Lymphatic Massage Techniques for Health and Beauty

Lymphatic Massage Techniques for Health and Beauty

Lymphatic drainage is an extremely gentle massage technique that garners some incredible health benefits. When I began my practice as a massage therapist, I’d say it was by far the least requested modality. I came to realize that was simply because it was the least understood. The benefits of Lymphatic massage are many. It can boost your immune system, reduce swelling, enhance the look of your skin, reduce under eye bags and increase your energy; after you come out of your relaxing massage haze of course. 😉

The body’s lymphatic system is one of the most important systems in the body. It is responsible for waste removal. It carries a fluid called lymph through lymph nodes which filter and purify it and send it back on it’s merry way towards the heart. This system absorbs microorganisms, toxins and waste products from the interstitial tissue. When lymph is not allowed to flow freely and becomes obstructed, swelling can occur. Unlike our cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump to move the fluid. Physical movement is the best way to get lymph moving, go for a run, do some jumping jacks, etc… Another way to get your lymph moving is with gentle massage. Self massage and gentle guiding of your lymph to corresponding lymph nodes will help the lymphatic system to work more efficiently and will in turn ensure a healthier immune system. Take that cold virus!

In this post, I’ll highlight a few easy to perform techniques that you can do on yourself or your loved ones to promote a healthier lymphatic system. In particular, I will be talking about draining the fluid from the head. This will help to relieve pressure from allergies and sinus congestion. This can also help to slim the jawline and entire face by draining any excess fluid. The most important thing to remember when draining lymph is to apply incredibly gentle pressure to the skin. Your lymph flows just under the surface of your skin so when you apply firm pressure to the skin you are in fact obstructing the flow of lymph instead of encouraging it.

There are some contraindications for lymphatic massage, meaning, if you have any of the below conditions you should not be performing lymphatic massage on yourself or should be speaking to your doctor for clearance first.

Acute inflammation caused by bacteria, viruses, poisons or allergens is contraindicated. You can tell if this is the case because the tissues will be hot, red and painful, with congestion accompanied by fever. Lymphatic drainage massage will push these substances into the lymph channels before the body has a chance to eliminate them through phagocytosis in the interstitial spaces. If you perform lymphatic drainage you can spread the toxic substances throughout the body. Wait a few days until the condition is not acute, and the body has had a chance to clean up the area.

Malignant tumors are a contraindication for lymphatic drainage massage because of the fear of spreading the cancer. Wait until after the malignancy is treated to perform lymphatic drainage massage.

Thrombosis and phlebitis are two conditions that can lead to free floating blood clots. Usually people with these conditions will be in a hospital on blood thinners. If you are working in a hospital setting, do not work on these patients. In your practice, one indication of a possible femoral thrombosis is when the client has pain in one leg and a sudden swelling and bluish discoloration of the skin. People who are bedridden have a greater likelihood of developing thrombosis in the legs.

Major heart problems. If the heart is not fully functioning the edema can be lymphodynamic, due to lack of venous return. Putting more fluid into the heart would only stress it more, worsening the condition.

 

If you are in generally good health, then self lymphatic massage will be beneficial to you. Use good judgement, if you are unsure then err on the side of caution and just don’t do it.

Below is a visual representation of your lymphatic system:

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The lymph nodes located in your neck, called cervical lymph nodes are what we will be focusing on today.

1. Place your middle fingers of both hands just above your clavicle bone. Press down with very light pressure towards the center point of your neck. Repeat this about 50 times.

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2. After the lymph nodes have been sufficiently pumped you will be draining the lymph from your jaw/neck.

3. Place the pads of your fingers on either side of your neck at the top just below your ears at the base of your skull and using extremely light pressure, glide your fingers down your neck towards the nodes you were just pumping.

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4. Repeat this process 50 + times. You should be able to feel the fluid start to move. You may feel a tingly sensation just under your skin or you may feel like you have to clear your throat; you many feel nothing at all, no worries if you don’t.

5. Place the palms of your hands on the back of your neck and using the pads of your fingers,  repeat the gentle gliding of the fingers downwards.

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You can repeat this process as many times as you would like. You should notice a clearing in your head and reduced puffiness in your face right away. Eureka! If you would like to see a visual representation of this technique, I would suggest this video.

If you enjoyed this and are interested in more self massage techniques, please let me know in the comments!

Have a beautiful rest of your weekend darling readers!

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Bone Broth (and why gelatin will change your life)

Bone Broth (and why gelatin will change your life)

I apologize in advance – this recipe will be short on photos. Chicken carcass is not very pretty on film and I didn’t want unappetizing photos to dissuade you from attempting to make this easy and incredibly nourishing super food. All you really need for this recipe is time, skill in the kitchen is completely unnecessary.

Before I go into my cooking process, let me give you some bone broth history and highlight a couple of reasons that adding it to your diet is an excellent idea.

Back in the proverbial day, bone broth was a huge part of out diets. We relied on our local butcher to supply us with animal bones which we would use as a base to make soup, gravy, etc. These days people have little to no relationship with their local butcher so they look to MSG to flavor their broth. This is due to the rise in agriculture conducted on commercial principles and using advanced technology starting in the 1950’s. Industry severed that tie and we no longer look to our butchers for the bony leftovers that are so vital to our health. The bulk of the meat that we are eating today is the breast of the animal. The problem with that is, we are missing the good stuff. The bones are where the nutrient treasure trove awaits. The benefits of consuming bone broth are many but here are a few exciting ones to wet your appetite:

1. Strengthens your bones and joints
2. Improves look and strength of hair and nails- makes skin glow
3. Improves digestion and overall stomach health
4. Regulates hormonal imbalances
5. Improves sleep
(I can attest to all of these)

When you simmer bones on low heat you are pulling out compounds in the cartilage and tendons like glycine, glucosamine, collagen, gelatin and proline which are extremely beneficial to your health. Bone broth is also rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and sulphur. Honestly, I didn’t realize sulfur was anything I wanted in my body until a few months ago. I recently came across this article on the benefits of sulfur, check it out of you’re curious. Here are a few excerpts from another article touting the benefits of bone broth,

Dr. Francis Pottenger promoted the stockpot as the most important piece of equipment in the kitchen. He advocated liberal use of homemade stock because it attracts digestive juices to itself in a manner similar to raw foods. Foods that attract digestive juices are much more easily digested and assimilated by the body.

Homemade stock used frequently in the diet offers protection from gastrointestinal illness, as the natural gelatin acts a neutralizer of intestinal poisons helping to relieve diarrhea and even dysentery.

Convinced yet? Even without all of these health benefits, the flavor of bone broth alone will convert you. Store bought broth will be a thing of your past.

When you add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your broth, you help to draw out even more of these compounds and minerals, so be sure to do that!

The bones are typically roasted before simmering to enhance flavor, it’s not completely necessary if you find yourself without the time, but I would strongly recommend it. Who doesn’t want a tastier broth?

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

• 2 pounds or more of organic animal bones

I used a carcass of an organic chicken that I roasted that night and added another organic chicken back and 4 organic chicken feet. Chicken feet are loaded with gelatin.

• 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• Onion – green, white or yellow
• 2 celery stalks
• 2 large carrots
• 1 head of garlic
• 1 zucchini
• 1 bunch basil
• 2 sprigs rosemary
• 1 inch of ginger
• 2 tbsp turmeric
• salt to taste
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You can use whatever vegetables you like. They add extra minerals to your broth. I just threw everything I had in the fridge in there. Onion, garlic and herbs will add an incredible depth of flavor.

Instructions:

1. Roast bones with a little salt in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
2. Place bones in a large stock pot and fill with filtered water until bones are just covered.
3. Add apple cider vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes.
4. Bring water to a boil and skim off any foam that comes to the top. This foam consists of impurities.
5. Add all chopped vegetables, leave garlic and herbs until the last 30 minutes of simmering.

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6. Cover pot, reduce heat to very low and leave simmering for 24 hours.
7. Add garlic and herbs 30 minutes before 24 hours is up.

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8. Strain the broth of meat and veggies.
9. Store in airtight containers in the fridge if you plan to consume within the week or put in freezer to save for later use.

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10. If all goes perfectly, your broth will gel when cooled. Once heated it will turn back into broth.

Note:
*Sometimes bone broth does not gel. There are many possible reasons for this.

1. You simmered on too high a heat. This will destroy the collagen and your broth won’t gel.
2. You didn’t add enough of the bones that are high in gelatin, like feet.
3. You used factory farmed animals for your broth.
4. You used too much water for the amount of bones.

Even if your broth doesn’t gel, it is still incredibly good for you as it is still packed with minerals. As long as you use organic free range animal bones, your stock will be a potent health tonic. If it does gel, the benefits will be even greater. My last attempt didn’t gel, I think I used too much water. So, I’ve been taking a gelatin supplement. This stuff has changed my life. My hormonal pimples have calmed down, my menstrual cycle has regulated; I’m enjoying shorter, less painful periods, I’ve even noticed that my flexibility has vastly improved. The best part? I’m sleeping through the night, every night, without tossing and turning before hand. This is huge for me. I’ve had trouble sleeping for years now. Victory!!!

Bone broth can change your life, it has certainly vastly improved mine. With improved digestion, better sleep, and glowing skin, I’m a convert.

Please let me know if you tried this and how it turned out. I’m going to try again in a few weeks and get that sucker to gel! 😉

Coconut coffee sugar scrub

Coconut coffee sugar scrub

Coffee. You beautiful temptress. What can’t you do? I’m starting to think there isn’t much. Studies have suggested it can help fight depression, lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and stroke; it contains antioxidants and may reduce cellulite when used topically. Don’t even get me started on the smell… Oh that intoxicating smell. Yesterday, we brewed some heavenly french press coffee. This is what I did with the left over grounds,
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Making your own body scrub is easier than getting in your car, going to the store and purchasing your own. Plus, it takes quite a bit less time. You likely have these ingredients in your kitchen right now.

Coconut Coffee Sugar Scrub

•1/2 cup coffee grounds
•1/2 turbinado sugar
•1 cup coconut oil
• 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil* (optional)

*eucalyptus has anti inflammatory properties so it is wonderful for relieving sore, aching muscles

Simply mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the fridge. I used my hands to mix so my body heat would melt the coconut oil a bit.

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This scrub smells… Well, like coffee. Enough said right? Coffee and coconut with a refreshing little zing of eucalyptus. I am immediately transported to some far away place when I use it. It leaves your skin super smooth, like silk, like baby skin soft. I’m totally hooked.

Easy like Sunday Morning

Easy like Sunday Morning

Before I was a stay at home mom and had jobs that paid me monetarily instead of in baby cuddles, I rarely experienced a 9-5 work schedule. I’ve been employed as a hostess at a restaurant in the evenings, a manager at a coffee shop in the wee hours of the morning and a massage therapist on the weekends. I have never been very comfortable in a corporate setting so I gravitated towards work that was more flexible, social and low stress.

The one experience of working a 9-5 job that I always yearned for was the excitement of the coming weekend. It was as if I could hear a collective sigh of relief on Friday at 5pm. My husband works that 9-5 grind, so these days I feel I get to experience a bit of that excitement. Friday night means that for 2 whole days our family is together, having fun. Sunday morning is my favorite. We brew coffee, read the Sunday comics and enjoy my hubby’s perfect breakfast potatoes. So heavenly.

Easy like Sunday morning breakfast potatoes
*makes 6 servings*

• 6 russet potatoes
• 3 garlic cloves
• 1 sprig rosemary
• 2 tbsp paprika
• 2 tbsp garlic powder
• 1 tbsp cumin
• 2 tbsp salt
• 1/3 cup sunflower oil (use any cooking oil you’d like.)

1.Rinse potatoes and chop into bite sized chunks.
2. Place potatoes in a large pot cover completely with water and boil for 8-10 minutes until just soft.
3. Drain potatoes, place in large frying pan and turn heat to medium.
4. Cook potatoes for a few minutes and add spices and toss together.
5. Next add half of oil and mix around until coated.
6. After a few more minutes add rosemary and garlic.
7. Leave everything in pan for a few minutes without stirring so you get a nice caramelization on the potatoes. Flip potatoes so they can caramelize evenly. (After first flip, add the rest of the oil) Repeat this process until potatoes are finished.
8. Potatoes will be finished when all pieces are evenly cooked and nice and crunchy on the edges, about 10-12 minutes total pan frying time.

We usually enjoy these potatoes with an omelette of sorts and of course a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. My idea of decadence on a lazy Sunday morning. 🙂

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast/brunch?

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I’m a wine drinking, F bomb dropping, high heel wearing, maca and hemp seed eating granola girl.

I’m a wine drinking, F bomb dropping, high heel wearing, maca and hemp seed eating granola girl.

Urban Dictionary defines Granola Girl as: Modern hippy woman minus the heroin and STD’s. Socially aware and active with a penchant for hemp and sodium-free soap. May eat tofu for breakfast and sweeten food with agave syrup. Is determined to save the world.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve likely labeled me as such and with good reason. I eat more seeds than a bird, refuse to wear deodorant, don’t have cleaning chemicals in the house and I use the word ‘manifest’ at least 10 times a day. Case closed right? I am a granola girl… but it’s not all that I am.

I had some reservations about starting a blog. I love to write so it seemed a natural fit but I worried that I might be too all over the map to connect with an audience. I’ve heard that the most important thing for a writer to have is a distinct point of view. So even though I had some trouble defining myself by any one thing, I urged myself to pick a theme for my blog and find my voice. I asked myself, what do I love? What could I write about nearly everyday? The answer came fairly quickly, health and wellness. I am a certified massage therapist, a health food nut and a homemade cleaning/beauty product enthusiast. A perfect fit right? Yes… but what about the other layers of my being? I’m not just an upbeat, health conscious stay at home mom. I’m also a snarky, sarcastic trouble maker. I love to wear furry, neon outfits and dance all night. I love to dine out. I love to drink wine, too much sometimes. I swear, like a sailor. And although I’m grateful to have spent the past 18 months at home raising my daughter, I can’t wait to go back to work again. This dichotomy brings up questions for me as a writer.

Is there room for me to include that part of myself in a health blog? Will it confuse people or convolute my message? In order to have a strong voice in this forum, is it necessary for me to fit nicely into a healthy little box? Can I share my favorite hangover remedy or about my adventures in a small town burlesque troupe? How about that in order to maintain my sanity during a heinous day of screaming and crying, I sat my 18 month old in front of ‘Peppa Pig’ for an hour while I hid from her in my room? Does that make me a hypocrite? Do I still have integrity as a healthy hippie mama blogger?

I think the blanket answer to my questions is this; In order for my blog to be a cathartic experience for me and hopefully uplifting for others, I must come from a place of unadulterated honesty. I have to be myself, pure and simple. I can’t share just one part of me, I have to share it all. I need to let it all hang out, even on my worst days. That’s the good stuff, that’s real life. I am a positive, health conscious, loving mother, who occasionally drinks too much, inhales In N’Out on a road trip and thinks about throwing her daughter out the window during a melt down. We are all complicated, multifaceted creatures. That’s what is so beautiful about being human! Boxes do not become us. I just can’t limit myself to being just one kind of writer/mama/person. Can you?

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Chia Pudding

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Chia Pudding

My man requested chia pudding. I’d never made chia pudding but I felt confident I could knock one out with an online recipe as inspiration. He wanted vanilla pudding, gelatinous and chewy in all it’s soaked chia glory. My finished product was scrumptious, so scrumptious in fact, that we ate it immediately before I could snap any pictures. Don’t worry though, I’ll definitely be making it again and will be sure to share it with you all when I do.

In the meantime, I was so blown away by how easy, healthy and decadent chia pudding could be that I started to play with other flavor combinations. Chocolate pudding is my favorite so I knew that would be my next conquest. The recent chilly weather is eliciting cravings in me for toasty beverages. Naturally, hot chocolate sprang to mind when musing over flavors for the pudding. Then the lightning bolt hit. Mexican hot chocolate. Booyah!!

This version of chia pudding isn’t gelatinous as I blend the chia seeds, so even if are a little squeamish around texture and don’t like the viscosity of chia pudding, I promise, you will love this. I sweetened the pudding with dates. It’s incredibly healthy. So healthy, you could eat this pudding guilt free for breakfast. Chocolate pudding for breakfast? Excuse me while I do a happy dance.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Chia Pudding

• 2 cups almond milk
• 4 tbsp cacao powder
• 1/2 cup chia seeds
• 10 pitted medjool dates
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2- 1 tsp chili powder (depending on how spicy your chili powder is)

1. Soak dates in warm water for 30 minutes to soften.
2. Once dates are soft, place them along with all other ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until well combined and pudding is smooth.
3. Pour into a sealable container (I used a mason jar) and refrigerate overnight to set.

Voila! Enjoy your healthy chocolate indulgence. Go ahead, lick the bowl and feel good about it. 😊
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Second Chance Granola

Second Chance Granola

If you cook at home a lot, you are forever stuck in a revolving door of food shopping. It seems like almost as soon as I buy certain things, they’ve been eaten and we are making a trip to the store for more. Granola is one such item. My husband is obsessed so we always keep it in the house. When I purchase granola I make sure to pick the option with the lowest sugar, which at our local health food store is still about 7 grams per serving. For the most part I like to stick to the rule, don’t eat it if it has more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. I make exceptions of course because rules are meant to be broken from time to time. 😉 I know that making food at home is always the healthier option and I wanted to have control over what was going into this breakfast staple of ours, so I tried to make a batch a few months ago. Long story short, I flambéed it (not a good look or taste for granola… Charcoal and milk anyone?) My ego was so bruised that I haven’t tried again, until now. These days I’m feeling loads more comfortable in the kitchen. A few years ago I was like a baby deer with a spatula, fumbling around, tripping over myself and making a huge mess in the process. I can’t even begin to tell you all how many times I’ve burned myself. (Egg white is my best friend. More on that in another post) The moral of this sad story is, ‘If at first you burn the crap out of your hand, spill the dinner all over your shirt or over cook the granola, try try again.’ -anonymous. Thankfully, I listened to this wise poet and came back to the granola. Let me tell you, I’m so glad I did. Success never tasted so good!

Second Chance Granola

• 3 cups Rolled oats
• 5 tbsp Coconut butter (I used coconut butter because it contains the fiber of the coconut, use oil if you’d like)
• 1/3 cup Maple syrup
• 1 tbsp Cinnamon
• 1 inch grated ginger
• 1/2 cup Pumpkin seeds
• 1/2 cup Sunflower seeds
• 1/3 cup Mulberries
• 1/4 cup Raisins
• 1/4 cup Hemp seeds
• 1/4 cup Chia seeds
• 1/2 cup Coconut flakes

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees
2. Add coconut butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and grated ginger to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, mix for a few seconds and turn off heat.
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3. In a big bowl, pour maple syrup mixture over your oats and stir until oats are evenly coated.

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4. Add pumpkin & sunflower seeds and mix again.

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4. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for 30-35 mins, stirring granola a few times after the first 15 mins. (I used coconut oil to grease)

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5. Meanwhile, toast coconut flakes on low heat until they just start brown. Take off heat before they burn; they burn quickly.

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6. In a bowl, add coconut flakes, hemp and chia seeds, raisins and mulberries.
7. When oats are finished mix them together with your dried fruit and power seeds and store in an airtight container. I used mason jars.

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This recipe is another one that you can use as a jumping off point for your own experimentation. Don’t have mulberries? Use any dried fruit. Don’t like dried fruit? Use nuts instead. Incorporate flavors you love. Play! Leave your ego out of it. It really has no place in the kitchen. Humility, perseverance and love for food and the people you are serving, that’s all you need. That’s what cooking is all about. It only took me a few years and some burns to figure that out. 😉