What is “Dry Brushing”?

dry brushing and detoxing

photo credit: andybutkaj

Our body has many different ways that it natural detoxifys, and there are also some things we can do to help it along. One alternative “detox” method commonly talked about is called dry brushing.

The thought behind this is that you’ll stimulate the lymph system to move faster, while it is normally quite sluggish.

“The lymphoid system is the part of the immune system comprising a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph (from Latin lympha “water”[1]) unidirectionally toward the heart.” – Wikipedia

This system also carries out toxins from the body, and it moves from the end of our appendages toward the heart. By dry brushing, what you do is take a body brush and starting at the end of your legs or arms, brushing in a circular motion toward the heart, stimulating the system to move faster and thereby helping toxins move more quickly out of the body. (the system empties near the heart) It’s “dry” because you do this before you would take a shower.

But is it effective and does it work?

I was recently asked my thoughts on this as a reader was not wanting to continue to “detox” her body, but enjoyed the dry brushing, and I thought since we talk about detoxification here at NKU every once in a while that I might as well discuss it here.

Awhile back I went to a local seminar on detoxification and cleansing, put on by our health food store and taught by a local naturopath. I was hoping he’d discuss this a bit as I’d tried it for a while but didn’t know if it was quite working. Let’s just say he basically poo-poo’d the whole thing.

I guess since the lymph system moves so slowly, it needs a lot more stimulation than simple dry brushing. He mentioned that it was much more effective if you actually used your hands and “squeegeed” toward your heart. So starting at your feet, you’d wrap your hands around your leg and while using a bit of pressure, you’d pull up and massage toward the heart. Taking extra pulls at joints since that’s where many of the lymphatic glands are.

But he did say that dry brushing was a great exfoliant. And that it was good for stimulating circulation, so it does have its benefits even if it doesn’t do as much detoxification as some would like. Plus it makes for healthier and prettier skin.

So what do you think of dry brushing? Have you done it? Have you noticed a difference in your body at all?

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Is there a brush that you would recommend? I know I have issues with circulation so this might benefit me!

  2. I dunno about the detoxification part, but I do it to keep my skin exfoliated. I bought the Tampico brush from my local heath food store, it was about 7 bucks.


  3. Noralee Moore says:

    When I was taught to do Lymphatic massage on a family member that needed circulation help I was taught that a light touch on the skin with a gentle push at the lymph node was the way to do it. Your lymph system is just below the skin. I’m not sure what he meant by “squeegeed” toward your heart. I used my finger tips and very softly moved them across the skin in the direction of the heart. I think the brush would work much in the same way over a larger area. I started at the neck behind the ears, collar bone, up the arms, in the arm pit, to the nodes in the stomach, to the feet, up the legs, nodes behind the knees, up the thighs, to the stomach again. Working toward the heart. I think I will try the dry brushing on myself and see how it works.

  4. I love T Tapp exercises and Teresa has a brushing regimen she recommends. It goes hand in hand with her lymph pumping exercises. One huge benifit is that for people who have loose skin due to weight lost or age, it helps to tighten it up. I would imagine the circulation near the surface would help improve elastisity and vibrancy of the skin. She sells a brush, but recommends any natural bristle brush.

  5. My dad had edema in his shoulders due to lymes (at that time, undiagnosed). My mother did the dry-brush technique for 2-3 days and it helped take the swelling down.


  1. […] Using a natural bristle brush (or your hands, in a squeegy motion), it is a method of creating circulation in your body that urges the lymph system to work more quickly and thus detoxify your body.  Does it work?  Not sure.  I think it helps bloodflow, and if nothing else, you get a great exfoliation on your skin! […]