There are many things that we can incorporate into our lives that help us get better and stay healthy. Helping our bodies to detoxify is an important part of any wellness regime. Caring for our skin is one way we can stimulate the body’s natural mechanisms to detoxify.
Skin discharges impurities from our body by absorbing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide and water vapor. Its surface is covered with pores, which act as a drainage system whereby blood, via perspiration, purifies itself of poisonous waste.
One way to accelerate the discharge of impurities within our body is with skin brushing.
Skin brushing is an ancient practice—from the Japanese using loofahs to the Cherokee Indians using dried corn cobs—which if practiced daily for a few months can not only improve body tone, enhance skin beauty and break down cellulite, but also support blood and lymph circulation, boost the immune system and open up the movement of Qi along the acupuncture meridians.
When you follow the skin-brushing protocol below, it is helpful to visualize your body being cleansed and purified, with the toxins being dumped into the lymphatic system and released into the colon.
Skin brushing protocol:
- Starting from the feet, brush the soles and the top of the foot using a long-handled natural brush. Using long, sweeping strokes, brush up the legs, covering all of the skin’s surface area, concentrating on the thighs and buttocks.
- Put one arm up in the air, allowing gravity to help drain the lymph to the armpit, and sweep down the arm with gentle strokes, drawing towards the armpit.
- Brush the torso by brushing towards the heart. When brushing the lower abdomen, brush upwards along the right-hand side, just on the inside of the hip bone, and across the upper belly beneath the ribs and down the left-hand side, then gently across the pelvic area to complete the circle. Repeat.
- When working near the breast area, brush over the top of the breast, always aiming for the armpit – and remember, be gentle over sensitive areas.
Skin brushing should be performed once a day, preferably first thing in the morning or prior to a bath or shower, and on a dry body. Rinse off in the shower after brushing your body. Try alternating temperatures in the shower from hot to cold to further invigorate the skin. This will bring more blood to the outer layers of the skin and stimulate blood circulation.
Note: For more information on dry brushing, refer to Nine Ways to Body Wisdom by Jennifer Harper (2000).