look youthful persists in most of us. Luckily, Ayurveda offers a treasure trove of knowledge in respect of various anti-aging and skin care therapies. By living a healthy and balanced life, we can all successfully reduce the appearance of aging.

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              All You Need To Know About Dry Brushing

              All You Need To Know About Dry Brushing

              It is common to cleanse and scrub the skin with a washcloth or loofah and a rich foamy lather when bathing. But have you heard about dry brushing? In a nutshell, this skin-pampering regimen involves sweeping the skin with a dry brush to exfoliate and promote a number of other benefits.
               
              Incorporating this simple step into your bathing regime can make a big difference. It’s incredibly gentle, soothing, and easy to do. In this post we will discuss the history and benefits of dry brushing as well as how to do-it-yourself at home.

              History

              More than anything else, dry brushing helps to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation has been practiced for hundreds of centuries by different cultures, which include the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, East Indians, Native Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Turks, and Scandinavians. This was mainly achieved by mechanical exfoliation. Some of the tools used by our ancestors include corn cobs, crushed seashells, and sand.
               
              Skin brushing has been around since time immemorial. The Egyptians were said to have used dry brushing techniques thousands of years back as well as exfoliating in sour milk and wine.
               
              The ancient Ayurvedic practice of Gharsana (which means friction by rubbing in Sanskrit) also involves dry brushing and massaging certain points in the body. In Ayurvedic principles, Gharsana is believed to reduce “ama” (undigested food or emotions that manifest into a toxic and sticky substance that can extend to the gastrointestinal system and other parts of the body). Gharsana can stimulate movement in the lymphatic system, which can help increase the rate of detoxification. It is also believed that Gharsana revitalized the modern-day concept of dry brushing.
               
              In a Holistic Health Report by Matthew Scott B.Ac, MA, he reinforces the Chinese perspective on dry brushing and the health benefits it can bring. Historically, the Chinese used dried fruit and vegetable (such as squash) fibers and fashioned them into sponges. He notes that regular dry brushing can help the body eliminate waste, which can be as much as one kilogram or two pounds per day. Dry brushing also assists the body’s cleansing process by activating the sweat glands and opening the pores further. It can also help relax tense muscles, especially a stiff neck, back, or shoulders.
               
              The Japanese used loofahs to brush their skin before taking a hot bath to clear their skin of dead skin cells and grime. The Greeks used strigil, a sort of metal scraper, to remove dirt from the skin after they performed robust physical activities.
               
              In modern times, dry brushing continues to be part of women’s beauty routines and is gaining popularity once again. Celebrities and supermodels such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Elle McPherson and Miranda Kerr have tried dry brushing to help keep their skin and bodies in excellent condition. Luxury spas have also incorporated dry brushing in their overall pampering sessions.

              Benefits of dry brushing

              Here are some of the top benefits of dry brushing the body:

                1. Improves the lymphatic system’s overall condition

                  The lymphatic system is where the body flushes out toxins, waste, and other unwanted debris. The lymphatic system circulates through the body and carries white blood cells that fight infections.
                   
                  Dry brushing is said to help stimulate the lymphatic system and enhance the detoxification process. There are about 600 to 700 lymph nodes that are positioned in different parts of the body, some of them near the lungs and heart, while others are close to the surface of the skin, for example near the armpits and groin. These nodes function as filters for the lymph and are where the production and storage of white blood cells occur.
                   
                  When the lymphatic system fails to function properly, waste and toxins remain trapped in the body, which can make a person sick and vulnerable to diseases. Some severe medical conditions that can affect the lymphatic system include lymphedema, where the lymph nodes are blocked and begin to swell, and lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymph caused by the excess production of lymphocytes.

                  2. Minimize the appearance of cellulite

                  Cellulite can give the skin a dimpled and lumpy appearance reminiscent of an orange peel and is most commonly located on the thighs and buttocks. It is more common in women than men since the layers of fat, muscle and connective tissues are different in both genders. In women, the skin and connective tissues are thinner while the fat layer is thicker. On the other hand, in men the skin layer is thicker. The thighs and buttocks are usually the areas where fat is stored in women, while for men it is stored in the abdomen. Cellulite is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It occurs in women of all sizes and fitness levels.
                   
                  For those looking to address cellulite, dry brushing can help prevent the formation of cellulite and can help the skin become tighter and increase blood flow and cell renewal. While there are no scientific studies to prove or refute this claim, many find a reduction in the appearance of cellulite when dry brushing on a daily basis.

                    3. Exfoliation

                    Dry brushing can help remove dead skin cells. Desquamation is the skin’s biological process of shedding the outermost layer (called the Stratum Corneum). New cells positioned in the deeper layers of the skin push these old cells out which are then sloughed off. A cell known as the desmosome functions as an adhesive for the skin cells. The desmosome’s stickiness weakens as the skin cells are pushed to the Stratum Corneum. Old age, hormones, and environmental factors can affect the desmosome’s process, and can result in the build-up of dead cell layers. Exfoliation is vital at this stage to help eliminate the buildup of dead tissue.

                    Exfoliation can be done two different ways: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical methods (including dry brushing) involve removing the dead skin tissues with the use of motion and abrasives. On the other hand, chemical methods use acids and solutions (toners, cleansers, peels, etc.) to dissolve dead skin cells.

                    Dry brushing is a gentler, easier and more affordable way to incorporate regular exfoliation into your daily routine. If the idea of using chemical peels is intimidating, dry brushing can be a great alternative. It can be done anytime and anywhere, whether you’re at home or traveling. You really only need to invest in a dry brush once since it does not run out like chemical solutions.

                    4. Aids in circulation

                    Not only is dry brushing good for the integumentary system, but it’s also great for the circulatory system. The latter is the body’s vital transport system for blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Dry brushing can help improve poor blood circulation by stimulating circulation which helps keep the blood flowing.

                    Other benefits of dry brushing include:

                    Opens the pores;
                    Develops muscle tone;
                    Relaxes muscle tension;
                    Refreshes the nervous system;
                    Helps in digestion; and
                    Relieves stress.

                        How to dry brush

                        Finding a dry brush

                        First, you will need to buy a dry brush. Choose one that is made of soft natural bristles, such as plant fibers, animal hair, or copper. Synthetic bristles such as plastic will be too stiff and harsh for your skin. They may even cause cuts and small wounds on your skin that could become infected.

                        Types of handles

                        There are several varieties of handles you can choose. The most common type is a handheld brush with a strap across it allowing you to grip the brush. This allows you to easily and thoroughly access hard-to-reach spots in your body, like the back of your knees, elbows, and shoulders. It also gives you more control over the pressure you exert on the brush.
                         
                        Another variety comes with short and long handles. Handle measurements can range from 9 to 17 inches. Brushes with a long handle can be great for targeting the back; however, often the handles can break or detach. Overall, we recommend a high-quality handheld brush with a strap to help keep the brush in place.
                         
                        Before starting to brush, remove any clothing and accessories. It’s best to do this in your bathroom completely naked and just before showering or bathing.

                        Brushing method

                        1. It is suggested that you always brush towards the heart. Start at your feet and brush upwards towards the legs. This is believed to help stimulate the lymphatic system. Strokes ideally should be done 7 to 14 times on each portion of the skin.
                        2. Next, move on to your hands and make upward sweeping strokes to your arms.
                        3. Next target the neck area. Working on one side of the jawline, start from the earlobe and sweep all the way to the chin. Repeat on the opposite side.
                        4. From the base of the back of the neck, sweep all the way to the collarbone. Start with one side, and afterwards work on the other.
                        5. Targeting your breast area, brush with light strokes towards the heart starting from the collarbone. The pressure should be very light.
                        6. Move to your belly and brush up towards the heart.
                        7. Move on to your armpits and with your arm extended overhead, brush down and towards the chest.
                        8. Next, start from your hips and sweep upwards to your armpits. Start with one side and repeat on the other side afterwards.
                        9. Moving to your back, start from the tailbone sweeping up towards your head. Have someone help with the back for the places you can’t reach.

                        Precautions

                        • Stop dry brushing if you experience pain, skin irritation, or broken skin.
                        • Do not dry brush areas on your skin that have wounds or infections.
                        • Always dry brush on dry skin. Never wet your brush or brush wet skin during a shower.
                        • Don’t store your brush in areas where it is humid otherwise moisture can accumulate. If the brush has copper bristles, the humidity can compromise the bristles. If the brush has natural bristles, the humidity can cause bacteria to grow on the brush.

                        Cleaning your dry brush

                        • Copper is naturally anti-bacterial, so there is no need to clean your ionic body brush in the same manner as you might clean an ordinary brush.
                        • Dead skin will accumulate in the brush, so we recommend rubbing the bristles several times with a dry cloth, or tapping the brush with the bristles pointed down on a washable surface, such as a sink basin, in order to remove any skin particles. We suggest that you do this after every each use.
                        • Please make sure never to wash your ionic body brush with water or soap.

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                        An Introduction to the Lymphatic System

                        An Introduction to the Lymphatic System

                        The lymphatic system is one of the most significant systems in the human body. A network of vessels that can be found in almost every part of the body, the lymphatic system assists in the movement of a fluid called lymph, which resides within nodes. The lymphatic system is one our body’s primary weapons against toxins, wastes, and other unwanted elements that invade our system.

                        In this post, we will discuss the lymphatic system's many essential functions and why it is important to give it our attention. We will also discuss a few easy ways to naturally detoxify the lymphatic system.

                        Functions of the Lymphatic System

                        The lymphatic system has three main functions: to maintain fluid balance, to help in fat absorption, and to assist the immune system.

                        Fluid is found in the tiny spaces between tissues and cells. Our lymphatic system collects any excess fluid found in these spaces and deposits them into our bloodstream. Without it, our tissues and cells would swell. Blood volume and pressure would also be negatively impacted, to the point of becoming fatal if not addressed. The lymphatic system also plays a key role in absorbing fats from the digestive system, and helps in transporting these fats to the venous circulation.

                        The most notable function of the lymphatic system is to help protect the body against infections. The lymphatic system comes into action whenever other lines of defense fail such as the skin (physical barrier) and acids in the stomach (toxic barrier). The lymphatic system creates white blood cells, or lymphocytes, which travel through the body until they reach the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes become activated when they come into contact with or fight bodily infections.

                        There are about 600 lymph nodes in the body, and most of them are concentrated in the neck, armpits and groin areas. You can determine whether your body is fighting an infection if you notice swollen glands, or lymph nodes, located in these areas. Lymphocytes become activated whenever they encounter pathogens or infections, communicating with each other to set off a defense response. This causes the swelling you end up seeing and feeling.

                        The activated lymphocytes then travel through the lymphatic system until they reach the bloodstream, unrolling the immune response throughout the body. Immunologists call this the Adaptive Immune Response, which stays with us throughout our lives. This makes it easier for the lymphocytes to react if the same infection affects the body again. A healthy lymphatic system means a stronger and more resilient immune response against infections.

                        The lymphatic system can become stagnate if it is blocked or swamped with toxic remains. As it does not have a pumping mechanism of its own, it depends on the muscles and joints to be able to move, which pushes along the fluid. If the lymphatic system is not kept in check and becomes overwhelmed, the immune system can be compromised. Warning signs of a poor lymphatic system are swollen fingers, bloating, unexplained feelings of exhaustion, constipation, and dryness and itchiness of the skin. Much worse, it could lead to cellulite build up, edema, swollen lymph nodes, eczema, arthritis, and various infections of the ears, nose and throat, as well as the respiratory system. Thus, it is very important to maintain a healthy lymphatic system.

                        There is no need to worry, as taking good care of your lymphatic system does not require much work. In the next section of this post, we will discuss some simple yet effective Ayurvedic treatments to keep your lymphatic system healthy.

                        Ayurvedic Practices to Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy

                        Opt For Lukewarm Water

                        Drinking lukewarm water can effectively eliminate the buildup of toxins in your lymph fluid. Some of these toxins can be acquired through external means such as unhealthy food and environment. These toxins are known to be sticky and greasy by nature. Drinking lukewarm water can help dissolve such sticky buildup. As a comparison, consider how hot or warm water helps dissolve tough grease on dishes.

                        Ayurveda recommends sipping warm water to gradually and comfortably flush the toxins out of the lymphatic system. Warm water is effective in hydrating and softening hardened muscles or tissues and is also effective in detoxifying gut-associated lymphoid tissues. To maximize the effectiveness, it is advisable to sip warm water every 30 to 60 minutes. Keep in mind that the frequency of sipping warm water is more important that the quantity of how much you sip. Doing this consistently and regularly will not only flush out toxins, but will also help keep your lymphatic system clean.

                        Include Red Foods in Your Diet

                        The digestive system can also impact the way the lymphatic system works. As mentioned earlier, lymphatic vessels are present in the digestive tract and can be easily impaired with an unhealthy diet. You can help keep the digestive system healthy by eating naturally red foods. Incorporating naturally red foods in your diet will not only strengthen your immune system, but will also reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

                        Ayurveda encourages the consumption of naturally red foods such as berries, cherries, cranberries, beets and pomegranates to stimulate an underactive digestive system. Naturally red foods can effectively alkalinize the digestive tract, making it a difficult environment for pathogens to thrive. In addition to fiber, red foods also contain enzymes and bioflavonoids that can help break down all the accumulated toxins and free radicals in your intestines.

                        Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

                        The diaphragm acts as a pump for the lymphatic system. The very act of breathing aids in the movement of the lymph towards our chest. Whenever you breathe in and out deeply, you are actually stimulating the thoracic duct located at the neck area, which helps the lymph fluid move easier. Thus, it is very important that you practice proper diaphragmatic breathing in order to avoid lymphatic congestion. To do so, you need to slowly breathe in through your nose, while deeply pushing the stomach out as your lungs fill with air. It is important to keep this in mind as you want to breathe into your belly rather than into the chest region. Release the air through your mouth just as slowly. Doing about 5 to 10 repetitions of diaphragmatic breathing daily will help move lymph fluid, transport the correct amount of oxygen to the blood, and encourage relaxation. Aside from being a great way to send the body to sleep, it is also nice to practice diaphragmatic breathing outdoors after you wake up when the brisk morning air is freshest. You will be amazed by the benefits!

                        Get Plenty of Exercise or Practice Yoga

                        The lymphatic system also depends on body movements to maintain its flow. There are various ways in which the lymphatic system can be stimulated, such as external massages, muscle expansion/contraction, and intense exercise. Any physical movement can help avoid lymph clogging and stagnation. In other words, the more you move, the more active the lymphatic system becomes.

                        There are plenty of physical exercises you can do to make sure the lymphatic system remains efficient. Any exercise that involves the legs prevents clogging of the inguinal nodes located in the groin area, while any exercise that involves the upper body such as lifting and swimming will help move fluid through the axillary nodes in the armpits. Exercises that encourage flexibility, such as yoga, also stimulate the lymphatic flow. Inversion poses, such as handstands and headstands, will reverse the typical effect of gravity, which helps move the lymph towards the heart. Twists squeeze the muscles which will help flush the lymph out of the tissues.

                        Practice Dry Brushing

                        Dry brushing can also positively improve the lymphatic system. The skin, being the largest organ, detoxifies and protects the body against many negative elements. There are also many lymph vessels running under the skin’s surface, which is why stimulating the skin using a dry brush can be so beneficial.

                        Dry brushing is a favorite Ayurvedic practice and removes dirt, reduces cellulite, exfoliates dead skin cells, and gently stimulates lymph circulation. Not only can dry brushing stimulate the skin, it can also have a positive impact on how your digestive system and kidneys work. Most of all, dry brushing is very relaxing. Dry brushing is a simple exercise that can be practiced daily before bathing. Using a dry brush with soft bristles, brush your dry skin upwards towards the heart starting with your feet and working your way up your body. The face is much more delicate and can require a softer dry brush or a more gentle touch. You can further boost the lymph circulation by bathing in warm water afterwards.

                        As a bonus tip, you may also want to consider using a dry brush with copper bristles to help boost your lymphatic system. In ancient Ayurvedic practices, it was discovered that copper ions absorbed by the skin through dry brushing with a copper dry brush supported lymphatic flow resulting in a healthy immune response.

                        Conclusion

                        It may be the most underrated internal system, but the lymphatic system plays a critical role in maintaining your overall health. If the lymphatic system is not kept in check, the immune system can be compromised which will negatively impact your well-being. Try incorporating some Ayurvedic practices into your daily routine such as drinking warm water, eating red foods, practicing diaphragmatic breathing, exercising, and dry brushing to help keep your lymphatic system healthy for years to come.

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                        The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rid of Cellulite

                        The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rid of Cellulite

                        Having cellulite on your body is normal, but, whether you admit it or not, seeing its symptoms can definitely impact your self-confidence. Cellulite is fairly common; in fact, about 90% of women and 10% of men develop it at some point in their lives. Believe it or not, even people who are very physically fit can also develop cellulite.

                        While it is obviously not a life-threatening condition, it remains an issue of aesthetic concern to many people. There is nothing wrong with having cellulite; however, you may want to reduce its appearance and learn how to get rid of cellulite. In this post, we cover everything you need to know about cellulite: what causes cellulite, natural ways to prevent cellulite from occurring, natural ways to minimize cellulite’s appearance, and natural ways to get rid of cellulite.

                        What is Cellulite?

                        Gynoid lipodystrophy, more commonly known as cellulite, is a natural occurrence where the skin begins to have alterations in the form of lumps (or bulges) and dimples (or puckers) that give it a not-so-attractive appearance. The term was first used during the 1920s to describe an aesthetic change in the appearance of the skin’s surface; its appearance resembles that of an orange-peel skin, cottage-cheese or a mattress cover. The symptoms affect certain areas of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, legs and buttocks; the dimpling may appear small and scattered, or may also have larger indentations.

                        As mentioned above, women have higher chances of developing cellulite, especially at some point after puberty. This is because women's fat cells are arranged differently than men’s fat cells. In women, the fat cells and their connective tissues are vertically arranged, whereas in men the fat cells and its connective tissues are arranged in a criss-cross structure.

                        To better understand the concept, the starting point is that there are fat cells present underneath our skin. These fat cells are tethered by connective tissues (which run vertically between the fat cells) that attach the outer layers of your skin to the deeper ones. These connective tissues have pouches where normal-sized fat cells are also located. When these fat cells expand beyond their normal size, the pouches will consequently become swollen; this phenomenon is characterized by the appearance of bulges or small bumps on your skin. The connective tissues meanwhile remain attached, but become overstretched and eventually harden, which causes the skin to be pulled downwards. This phenomenon is characterized by the appearance of puckers on your skin.

                        Cellulite also has stages or grades of development, as per the validated cellulite severity scale published in 2009. Grade 0 is characterized by having no symptoms of cellulite in the body. Grade 1 or mild is characterized by having symptoms of cellulite only while sitting, but none while standing up. Grade 2 or moderate is characterized by having symptoms of cellulite while sitting or standing up. Lastly, Grade 3 is characterized by having symptoms of severely raised and depressed skin either while sitting or standing up. In general, many women experience cellulite legs, cellulite on thighs, or cellulite on stomach. As discussed below, there are several options for cellulite treatment and removal.

                        What are the Causes of Cellulite?

                        You may be surprised to learn that the exact cause of cellulite is still not clear. Its exact manner of causation is difficult to identify as there are many processes that happen both sequentially and simultaneously, which makes the condition all the more complicated.

                        The condition starts at some point after puberty and also gets more common as people age. As the skin gets thinner with age, it becomes easier for cellulite to develop and become noticeable. Additionally, lighter-skinned people have a greater likelihood of developing the symptoms.

                        There is not one single root cause of cellulite, but, as discussed below, there are various factors that are linked to a person's likelihood of developing cellulite.

                        1. Hormonal Factors

                        Hormonal imbalance, primarily between estrogen and testosterone, plays an important role in cellulite formation. If too much estrogen is present compared to testosterone, the cellulite levels may increase. This is also one of the major reasons why cellulite is more common in women than men. On the other hand, reduction in estrogen, which is what happens during menopause, can also significantly increase the chances of developing cellulite. Imbalance between these two hormones are caused by many factors, such as poor sleeping patterns, lack of physical activity, stress and excessive physical training.

                        Testosterone levels can also become lower when the liver is overburdened. Liver detoxifies the blood by removing harmful substances (such as alcohol), and it also removes estrogen from the blood. However, estrogen removal will not be the liver's priority when there is too much toxicity present in the blood. Additionally, consumption of foods preserved in lacquer-coated containers, as well as use of cosmetic products, perfumes, pesticides, and most plastics can also be a culprit, as these products contain xenoestrogens (which are estrogen-like substances).

                        High levels of insulin may also contribute to the formation of cellulite, as insulin stimulates lipogenesis, or the formation of fat, in the body.

                        2. Aging

                        Aging does not directly influence the development of cellulite, but its biomechanical properties (extensibility, retractability and elasticity) do. In particular, cellulite tends to worsen with age as the skin loses its elasticity, muscle mass and gains more fat. In 2008, a study was conducted using 94 healthy females who were divided into three age groups of 21 to 30, 31 to 40 and 51 to 60, and into two cellulite grade groups of 0 and 2. Both the biomechanical properties and skin thickness were tested using ultrasound. The results showed that the shadowed surfaces in females under group 2 were significantly different (i.e. smaller and more numerous) after the age of 30, which showed that the biomechanical properties of the skin significantly decreased with age.

                        3. Genetic Factors

                        Genetics plays an important role in a person's rate of metabolism, fat distribution, and circulatory levels, all of which can affect the likelihood of developing cellulite. In addition, a study published in 2010 found that 2 out of 25 genetic variants were found (via DNA extraction) in a randomly selected group of 200 women who had cellulite. The study paved the way for the development of genetic tests (such as the CelluliteDX Genetic Test) which aim to identify a gene variant responsible for cellulite formation, as well as predict if a person is at risk for developing moderate to severe cellulite.

                        4. Dietary Factors and Lifestyle Factors

                        People who eat foods that are high in fat, sugar, carbohydrates and salt have a greater likelihood of developing cellulite. In addition, smoking, long periods of seating or standing and lack of exercise can also increase one's chances of developing cellulite. In addition, wearing tight clothing can limit proper blood flow which may cause or worsen the appearance of cellulite.

                        Natural Ways to Reduce Cellulite

                        Presently, researchers have not yet found a guaranteed solution for cellulite nor a treatment method that can perpetually reverse the condition, as cellulite is more of a structural issue within the body. A handful of expensive scientific techniques are already available today; these techniques aim to reduce cellulite appearance by altering the bands of the connective tissue underneath the skin. However, the success rate of these scientific techniques still remains questionable.

                        Fortunately, there are a number of simple, natural, and inexpensive strategies as well. One thing that contributes to cellulite production is the accumulation of toxins in the adipose tissues (or the tissues used by the body to store fat), which all of us can definitely do something about. The techniques that are described below focus on the elimination of such toxins. Applying these practices regularly will not only help eliminate the toxins that cause cellulite, but will also promote a long and healthy life.

                        1. Gradually increase your intake of fruits and vegetables

                        Toxins accumulate in the body's cells, tissues and organs, and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to remove those toxins. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline-forming foods, which means that they make your body more alkaline. The alkalinity created by fruits and vegetables draws out the acidic toxins in the cells, which is caused by acid-forming foods like red meat, eggs, and other high-protein foods. Gradual increase or slow transition is considered more effective as the body cannot flush out a large amount of toxins all at once. If the increase is done abruptly, some of the toxins will just circulate again and settle in the body.

                        2. Hydrate using only pure drinking water or fresh vegetable juices

                        When done in combination with the above-noted practice, drinking pure water or fresh green vegetable juices can effectively flush toxins out of the body. Drinking pure water is a healthy habit especially when done first thing after waking up. For variety, adding some fresh lemon juice or slices to your water is a great option. As for green vegetable juices, it is best to consume them on an empty stomach and only when freshly prepared, as that is when it holds the most nutritional value. If green vegetable juices are consumed during or after a meal, it will be hard for the body to absorb the healthy benefits of the juice as the body will become occupied working on the excess waste from the consumed dense foods.

                        3. Avoid using refined or table salt

                        Usually sold in supermarkets or offered in restaurants, table salt has a lot of added synthetic chemicals. Some of these chemicals are iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents, and many more. Needless to say, most commercially sold salts are culprits for dehydration and are bad for the body. Additionally, they are unhealthy and contains a lot of toxins. Sea salt and crystal salt are much better options, as these are alkaline and can provide many benefits to the body, including thyroid and adrenal function support, hormone balance support and healthy metabolism support.

                        4. Engage in vigorous exercise to achieve a high heart rate

                        Achieving a high heart rate by engaging in vigorous exercise is another effective approach to reducing the appearance of cellulite. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise is being performed - uphill running, interval training, swimming or any other routine - as long as endorphin rush is achieved. If that occurs, the body's metabolism will be boosted, thus burning fat. On the other hand, any low intensity exercise such as yoga or walking will not be as effective in reducing the appearance of cellulite. Of course, for those who have health restrictions, low intensity exercises are better than nothing at all.

                        5. Practice regular colon cleansing

                        Toxic waste materials that have been drawn out of the cells by consuming alkaline-forming foods still need to be completely removed so that they will not resettle in the body. The body's main elimination channel, which is the bowel, does just that. The body's bowel system is where a large percentage of waste materials go. However, some people may have a weakened bowel system which is ineffective at purging all toxins from the body. In such case, helping the bowel remove waste materials by regular colon cleansing, either through a home enema kit or a professional hydro-therapist, can be helpful.

                        6. Practice dry brushing regularly

                        Many people find that using a dry brush on their body on a regular basis leads to significant improvement in the health of their skin and a dramatic reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Brushing the skin using a dry brush stimulates the lymphatic system, which in turn helps toxins circulate and eventually find their way to the body's various elimination channels. In other words, a dry brush essentially works as a cellulite massager. It is for this reason that dry brushes are commonly referred to as cellulite brushes or anti cellulite brushes. Additionally, dry brushing is also a great way to temporarily promote the widening of the capillaries under the skin. This encourages greater blood flow under the skin surface which helps rid the body of toxins.

                        Final Thoughts

                        While cellulite may be a normal condition that affects many people regardless of size or gender, it may not be aesthetically pleasing to some people. Fortunately, incorporating the above habits into your lifestyle will not only keep cellulite at bay, but will also keep you healthy and beautiful both inside and out.

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                        The Complete Guide to Lymphatic Massage and Lymphatic Drainage

                        The Complete Guide to Lymphatic Massage and Lymphatic Drainage

                        Your lymphatic system is an important part of your immune function. In particular, it protects you from infections and diseases. A healthy and active lymphatic system maintains the fluid balance of your body and drains excess fluid from body tissues. It prevents fluid build-up in your body by eliminating toxins and other unwanted material.

                        Generally, people believe that lymph massage is only for individuals suffering from certain health conditions. However, this is not true: lymph massage has an important role to play in all of our health regimes. At its core, lymph massage is a type of relaxing massage that helps you to achieve optimal health. When your lymph system functions well, you generally feel healthy and are equipped with a strong defense against illness. In addition, in situations which give rise to a lymphatic system disease referred as lymphedema, which is a fluid build-up in the lymphatic system sometimes caused by certain health conditions or surgeries, lymphatic massage is advised as a treatment measure.

                        In this blog post, we discuss how our lymphatic system works, explain the nature of lymphatic massage and why it is needed and canvass the health benefits of lymphatic massage and the things to consider when performing this massage. We will also explain, step-by-step, the right technique to be used for this kind of massage and the goal of lymphatic system drainage. We will then conclude by discussing safety precautions needed for lymph drainage massage.

                        Functions of the Lymphatic System

                        The lymphatic system is a collection of lymphatic nodes and lymphatic vessels. In essence, it works like a circulatory system that drains excess fluid from your blood vessels. With the help of smooth and skeletal muscles, lymph, which is a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathes the tissues, is pumped through lymph vessels and ultimately drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream.

                        The Lymphatic System:

                        • Removes interstitial fluid from tissues.
                        • Absorbs and transports fatty acids and fats.
                        • Transports white blood cells and dendritic cells to lymph nodes which in turn triggers the immune system.

                        Lymphatic Drainage Massage

                        Lymphatic drainage massage, also known as lymphatic massage, is a treatment procedure performed by a certified massage therapist in order to stimulate the circulation of lymph fluid in your body. This has the effect of aiding in draining lymph nodes. This improves the removal of toxins from the lymphatic system, reduces any swelling caused due to lymphedema, and helps prevent lymphatic system diseases. This massage also boosts your immune system.

                        Lymphatic massage is beneficial for:

                        • Lymphedema
                        • Fibromyalgia or muscle pain
                        • Swelling of limbs or edema
                        • Fatigue or tiredness
                        • Sleeplessness due to stress
                        • Digestive disorders
                        • Depression and anxiety
                        • Recurring infections like cold and flu

                        Lymphatic massage is not recommended for conditions like:

                        • Congestive heart failure
                        • History of blood clots or thrombosis
                        • Kidney and liver problems
                        • During infections
                        • Malignant tumor

                        If you have any existing medical condition, it is always advised to consult with your doctor before proceeding with lymphatic massage.

                        How Lymphatic Massage Works

                        Lymph drainage massage helps to increase the efficiency of the lymphatic and circulatory system. By removing retained fluids and toxins, lymph drainage makes you feel active and healthy. It also improves metabolic rate and immunity by improving lymphatic system function.

                        In particular, lymphatic massage is beneficial in post-operative conditions. Lymphatic massage can help reduce swelling as well as speed up healing. In fact, a recent study has shown that manual lymphatic drainage helps in supporting a speedy recovery in the post-operative period.

                        Benefits of Lymphatic Massage

                        Lymphatic massage is a body detox therapy that offers many health benefits. Lymphatic massage is also an essential part of an optimal skincare routine because of its detoxification and esthetic benefits. In fact, a study conducted by researchers has revealed that lymphatic massage decreases pain and brings clinically significant reduction in edema.

                        Lymphatic massage:

                        • Is a therapeutic massage that helps to treat conditions like lymphedema and fibromyalgia.
                        • Enhances your mood by reducing anxiety and depression.
                        • Boosts the body’s cleansing system by stimulating the lymphatic system to naturally cleanse your body.
                        • Increases vitality and your body’s circulation by removing toxins, making you feel active and energetic.
                        • Brings hormonal balance.
                        • Mitigates skin conditions and allergies like acne and rosacea.
                        • Helps in healing after surgery by facilitating the regeneration of cells and tissues which also reduces the scarring of surgical sites.
                        • Improves your immune system.

                        Lymphatic massage is beneficial for everyone. If you are suffering from fatigue, low energy or reduced immunity, then this massage can help you bounce back. In fact, a study conducted to evaluate the effects of manual lymphatic massage has revealed that it improves the quality of life in patients with chronic venous diseases. Any surgical procedure involving lymph node removal can cause swelling. In such cases, lymphatic massage can help to treat the swelling. This gentle massage technique also removes waste from the body and restores vitality, which can help those with fibromyalgia.

                        Lymphatic massage plays an important role in esthetics as well. When a trained beautician performs a facial, they use gentle pressure to improve your lymph flow. This clears toxin and help result in clear, healthy skin.

                        How To Perform Lymphatic Drainage Massage

                        Lymphatic drainage massage can be performed by a massage therapist. Alternatively, it can be performed at home by yourself by using the proper technique and ensuring that correct areas are the focus of the massage. The duration of this massage ranges from 30 to 90 minutes. It can be performed in any comfortable position, be it sitting, standing or lying down. Lymphatic massage, also known as lymphedema massage, can be performed at any time of the day, including while watching TV or as a part of your relaxation routine.

                        Some tips to remember during lymphatic massage:

                        • It is a gentle massage technique where pressure should be felt only on the skin. Stimulate the lymphatic vessels by stretching the skin a little.
                        • Massage in the direction of the natural flow of lymph (towards the heart).
                        • With relaxed hands, maintain a gentle massage rhythm to help your lymph to drain.
                        • Drink plenty of water after the massage.

                        Procedure

                        Get into a relaxed position in a quiet room, standing, sitting or lying down, as you prefer. If you are a music lover, then try putting on some soothing music.

                        Begin with lymphatic breathing

                        Before you begin to massage, spend some time in deep breathing and relaxation. Take 5 to 6 deep breaths. Inhale slowly and exhale steadily. Focus on relaxing your mind. This will make the massage more effective.

                        Massage the front of the neck

                        Starting from the top of your body, massage both sides of the front of your neck.

                        • Place two fingers at the edge of the neck above your collarbones.
                        • With light pressure, massage in a manner that stretches your skin towards the sternum or towards the center of your neck.
                        • Repeat this neck massage 8 to 10 times in a sitting.

                        Massage the side of the neck

                        You can massage one side of the neck or both sides together.

                        • Place your palms against the side of your neck below your ears.
                        • Gently massage towards the back of your body in a downward motion.

                        Massage the back of the neck

                        • Lightly place your palm on the backside of your neck just below the hairline.
                        • With gentle pressure massage downwards toward the spine.

                        Underarm massage

                        • Hold your arm comfortably, exposing the underarm.
                        • Place your palm against your underarm.
                        • Gently pull upward towards your body.
                        • Repeat on the other side.

                        Massage behind the knee

                        • Place your fingers behind the knee.
                        • Gently massage with fingers behind your knee in an upward motion towards the thighs.
                        • Release and repeat on the other knee.

                        Upper Body Lymphatic Massage

                        This upper body massage helps to drain the lymphatic fluid from your upper body parts, like the chest, shoulder and upper limbs.

                        Massage your chest

                        • Place your palm against the chest, on the opposite side.
                        • Gently pull up towards your collar bone, and release when the skin feels tight.
                        • Repeat this motion 10 to 12 times in one sitting.

                        Massage your shoulder

                        • Get comfortable by resting your arm on a table.
                        • Place the other hand on the back of your shoulder.
                        • Gently massage from your shoulder moving towards your neck.

                        Massage your upper arm

                        • Comfortably lay your hand on a table.
                        • Take the fingers of your opposite hand and place them on the inside of your upper arm.
                        • Gently stretch the skin moving outside of the upper arm and release.

                        Massage full arm

                        • Start with your shoulder.
                        • Place your palm and stretch your skin moving the lymph fluid upward.
                        • Shift the hand down and again stretch the skin upwards (elbow to wrist).
                        • Continue similarly always moving the skin upward.

                        Massage your fingers

                        • Start from the base of your fingers.
                        • Use your index finger and thumb to gently stretch and release the skin towards your hand.
                        • Continue doing this to the entire finger.
                        • Remember that this massage should direct the fluid towards your hand.

                        Lower Body Lymphatic Massage

                        The goal of lower body lymphatic massage is to move the excess fluid through lymph vessels to the lymph nodes located in the groin. Begin this massage from the top of the leg working downward. Make yourself comfortable during this massage and do not strain your back.

                        Massage your upper leg

                        • Place one hand to one side of the leg and another hand to the back of the leg.
                        • Gently stretch and release the skin from the inside of the leg towards outside and upwards.
                        • Shift your hand down and repeat the massage.
                        • Once you reach the knee switch your hands and stretch the skin towards your armpit.

                        Massage your lower leg

                        • Just below the knee, place one hand on the shin and another at the back of your leg.
                        • Stretch the skin upwards with gentle pressure.
                        • Shift your hand down and repeat till you reach the ankle.
                        • Stretch and release your skin with an upward stroke.

                        Massage your toes

                        • Place your index finger and thumb at the base of the toes.
                        • Gently guide the fluid towards the foot.
                        • Continue for all the toes.

                        After performing the above steps, the full body lymphatic drainage massage will be complete. Make sure to drink plenty of fluid after the massage to aid in the removal of toxins from your body.

                        After Effects Of Lymphatic Massage

                        Lymphatic massage helps you detox and supports your overall health. It should also help relieve your aches, pains and swellings.

                        1. If you have lymphedema, continue using compression socks and sleeves to prevent fluid build up.
                        2. If you have fibromyalgia, this massage helps reduce stiffness and pain, improving overall wellness.
                        3. It also boosts your lymphatic system, helping you stay healthy and active.

                        Safety and Precautions

                        It is important to understand that during this massage light pressure should be applied with a relaxed hand. Most of your lymph vessels are located just beneath the skin. Light pressure and rhythmic massage can effectively move the lymphatic fluid. The pressure should be just enough to stretch the skin naturally, so, try not to press too hard. Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed during this massage.

                        • Do not strain your neck, shoulders or hands while performing this massage.
                        • Lymphatic massage should not cause any pain.
                        • Lymphatic massage is not advised if you are suffering from any infection.
                        • If you have any pain, infection, tenderness or fever, make sure to consult your doctor.

                        Conclusion

                        Accumulated toxins can compromise your immunity. Proper functioning of the lymphatic system is essential for overall health and well-being. The main purpose of lymphatic massage is to drain the lymph fluid by applying light pressure.

                        If you are feeling tired, facing any health conditions which result in swelling, are recovering from an injury or want to have strong immunity, try lymphatic drainage massage. It will help improve your body’s overall health and has a powerful ability to heal.

                        If you are looking for a way to incorporate gentle lymphatic massage into your daily routine without committing to a 30 to 90 minute massage, give dry brushing a try. Dry brushing stimulates the body’s lymphatic system through light brushing of the skin towards the heart. You can dry brush your entire body in 3 to 5 minutes and you can dry brush every day. The health benefits of dry brushing are greatly enhanced through the use of an ionic body brush, which has its origin in ancient Ayurvedic practices. Prana Brush ionic body brushes are made with extra-fine ion-charged copper bristles, which naturally create negative ions that protect your body from free radicals and have numerous other health benefits.

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