Lymphatic Drainage: What You Need To Know

lymph_systemThe lymphatic system is, as you may have guessed from its important-sounding name, an integral part of the immune system and has several functions. It works to reduce catarrh (a buildup of phlegm and mucus), toxins and waste from the body in order that they do not collect and lead to possible autointoxication. It also serves as your body’s own warning system that disorders are starting to build up. This can be noticed when you have ‘swollen glands’ – around the neck or ankles, particularly. Its other role is to transport fats to where they are needed in the body.

The lymphatic system has no circulation of its own and requires movement to help prevent a blockage. If this movement is compromised, it can become sluggish and coagulated with a buildup of fluid. This is where the Ultratone machine can help! It stimulates a pumping and deep massage action to help encourage movement of the fluids around the body, reducing puffiness, thickened ankles and tired legs.

Diet can play a crucial role in continued lymphatic health, with some foods and groups being beneficial, while others hinder its flow and contribute to mucus build up.

Generally speaking anything that constricts your body or limbs, such as tight-fitting clothing, will impede the body’s lymphatic system.

Aftercare Tips

In terms of diet, by far the best thing you can do for your lymphatic system is drink water, and lots of it! Staying hydrated is the easiest and most effective way to help lymphatic motility. Anything you do to move your body will keep the lymph moving, too, so plenty of exercise is important. We’re not saying you have to sweat it out at the gym five times a week, but make a conscious effort to move around more during the day. If you can walk somewhere in 15 minutes, then do it! The fresh air will help clear your head and leave you focused and more productive.

We would recommend reducing or eliminating problematic foods: yeast and dairy products, as well as refined, sugary foods are known irritants and contribute to excess mucus buildup within the body. Try to eat as many unprocessed, fresh foods as you can, with plenty of cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens and wholegrains to keep your digestive system going like clockwork. Start with a good probiotic every day to boost the immune system and help to replenish your gut’s army of good bacteria – we highly recommend Mightidophilus, but this needs to be refrigerated and many people find the shelf-stable Acidophilus more convenient.

Body Brushing

This simple procedure can aid detoxification and stimulate movement within the lymphatic system.

Before bathing or showering, take a long-handled brush and working in gentle, circular, sweeping strokes, work from the feet up the legs, from the hands up the arms, in clockwise strokes around the back and stomach area and finish with the chest area. Don’t scrub yourself raw – be gentle and use a dry brush. Don’t rush, either – this should be a mindful experience, a moment just for you. The very basics of self care begin with taking the time to relax, be mindful and aware of your body.

Focus on your breathing, allow your muscles to relax as you brush over each area. In addition to its benefits to the lymphatic system, dry brushing helps to remove dry and dead skin which can clog pores, giving your complexion a dull and weathered appearance.

Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom salts are of excellent benefit to the lymph system, particularly if you are feeling itchy or headachey. They provide magnesium and draw out excess sodium which can reduce puffiness, water retention and dehydration. Try a bath twice a week, to begin with, then reduce to once a week.

Have a nice cup of herbal tea whilst you run the bath, then add a large mugful of Epsom salts hot (but comfortable) bath water. Get in and gradually add more hot water to increase the temperature – but stay within your comfort zone! Don’t burn yourself. Stay in the water up to your neck for 10 – 15 minutes. Do not rinse but simply pat yourself dry so the salt stays on your skin. Wrap up warmly and go to bed, staying as warm as possible to encourage perspiration, for at least 2 – 3 hours or overnight. Afterwards, gently rinse your body in tepid water.

Again, make this a pleasurable and relaxed experience. Dim the lights if possible, light a few candles or burn some aromatherapy oils. Combine with a gentle body brushing session, as described above, beforehand to increase therapeutic effects.

Ways the Internet Lied to You About Colonics

If you’ve ever searched the term ‘colonic irrigation’ online, you’re bound to have come across some seriously scary stories regarding perforated bowels, fatigue, illness, persistent constipation or other abnormal bowel function, allegedly caused by the treatment.

The power of the Internet – especially social media – has allowed the spread of this treatment and is hailed by some as something of a ‘miracle cure’ – which, for somebody suffering from seemingly untreatable digestive issues, it may well seem! Equally, though, the Internet and the daily press (particularly tabloid newspapers and weekly magazines) have unleashed a torrent of negativity, not only against colonic irrigation, but virtually all kinds of alternative and holistic health practices.

The truth of it is, if colonic hydrotherapy is carried out by a professional, with sensitivity and a thorough understanding of the body, the impact of the colon on mental and physical health, it is a perfectly safe, effective procedure. We’re hoping, today, to help explode some of these common myths or scare stories you may have encountered, and perhaps offer a little insight into the workings of the treatment.

So How Does It Work?

As with anything, it’s important to look at colonic irrigation on a balance of factors. It is not a miracle cure, and we never profess it to be. It is something of a tool, a natural solution to help alleviate the symptoms, to be used in conjunction with lifestyle and often dietary changes. This needn’t be as scary as it sounds! But for those of you unwilling or shying away from change, you must consider why would you want to continue living in a manner which is making you feel so wretched?

The Western diet incorporates a lot of refined foods, excess dairy and animal products which can be a strain on the digestion. These create mucus in the digestive system which first becomes stuck in the colon and then impacted, inhibiting peristalsis (the ‘squeezing’ that pushes waste through the colon) and reducing the space through which waste can move.[1] An enlarged colon[2] can prolapse (causing a distended ‘stomach’) and put pressure on the other organs, e.g. the uterus and bladder. Many colon diseases such as diverticulitis, colitis, spastic colon and cancer could be effectively prevented through proper diet and bowel care. Colon hydrotherapy helps your immune system to help itself, by giving it a chance to breathe, and allow the lymphatic system to effectively cleanse your body.[3]

Aside from the very obvious physical sense of relief following colonic irrigation, many find that being able to open up and let go emotionally to be hugely beneficial. It’s commonly believed that the heart is the emotional centre of the body, but truly it is the bowel! There’s a reason we call it ‘gut instinct’ – it’s the first thing to warn you when stress builds up. Under huge emotional pressure, our bowels begin to malfunction. You lose your appetite, or you eat too much. You get diarrhoea or can’t go to the toilet because all your emotional energy is focused on dealing with whatever the major stressor is. That’s easier said than done – sometimes, we’re so used to being stressed that we don’t even realise how stressed we are!

Myth #1: It’s only for people who are constipated

Conceptual view of digestive problems like constipation or diarrhoea.

Surprise fact time: We’re all constipated! Western society is perhaps the most constipated in the whole world. Our over-reliance on convenience foods, inadequate water intake and stressful, fast-paced lifestyles mean none of us allow ourselves the time for a really, really good poo.

Doctors make the mistake of telling you it’s “normal” for some people to go only three or four times a week – this is, frankly, astonishing! If you imagine we eat three meals a day and are passing waste only a few times a week, that’s an awful lot to be lugging around in your colon! Is it any wonder we as a nation feel so bloated and lethargic? You might even be going to the toilet once or twice a day and still feel ‘full.’ On the opposite end of the spectrum, what about diarrhoea? This can, in actual fact, be a symptom of severe constipation. Think of it something like an overflow in a sink – when the colon is obstructed to such an extreme extent, waste starts to push its way around the obstruction, but only liquid can make it through.[4]

In short, you may not believe you have any sort of problem with constipation but still be experiencing fatigue or general ‘sluggishness’ – if you have doubts, or questions, or just want to really dig deep into what might be going on, it’s worth coming in for a chat. Booking an appointment doesn’t place you under any obligation! Speak to us, air your concerns, we’ll do our best to assure you and talk you through the procedure should you have any doubts.

Myth #2: It’s dangerous

As with any procedure, holistic or otherwise, there are some contraindications – situations in which colonic hydrotherapy would not be suitable for you. That is why we always ensure to take a thorough medical history at the initial consultation to determine whether colonic hydrotherapy is an appropriate treatment. Typically the only situations in which, medically, it would not be advised are in clients with Crohn’s disease, colitis or recent colorectal surgery. These are general guidelines, however, and it is down to the therapist’s discretion to determine whether or not the treatment will be suitable. Clients with epilepsy, low or high blood pressure and even pregnant women have successfully had treatment and gone on to reap the benefits.

You may have encountered one particular story in the press about a young lady who, after receiving colonic hydrotherapy, complained of terrible fatigue, illness, a weakened immune system and inability to defecate naturally. Reading further into this story, it is noted that the client was receiving treatment every week. Coupled with an inadequate diet, the body would not have had ample time to replenish (or even build up) good gut flora, which would certainly explain the fatigue and illness! Although there is not necessarily any ‘recommended’ time span between colonics, clients generally reap maximum benefit with treatment repeated every 6 – 8 weeks. This can be gradually reduced over time as the colon begins to repair itself and learns to function normally; assuming adequate lifestyle adjustments are made.

Herbal supplements to help with IBSIf at any stage you, our client, have doubts about the treatment, it will not go ahead – simple as! We will never pressure you into, or proceed with, any treatment you feel uncomfortable with. That does not mean your time is wasted, however. You come to us for a reason, and even if the treatment cannot proceed at that time we will endeavour to provide alternative solutions for you. Our time is free. You can sit for the entire duration of the treatment and talk through your options with the therapist, who will be only too happy to listen to whatever it is you have to say. Sometimes just the act of unloading excess emotional baggage and talking to people who genuinely understand can be a great help in itself. We can also offer you some natural, herbal supplements to help with constipation, diarrhoea, IBS and its related symptoms – many clients maintain far improved digestive health on our supplements alone. We will never charge you for a treatment that does not go ahead.

Myth #3: It hurts

Not at all. At worst, it can be a bit ‘gripey’ – the sensation of desperately needing to go. Some clients find this difficult and are unable to let go, afraid they will make a mess. They may request a bathroom break – at which time the therapist will cease the treatment temporarily, and leave (there is a private bathroom in our treatment room) to allow the client time for reprieve.

It is not at all messy (any waste goes straight back into the machine and into sewage) and there are no ‘sudden explosions’ or accidents to occur afterwards. As long as the client allows themselves enough time, all water is voided from the body after the treatment.

Myth #4: It causes dependency

This is a sticky subject. Colonic hydrotherapy is by no means a replacement for a good poo – it can help clear wastage from an impacted colon and re-hydrates the bowel. It encourages peristalsis and, as stated prior, the emotional release is just as important as the physical. We often see many clients whose bodies are suffering from long-term laxative use and, as such, are unable to go without them. We do our best to help ‘re-train’ the bowel to remember how to void itself without the aid of harsh stimulants. We offer advice and herbal, non-laxative supplements which can help aid the natural rhythm of the bowel.

7939cb51-d6d9-41a2-b34e-b84fb4c7cdf9At the end of the day, there will always be stories to perpetuate the less favourable myths and legends about colonic irrigation, just as there will always be the ‘hard sell’ that plumps it as some kind of magic. What we seek to do here at Inner Health is share a treatment that we have found beneficial and has gone on to benefit others. IBS and other digestive issues are wildly misunderstood in modern society and it can often feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall trying to get to the bottom of it all. As stated, sometimes coming into a warm, understanding environment and knowing there are people out there who share your experiences and genuinely understand the distress it can cause is help enough.

You only live once, and what’s the harm in trying? You can give it a shot, and you may just find it helps. One treatment certainly can’t do any harm, and at the very worst, you’ll decide it’s just not for you.


[1] Boots WebMD. (2009). Bowel obstruction. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2015].

[2] (2014). Megacolon Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments and Causes – [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2015].

[3] (2015). Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions & Diseases. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2015].

[4] Cancer Research UK. (2014). Chronic constipation | Cancer Research UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2015].

The bowel is a funny old thing…

We had the privilege of this wonderful feature being written in the October 2015 edition of Verve Magazine. We are now uploading it to the blog for you all to enjoy! [Read more…]