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The Health Benefits of Body Brushing

by Idelle Brand, DDS

Dry skin brushing is one of the healthiest self-help methods available to us today. The best part is that it takes seconds to do, can be done in the comfort of your own home, and is painless and cost free.

Variations of skin brushing have been practiced for thousands of years. For many centuries, the Japanese employed vigorous skin brushing with loofah sponges as a prelude to their traditional hot bath. Prior to bathing (following a hard training session or physical competition), ancient Greek athletes used strigiles —specialized, spoon-like skin scrapers to remove the grime of exertion, and to encourage circulation. Among the American Indians, skin brushing with dried corn cobs to enhance skin beauty and durability was once a traditional practice. Others scrubbed their skin using sand from river bottoms. Presently, Gua Sha is a variation of skin brushing and is practiced in Chinese Acupuncture.

So why is this technique so enduring? Bottom line: it works!

The skin is as major an organ as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Its primary functions include respiration, excretion, blood circulation, lymph circulation, immunity and the conduction of Vital Chi. However, unlike other vital organs, the skin can be non-invasively accessed and mediate systemic rejuvenation by a variety of therapeutic techniques, including proper skin brushing.

Brushing of the skin sets in motion natural healing pathways within your body by stimulating nerve beds within its structure. This, in turn increases normal healing processes throughout the entire body.

Dry skin brushing promotes movement of the lymphatic system which can become stagnant or thick due to overload of toxins in the body or during an intense detoxification cleansing program. It will give your lymph system a kick start and help you feel refreshed and invigorated.

Skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is responsible for one fourth of the body’s detoxification, most of it through sweat. It eliminates two pounds of waste acids each day. So for those of us who are trying to be our healthiest, it would make sense to incorporate daily this simple detoxification technique.

It will change the health of your whole body; circulation improves, your skin becomes softer and healthier, and whole body wellness is enhanced. Your level of immunity increases and even common infections, dental or otherwise, can be prevented.

So how do we get started with this amazing technique? See below.

How to do Dry Skin Brushing

1. Purchase a natural, NOT a synthetic, bristle brush, with a long handle, so that you are able to reach all areas of your body.

2. Skin brushing should be performed once a day, preferably first thing in the morning. If you are feeling ill, please do it twice a day until you feel better.

3. Skin brushing should be performed prior to your bath or shower and your body should be dry. It might even be smart to do it while standing in the tub, so that dry skin can be washed away in the shower afterward.

4. Begin brushing your skin in 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. Always brush towards the lymph glands so that toxins can be more easily released. Try and brush several times in each area, over-lapping as you go. Note: Major lymph glands are located under the jaw, at the underarms and in the groin areas. If this is too difficult to remember, then just brush towards the heart and 90% of the time you will be going in the right direction.

5. Avoid sensitive areas and anywhere the skin is broken. If anything hurts when you do it, then avoid those areas or do it gently until it becomes more tolerable.

6. For a thorough lymphatic cleansing, perform skin brushing daily for a minimum of three months.

7. Sit back and accept compliments from your friends that you are actually looking younger and healthier than ever!

Warning: Do not skin brush if you have any varicose veins, painful rashes or open wounds.

There are so many different ways to do it, but basically if it feels good, then you are doing it right.

RIGHT NOW would be the perfect time to begin investing in your health. So if you haven’t already picked up a brush to try this self healing technique, maybe this might motivate you.

The Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing

• Dry skin brushing helps to shed dead skin cells, which can help improve skin texture and cell renewal.

• Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, which greatly aids the lymphatic drainage of the entire body. When the body rids itself of toxins, it is able to run more efficiently in all areas.

• Dry skin brushing also helps to tighten the skin because it increases the flow of blood.

• Dry skin brushing stimulates the lymph canals to drain toxic mucus matter into the colon, thereby purifying the entire system. This enables the lymph to perform its house-cleaning duties by keeping the blood and other vital tissues detoxified.

• Dry skin brushing helps with muscle tone and more even distribution of fat deposits.

• Dry skin brushing also rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin.

• Dry skin brushing helps your skin to absorb nutrients by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.

• Individuals who sit at a computer screen all day long will particularly take pleasure in the benefits of skin brushing. People who have inactive lifestyles or jobs usually experience stiff and sore necks and shoulders that reach even into their arms and down their spines and into their lower backs. 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. It’s almost like a mini massage.

• Dry skin brushing may help with the breakdown of cellulite. Cellulite is the accumulation of toxic materials in your body’s fat cells. Utilizing dry skin brushing with an alkaline diet program and a great exercising routine may just eliminate cellulite forever. It will break down the toxic body deposits and send them out of your body through the elimination channels we discussed above.

We wash our skin every day. We protect it from the sun’s harmful rays. We rub everything from baby oil to the most expensive lotions on it. But we should not forget that brushing (teeth and skin) is one of the simplest healthiest things we can do for ourselves.

The skin is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiency. Give it your attention and it will return the favor by promoting your glow of health, inside and out. You deserve it!

Dr. Idelle Brand is the director of The Brand Wellness Center, an integrative dental practice in midtown Manhattan. She is a health educator and lecturer on Enlightened DentistryTM, a new paradigm of holistic dental care that encompasses healing of the body, mind and spirit. She can be contacted at 212 947-0073 or through her website www.TheBrandWellnessCenter.com   

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