Podcast 085: Lymphatic Herbs

The lymphatic system is criminally underestimated! It’s intimately tied to the function of your circulatory system, your digestive function, your immune responsiveness – pretty much everything. Conventional medicine doesn’t have much to offer in the way of pharmaceuticals to alter lymphatic activity, but fortunately there are a number of excellent lymphatic herbs that can do the trick.

In this episode we’ll lay out some of the many reasons why lymph is so important, how to support lymph circulation & combat lymphatic stagnation. We highlight seven of our favorite lymphatic herbs and give you the rundown on their specific talents regarding lymph movement and disorders of the lymphatic system.

Herbs discussed include: calendula, self-heal, ground ivy, red clover, violet, chickweed, cleavers.

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Listen to the end for a discount code that will get you 15% off any of our courses or programs! This offer is good for the month of July 2019, so don’t delay – get your herb on today!

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Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:00:14):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:00:15):
and I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:00:16):
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts,

Ryn (00:00:20):
And on the internet everywhere, thanks to the power of the podcast.

Katja (00:00:24):
I’m really excited today! A listener named Brittany wrote in and said, “Hey, I was wondering if you guys might be able to do a podcast about the lymphatic system and what sorts of herbs are good for overcoming lymphatic congestion.” I’m really excited that she asked that cause I love talking about the lymphatic system.

Ryn (00:00:47):
This is a good topic. This is a good topic for herbalists to learn about, to think about, to practice about, because herbs work wonders when it comes to lymphatic stagnations and lymphatic problems of all kinds and this is one of those things that conventional medicine doesn’t really have an answer for.

Katja (00:01:05):

Ryn (00:01:05):
You know, to my knowledge, there aren’t any pharmaceuticals that target lymphatic activity or anything in particular for this kind of problem but there are lots of herbs that work this way very effectively, very well. And we would love to tell you all about them.

Katja (00:01:20):

Ryn (00:01:20):
So, that’s what we’re going to do today.

Katja (00:01:22):
But first we have to do the reclaimer thing.

Ryn (00:01:26):

New Speaker (00:01:26):
So, here we go. Ready? We are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Ryn (00:01:31):
The ideas discussed in our podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the US. These discussions are for educational purposes only. Everyone’s body is different so the things we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but they will give you some information to think about and research further.

Katja (00:01:50):
And we want to remind you that good health is your own personal responsibility. The final decision in considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by your physician, is always yours. That’s why we call it the reclaimer, not the disclaimer, because we are reclaiming our responsibility for our health.

Ryn (00:02:11):
All right, so let’s talk about lymph.

Katja (00:02:14):

Ryn (00:02:14):
What is this weird word was a Y in it and no other vowels?

Katja (00:02:19):
I guess it does look weird. I never really thought about that before.

Ryn (00:02:21):
Like sylth.

Katja (00:02:22):
But you’re right, when you write it down, it does kind of look weird.

Ryn (00:02:24):
It’s a word like that. Myth. There are some good words of this Y.

Katja (00:02:24):

Ryn (00:02:24):
Y is a totally valid vowel, valid vowels.

Katja (00:02:24):
I think it’s underrated. You guys, it’s possible that we’re word nerds, in addition to liking plants, and we should probably……

Ryn (00:02:41):
It’s probable.

Katja (00:02:42):
Yeah, we should probably….

Ryn (00:02:43):
It’s highly probable.

Katja (00:02:43):
Put that aside. You, what you don’t know is that when we’re not on film or on the podcast recording, we make a lot of puns and we try to crack each other up all of the time with puns and while we were writing this episode, I was talking about metaphors and I was making a reference to being metaphorical but I had really made a list and it included some similes and then we made a big joke about metaphors and similes and it is really supremely nerdy, but the lymphatic system…..

Ryn (00:03:19):
But that’s what you get folks. That’s how it goes. All right. So, your lymphatic system is actually kind of amazing and there’s a few different ways that we can talk about it. Usually, it’s described as like the second circulatory system or maybe as the waste clearance system of the body.

Katja (00:03:36):
Yeah. Like the trash system or, and it’s so much more than that. Well, if it was only about trash……

Ryn (00:03:43):
I mean, that would be enough.

Katja (00:03:44):
You guys, if you don’t live in a city, then let me just tell you that living in a city in the summer makes you appreciate the waste disposal system more than I think any other thing because if trash sits for any amount of time, it just smells so bad and also you see what an enormous job it is to move all of the trash around the city and like keep it flowing, like keep it moving out of where it is. And of course there’s a problem with how much trash we produce as humans in this place in time and a million other things. But I think that that’s such a good analogy that the lymphatic system does actually quite a bit more but even if that was all it did – if there’s just one day that the waste disposal system is not working throughout the city, the smell is just enormous.

Ryn (00:04:39):

Katja (00:04:39):
And think about that in your body, too. Like, if there’s one day that your lymphatic system is not clearing out the crud, imagine how stinky it must be in there.

Ryn (00:04:48):
Yeah, pretty bad.

Katja (00:04:49):

Ryn (00:04:49):
Right. Sanitation workers, you are the real heroes here.

Katja (00:04:54):
Yes. Thank you so much for your service.

The Lymphatic System

Ryn (00:04:56):
So, you know, the lymphatic system is relevant to the circulation, the movement of fluids and substances around the body, but it’s also relevant to your digestive system, to your immune system, really to a whole pile of systems in your body, because if your fluids aren’t moving around, then signals aren’t getting where they need to go and trash isn’t getting where it needs to be disposed of and nutrients aren’t getting to where they need to be fed. You know, the lymphatic system actually delivers some nutrients to certain areas of the body. Most specifically, most famously, it’s involved in the metabolism and the transport of lipids or fatty molecules around your body. So that’s really important because you need those.

Katja (00:05:43):
You actually do need those. Like you might be thinking, well, I don’t want fatty molecules on my body, but it’s different. It’s not like, there’s fat that your body needs for fuel and fat that your body needs as building blocks to construct things like hormones. So, yes, we don’t want to have a lot of extra fat on the body but that comes from sugars, not from lipids.

Ryn (00:06:07):
Yeah. Right. Okay. So circulation, movement of fluids, that’s really critical. But the thing to know about the lymphatic system is that it doesn’t have a pump, you know. The individual lymphatic vessels, they have some capacity to like contract a bit and kind of squeeze things along. They have some valves going on in there.

Katja (00:06:30):
It’s mostly that valve action.

Ryn (00:06:30):
They got them some balances going on in there so it’s a one way flow.

Katja (00:06:34):

Ryn (00:06:35):
You shouldn’t be having having backwash in your lymphatic system at any point. So that’s fine. But it’s not like the blood vessels where there’s a pump with the heart to kind of get things started, you know? And then with the cardiovascular system too, you know, the whole thing depends on the movement of your skeletal muscles in addition to the heart pump.

Katja (00:06:57):
Well, okay, so that’s something I want to say, actually. For however long we’ve been talking about this, we’ve been saying the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump. We say it over and over again and when we say it, it’s correct because there isn’t a heart but the heart is just a muscle. It’s a very specialized muscle and it might not actually be correct to say that the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump. It just doesn’t have a dedicated pump. It uses the pumping action of your skeletal muscles. Every time that your skeletal muscles move that actually moves the lymph around the body and it squeezes those lymphatic vessels kind of like a tube of toothpaste when you squeeze it from the bottom (laughing) and then like the toothpaste moves up a little bit and then it stops. It doesn’t continue moving up forever. You have to then like ooch your thumbs up a little bit and squeeze again and that’s how lymph moves through the body too, as your skeletal muscles contract. It’s like squeezing the toothpaste up from the bottom of the tube and then those valves hold it in place so that however high up you get it, now it stays there, ideally, if those valves are healthy and then you just wait for the next contraction of your skeletal muscles and it squeezes it up a little bit further.

Ryn (00:08:14):
Yeah. So it doesn’t have a pump. It has many, many pumps.

New Speaker (00:08:17):
Like 600 pumps.

Ryn (00:08:20):
Yeah. So many.

Katja (00:08:22):

Ryn (00:08:22):
All of these pumps.

Katja (00:08:22):
There’s a lot of skeletal muscles.

Ryn (00:08:23):
And you need, and they’re all sort of, to some degree, independent of each other, right? They’re linked, but you know, you get it up to one place and now it’s kind of there waiting for that area’s muscle to move things along, right? You know, the system here, it moves in a way that is a little maybe counterintuitive or a little surprising. So things are moving up from the legs and up from the limbs and up into the torso and the fluid ultimately empties out into these two major veins that are just under your clavicles and….

Katja (00:09:00):
That’s your collarbone.

Ryn (00:09:01):
Yeah. Right, right. And they empty out there into the bloodstream and then they get pumped through the heart and then flushed back through the actual blood.

Katja (00:09:12):
Yeah, and on the way they pass through the lymph nodes.

Ryn (00:09:17):

Katja (00:09:17):
And some of the stuff that’s in there gets removed because there’s some stuff that you don’t want to let go back into general circulation. Some stuff goes back into general circulation and ultimately it’ll get to your kidneys and your kidneys will decide if it needs to leave your body or not. But some stuff gets removed at the point of the lymph nodes because it’s like, oh no, we’re not sending this back into general circulation. We’re pulling this now.

Ryn (00:09:43):
Yeah. And especially if there are pathogens, you know, little microbes floating around in there, your lymph nodes are like full of immune cells and they are going to analyze and make sure everything is just the way it should be and if necessary, they will fight some stuff off and make some inflammation and do their work there. So we’re going to come to the immune system, but hang on, hang on because we really want to hammer this point for a minute that you have to move, you have to move your physical body, you have to move your skeletal muscles, you have to move all of them. Right? So if you have…..

Katja (00:10:19):
Yeah, because every single one of them is providing pumping action.

Ryn (00:10:23):
Yeah. So, you know, if you were to, for some reason, decide that you were going to get exercise only by working one bicep and you were going to just do barbell rows or curls or whatever with that one bicep, then that wouldn’t help so much. You know, it would get some things moving along in that arm, but the rest of you, not so much. Right? So when we’re thinking about movement that is going to encourage whole body lymphatic circulation, it’s going to be whole body movement. Things like walking, which really does engage pretty much every muscle in your body if you’re doing it right. We’ve got some stretching action going on, a little twisting, legs are moving along, arms are swinging, you know, presumably you’re looking around a little bit, your head and your neck can circulate, too. So, movement is critical. When you’re sitting still, you know, because even our hunter gatherer ancestors weren’t totally nonstop, on the go, all day. All the time.

Katja (00:11:23):
Yeah, at some point you sit down and take a break.

Ryn (00:11:24):
There’s rest. But even there, there’s movement inside of your body and a really critical one for lymphatic circulation is deep breathing. If you’ve heard us talk about the liver before and about how blood moves through the liver, then some of this will sound kind of familiar because in your liver, if you take good deep breaths, that kind of squeezes the liver and that is part of the pumping action that moves the blood through there and keeps it circulating. When you take nice deep breath, you also put a little pressure, put a little force onto a bunch of your lymphatic vessels as well, and keep those moving too. So nice deep breathing is really critical. Maybe in this moment you’re thinking about your breathing for the first time in the day. It can be good to whatever works for you to remind yourself, right? I don’t know, bright pink post it notes in every room of the house and you look at it and it just says breathe in big letters.That works for me pretty well.

Katja (00:12:22):
Yeah. And you know what, you can set an alarm on your phone so that you can take a breathing break and we all…

Ryn (00:12:29):
A literal breather……

Katja (00:12:29):
Yeah, yes, we all have these things, they’re attached to us so we might as well make them work for us. And I am a big believer in having lots of alarms because your day is busy and you can easily forget even to get up and pee, like you can be like, ah, I gotta go pee and then, okay, but after I finish this email and then like, it’s six emails later and you’re like, yeah, I gotta go pee. Like, okay, wait, after I finish this email and so having something that literally interrupts you in the day to remind you to take some deep breaths, to remind you to get up and walk around. That’s important.

Ryn (00:13:07):
Yeah. Really is. We can also think about things that restrict movement, you know, which would be problematic in this way and we’re thinking here about like a really tight clothing or underwear….

Katja (00:13:20):
Like bras too.

Ryn (00:13:23):
Yeah. Whatever kind of clothes you’ve got. If they’re leaving red marks and indentations in your skin when you take them off, that’s a bit too tight and that is going to restrict the movement of some of the lymphatic vessels because some of them are pretty close right under the skin and if they’re squeezed down too tight, what actually happens is that the fluid can’t continue to progress. There’s a method of manual massage, a manual manipulation…..

Katja (00:13:51):
Yeah. It’s manual lymphatic drainage. Yeah.

Ryn (00:13:54):
And the trick with it and I’m not trained in this, but from all accounts, the trick with it is getting just the right amount of pressure, right, as you kind of brush the skin and sort of physically push the lymph in the direction you want it to go and it’s a matter of like enough pressure to get things moving, but if you press too hard, then it all kind of gets locked down and each of those little valve gated cells or areas is gonna just hold it instead of letting it flow.

Katja (00:14:21):
Yeah. Cause you’re kind of like squeezing it off. Yeah. I have actually had that done by a massage therapist and it’s shockingly gentle….

Ryn (00:14:33):
Is it like petting a cat?

Katja (00:14:34):
Oh, it is like, hi Ethel. It is like petting a cat and one of our cats just walked into the room to allow us to demonstrate.

Intersection with the Digestive System

Ryn (00:14:44):
Yeah. All right. So, we’re circulating fluids around, movement is super critical for that. We also want to talk about the intersection of the lymphatic system and the digestive system. So remember that part of the job of the lymphatic system is to circulate and help metabolize fatty acids and fat globules and chylomicrons and other fun words for tiny little lipid structures are necessary to your function and survival and for this reason, well for this and another reason we’ll come to in a second, there is a ton of lymphatic material all around your guts, all woven in through your intestines. There are lymphatic vessels under there. There are lymph nodes under there.

Katja (00:15:32):
This is one of my favorite things to talk about, actually, because you know how I’m always on about bloating. Well, if this is your first time on the podcast, maybe you don’t, but I’m always on about bloating because like you’ve been bloated before. Maybe last night when you ate some pizza for dinner or something. Like it just happens. It happens to everyone or at least it does in this time and place. And what happens when you get bloated? You’re like, oh, I ate too much or I ate something dumb. Or oh, I don’t know, I feel bloated. But here’s another example. When you were a kid and you were sick and you wanted to stay home from school and you talked to your mom or your grandma or your aunt or whoever took care of you when you were a kid and you said, oh, I’m sick. I can’t go to school. What did they do? They, maybe they took your temperature, maybe they didn’t, but they felt your lymph nodes right under your chin at the top of your neck and if they were swollen, you were allowed to stay home from school because that was a reflection of infection and if they were not swollen and you didn’t have a fever, then you didn’t matter how bad you felt, you probably had to get dressed to go to school anyway.

Ryn (00:16:40):
Because you can’t fake swollen lymph nodes.

Katja (00:16:42):

Ryn (00:16:42):
Even if you’re Ferris Bueller.

Katja (00:16:45):
So what I love realizing, I just love to think about this all the time, is that they are the same thing. If you’re bloated that is because the lymph nodes, the kajillion billion lymph nodes that surround your intestines, every single one of them is swollen. And it is just like the lymph nodes in your neck being swollen and we take the ones in your neck being swollen as a really like important thing that we need to pay attention to. But we don’t pay any attention to bloating other than to say this is uncomfortable and annoying. And so when we are feeling bloating, we need to be really recognizing like, hey, I’m having an immune response here, my lymphatic system is getting involved. All of my digestive lymph nodes are swollen. Maybe I need to take some action. Maybe what I just ate isn’t actually food for me. Maybe you know, and maybe there are some herbs that can help and in fact there are, we will get to those. But that is just something I feel like I just never get tired of thinking of because it’s such, like a shift in perspective of how I have always thought about bloating versus how my body is thinking about bloating (laughing).

Ryn (00:18:02):
Yeah. So the bloating is swelling, the swelling is inflammation, the inflammation is the immune response, the immune response is your body saying something over here is a problem. I got to do something about it. What could the problem be? It could just be that you have a bunch of systemic inflammation and this is the way it’s showing up over here. It could be that you’ve got a food intolerance and whenever you eat bread, your body says this is dangerous and terrible and I need to attack it as if it was a virus or bacteria slab that you just ate. And, that’s pretty scary. Maybe you’ve got some leaky gut going on and there are things that are sneaking through the intestine wall that shouldn’t and your body is saying, ah, we’re under attack, the barriers have been breached, you know (laughing), batten down the hatches…..

Katja (00:18:47):
Roll out the catapults.

Ryn (00:18:47):
Yeah. Maybe there’s dysbiosis going on, you know, and there are unfriendly critters who are setting up shop inside your belly and causing all kinds of problems in there. So whatever it is, there’s an issue and the lymphatic stagnation is part of the way your body is trying to cope with that, and we can look at it as a signal. You can look at it as an indicator that I gotta change something.

Katja (00:19:10):
Yeah. Especially if bloating happens frequently. Yeah. If it’s just like it just happened once and it’s very uncommon for you and oh, you know, you went and you got some junk food or something and you ate it. Well, okay, you’re bloated once. You knew it was junk food, that’s fine. Like nothing unexpected has happened.

Ryn (00:19:29):
You had a can of dinty more beef stew with like 5000% of the amount of sodium you need and yeah, you got water retention. Okay. Whatever. But, yeah, if it’s an ongoing thing….

Katja (00:19:41):
Yeah, then it’s definitely, definitely something to pay a lot of attention to.

Ryn (00:19:47):
So we’re talking about the immune system connection here and this is again, this is true around the guts because your immune system wants to know what you’re getting exposed to and your guts are a point of exposure to the outside world in the form of food and other things you consume. So part of the reason for all those lymphatic vessels around the intestines is surveillance to keep an eye on what’s coming in. And there are patches, they’re called peyer’s patches in the intestines and they are are sort of like an open window into the lymphatic channels, right there from the intestine. And they’re kind of like your tonsils in a way, which is a similar sort of a structure.

Katja (00:20:29):
Turns out you need those.

Ryn (00:20:30):
They’re useful. Yeah. You can obviously live without them, but they are handy, right? And they’re, again, they’re part of that sort of early warning, early surveillance system. Hey everybody, he just swallowed something that’s a little bit moldy (laughing). We’d better get ready for this one. You know, stuff like that. Yeah. So, but the lymph all throughout your whole body is home to some of your immune system cells. You know, a lot of times when we think about the immune system, we think about it in this kind of nebulous way. You know, like when you think about your digestive system, you picture the stomach and the intestines and maybe the spleen and you know, or not the spleen, but the liver and the pancreas and all of that. Okay, cool. But when you picture your immune system, you probably like zoom in with your microscope vision to a single white blood cell, you know, blobby Little Pac-Man macrophage and it’s gonna like go around and eat stuff up. Right? Well, sort of, but we can look at the immune system as like a network, you know, and there are things that move along the network, like your immune cells, like those little macrophages and natural killer cells and all of that. And then there are structures that they move through and where they go to college and you know, all of that kind of thing. Like where they’re born, where they grow up, where they go and get their degree.

Katja (00:21:47):
Their on the job training.

Ryn (00:21:48):
Yeah, yeah, totally.

Katja (00:21:50):
Well and also, okay, if we’re going to make a whole little immune community happening here, with educational centers and whatever, then we also have like, you know, different types of team members who are gonna move through this structure, this system. You have like some types of immune response cells whose job it is to go and like literally do battle with a pathogen and ultimately consume it if it can. And then you have another type of immune responder cell whose job it is to just run around and say, hey, there’s a problem, ya’ll, there’s a problem here. And that’s an important job because that’s like, you know, I don’t know. I grew up in tornado country when I was a kid and so whenever our tornado was coming, the air raid sirens would go off because the whole town needed to know and this was before the internet or before, like whatever and the whole town needed to be able to know that a tornado was coming. And maybe you were out working outdoors and you weren’t like watching TV and seeing the weatherman come up and saying, there’s a tornado so you need that big siren. And, you might be guessing that I’m talking about inflammation here, but there are a bunch of different ways that your body signals this inflammation and that’s actually important because that’s part of the immune response. Anyway, there’s just all these different kinds of responders. There are responders whose job it is to like maintain the database of all the antibodies that we’ve ever used before, so that however many years down the line, if we happen to see that particular pathogen again, we can go look up the recipe for the antibodies and be able to make them, right? There’s like all different kinds of specialized cells involved in this response system. And so many of them live in the lymphatic system.

Ryn (00:23:51):
Yeah. They’re called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes, right? So these are like the B cells, the T cells. And you know, again, we’re not gonna do a like immune physiology class here right now, but just all those functions that you were just describing, that’s what they’re up to in there. And the movements of lymph is critical in order for them to function well, right? If they can’t get to the site of infection to the area of inflammation that needs to be dealt with, they can’t really help you so we have to keep them circulating. We have to get them where they need to go. And once they’ve done their jobs, we also need to shuttle them along. Thank you for your service and now you may be recycled.

Katja (00:24:28):
Yeah. Break time.

Ryn (00:24:30):

Katja (00:24:31):

Ryn (00:24:32):
Okay. Let’s see.

Katja (00:24:35):
Oh, you know, I had this thought in my head here because earlier you were talking about sanitation workers and that particular phrasing reminded me that you see in so many places, like just writings in terms of like history and health and medical developments and stuff like that. And you see in so many places, people writing about just advancements in sanitation and the enormous impact that had on epidemiology and like public health. So when people figured out that you can’t poop near your water supply, that helped everybody be healthier. When people in the cities stopped like dumping their like chamber pots into the street, out their windows and now there’s no longer sewage in the street, everybody got healthier. And when people realized, oh, we need to wash our hands and we need to wash our medical equipment, like that’s a thing they had to learn. They didn’t use to wash stuff.

Ryn (00:25:39):
It wasn’t always obvious….

Katja (00:25:41):
It wasn’t always obvious, like it, that sounds appalling right now, but I’m thinking about Civil War era even, trauma specialists would just like the instruments that they used on one person, then they would go and use them on the next person and they didn’t like autoclave them in between because they hadn’t invented autoclaves yet, but they didn’t even boil them or anything. They just like, okay, well I’ve got my stuff, my tools, and I’m going to go, okay, I dealt with this person. There’s not a lot of time I’m going to go deal with that person. And so like, all these different advancements in basically just staying clean on a personal level and on a societal level made enormous advancements in public health. And that is what’s going on here with the immune system that when we have a good, healthy lymphatic system, which is the system that is making sure there isn’t any sewage in the streets, then overall the health of the community that is our body is better.

Ryn (00:26:43):
Yeah. So much better. Cool. Okay. That’ll probably do us in terms of understanding the lymphatic system and why we care about it. So let’s think a little bit about…..Oh, actually there was one other thing I wanted to mention, though. We had said earlier that the lymph vessels are not always too far under the skin or some of them aren’t and one thing that I do want to note here is that it’s important to pay attention to what you put on your skin because you do absorb a lot of it straight up into your body. And I’m thinking here specifically of working with essential oils because this is an herbalism podcast and lots of folks who are into herbalism are also into essential oils and they’re not entirely separate domains of study. But, sometimes you only learn part of it, you know, and that can be trouble. So one thing we get concerned about is too much insufficiently diluted exposure to essential oils and you know, the people who I talked to and have encountered who’ve suffered from this kind of problem most directly have always been massage therapists or people who do manual therapies of whatever kind and work with essential oil blends in their massage oil and you know, there, maybe they are diluting it but maybe not quite enough for the frequency with which they’re handling.

Katja (00:28:09):
Yeah. Like they’re diluting it maybe enough for the person they’re working with, but they worked on five people that day. So the dose that the massage therapist is getting is like really high.

Ryn (00:28:18):
Yeah. What they rub into you. That dilution makes sense cause you’re going to have one treatment today and another one in a couple of weeks or whatever. But yeah, five times that exposure in a day, every day, ongoing, you know, you run into problems and most essential oils are, even if they’re diluted in a carrier, they’re going to have a bit of a drying effect on the skin and particularly on the underlying tissue. You had a little experience with this.

Katja (00:28:44):
I did because a million years ago I decided that I didn’t want to use deodorant anymore, which I don’t, that’s pretty valid. There’s a lot of crud in deodorant. But what I decided I was going to do instead was, oh, I’ll just use a little bit of lavender essential oil and that’ll smell really good and it’s antiseptic and it’ll be great and this was like 10 or 15 years ago. So embarrassing, but I would just take like, I don’t know, one drop of lavender essential oil and put it under both arms. So like I was getting half a drop under each arm maybe. And boy it didn’t take that long, a couple of months maybe, and I really felt my poor lymph nodes under my arms just like shriveling up. And I mean they were small but they were hard and I could feel them like little frozen peas under my arm.

Ryn (00:29:42):
Yeah. Yeah. Cause you know when we think about lymph nodes, like you tend to reach right for under your jaw line right there and feel those ones on the throat.

Katja (00:29:51):
You guys we’re both doing it right now……

Ryn (00:29:52):
You know, maybe you’re doing this along with us. That’s great. But yeah, you have a bunch under your armpit, under the breast tissue, in the hip crease. Right. And these are places that you can feel them. Yeah. Bend your knee. Yeah, you can. And you can feel them in a lot of those places get swollen when you are sick.

Katja (00:30:16):
Yeah. But this was different. This was them, the opposite of swelling, like really drying out and almost shrinking down. It was very uncomfortable and once I stopped working with lavender that way, you know, over a little bit, I realized what was going on, so I started like using moisturizer that I made myself that didn’t have any essential oils in it, and I stopped using lavender directly on my skin and it went away reasonably quickly. I mean, I caught it pretty fast, but it was also really surprising. We were like, wow, this happened kind of fast.

Ryn (00:30:56):
Yeah. Yeah. And you’ve had that experience with some of the lymphatic herbs we’re going to get to a bit later in the podcast as well. Stronger, more, more.

Katja (00:31:03):
Yeah. As I was like experimenting with them initially and taking….

Ryn (00:31:08):
Large doses….

Katja (00:31:08):
Larger doses, yeah. To work with them as like an herb of the month or something. Which they’re all herbs that are not necessarily unsafe to do that with but you definitely feel those effects fairly quickly, of the drying action and I could feel that and so I did not continue that kind of dose for an entire month, obviously.

Ryn (00:31:31):
Yeah. Right. There was, I think one other thing.

Effects on the Nervous System

Katja (00:31:34):
I wanted to make a case for the lymphatic systems effects on nervous system and emotional health, actually. So we talked about the circulatory system, the digestive system, the immune system and really there’s no part of your body that your lymphatic system does not impact. I mean, like the toenail on your baby toe, right (laughing)? Like the hair in your ears. There is no part of your body that your lymphatic system does not have an impact on. But, if we’re going to draw out a couple that are really important, then I want to make a case for the nervous system and for emotional health because, well, I mean, first of all, nerve cells need nourishment and…..

Ryn (00:32:19):
And they need clearance of wastes. It’s fine to feed somebody, but if you don’t take away any of their plates and dishes and let them pile up into the living room until they reach the ceiling, then it’s going to be hard to dance in there.

Katja (00:32:32):
Right, right. So if your lymph isn’t moving, nobody’s getting fresh food and nobody’s getting their dishes bussed basically. So what on earth is the point of view bothering with all those fresh fruits and veggies and washing your dishes after you eat if your cells on your lymph aren’t doing what they need to be doing? They’re just getting stale crud and piles of dirty dishes like metaphorically on the inside. So, it really is important to just to keep it moving just for the like, basic overall health of those nerve cells themselves and of nerve cells….I don’t want to say more than other cells, but I’m going to for just a minute here. So more than other cells even because they do require a lot of flow to be able to operate smoothly. Nerve cells are actually 100% about flow. The way that they conduct electrical impulses around the body is literally by shifting minerals but in like a fluid state from one part of the cell to another part of the cell so that they can create that electrical response and so your nerve cells really are a place where flow is just critically, critically important. And even your brain requires this. You know, until recently, scientists were very convinced that there was no lymphatic action in the brain. But, recently all that changed when they discovered the glymphatic system, which is a very specialized lymphatic system that is just to take care of your brain. So, that’s pretty cool. It’s like a specialized subset of the lymphatic system and it just takes care of all of your brain cells.

Ryn (00:34:23):

Katja (00:34:24):
And that ties right into my emotional health aspect of this too. So like, OK, there’s some information about the physiology behind it, but here’s the thing. Our emotions are in our bodies and we’re starting now, if you’re like following just the sort of cutting edge of some of this technology, we’re just starting to be able to understand and conceptualize the actual physiological mechanisms of emotions. That’s something that’s been really mysterious for such a long time because like emotions seemed ethereal and like there wasn’t a physiological aspect to them, but there is, and we are starting to be able to put the pieces together that, you know, for so long we’ve had to say, well there’s no microscope where you can just look at emotions under a microscope. But I’m really starting to think that pretty soon we’re going to get there.

Ryn (00:35:22):
It’s almost like a microscope isn’t the answer here.

Katja (00:35:25):
No, you need a system of…..

Ryn (00:35:27):
It’s like a network and a theory of how the pieces fit together and how they communicate and how things change in different environments, yeah. So there’s a lot of complexity to it and you know, like, we have fancy machines now that can model that kind of complexity or at least start to approach it in some, you know, long path kind of way. And yeah, it is pretty exciting. But it’s also, it’s like a lot of things in herbalism where you’re seeing a confirmation of something that we have observed or you might want to say believed, I suppose, but that doesn’t really feel right. Something that has been understood in traditional medicine practice and in, you know, the way that herbalists work with emotions and bodies all at the same time because we don’t really see them as separate things.

Katja (00:36:19):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean it’s not like just all of your emotions are only in your brain. It’s like this huge system of this coordination that goes into all of your emotional health. And so the thing is that here’s where the lymphatic system really ties in because when you are having like, I don’t know, unpleasant emotions, like sad emotions, maybe let’s go with that one. How do you feel? You feel stagnant and sluggish in your feelings. You feel like there might be emotions that you can’t let go of. Well, that can even happen if you’re angry. Like they could maybe be really hot emotions but you still can’t let go of them, they’re just stuck in there. Or maybe you feel that kind of depression or that kind of down feeling that feels like you’re just stuck in a mucky bog. These are all metaphorical ways that we describe emotions but they’re not metaphorical. The whole point here is that they’re actually physiological descriptions and that’s such a big part of the lymphatic system. Like the lymph, it’s the lymphatic systems job to clear that stuff out. This is why exercising and movement have such a strong effect on emotional health, right? Because when you move more, you are stimulating movement and lymphatic system. You’re literally clearing crud out and part of that crud is also emotional and also tied up in the health of your nervous system. And I think that that’s also why so many of our emotional health herbs are herbs that also stimulate movement like tulsi or elderflower, you know, even catnip. These are all plants that get things moving because like it doesn’t do any good if you’re holding onto a bunch of anger. You kinda need to just, you know, the little cartoon with the person with the red face and the steam coming out their ears.

Ryn (00:38:22):

Katja (00:38:22):
Like you need to let that steam come out. You can’t just sit there and hold onto it or you will be stuck in that state for so long. If you blow off some steam, you know, like I’m making the little quoty marks here, then that’s movement of that anger or that hot emotional state. Anyway, it’s all about the movement. And so that’s why I feel so strongly that when we talk about the lymphatic system, such a big part about what we’re really talking about is also emotional health.

Lymphatic Herbs

Ryn (00:38:54):
Yeah. Particularly, you know, particularly like you say, with these patterns that have stagnation, have that feeling of being bogged down or being stuck in the muck. Like specifically there, that’s when we’re going to be incorporating lymphatic herbs into the formula for whatever you call it, if you call it depression, if you call it, dissatisfaction, if you call it like a lack of motivation, you know, these are all places where we would be wanting to include some lymphatic herbs in the mix. So, let’s talk about some of these herbs.

Katja (00:39:31):
Yes. Some of my favorites….

Ryn (00:39:32):
So, you know, the basic definition of a lymphatic herb is an herb that helps lymph to move through the system, however it accomplishes that. We generally kind of take a top level differentiation between drying lymphatic herbs and moistening ones. And you could say that the ones that are drying squeeze it out or squeeze it along, whereas the moistening ones flush it through. So those are a bit different. Squeezing it out is kinda like your toothpaste example, right? Where you have to like keep progressively moving up the tube and squeezing it along as it goes.

Katja (00:40:07):
Or like wringing out a sponge, you know?

Ryn (00:40:10):
Yeah. And a lot of the drying lymphatic herbs have some astringecy to them, you know, that may be part of how they accomplish this, but anyway, they have that kind of activity to them. Whereas the moistening ones are herbs that will hydrate you generally, but seem specifically able to increase the movement of fluid into the lymphatic vessels. And you know, this is sort of analogous to the way that some herbs can redistribute the fluid in your body. Like maybe they stir up some fluid from your legs and they bring it up over into the lungs and now you get a moistening effect on the lung tissue, but a drying effect on, you know, on your legs or somewhere else in your system, right? So, herbs can often do this kind of work of saying, all right, there’s fluid in here, let’s move some of this over to there and move some of that over here and this is going to be much better.

Katja (00:41:05):
Yeah, I’m kind of thinking with that sponge analogy, you know, it’s kind of like either you can wring the sponge out or like if your sponge is really gross, like you just washed out a spaghetti pan, like with the spaghetti sauce and now the sponge is like red? Well, you hold it into the water for a long time, even though the sponge already was full of water, you still hold it under the water and eventually the redness from the spaghetti sauce comes out of the sponge because you’re like flushing fluids through it. And then at the end you can squeeze it out to like get the last bits out.

Ryn (00:41:37):
Yeah, yeah. It’s just like that. So, most of the plants we’re going to talk about next are going to be drying lymphatics. So we’ll highlight the ones that are moistening and just recognize that those are way less common.

Katja (00:41:49):
Yeah, yeah. Not just less common in our practice, but also less common in nature.


Ryn (00:41:54):
All right. So let’s start with calendula. Calendula is one of our absolute favorite lymphatic herbs. It’s so good. It does a ton of different things as do all of the plants we’re going to talk about today. So we’re really just focusing on, you know, a small piece of the activity of these plants. Recognize that there’s a lot more to learn about each of them and if you’re interested in learning more about each of them, then may I recommend our Materia Medica course, Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica. It is available and it’s also a part of the Family Herbalist program.

Katja (00:42:35):
And stay tuned to the very end of the podcast cause I’m going to tell you about the July sale discount code. But, first we need to talk about calendula. You know, one of the reasons that I like calendula so much in this regard, oh dear. Three reasons are competing for my one of the reasons in my head. But, one of the reasons is that it is, it’s really accessible. Calendula is a plant that like, even if you just have a teeny tiny local herb shop and they have not a huge selection, calendula is a plant they’re going to have. Or if you have a co-op and you don’t have an herb shop but you have a co-op with some bulk stuff, then calendula might be something that’s there. But it’s one of the much more common herbs, so if you’re new to herbalism, this one is like an easy herb to get your hands on. It’s also easy to grow and it’s safe for everyone. Even little, little children, calendula is safe. So that I really love. And I also really love that calendula is particularly good at the bloating kind of lymphatic management.

Ryn (00:43:54):
Yeah. When we see that, you know, again, if it’s from a food intolerance or dysbiosis or whatever, when one of the persons’ symptoms is fluid fluidity, bloating around the belly, calendula is the first thing I think of.

Katja (00:44:07):

Ryn (00:44:07):
Right away.

Katja (00:44:08):
Yeah. I mean, calendula is one of those kind of all purpose lymphatics that if I could only have one lymphatic in the whole world, probably I would go with calendula. But, when I want to work with calendula in a super targeted way, that way is usually for that kind of bloating, water retention, fluid retention, kind of a symptom set.

Ryn (00:44:32):
Yeah. We almost always include this in a gut heal tea, you know, and gut heal tea has lots of purposes. It can be reducing inflammation in the guts. It can be healing wounds. And by the way, those are both things that calendula does.

Katja (00:44:47):
Really well.

Ryn (00:44:47):
It’s connected to, its independent, whatever are, they’re all occurring at the same time in addition to that lymph moving effect. But, yeah, so that could be a goal of the gut heal tea. We might want to warm digestion, relax tension, you know, stimulate the liver, there’s lots of functions there, but we always want to include a lymphatic herb, something to keep those fluids going along and 99% of the time it’s going to be calendula. Yeah. It’s just so effective for that.

Katja (00:45:16):
It’s so pretty!

Ryn (00:45:16):
Yeah, it’s, it’s these beautiful little yellow blossoms and yellow, orange. Yeah. Yeah. Really nice. So yeah, so whether there’s lymphatic congestion from auto-immunity, connected to food intolerance, if there is a pathogen in the system, calendula is going to be useful to get things moving along.

Katja (00:45:39):

Ryn (00:45:40):
Yeah. Helpful, thank you. And also with wound healing issues, right? So calendula itself can help to accelerate wound healing and the growth of new healthy tissue in a wound site, but we think that part of the reason it’s so effective there is because of that stimulus to lymphatic movement. When the wound is healing, it’s not just healing out of the top (laughing), you know, it’s healing from the bottom, and that includes the movement and the drainage and the activity of those lymphatic vessels underneath.

Katja (00:46:11):
You know, that drainage is so, so, so important, too because such a big part of infection is when you aren’t, you know, as a wound is healing, if you’re not able to just constantly be dealing with any crud that might still be in there, any pathogens going on, all the bits of broken cells, like as you’re going in and doing the repair work, you’re also removing out all the debris from the wound itself, like from the incident that wounded you. Not just the debris like the dirt, but also the debris, like the cells that got torn up. And if you can’t get rid of all that stuff, you end up with a ton of pus. And as you know, a wound with a ton of pus in it it is not happy.


Ryn (00:47:00):
No way. Yeah. Yeah. Calendula, just amazing. So fantastic. All right, let’s talk about self-heal next.

Katja (00:47:09):
Another one of my favorite – Oh, I’m going to say that every time with this list, I’m going to say it every time.

Ryn (00:47:11):
I think you basically are. No, you really love lymphatics, right? And it goes with your constitution.

Katja (00:47:17):
Yeah, I am. I’m a person who carries a little extra water on my body all the time and that I’m prone to stagnation. Not even just because I’m also prone to, you know, getting myself good and comfy and then replying to lots and lots of student emails or whatever, you know, like trying to find a nice way to say that I am prone to sedentism. But also even when I am being very active and moving around a lot, I just have a body that holds onto things preferentially. Like, my body’s a little bit of a hoarder, you know, that some bodies are like that and mine is like that. And there are adaptive reasons why some bodies do that. And you know, if I were in a famine then I’m well-equipped to manage it. But it means that I always have to be thinking about keeping my body moving and keeping the internal aspects, the fluids of my body moving. So I do, I just love the lymphatic herbs. I love them.

Ryn (00:48:29):
Yeah. And self-heal, a couple of years ago you really had a little affair with self-heal. It became like your total favorite for awhile.

Katja (00:48:38):
Oh, it still is. It’s just that it’s hard to get.

Ryn (00:48:41):
It’s true, you know, in contrast to calendula, self-heal has not always been very easy to come by from like the major herb suppliers and one that we kind of knew that was true, but it didn’t quite hit us as strongly as it could have until we started having more online students and more dispersed people around the country and world and all of them hearing us glow about self-heal and then saying like, all right, where can I find some so that can be a challenge, but it’s worth it.

Katja (00:49:13):
Part of the reason is that self-heal is a very short plant. So if you are an herb farmer, it takes up a lot of ground space, but it doesn’t give you a huge yield. And, being an herb farmer also doesn’t give you a huge yield. Like you don’t make a lot of money as an herb farmer. You can make a sustainable living, but you definitely are looking to grow the plants that are going to, sort of be the most effective or the most efficient with the space that you’ve given them. And so if somebody is farming in a small location, they don’t have a huge plot of land, then self-heal is going to take up a lot of ground space and it’s not a tall plant, so you don’t get tons and tons of material from it. And so if you are ever shopping for self-heal and you’re like, wow, this is kind of expensive….this way, you understand why and you will feel like, oh, okay, well, that’s fair. But it will grow happily in your lawn in many parts of the US and many parts of the world, especially if you don’t have too much baking sun, like if it gets a little bit of shade through the day, then it’s pretty happy. And it is an early in the year plant. So seed it in the fall so that it will come up for you in the spring. But why should you bother with all that?

Ryn (00:50:44):

Katja (00:50:44):
Because self-heal is a really effective plant for stagnation in the lower part of the body. So if you’re a person who tends towards varicose veins or tends towards edema in your legs, maybe not all the time, but like when you’re having your period or if you have it all the time also, but even if you don’t always have it, but just like on the heavy day of your period, you kind of have some edema, this plant is just so helpful for that kind of a situation.

Ryn (00:51:16):
Yeah, seriously. You know, self-heal, it can be helpful for general lymphatic issues, which could include edema, bloating. We also look at fibroids and cysts as often having a lymphatic stagnation component to them, because of the places where those tend to form tend to be places where there is a lot of anatomical stagnation or habitual stagnation and because working with lymphatic herbs to get that stuff moving and flowing again is often critical if we’re going to shrink or dissolve or you know, reduce the presence of those kinds of things. Herbs like this can be really effective for that. But yeah, if you work, trying to pick a specific moment when self-heal is most indicated is that kinda like pelvic floor and lower down in the body when there’s stagnant aspects there, then this is a really great choice.

Ground Ivy

Katja (00:52:13):
Yeah. You know, the total opposite is ground ivy and ground ivy is another one of these plants that I just can’t live without. Ground ivy really stimulates the lymphatic movement in the head. So anything that you would think of as ear, nose, and throat, if your sinuses are full, all that kind of stuff. Even like tinnitus that comes from a fluid imbalance in the ears, a little less about tinnitus that comes from actual damage.

Ryn (00:52:51):
Or like thickening of the eardrum can happen with longterm exposure to loud sounds. You know, that one you get less improvement with ground ivy but don’t write it off until you’ve tried it.

Katja (00:53:03):
Yeah. You don’t get no improvement. Just less.

Ryn (00:53:05):

Katja (00:53:05):
But tinnutis that comes from fluid imbalance or general and inflammation or autoimmune issues, ground ivy is really, really helpful with and just general congestion or if you’re the kind of person who gets lots of ear infections and that’s, I’m that kind of person. If anybody told you you had short eustachian tubes, you know, any of that kind of stuff, ground ivy really just helps keep the lymph in your head moving around well. And we don’t have any data, we don’t have any evidence, scientific evidence that ground ivy has any kind of action on the glymphatic system, the part of your lymphatic system that’s in the brain specifically. However, ground ivy is not a super well-researched herb by science. It’s not as popular, so they haven’t done a lot of studies on it. And the glymphatic system, like just our knowledge and understanding of it is very, very new. So give it 10 years, we may see some data coming out but I would not in any way be surprised if we found out that ground ivy also stimulates the glymphatic system.

Ryn (00:54:18):
Yeah. Yeah. Just because of that draining effect on the head. And you know, like you say, it’s with tinnitus, it’s helpful, but also just like an upper respiratory infection, earache, you know, you have some sinus swelling and phlegm, all of that. You’ve got an earache at the same time. Try the ground ivy, you know, get that fluid drained. It works really nicely. Yeah. That’s a really good herb. Very friendly. Okay, well let’s talk about red clover next.

Katja (00:54:46):
Yeah. That’s another one that’s really accessible and really easy to get at herb shops pretty much anywhere.

Red Clover

Ryn (00:54:53):
Yeah. Yeah. Now when we worked with red clover for lymphatic purposes, we want to get the blossoms. Red clover leaf has some things to recommend it, you know, it has some mineral content to it, and if you’re into the whole phytoestrogen thing, then that’s going to be there as well. But when we work with red clover, we’re really focused on these lymphatic effects and for that reason we always work with the blossoms. So yeah, if you’re trying to move lymph around then it’s the blossom you really want. So we’ve been talking about like area of the body that these plants have affinity to where calendula was kinda your belly and self-heal was like your pelvis and below and ground ivy was up in your head, with red clover, it’s kind of all around the pectoral region, right? The chest, the breasts, the lungs. That’s the area of the body where red clover goes to work. Yeah.

Katja (00:55:49):
And it’s really gentle. This is another one that it’s fine for children. It’s fine for people who maybe are convalescing. The time that you might be very cautious of red clover or really most of the lymphatic stimulants would be if you are taking blood thinners. But otherwise a red clover can be really lovely and is a lovely adjunct to any kind of breast cancer or any other, like if you’ve had a mastectomy and now you have some problems with the lymph throughout the area, lymphedema or whatever, then this is a plant that can really be helpful there and even can be worked with topically so you don’t even have to consume it. This is something that can be applied as a massage oil, like infused into oil and applied as a massage oil and can be really, really helpful.

Ryn (00:56:49):
Hmm. Yeah, right. You know, red clover, it’s like you say, it’s often recommended or we often think about it in regards to breast issues, whether it’s like a fibroid or a cyst or cancer. And you know, that association between red clover and cancer is pretty longstanding at this point. We did an episode a while back, I forget the number, but it was an episode and one of the topics we did there were some classic cancer cure all formulas. And there were a couple we highlighted there called hoksey and essiac and you may have heard of these before, but these are kind of at this point, like 100 or so, like 80 to 100 and something year old and started as kind of like folk remedies and became more and more popularized.

Katja (00:57:46):
They don’t really cure cancer, but they can be very helpful as an adjunct part of keeping your body really healthy.

Ryn (00:57:54):
Yeah, and a big part of both those formulas is that they include lymphatic moving herbs, right? And both of them have red clover in there in large part to accomplish that job. So yeah, again, keeping those fluids moving is really critical to both identifying a problem like this before it gets too bad, but also to breaking it up and combating it once it’s already gotten into place. Yeah. You know and you also mentioned a caution around red clover around blood thinning, like if someone’s taking warfarin or another blood thinning drug, then you don’t want to add a whole quart of red clover blossom infusion to their life cause it might thin it out too much. But in the absence of that drug interaction or drug combination, it can be a good thing to thin the blood, right? That allows the blood to move more freely, more easily throughout the body to circulate out to your periphery more effectively. Blood can get sick for lots of reasons, including you’re dehydrated, you know, or maybe you eat or you just have a lot of sugar in your life or you have blood sugar regulation issues cause the more sugary the blood gets, the stickier it gets, the thicker it gets. You know, so and when that happens, then your blood pressure tends to go up too, cause it’s a little harder to pump and to move it around. So, an herb that thins the blood, like red clover, and increases circulation of the blood because of that and also increases the circulation of lymph at the same time, well, we’re in a pretty good spot.

Katja (00:59:25):
You know, one of the ways that it really helps with that too is that red clover has some kidney affinity and it not only is stimulating lymphatic movement, but also stimulating the kidneys to do their job of filtration and then ultimately excretion, and so it’s kind of like the full process, you know, like get everything moving throughout the lymphatic system and then also like, we’re not just gonna leave it there. We’re going to go all the way through to the end, all the way through to the kidneys and stay with the job until it’s done.


Ryn (01:00:03):
Yeah. You know, while we’re talking about this herb with all of this chest and breast area, pectoral affinity, let’s talk about violet next because that is very similar in terms of the region of the body where it works and the kinds of problems that you can work on with it. So violet is again, another herb that has this chest and breast affinity to it, has a long history of herbal practice with folks working with this for, you know, again, breasts, cysts, fibroids, tumors, all kinds of stagnation problems, in the breast tissue. And that again, that’s both with making a bunch of tea and drinking lots and lots of it, but also with topical application, like a violet infused oil or a violet and red clover infused oil is something that you can use as a massage oil to work that in and keep things flowing and moving along. And, what violet has that’s a little bit different is that this is one of our moistening lymphatics and moistening herbs are also softening herbs. So especially if there were some like harder kinds of mass in the breast tissue, then we would really be advocating for violet there because a softening agent like this can help to soften up those hardened spots and help them to begin to break down, to dissolve.

Katja (01:01:37):
Yeah. You know, classically, frequently some poke would be included there, too. And with these three together, poke is a really strong lymph mover and it is going to be pretty drying, but it has a lot of strength. So you don’t need very much of it, a little bit of poke, a nice big amount of violet and then some red clover. Those three together will get kind of like that real softening action and then the breaking up action and then the clearing out action, kinda just moving all of that right through the body.

Ryn (01:02:19):
Yeah. And again, right, violet here is going to stand out because it’s moistening and that moistening quality is not always easy to find in lymphatic herbs, but really herbs in general, you know, so many more of our plants are drying than are moistening. So, unless you only work with seaweeds, that’d be different.

Katja (01:02:41):
Wow. I should sometime for a whole year just practice only with seaweed. That would be awesome.

Ryn (01:02:50):
Yeah, that would be something else.

Katja (01:02:51):
I would really know them even better.

Ryn (01:02:54):
So you know, for this reason though, we’ll often include violet in lymphatic formulas because maybe we’re giving this to somebody with a dry constitution. Like you can be dry and still have fluid stagnation, right? You can be anything. So and still have some fluid stagnation. So if we have somebody and we’re like, yeah, I’m going to give you the calendula and the cleavers and the clovers and all of this, but oops, that’s going to dry you out too much then violet to the rescue.

Katja (01:03:22):
Yeah. And you might be over there thinking, wait, how can you be dry and still have fluid stagnation? Well, what if you have a sprained ankle, right? So, you don’t necessarily have to have fluid stagnation all the time. Or systemically. You could be a dry person with a sprained ankle and there’s so much dryness in your body that there’s like, you can’t actually get the fluid out of the sprained ankle. So, that could be one situation.

Ryn (01:03:48):
Yeah. Or I’m picturing somebody who’s constitutionally dry but has an undiagnosed food allergy or an unrecognized food allergy and they’re eating that every day. And the body’s like, wow, this is a problem. I got to do something about it. And so it’s causing that immune response, that inflammatory response, that, you know, makes the tissue more permeable and you know, lets more fluid kind of seep into there. And now all your fluid’s kind of stuck around your belly and there’s not enough in your system for the rest of you. So it could be connected in that way too.

Katja (01:04:21):

Ryn (01:04:22):
Yeah. So, yeah, so violet is just a really wonderful herb, a very, very gentle herb and extremely safe plant. And so good to get to know in that way. And that makes me think of, well not The Other, like it’s the only one in the world (laughing) but for today’s podcast purposes, the other moistening lymphatic herb here, and that’s chickweed, which is wonderful and delightful. And I always feel like if only we had an enormous field full of chickweed…

Katja (01:04:57):
Oh, it’d be so delicious.


Ryn (01:04:57):
We could, I could really, I would really love that. So it’s a tiny little plant with tiny little star like flowers and chickweed, like violet is cooling and moistening and relaxant. And it is one that we really enjoy to eat. Just like throw a handful of it into some salad.

Katja (01:05:17):
That’s my favorite way to work with chickweed. It really is, just to eat it.

Ryn (01:05:20):
It tastes good, you know. It is possible to dry chickweed but you may need a dehydrator. If you live in new England, then, I mean…..

Katja (01:05:30):
Definitely need a dehydrator.

Ryn (01:05:32):
The weather we’re having today, chickweed would not dry. You know, it’s like hot. It’s humid. It’s the whole thing. And so chickweed is not going to dry in this kind of condition. So a dehydrator, you know, maybe an attic with a lot of fans or something, but, yeah, you’re gonna need to do that, but that can be done, and then you can make tea out of it and take it that way. We more often work with chickweed as a tincture though because we haven’t had a dehydrator until like last week (laughing).

Katja (01:06:00):
Yeah. But it’s very exciting now that we have one.

Ryn (01:06:02):
Yeah, we’re dehydrating all kinds of stuff, but yeah, so chickweed tincture is really fantastic for this and that’s easy to work with. You know, a simpler’s tincture method is super effective there. Just stuff a jar full of chickweed and pour on some alcohol, let it macerate for about a month and strain it and you’re good to go. Chickweed, you know, it has a reputation amongst a lot of American herbalists as an herb that, I’m going to say it, that it is a herb that melts fat.

Katja (01:06:31):
It does.

Ryn (01:06:33):
And a lot of times, you know, this is fraught, right? Because a lot of times people are talking about that and someone who hears it or reads it says, awesome, I’m going to get all chickweed I can get. It’s going to be a weight loss herb. It’s going to be so good. That aspect, and I’m not 100% convinced that it’s really going to mobilize fat from your fat cells and burn it off for you without you doing anything.

Katja (01:06:59):
I mean, it’s not going to be bad but it is not a weight loss herb.

Ryn (01:07:04):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, but what we can say though, and what we’ve, we’ve observed in our own practice is that sometimes you can get a sort of fatty congealmint someplace in the body where it doesn’t belong. A word for this is lipoma and they can be kind of anywhere on the body.

Katja (01:07:24):
They’re usually like kind of superficial, like just under the skin. And so you might just have this lump of kind of semi-squishy, like it’s not like totally squishy, but it’s also not totally hard. But it also doesn’t feel like a cyst, you know, it doesn’t have that hardness that a cyst has. And, if you have lipomas like, you probably know exactly what they are because they do tend to run in families. They’re not typically dangerous in any way. It’s just some people’s bodies deal with extra fat by saying, oh, I’m just going to stash this over here until I need it. And that’s it. It’s just kind of like an alternate storage mechanism, maybe, for fat cells but they can be annoying, especially if they happen to hit on a nerve or they also can just be kind of upsetting if you have one – I can remember my grandfather had one once right on his forearm and it was like the size of a golf ball and it was literally just like having a golf ball taped to his arm all of the time. And it does look a little weird. You’re like, why? Why do I have golf ball on my forearm? And so normally people who have lipomas have them removed. It’s a very simple procedure. And if you have one that is the size of a golf ball, chickweed is not going to make it go away. But if you are a person who has a tendency towards lipomas or if you’re a person who has lipoma in the family, then chickweed is going to be a really good friend for you. Kind of like an all the time, good friend for you.

Ryn (01:09:18):
Yeah. Yeah. You can be having it in a daily tea blend, you can be, you know, just taking squirts of tincture on a consistent going basis, no problem.

Katja (01:09:26):
But just sort of as like a general maintenance, because if you catch a lipoma when it’s really small, you actually can break it up. You can apply chickweed topically. You can work with it internally and also manually, like as you apply it topically to also massage it to help with the breaking up as well. But when they’re really small, of course you have to notice it when it’s really small. But if you do and you catch it when it’s really small, you can break them up. But, I think that a person with a tendency towards lipoma, it’s sort of just better to kind of work with chickweed preventatively, just to remind your body that we don’t really want to make giant golf balls of extra fat cells.

Ryn (01:10:14):

Katja (01:10:14):
Yeah. Maybe not the best method with this.


Ryn (01:10:20):
All right, well when I think of chickweed, I also think of cleavers.

Katja (01:10:23):
Yes. They’re incredible, the two of them.

Ryn (01:10:25):
The two of them make a really nice pair. Sometimes they even grow right next to each other, so that’s always nice. But yeah, so cleavers is another lymphatic decongestant herb. It’s good for all of these kinds of stagnation and edema and you know, basically lymphatic swellings and all of that. Cleaver’s has some other traditional applications to do with the urinary system. It’s a bit of a diuretic, it can help to break up some stones in the urinary system there. And, it is an herb that has a lot of moisture to it, itself. It’s another herb that’s kind of difficult to dry in a humid environment, but its effect on the body is a drying one though, so it’s not as drying as even calendula. It’s like very, very mildly so, but it is on that side of the spectrum.

Katja (01:11:17):
Yeah. You know, cleaver’s just kind of one of those like Swiss army knife lymphatic plants. It’s kind of a plant that can, yeah, I can do that. Yeah, I can do that. Yeah, I got you. I can do that and so it’s kinda nice to have around.

Ryn (01:11:41):
Yeah. Plus cleavers is fun because if you pick one, then you can stick it to your shirt and wear it as a badge of honor.

Katja (01:11:48):
Yes, they are really cool like that. Yeah. They have these little Velcro like hooks all over them and they don’t hurt, but they will grab onto your clothes and hang on to you really assertively.

Ryn (01:12:03):
Okay. So these are some of our favorite lymphatic herbs. There are certainly others in the world. These are the ones we wanted to tell you about today.

Katja (01:12:10):
These are ones that are easy to get your hands on and pretty safe to work with.

Ryn (01:12:15):

Katja (01:12:15):

Ryn (01:12:17):
Okay. So, yeah, if you’ve got any stagnations going on, then these are some of your best friends. And, as always, we would love to hear your experiences.

Katja (01:12:25):
And Brittany, I hope that this is really inspiring for you to get started with lymphatic congestion issues and not just Brittany, but everybody else listening, too. But thanks for the suggestion cause this was a fun podcast.

Ryn (01:12:40):
Yeah, absolutely. So, before we go, we have first some shout outs and then a discount situation.

Katja (01:12:48):
Yes, discount code.

Ryn (01:12:50):
So first, our shout outs. Number one to KatieG05 who’s new to podcasts and we’re so happy you found ours. We are happy to introduce you to podcasting.

Katja (01:13:00):
Yeah. And Oakfairy who was telling us on social media that she was listening to us on the way to work and we’re so glad that we got to drive to work with you.

Ryn (01:13:09):
Yeah. A shout out to Malachiteherbal who shared the pod for friends who were trying to quit smoking. Yes. Spread the word.

Katja (01:13:17):

Ryn (01:13:17):
With any pod really. You know, if you’ve got a friend who has trouble and you hear a pod about it, then like…

Katja (01:13:22):
Yeah, share it.

Ryn (01:13:23):
That’s a gentle way of saying maybe this would help.

Katja (01:13:27):
I’m pretty excited to give a shout out to Sharday who was listening to the pod about setting up a free herbal clinic. And then she did set up a free herbal clinic and she said it went great and I’m super excited.

Ryn (01:13:38):
Nice. That’s awesome. That’s bringing it to the real world. I love it. We have one for Rebecca who is starting an herb business. Hey, wow. Hey, did you all know that we do have a business program? It kicks off in January each year, so you can put that on your radar for a bit later.

Katja (01:13:56):
Yeah. You can find it at commonwealthherbs.com/learn and you can actually find all of our programs there. And because it’s sale time, we just sent information in our newsletter about the, we’re all in this together sale because when I think about Independence Day and it’s about to be the 4th of July here in the United States, which is our Independence Day holiday. But when I think about Independence Day, I always think that like, wait a minute, there’s not really any such thing as independence, not like in the mythical way that it’s often portrayed in the American legend of like whatever. We are all in this together. We can’t survive without one another. And one way to support yourself and your community is to learn herbalism and you’re already here. You are listening all the way to the end of the podcast. So you definitely really like herbs. So for the entire month of July, you can take 15% off as many courses as you want or even program bundles and you can learn everything that you need to know to take care of yourself and support your community because we are all in this together.

Ryn (01:15:17):

Katja (01:15:17):
And the coupon code is together, so try it out.

Ryn (01:15:24):
Together. You got that, right? All right. You got it. You’re good to go. You’re going to learn some herbalism. It’s going to be awesome. Okay. And we will be back next week.

Katja (01:15:35):
We will.

Ryn (01:15:35):
With another episode of the Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, drink your tea, take a walk, be grateful to your eternal trash crew and have a good time.

Katja (01:15:50):
Yeah! See you next week.


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