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Herbs That Promote Lymphatic Drainage

author image Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel, ND
Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel is an expert in the field of health and wellness and has been writing for LIVESTRONG.COM since 2009. She is a university-level professor and a licensed naturopathic physician providing individualized consultations on natural and holistic approaches to chronic disease at her Bloomfield, NJ office. Dr. Jackson-Michel is a doctoral graduate of the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Herbs That Promote Lymphatic Drainage
Many lymph nodes are found around the neck.

The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes and their connecting vessels as well as the tonsils, spleen and appendix. The nodes act as stations that help to filter out toxins, debris and pathogenic organisms that may be coercing through the lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic system works in tandem with the circulatory system and contributes to the healthy flow of fluid around the body. Lymphatic drainage, also known as cleansing, can be slow and sluggish and lead to edema or swelling of the tissues. A few herbs are known to help promote the lymphatic system's healthy flow. Always discuss the addition of any supplement with your doctor.

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Cleavers also commonly goes by its botanical name, Galium aperines. This herb is useful for stagnant or slowed lymph movement and the Peace Health organization notes that the herb’s most common traditional use is for improving edematous states. The herb is native to North America but can also be found in Europe and Asia. Peace Health additionally notes that the active constituent, galiosin, is concentrated in the leaves and flowers of this herb. The herb has not been subject to intense conventional study, but has a long history of traditional use and is recommended in either tea or tincture form. Consult your doctor or other health professional before taking cleavers, as it can interact with some medications, including diuretics.


Calendula is a very popular herb with a lot of medicinal value. The herb is diverse in that its anti-infective and anti-inflammatory actions are applicable for both internal and external complaints. Additionally, the website Herbs 2000 notes that this herb can improve lymph congestion and swelling. The larger lymph organs, like the tonsils and appendix, act as surveillance systems for any potentially hazardous intruders that may enter the digestive or respiratory tracts. When having to fight against invaders like bacteria or irritants like exhaust fume pollution, these glands can become engorged and swollen. Calendula may be helpful in improving the function of these policing stations, by reducing congestion. Consult your doctor for medical clearance before taking calendula.

Devil's Claw

Devil’s claw is an herb that is often associated with relieving pains of rheumatism, such as gout and arthritis. However, the book “Herbs for Detoxification” also lists devil’s claw as an important herb for improving lymphatic drainage. The herb is noted to originate in South Africa and used regularly in Europe. The book associates the lymph-stimulating properties of this herb with detoxification, as the lymph system’s most crucial role is to collect and discard circulating debris via the bowels. Consult your doctor before beginning treatment with devil's claw.

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