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What is Dry Brushing and Does It Really Work?

dry brushing benefits

by Deepa Pattani, Pharm.D.

What is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a simple form of manual massage you can do at home to help stimulate your lymphatic system. It’s from the ancient Indian medical system known as Ayurvedic, which is based on ancient writings that encompass a natural and holistic approach to mental and physical health. Ayurvedic dry brushing, called Garshana in Sanskrit, is a massage technique that utilizes friction to rid the body of toxins. Garshana translates to “rubbing or polishing”, and it is this friction that stimulates the lymphatic system.

I encourage my patients to incorporate dry brushing into their usual routines. If you are not familiar with this practice, it might seem a bit strange at first. The truth is, though, that dry brushing has many benefits. For example, it is a great practice to help increase circulation, promote lymph flow and drainage, and acts as a gentle exfoliant to help remove dry and flaky skin.

The lymphatic system: Why is it important that it works well?

Our lymphatic system is one part of our immune system. It helps detect and eliminate foreign materials/toxins to prevent them from entering our bodies. These foreign materials/toxins can enter our bodies through the environment, the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis (cleaning, beauty products, etc) and through the foods we choose to nourish our bodies. Our lymphatic system also helps maintain our body’s fluid levels, absorb fats from our digestive tract and remove waste from our cells.


  • Protect our body from foreign substances/toxins
  • Maintain our body’s fluid levels
  • Absorb fats from our digestive tract
  • Remove waste from our cells.

How do we know when our lymphatic system in not operating at its optimal level?

These are some symptoms you may experience when your lymphatic system is compromised:

  • Swelling of your arms and legs
  • Feelings of tightness or heaviness
  • Recurrent infections (sinus infections, allergies, etc)
  • Hardening of the skin
  • Lymphadenopathy: swelling of the lymph nodes: most commonly seen with infections (strep throat), inflammation or cancer
  • Lymphedema: Accumulation of fluids in the lymph nodes: most commonly seen with disruption of the lymph nodes (radiation) or after removal of lymph nodes due to cancer.

So, how does dry brushing work?

In a nutshell, dry brushing is when you brush your dry skin with a natural soft bristle brush in the direction of your lymphatic flow to stimulate movement and unclog blocked up areas. Some people like to use a brush with a long handle so they can reach their back more easily. Others prefer a small wooden, metal, or stone tool used in traditional Chinese medicine called a gua sha for a somewhat different experience.

Here are some simple steps that I share with patients and clients on how anyone can incorporate a manual lymphatic massage at home with the use of a dry brush. You will need a dry brush on hand (recommendations for dry brushes below) Then use the following steps:

  • Make sure your skin is completely dry.
  • It is best performed just prior to showering.
  • Start at your feet and ankles and use firm pressure.
  • Move in long circular motions from the legs and ankle and move up toward your heart.
  • After showering, make sure to slather on some lotion to lock in the hydration after sloughing off the dead skin cells.
  • For people with sensitive skin, start dry brushing one to two times a week and increase as tolerated.

That’s it. It is a simple process with tremendous health benefits and can keep our lymphatic system running smoothly.

The bottom line

Dry brushing is a helpful tool for improving lymphatic drainage you can do at home. It’s an easy and inexpensive practice that certainly won’t do any harm, so why not try it?

As an aside, there are some other simple ways that you can incorporate into your daily life to ensure the smooth functioning of your lymphatic system.  

  • Drinking plenty of fluids and making sure our bodies are well hydrated.
  • Exercise and movement
  • Reducing our exposure to toxins (environmental and nutritional)
  • Professional lymphatic massages

Be well!

DRY BRUSHES WE RECOMMEND (all under $20!):

ICANdOIT-High Strength Dry Body Brush for Skin,Natural Bristle Exfoliating Massage Brush to Improve Circulation

Vegan Dry Brush for Lymphatic Drainage Massage, Natural Firm and Soft Brushes, Cactus Bristles, Dry Skin Brush for Face and Body Set for Brushing

Zen Me Premium Boar Bristle Brush, Exfoliating Brush with Firm Natural Bristles for Experienced Users, with Detox eBook Gift

About the author:

detox your body naturally, Dr. Deepa PattaniDr. Deepa is a Functional Medicine Specialist, author, as seen on Forbes, CBD specialist, LDN compounder, pharmacy owner, wife and mom of two. Dr. Deepa equips frustrated, stressed professionals with tools to stop feeling fatigued, anxious and hopeless and feel sustained energy, in-control and healthy with her 7 step PATTANI protocol that utilizes diagnostic testing and 1:1 coaching so they can live their best life yet.

Over the past two decades, Dr. Deepa has worked in hospitals and long-term care so she understands treating the root cause is the only option. As an autoimmune disease educator, Dr. Deepa has helped patients manage weight loss, reduce medications and decrease hospitalizations. She has helped over 500 patients in the last 5 years alone and has been a frequent speaker and educated other medical professionals.

Dr. Deepa has been seen on Forbes, featured in Dallas Voyage Magazine, has been a repeat radio guest and Bestselling author of book “Unleashing the Storrie Within” can be found on Amazon. She’s passionate about utilizing CBD to reduce medications, microdosing with LDN and holistic healing.

Contact Dr. Deepa at

Disclosure: This article is intended to be educational and not construed as medical advice.  Please see your doctor if you have concerns about your health.


Cover Photo by SUN STUDIO CREATIVE on Unsplash

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