Looking for a pick-me-up these days? Something as simple as taking a daily shower with alternating hot and cold water is reviving and supports healthy lymph. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels in our bodies that move the lymph or extracellular fluid. This fluid helps move waste away from cells and plays a big role in the immune system, too. Unlike the bloodstream, the lymph does not have a pump. When you are looking for an easy activity that results in healthy detoxification, immune system support, and improved circulation, alternating hot and cold showers fits the bill by stimulating blood and lymphatic flow.
Alternating hot and cold showers may be particularly helpful in cases of swollen lymph nodes, for example. It can also provide relief in cases of unexplained itching which is sometimes a sign of stagnant lymph, or need for more detoxification support. Because the hot and cold showers promote expansion and contraction of the lymphatic system and blood vessels, circulation and cleansing are improved overall.
The hot water is stimulating and allows blood vessels to expand. Hot water helps move blood to the surface of the body. It is also relaxing and can help with headaches, including migraines, and muscle cramps.
Cold water is also stimulating but causes blood to move in the opposite direction, back to the core of the body, and it's internal organs. It causes the blood vessels to contract initially. After a period of time under cold water, the blood vessels expand again. Cold water encourages increased oxygenation and carbon dioxide excretion throughout the body. Cold water has been shown to increase metabolic activity of cells, boost antioxidant production, and both red and white blood cell formation. Overall, cold water therapy is invigorating.
How to take an alternating hot and cold shower:
- Begin your shower as you typically would with hot water.
- After at least three minutes in the hot water, turn the dial to cold water.
- You may want to start with cold water on your feet, then hips, then shoulders, finally your core and your head. Stay under the cold shower for at least 30 seconds.
- Alternate back to hot and cold for thirty seconds each as many times as you wish, but end with a cold shower.
This technique has merit as a lifelong practice, and is also beneficial during the Body Tune-up process (an annual food-based cleanse in a group format) to help encourage rejuvenation.