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Dry Brushing: Did You Know?
- The skin is the largest most important eliminative organ in the body and is responsible for one quarter of the body’s detoxification each day?
- The skin eliminates over one pound of waste acids each day in the average adult, most of it through the sweat glands?
- That the skin is known also as our third kidney?
- That the skin receives one third of all the blood circulated in the body?
- That the skin is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiency?
Detoxification is performed by a number of organs, glands, and transportation systems, including the skin, gut, kidneys, liver, lungs, lymphatic system, and mucous membranes. The dry brushing technique deals with detoxification of the skin.
Dry brushing is a way to stimulate all the above organs of detoxification because it provides a gentle internal massage.
Dry Brushing was recommended by the Finnish Dr., Paavo Airola for his patients 30 years ago and is still popular in European spas and many cancer treatment centers today. The Russians, Turks and Scandinavians have used this treatment for centuries. Dry brushing is promoted as a preventative for dry skin and a way to exfoliate the skin, thus stimulating skin renewal that is super soft to the touch, but there are many other benefits as well:
Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing Explained:
- Removes cellulite
- Cleanses the lymphatic system
- Removes dead skin layers
- Strengthens the immune system
- Stimulates the hormone and oil-producing glands
- Tightens the skin preventing premature aging
- Tones the muscles
- Stimulates circulation
- Improves the function of the nervous system
- Helps digestion
1. Dry brushing removes cellulite. Cellulite is a non-scientific term defined as toxic deposits of subcutaneous fat material and fibrous tissue that are not able to be eliminated and which cause a dimpling effect on the overlying skin. These deposits most commonly occur on the thighs and hips of women.
Cellulite can affect men and women of any body weight or size. What causes the toxins? Well, some think that we store the breakdown product of cells as toxins in this subcutaneous tissue. Others think that toxic emotions can be stored in the subcutaneous tissue which then builds up as cellulite.
Your best bets for getting rid of cellulite are dry brushing, connective tissue massage, working though the emotional issues that are causing the toxins to stagnate, eating foods that feed the skin, an alkaline diet program and a consistent/persistent exercise routine. These techniques will break down the unwelcome toxic body deposits and send them scurrying out your body through the elimination channels we discussed above. And your health will be SO much better for it!
Foods that feed the skin include foods that are rich in lecithin, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants such as eggs, organ meats, a balance of Omega-3-6-9 oils like Udo’s Choice, fresh dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, berries of all kinds, and dark chocolate (in condiment amounts—like an ounce a day–not as a meal substitute!)
2. Dry brushing cleans the lymphatic system. Lymph is considered part of our immune system and is made of white blood cells called lymphocytes and the interstitial fluid that bathe our cells, bringing our cells nutrients and removing their waste. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph. Our bodies contain far more lymph than blood, so you can see how important this might be. Paavo Airola maintains that dry brushing is an essential part of any intestinal cleansing and healing program.
Dry brushing literally moves the lymph containing large proteins and particulate matter that cannot be transported in any other way back into circulatory system. If these proteins stayed in our systems outside the blood vessels, it would attract other fluid. Pretty soon we’d get swollen ankles, limbs and eventually we’d be leaking fluid out our skin (not a pretty sight.) This is called lymphedema and is why most health programs include some type of exercise and body work.
So, why don’t we die if we don’t do this dry brushing thing? Well, lymph vessels themselves have their own pumping mechanism sensing when the vessels have more fluid in them or in the interstitial fluids. Lymph only goes one way because of the many one-way valves on the insides of each lymph vessel.
The body is a fascinating thing. It literally pumps the lymph along its path back to the heart. Removal of proteins from the interstitial spaces is an essential function. Without this happening, we would die within 24 hours. We can help speed this process up when we dry brush or massage toward the heart, contract our muscles and move our bodies (like when we walk or exercise.)
Increased lymph flow can also be caused by high blood pressure. This is why it is so important to attend to this malady and why the doctors get into a frenzy of prescribing so many different medications for it. (Currently there are over 140 medications for high blood pressure!)
3. Dry brushing removes dead skin layers. Dry skin brushing helps shed dead skin cells, which can help improve skin texture and cell renewal. Dry skin is a sign of detoxification. Therefore it’s good to keep the process going by removing the dead skin daily. If this does not occur, a “log jam” can happen where the person ends up with eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff.
4. Dry brushing strengthens the immune system. Dry skin brushing may reduce duration of infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins. It helps support the immune system during cancer and other chronic illness treatment. By stimulating the lymph vessels to drain toxic mucoid matter into organs of detoxification we can purify the entire system. After several days of dry brushing, sometimes you may notice a gelatinous mucoid material in your stools. This is a normal sign that the intestinal tract is renewing itself. Best of all, it feels invigorating!
5. Dry brushing stimulates the hormone and oil glands, thus helping all of the body systems perform at peak efficiency. The skin is your body’s largest organ. When improperly maintained, the elimination duties of the skin are forced upon the kidneys. Chemical analysis of sweat shows that it has almost the same constituents as urine.
If the skin becomes inactive, its pores choke with millions of dead cells, uric acid and other impurities which will remain in the body putting extra stress on the liver and kidneys. People with big hips and thighs usually have low-grade bladder infections. Another sign of this is that the body gives off a distinct sickening odor.
When the bladder and kidney are really sick, the calves are often swollen as well and the feet stink. So, give your kidneys a break—keep your skin clean and rejuvenated. Bathe daily and do a dry brushing before the bath to help stimulate blood flow to the surface so that toxins can more easily escape.
6. Dry Brushing tightens the skin by increasing the flow of blood which, in turn moves toxins and lessens the appearance of cellulite. Our bodies make a new top layer of skin every 24 hours – skin brushing removes the old top layer, allowing the clean new layer to come to the surface, resulting in softer, smoother skin.
7. Dry Brushing tones the muscles. Dry skin brushing helps muscle tone by stimulating the nerve endings which causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move. It also helps mobilize fat and helps to even distribution of fat deposits. This is a great technique for invalids who can’t exercise.
8. Dry brushing stimulates circulation. Our skin breathes! And yet, in most people, this vital route of detoxification is operating far below its capacity, because it is clogged with dead skin cells and the un-removed waste excreted through perspiration. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes.
Increased blood flow begins entering the areas brushed and you will experience an increase in electromagnetic energy that permits you to feel energized and invigorated. By activating the circulation you can also prevent varicose veins.
9. Dry brushing improves the function of the nervous system–Dry skin brushing rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin.
10. Helps digestion — Dry skin brushing helps your skin to absorb nutrients by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health. When you brush, the pores of your skin open allowing your skin to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. Clogged pores are not just a cosmetic concern. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.
Tools You Need To Perform Dry Brushing: To dry brush, use a soft natural fiber brush with a long handle, so that you are able to reach all areas of your body. One with a removable head with a strap for your hand is a good choice.
A loofah sponge or a rough towel can also be used. Most nylon and synthetic fiber brushes are too sharp and may damage skin although I found a softer bath brush with nylon bristles that seems to do the trick. The important thing is to find something that is just right for your skin. Once your skin becomes “seasoned,” you can switch to a coarser brush.
Tips and Tricks for Dry Brushing:
- Always dry brush your dry and naked body before you shower or bathe because you will want to wash off the impurities from the skin as a result from the brushing action.
- You can do the brushing head-to-toe or toe-to-head. It really doesn’t matter as long as the entire body is brushed. Long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction help drain the lymph back to your heart.
Note: Stroking away from your heart puts extra pressure on the valves within the veins and lymph vessels and can cause ruptured vessels and varicose veins.
- Use light pressure in areas where the skin is thin and harder pressure on places like the soles of the feet.
- Skin brushing should be performed once a day, preferably first thing in the morning. A thorough skin brushing takes about 15 minutes, but any time spent brushing prior to bathing will benefit the body. If you are feeling ill, increasing the treatments to twice a day is good. You can also dry brush areas of cellulite five to 10 minutes twice a day to achieve cellulite dissolving but the technique needs to be done consistently for a minimum of five months.
- Avoid sensitive areas and anywhere the skin is broken such as areas of skin rash, wounds, cuts, and infections. Also, never brush an area affected by poison oak or poison ivy.
- Finish up with your regular shower and ending with three hot and cold cycles. That means turning on the water as hot as you can take it for several seconds, then as cold as you can handle it, then hot, then cold for three cycles. End with either hot or cold. This will further invigorate the skin and stimulate blood circulation, bringing more blood to the outer layers of the skin.
- After getting out of the shower, dry off vigorously and massage your skin with pure plant oils such as olive, avocado, apricot, almond, sesame, coconut or cocoa butter. Add a little peanut and Castor oil to the mix if you have arthritis. Edgar Cayce says this works to take out some of the pain, and we’ve found that to be true over the years.
- Clean your skin brush using soap and water once a week. After rinsing, dry your skin brush in an open, sunny spot to prevent mildew.
Any well designed program will take about 30 days to see and experience the changes. Please be patient and keep up the program! For a thorough lymphatic cleansing, perform skin brushing daily for a minimum of three months.
How to Dry Brush (the overview):
- Begin with your feet and brush vigorously in circular motions.
- Continue brushing up your legs.
- Proceed to your hands and arms.
- Brush your entire back and abdomen area, shoulders and neck.
- Use circular counter-clockwise strokes on the abdomen.
- Lightly brush the breasts.
- Brush upwards on the back and down from the neck. Better yet, have a friend, spouse or family member brush your back.
Need More Specific Instructions?
Here are verbose directions (You will do most steps 7-14 times. Hang in there—it’s not as complicated as it sounds and doesn’t take as long as it seems once you get the flow of it.)
- Using your right hand, gently slide the brush along your right jaw line starting from your earlobe to the underside of your chin 7 times.
- Place the brush at the hairline on your neck and gently pull around the right side of your neck to the Adam’s apple 7 times.
- Hold the brush with your right hand at the bottom of your neck (where it joins the top of your back) and bring it around your neck to the right and down along your right collar bone and end up between your collar bones 7 times.
- Stroke your breastbone in a circular fashion to stimulate the thymus gland 7 times.
- Carefully brush the breast in a circular motion 7 times.
- Repeat the above steps for your left side holding the brush with your left hand.
- To stimulate the pituitary gland, hold the brush on the back of your head near the base of your neck and rock the brush up and down, then side to side, both sides 14 times.
- Hold the brush in your left armpit with your right hand and rotate it counter clockwise 7 times, then clockwise 7 times.
- Repeat on your right armpit with your left hand.
- Brush upward 7 times from your upper right thigh to your right armpit.
- Repeat process on your left side. Women may need to hold their breast out of the way with their free hand.
- Brush back and forth over your belly button and around your waistline 14 times (like passing a basketball behind your back).
- Brush in a circular motion over your belly-button, counter-clockwise 7 times then clockwise 7 times.
- Finish brushing the front of your body in any direction starting at the bottom and brushing all the way up 14 times. Very little pressure needs to be applied to the genitals and women’s breasts because the skin is sensitive and will redden if irritated.
- Brush up and down your spine from the base of your neck and down as far as you can 14 times.
- Finish your upper back by stroking it around toward your sides.
- Brush your spine from tailbone up as high as you can reach 14 times, holding the brush with two hands or with the detachable wooden handle.
- Finish your lower back by stroking it around toward your sides.
- Brush up from right ankle to right knee and work all the way around your leg, brushing up towards your heart.
- Hold the brush in the right groin with both hands and rotate it 7 times counter-clockwise, then 7 times clockwise.
- Repeat with the left groin.
- Brush from right knee to right hip 7 times.
- Work all the way around your leg continuing to brush upwards (towards the heart).
- Brush up from right ankle to right knee and work all the way around your leg, brushing up towards your heart.
- Brush around your right ankle 7 times.
- Brush back and forth over the top of your right foot from toes to ankle.
- Brush across your right toes on top and underneath 7 times.
- Brush the bottom of your right foot heel to toe 7 times.
- Now do the same with for the left foot, leg and thigh.
- Brush upward from right elbow to your armpit and shoulder 7 times.
- Brush from your right wrist to the elbow in the same manner 7 times.
- Repeat steps on your left arm.
- Lightly brush the webbing (or junction) between your left thumb and index or pointer finger on the palm side 14 times, then on the non-palm side 14 times.
- Brush your left palm from wrist to fingertips and back 7 times.
- Brush the back of your left hand the same way 7 times.
- Brush each left hand finger individually back and forth 7 times on the areas that have not been brushed yet.
- Repeat the steps for your right hand.
After brushing, take a hot shower with soap (about three minutes in duration), followed by a 10-20 second cold rinse. Repeat this procedure three times. If the hot/cold showers are too extreme, a warm shower can be used. Follow the shower with a rubdown with either a sponge or towel to remove dead skin.
Problems with dry, flaky or thickened skin on your feet? One of my favorite products (although it’s not organic or “natural”) is obtained from your local Rite Aid Store is called Pretty Feet & Hands Rough Skin Remover. This stuff is awesome (but not organic or natural). Shake well before using.
Pour about a quarter-size puddle of fluid into the palm of one hand, then rub the areas that have lots of dry skin on them. The dry skin balls up in your hand. Rinse the areas and apply lotion. Note: You can only do this process once a day. The product doesn’t work after the area is wet or after a shower. It may take up to four days for those tough areas like the feet to make the skin like new. The product appears to be safe and does not cause allergic reactions. One 3-ounce bottle usually runs around $10.
Helpful Links and Resources for Dry Brushing:
- Book: How to Get Well by Dr. Paavo Airola
Dr. Denice Moffat is a veterinarian, naturopath and medical intuitive who works on humans and animals all over the world over the telephone. She has a content-rich website (www.NaturalHealthTechniques.com) with over 950 pages of practical information and an internationally distributed natural health techniques free monthly ezine that reveals little-known health secrets, effective natural remedies, tricks, tips, options, recipes, thought-provoking feature articles and much more! She has been practicing alternative medicine since 1993.