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Mark A. Stengler, NMD
Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine

The idea of detoxifying sounds good, given our toxin-filled environment. Great news: There's an easy, safe, at-home way to clear toxins from the body—one that actually feels good and is inexpensive. It's a technique known as dry brushing. There are many ways to detoxify the body through different organs, but using a dry brush to detoxify via the skin, the body's biggest organ, has many benefits. What you need to know...

How it helps. When you dry brush, you exfoliate dead cells and give the body a gentle massage. This improves circulation... gives you glowing skin... and energizes you. But the most therapeutic benefit involves activating the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The light pressure of brushing encourages movement of lymph fluid under the skin. This fluid carries away impurities that then are eliminated by the body. The movement of the lymph fluid, which results in lymphatic drainage, is a major component of your detoxification system. Dry brushing is safe for everyone, including pregnant women. And it leaves you feeling invigorated!

How to do it. The best time to dry brush is before or during a shower. The water washes away dead cells exfoliated during the treatment. It's important that you always brush toward your heart because this is the natural direction of your circulation and the natural flow of lymph fluid. I recommend that you brush your skin from your head to your heart on the upper body and from the hands and arms in toward your torso. Then brush from your feet up your legs toward your torso. Long sweeping strokes are best. Dry brushing should take about five to 10 minutes daily. You can either brush each area of your body several times in rotation or brush each body part several times before moving to the next one.

Choosing a brush. Look for a brush that has a long handle and relatively soft bristles. (The amount of pressure you apply is more important than the bristles' softness.) Most wooden-handled brushes, available at health-food stores, cost about $6. Or you can use a loofah, which is a coarse sponge, although it may be too rough for your skin. You also can get a detox effect if you move a loofah toward your heart in the shower.

Mark A. Stengler, NMD, is a naturopathic medical doctor and leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrated medicine. Dr. Stengler is author of the “Bottom Line Natural Healing newsletter, author of The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books), founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, and adjunct associate clinical professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
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