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"Unlocking the Power of Lymphatic Cleanse: Exploring the Ayurvedic Approach"

Ayurveda considers the lymphatic system to be the most important system in the body, referring to lymph as ‘Rasa’ or ‘water of life’.

When the rasa is not flowing freely, the mucus membranes become dry, losing their ability to resist disease; the skin becomes dry and rough; the digestive system becomes congested and the mind becomes ‘cloudy’

Ayurveda and Your Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is considered one of the seven body tissues in Ayurveda, the first to become compromised under stress.

The Sanskrit for lymph is rasa, which is also the word for taste, emotion, juice, nutrient fluid, melody, plasma, water, menses, semen, breast milk, satisfaction, and love.

In Sanskrit, the more meanings a word has, the broader its scope and the more important it is considered to be.

You do not want to neglect this important system! The following are seven aspects of the body affected if the lymphatic system is neglected.

1. Digestion + Detox Ability

As the largest circulatory system in the body, the lymphatic system plays an integral role in digestion, detoxification, and delivery of nutrients (like fats) for stable, lasting energy. It starts as small finger-like projections, called lacteals, along the inside of the digestive tract, which absorb and transport nutritional and toxic fats, lipids, and proteins off the intestinal tract into lymph surrounding the intestines.

Undigested proteins, like gluten and casein, along with toxic fats, can take a major toll on lymph. When these are not completely broken down by the digestive system, they are too large to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The lymphatic system takes up these undigested fats and proteins, which can overwhelm and congest lymphatic circulation. Environmental toxins, pollutants, pesticides, preservatives, and heavy metals (which are all fat-soluble) can also slowly congested lymph.

2. 80% of Your Immunity

If intestinal skin becomes irritated by undigested foods, toxins, and stress, lymph around the gut, called gut-associated lymphatic tissue (GALT), can become congested. Many experts agree this is where 80% of our immunity lies.

If this major hub of lymph becomes congested, due to poor digestion or stress impacting beneficial intestinal microbes, the entire lymphatic system can become congested, compromising immunity, energy, and detox.

3. Skin + Respiratory Health

Congested lymph can back up into skin-associated lymphatic tissue (SALT), causing a litany of skin and complexion issues. Mucus-associated lymphatic tissue (MALT), which drains mucus membranes of the respiratory tract, is linked to sinus and respiratory congestion and sensitivities to environmental irritants.

4. Circulation

As a circulatory system, lymph vessels are drains, supporting the better understood venous system. If these get congested, the body will have difficulty draining waste, putting unhealthy pressure on the circulatory system. This can lead to lymph congestion and dumping toxins into skin, joints, and muscles, as well as fluid retention.

5. Brain + Central Nervous System Health

While Western medicine seems convinced that the body has been thoroughly mapped, a surprising new discovery of lymph vessels has been made! Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine discovered both the brain and central nervous system are drained by meningeal lymphatic vessels called glymphatics, indicating a strong link between the immune system, which travels via lymph, and the function of the brain and central nervous system.4 Glymphatic malfunction has been linked to autoimmune concerns; infection; inflammation; and cognitive-, memory-, and mood-related issues.

6. Cognitive Function + Sleep

A new study discovered when we sleep, special lymph channels in the brain, the glymphatic system, open and drain neurotoxins into the cerebral spinal fluid.

The study suggests it takes ~6-8 hours sleep to complete the brain-drain plumbing process, compelling evidence that getting the correct amount of sleep matters.

The study found glymphatics are like hidden caves that open during sleep, and, much like the lymphatic system, drain toxic waste and proteins. The study found copious amounts of neurotoxins are drained during natural sleep cycles.

The most well-known neurotoxin, beta-amyloid plaque, is drained through these glymphatics. The less you sleep, the less these glymphatics can work and the more beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain. The vicious cycle is that the more beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain, the worse you sleep and the worse your memory can become.9 Beta-amyloid plaque has been indicated in numerous cognitive and memory concerns only starting to be understood.

The brain dumps about three pounds of toxins, like beta-amyloid plaque, from the brain each year. This is the entire weight of the brain in toxins!

A study from Stony Brook University suggests how you sleep could reduce chances of cognitive concerns later in life.13 The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that a person’s sleeping position could affect how toxins are flushed though the glymphatics. Scientists used rodents to test how different sleep positions affect the glymphatic system.

Researchers found that lying on your side may be the most efficient position for toxins to flush out of the brain. The study found that rodents sleeping in the lateral position cleared beta-amyloid proteins about 25% better than on their backs or stomachs. Fortunately, most folks find sleeping on their side most comfortable.

7. Emotional Health

According to Ayurveda, these glymphatics are an understood system, called tarpaka kapha, the aspect of kapha dosha that drains toxins from the brain into the cerebral spinal fluid. If these channels become congested, the mood can shift, memory can become compromised, and the brain can become foggy. The cause of this imbalance can be emotional trauma or the cumulative impact of stress, lack of sleep, and digestive weakness.

Lymphatic System Cleansing Herbs & Therapies

  • Manjistha (Rubia cordifolia) is Ayurveda’s classic lymph-mover and antioxidant, blood, and lymph cleanser.18-21

  • Brahmi (Centella asiatica): Another great herbal supplement to consider, found in our Brahmi Brain formula. Brahmi has been found to support healthy cerebral microcirculation, mood, sleep, and memory.18 (Take one 500mg cap before bed.)

  • Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a known brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) booster, supporting healthy brain cell production, mood, and memory.17

  • Nasya: sniffing herbalized oil into the sinuses.

Bringing Vitality and Flow to the Lymph

  • Bhastrika pranayama

  • Abhyanga with little or no oil

  • Afternoon nap

  • Kapha Digest (Trikatu in tablet form) before meals 

All of the recommendations above help loosen and move wastes out of the body. The exception is an afternoon nap. 

Sleeping in the afternoon significantly augments kapha and contributes to inertia in the body. In fact, “an early to bed, early to rise” routine with increased activity during the day is the ideal for releasing excess kapha. 

Two essential steps to bring health to the lymphatic and plasma system (rasa dhatu)

1) cleansing the lymph 

2) expelling the wastes. 

Notice an emphasis on the digestive system. The central agni feeds the metabolic energy required to process excess kapha wastage (poshaka kapha) that lingers in the Rasa Dhatu. Further, the lymphatic system has an extensive and specialized network around the gut (known as GALT, or gut-associated lymphatic tissue) that feeds stagnation in the rest of the lymph network if the digestive system is weak and sluggish.

1) Detox the lymph of poshaka kapha

Poshaka kapha is exceptionally sticky and heavy. Being so, the first step must focus on making it lighter and more mobile so that it is free for elimination.

  • Ginger tea : Starting the day off with hot water awakens all organs and brings movement to the digestive organs, associated lymph, and general circulation. The warming ginger kindles not only the central agni but also the rasa dhatu agni, burning away stagnant wastes.

  • Soup and juice. Juicing however is quiet trending these days but it can be taxing on the agni since it is uncooked and cold. Cooking the food does part of the digestion before the food enters the mouth. Soups are better option for easy digestion and cleansing.

  • Herbs. Trikatu in tablet form purifies and balances the digestive tract, and rasa dhatu as well. Take this herb before meals for greatest impact.

  • Sweet and salty foods. The sweet and salty tastes worsen congestion and feed the growth of poshaka kapha..

2) Move the toxins out

Move circulation and support the organs of elimination from rasa dhatu (the liver and kidneys) to guide the toxins out of the body.

  • Hydration. Focus on the right type of hydration. Cold brings density (and kapha is already dense) so it encourages warm fluid intake throughout the day.

  • Abhyanga and Garshana. Massage in the direction of lymph flow—from the extremities towards the heart. Use little oil and dry brush (garshana) with chickpea flour or Triphala powder for lymph stimulation.

  • Marma. Incorporating just a few marma points can have profound effects on the liver and kidneys.

    • Angushtha mula, between the base of the thumb and forefinger, brings life to the liver and spleen as well as the general circulation.

    • Steady pressure on Gulpha (on either side of the Achilles tendon just below the level of the medial and lateral malleolus or ankle bones) brings prana to the kidneys.

  • Yoga and pranayama. Inspire your clients to use flow sequences and chest openers in their yoga practice. 

    • Pranayama, however, may be the most impactful, as its very purpose is to promote the flow of prana. The action of deep breathing stimulates circulation. 

    • Bhastrika pranayama heats the chest cavity and brings strong activity to the chest and abdomen. 

    • Kapalabhati stimulates circulation and massages abdominal organs, including the liver and kidneys. These simple steps to rasa dhatu wellness can set the foundation for vibrant health for the whole year to come.


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