So, you probably brush your hair every day, but what about your skin? If you think brushing your body sounds totally bananas, it's actually an easy self-care option that's really good for your skin, since exfoliates all your dead skin cells away. But, dry brushing health benefits go beyond smooth skin, and include things like reducing inflammation, improving circulation, soothing anxiety, and more. If you're not in the know about dry brushing, it's exactly like it sounds — brushing your body with a tool made for this specific purpose. The skin is your body's largest organ, and it serves as a buffer between you and everything else. However, it doesn't always get the attention it needs.
While dry brushing isn't a new thing, it's been enjoying a resurgence in recent years. According to the website Massage Therapy, dry brushing is pretty old timey, and has been around since ancient Greece for a good reason. It actually helps remove waste from your body and stimulates your lymphatic system. "Another crucial role your skin plays is supporting optimal detoxification. But if your skin is overrun with toxins or dead skin cells, it will not be able to eliminate wastes from your body efficiently," Dr. Joseph Mercola explained on his blog. "This is where dry skin brushing can be invaluable, not only in brushing off dead skin cells but also in activating waste removal via your lymph nodes."
The lymphatic system isn't often discussed as an overall part of health and wellness, but it plays a pretty important role in keeping your body healthy and disease free. According to Medical News Daily, your body has around 600 lymph nodes that work to keep your immune system healthy and strong by helping to fight off harmful viruses and bacteria. "The lymphatic system and the action of lymphocytes, of which the body has trillions, form part of what immunologists call the 'adaptive immune response.' These are highly specific and long-lasting responses to particular pathogens." So, staying on top of your lymphatic-system health should be a top priority, especially during this dumpster fire cold and flu season.
Aside from these benefits, the one that was the most appealing to me was using dry brushing to reduce anxiety. I had no idea this was a thing, and as someone who battles anxiety and depression the regular, an all-natch self-care remedy is super appealing. "In my practice with thousands of people with PTSD, whether veterans of war or survivors of sexual assault, skin brushing has proven to be an effective support for dealing with dissociative personality disorder, depression, and anxiety," Dr. Leslie Korn noted on her website.
"It’s both pleasurable and grounding, and can lead to a variety of somatic sensations that can be explored in therapy. It’s a safe self-care activity that can be done daily as a way to check in and connect with feelings, sensations, and the boundaries and self-image of the body." Other benefits of dry brushing include improved kidney function, stress reduction, and improved circulation, according to Dr. Mercola.
If you're ready to start dry brushing right freakin' now, Dr. Cheryl Kasdorf outlined the process on her website. She recommended using a natural sponge, vegetable sponge, loofah sponge, or soft natural bristle brush. I think it goes without saying that don't want to use your hair brush. "Ideally, dry brush every evening before bed. The second best time would be before your shower. Brush for 45-60 seconds, covering the entire body. Start brushing from the soles of your feet, and work your way up your legs, your front, and your lower back. Use short overlapping strokes, always heading towards your heart," she explained.
"Then start again at the tips of your fingers, the palms of your hands and progress up the arms, to the chest and upper back, always moving progressively towards the heart. "You may include your scalp and neck, but avoid the face and other sensitive areas. Cleanse the brush every few days to a week with soap and warm water." If you're skeptical, give it a try for 30 days and see if you notice a difference in your mental and physical health. Dry brushes aren't that expensive, and if nothing else it will get rid of that old dead skin so you can head into spring with smooth glow like a brand-new baby. And, who doesn't want that?