Body Brushing

Copyright ~ 2000
by Peggy Wynne Borgman

Body brushing, or dry brushing, is a detoxifying treatment for the body's "third lung," the skin. Like exercise, body brushing stimulates the flow of lymph and blood, cleansing the tissues of waste and clarifying our thinking.

Dry brushing even provides gentle cardiovascular conditioning; in fact, it has been used for car­diovascular exercise in the space program. When you try this body-brushing "workout," you'll be surprised at how it elevates your heart rate. It can be a wonderful exercise alternative when the weather is bad-or when you’re feeling under the weather. Body brushing is an excellent way to begin a gray, gloomy winter day in a brighter mood.

Always wash your brushes after using them with a mild soap and dry them, bristles down, on a clean towel. This prevents water from seeping into the brush head and damaging the wood and bristles.

Caution: Do not perform this ritual if you have any inflammation, open wounds, or skin eruptions.

Do not perform if you have been diagnosed with or are being treated for cancer.

If you are pregnant, consult your health-care practitioner before dry brushing.


A good-quality vegetable-bristle body brush with a wooden handle (available at natural foods stores, in the personal care section, or see Resources)

 A natural-bristle nailbrush

A natural-bristle foot brush

A warm, comfortable treatment area with good air circulation

3 drops lavender essential oil

6 drops eucalyptus essential oil
• Disrobe completely for your dry-brushing workout

• Put three drops of lavender essential oil on the palm of your hand and lightly apply it to the bristles of the dry brush.

• Be mindful of your breath as you do your dry-brushing workout. Exhale smoothly as you complete the long strokes just as you would when performing an exercise. Inhale using relaxed but deep breaths


• Begin with very light pressure. You can increase it gradually, but the benefits of dry brushing are accomplished with fairly light but firm pressure. Raise your left arm over your head and brush the underarm area using five clock­wise circular strokes. Then perform five counter clockwise circular strokes. This provides gentle stimulation for the lymph nodes. Repeat with the right arm, switching your brush to the other hand. You can grasp the brush by the head rather than the handle for more control.

• With your arm still elevated, brush upward from the top of the breast, work­ing outward toward the underarm. Be careful to avoid the breasts, which are too delicate for dry brushing. Work from the center of the sternum outward, using overlapping strokes, then raise your opposite arm and repeat the sequence in the other direction.

• Place the brush on the breastbone and brush up and around the right breast, stroking outward toward the left underarm five times. Now complete five strokes using your left hand, working from the center around the breast toward the left underarm area.

• Now place your brush on your left side at the waist and stroke upward under the arm. Do this five times. Use sweeping, even stroke pressure, exhaling as you do. Repeat on the right side.

• Now reach over your shoulder to place your dry brush on the spine, at the inside edge of your right shoulder blade. Stroke outward toward the right shoulder five times. Here the handle of the brush will give you needed lever­age. Repeat on the left side, completing five strokes.

• With the brush now in your left hand, place it on the back of your neck. Sweep it down and around the neck toward the collarbone. Repeat this five times on the left side, then switch hands and repeat the stroke on the right side. Be care­ful when working around the neck, as this skin is very delicate and sensitive. Using lighter pressure, brush along the neck under the left jaw, then sweep the brush down the sides and to the collarbone. Perform just three repetitions. Complete the sequence once more on the right side for three repetitions.

• Place the brush gently under the chin and brush down the neck to the col­larbone with very light pressure. Repeat just three times.


• Place your dry brush at the nape of the neck and sweep it up over the back of the head toward the forehead. Typically, a bit more pressure is comfortable on the scalp. Repeat eight to ten times. Brushing relaxes the muscles of the scalp and can be very enjoyable. It also stimulates blood circulation to the hair folli­cles, helping to ensure healthy hair and scalp.

. Now grasp the brush by the head and move it over the scalp in circular move­ments until you have completely massaged and brushed the entire scalp. To com­plete the lymph drainage, brush downward from the top of the head, stopping at the ears. Repeat this stroke five times.


Note: Complete this entire sequence on the left side before moving to the right hand and arm.

. Using the small nailbrush, work back and forth across the nails and cuticles with light but firm pressure. Turn your hands over and massage the brush over the palms from the fingertips toward the wrists.

. Switch to the large brush and stroke from the fingernails toward the elbow on the top of the arm. Repeat six times, then repeat the sequence from the palm to the elbow on the underside of the arm. The underside is quite deli­cate, so you'll need to use lighter pressure here.

. Now use the brush on the upper arm, stroking from the elbow to the shoul­der six times.


. Place your brush at the top of the left hipbone. Stroke seven times down toward the pubic area. Never brush the genitals. The groin is a major lymph drainage point. Repeat on the right side.

. Place the brush next to the navel and brush in clockwise circles over the abdomen seven times.

. Place the brush under the left breast and stroke down to the groin three times. Repeat on the right side.


. Holding your brush in your right hand, place it on the tailbone. Brush out­ward over the right buttock and then around toward the groin. Begin once more at the center, and lowering the brush, work down over the entire but­tock, repeating the sequence until you reach the top of the leg. Now complete the sequence on the left side.

. With your brush in your right hand, complete seven strokes up the center of the back. Follow with seven strokes on the right side of the back, switch hands, and finish with seven strokes on the left side. You can use firm pressure on the back; it feels wonderful. You should also notice by now that your respiration and pulse have markedly increased.


• Using your foot brush, massage the soles of the feet with firm circular strokes. This helps to exfoliate the feet and it stimulates the many nerve end­ings there. If you're not ticklish, you'll enjoy the sensation. Spend a minute brushing the feet if you can. Use your nailbrush to brush the nail and cuticles of the toes, then switch back to the large body brush to brush the feet from the toes toward the ankles. Repeat seven upward strokes on each side.

• The lower legs are a common area for water retention. Dry brushing can help alleviate this condition. Place the brush near the ankle and stroke firmly upward toward the knees. Work your way around the leg. Repeat on each side twelve times, more if you have puffiness around the ankles.

• If you have puffiness around the knees, this sequence will be helpful. Place your brush just below the knee, on the front of the leg. Brush back around the knee. Your target are the lymph nodes behind the knees. Repeat seven times on each side.

Note: Complete the full thigh sequence on each leg before moving to the opposite side.

• The thighs are an area full of lymphatic vessels and prone to congestion and stagnation. Touch the outer thighs and note the temperature there-it's usually much cooler than other parts of your body. Dry brushing helps to stimulate cir­culation, which aids in the cleansing and detoxification of these tissues. Place your brush on the inside of the right knee and stroke upward, crossing the front of the thigh, toward the groin. Repeat three times. Begin the next stroke by placing your brush higher on the inner thigh, again stroking across toward the groin. Repeat three times. Work your way up until the stroke is nearly hori­zontal, repeating each one three times. You can use more pressure for this stroke. It's a good sign if the thighs redden slightly from the stimulation of the brush. . Place your brush on the right outer knee and stroke upward three times, crossing over the front of the leg toward the groin to complete the stroke.

• Place your brush at the back of the knee and stroke upward toward the but­tock three times, using firm pressure. By now you should have brushed the entire upper right leg. Repeat the entire sequence on the left side.

• Now move to the lower leg. The reason we begin with the upper leg is to open the lymph vessels there first, since they are closest to the lymph nodes in the groin. This then allows us to move fluid from the lower legs upward, without blockage. Begin with your brush on the front of the right leg, at the ankle. Brush upward with five strokes, swirling the brush around to finish behind the knee. Move the brush to the right side of the lower leg, just at the ankle. Brush upward again, fin­ishing behind the knee. Move the brush to the left side and use five strokes; finish with the brush behind the knee once more. Repeat the entire sequence on the left side. You should be breathing as you might during a brisk walk.

• If you have time, repeat the upper leg sequence again for a more complete drainage and a more vigorous workout.

• Finish the dry-brushing workout with a warm shower. Sprinkle six drops of eucalyptus essential oil around the edges of the shower and breath deeply. Towel-dry vigorously afterward. You should feel alive and vital from head to toe!

from FOUR SEASONS OF INNER AND OUTER BEAUTY. Copyright ~ 2000 by Peggy Wynne Borgman