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The Lymphatic System & Aromatherapy

Whenever I hear about the same topic more than three times in one week, I know it is relevant to a growing number of people. It seems there is currently a buzz on social media regarding swollen lymph nodes and poor lymphatic drainage.

What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is an extensive and interconnected network of vessels, nodes and spaces in the body which circulates "lymph", a fluid made from proteins and cellular waste. Lymph is initially part of the blood, but as blood flows through the body it slowly leaks out, taking toxic substances with it and filtering those substances through the lymph nodes. Over time, the lymph slowly works its way around the body, eventually re-entering the heart so it can be circulated all over again.

What causes swollen lymph nodes and/or a sluggish lymphatic system?

A variety of issues can cause the lymph nodes to swell, such as strep throat, mono or ear infections. Other more serious infections such as HIV, lymphoma, or other cancers may also cause swollen lymph glands. Lymph vessels can become clogged with protein deposits or the flow can become stagnant or even stopped for reasons such as fatigue, stress, infection, injury emotional shock, tumors, lack of physical activity, poor diet or dehydration. The result is a swelling of tissues known as "edema".

How can you support the lymphatic system naturally?

  1. The use of a small trampoline called a "rebounder" is a popular way to reduce lymphatic congestion. It's claimed that rebounding is so efficient at stimulating the lymphatic flow that some call it "Lymphercise." The up-and-down bouncing causes the one-way valves to open and close increasing the flow of lymph.

  2. Massage is another way to relieve stress, improve circulation and lymph flow. Search for a person in your area who specializes in lymphatic massage.

  3. Another natural way of stimulating and supporting healthy lymph function is through the use of essential oils.


1. Grapefruit essential oil is useful in the management of inflamed lymph nodes because it is rich source of limonene, a natural chemical that helps the immune system fight against disease-causing inflammation. Grapefruit essential oil also contains other compounds that assist the body in fighting against tumors, getting rid of toxins and waste, and activating the flow of lymph.

2. Bay Laurel, also known as Laurel Leaf, is extracted from the leaves of Pimenta racemosa. It contains chemical compounds that can reduce lymph node inflammation in multiple ways. Bay laurel essential oil is an excellent anti-microbial and anti-fungal oil that helps the immune system fight infections, thereby reducing the load on the lymph nodes. Rubbing just a few drops of Bay Laurel on swollen lymph nodes produces an immediately noticeable relieving affect. The broad usefulness of Bay Laurel is in stark contrast to the lack of literature on its benefits. Effectiveness is concluded from the sensation of relief and from the abundance of anecdotal evidence. From a traditional aromatherapy standpoint no other supporting measures are needed!

3. Cypress essential oil is rich in chemical compounds similar to those found in Bay Laurel. Cypress supports the lymph nodes in several ways. It works like an antiseptic that accelerates wound healing and prevents wounds from becoming septic. Additionally, cypress oil is an excellent detoxifier that helps the body flush out toxins like salt, water, and cholesterol from the liver and other tissues.

3 Ways Use Essential Oils to Support the Lymphatic System

  1. Hot compresses containing essential oils

  2. Detox bath (put essential oils in a carrier oil, or use my recipe below)

  3. Lymphatic Massage Oil

I believe that massage using an essential oil blend in a carrier oil is the single most powerful way to reduce lymph node swelling. So... I’ll share my DIY Lymph Massage oil recipe with you!

DIY Lymph Massage Oil

Here’s a recipe for making your own lymph massage oil using all-natural ingredients.

½ cup of organic, cold-pressed almond, grapeseed, or coconut oil

10 drops of Bay Laurel essential oil (BUY NOW)

10 drops of Grapefruit essential oil (BUY NOW)

5 drops of Cypress essential oil (BUY NOW)

Amber bottle for storage


Wet a cotton washcloth with hot water. Wring the cloth to remove all excess water and apply it to your swollen areas. Once you have warmed up the area, apply your Lymphatic Massage Oil. Apply starting with gentle pressure and then begin stroking the area more firmly. Work with your pain tolerance - don’t apply too much pressure if it hurts! Repeat this process 3 to 5 times a day.

Jessica Lohrey is a Certified Aromatherapist and creator of Tree of India Aromatherapy. She believes in the healing power of Nature.



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