During the cold slowness of winter, we typically become less active, even in generally pleasant climates like Los Angeles, where it can regularly dip into the 40s (I'm not a wimp; that's more than "light jacket" weather!). While there are quite a few benefits to slowing down for a few months, it can cause a back up of toxins, particularly in the lymphatic system.
We rely on our lymphatic system, which includes nodules, vessels and glands, to move toxins and waste away from cells and neutralize them. These can be environmental pollutants, foods, or the by-products of metabolic function.
Your body contains three times more lymphatic fluid than blood, but unlike blood, which is circulated by the automation of the heart, the lymphatic system relies on your physical activity to move it through you. Deep breathing can help move and cleanse the lymph system and a healthy diet is definitely important.
But sometimes, you need a bit more cleansing. When you're feeling sluggish, foggy and generally "not yourself", particularly during winter, it might be a good time to kick start your lymph system with a little herbal help.
Herbs including ginger, echinacea, astragalus and goldenseal can help to break up congestion and swelling, which can prevent lymphatic fluid from flowing. Cleavers, which also reduces congestion, can help the lymph system boost its ability to deal with toxins. Think of it as an SEO optimizer for your lymphatic system. Ginger reduces inflammation and can give you an energy boost while lemon helps to promote cleansing, particularly of the liver, which is part of the lymphatic system.
In general, use these herbs only for a few weeks at a time, giving your system room to rest and recover.
20 ounces fresh water
Juice of two ripe lemons
½ nub of fresh ginger root, grated
1 echinacea tea bag or 40 drops liquid extract
30 drops astragulus liquid extract
30 drops goldenseal liquid extract
30 drops cleavers liquid extract
Bring water, ginger and lemon to a slow simmer in a medium saucepan. Let simmer about 20 minutes, until water reduces by about ¼. Remove from heat and stir in the extracts. If using a tea bag, add it about 5 minutes before you remove the mixture from the heat.
Sip warm as a tea, adding a tiny bit of sweetener if you like. Store unused portion in the refrigerator and use within seven days.
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Photo credit: heymireej