The following six herbs are my top picks for cleansing the lymphatic system. They can be taken alone or in a combination of two or more herbs in a tea or tincture, for about three weeks at a time.
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.). Not only a powerful immune-boosting herb, echinacea combines well with astragalus to lessen congestion and swelling in the lymphatic system. Make a decoction using 2 teaspoons of dried echinacea per cup of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drink 1 cup, three times a day. Or take 1 teaspoon of tincture three times daily.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus). The Chinese have been using astragalus, which they refer to as huang qi, for more than 2,000 years. “Huang qi” means “life-force strengthener.” In addition to strengthening the life force, astragalus is an excellent lymphatic system cleanser. Alongside echinacea, it alleviates congestion and swelling in the body. Astragalus is primarily available as a tincture, or in capsule or tablet form. Because potency can vary greatly with this herb, it is best to follow the package directions for the optimum dose.
Cleavers (Galium aparine). Known primarily as a blood and urinary tract cleanser, cleavers also enhances the function of the lymphatic system and decreases congestion and inflammation in the tissues. This herb improves the capacity of the lymphatic system to deal with toxins and combines well with pokeroot (see below). For cleavers tea, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of the dried herb (stems and small leaves) per cup of water. Drink 1 cup three times daily. Alternatively, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture three times daily. Avoid using cleavers if you suffer from diabetes or have diabetic tendencies.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). In addition to having anti-inflammatory properties, goldenseal encourages lymphatic cleansing. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup for an infusion. Drink 3 cups daily or take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture three times a day.
Pokeroot (Phytolacca americana). Pokeroot is a useful herb for improving the flow of lymph. It works well with immune- and lymph-related conditions, such as adenitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, swollen glands, mumps, mastitis and fibrocystic breast disease. Take 1/3 teaspoon of the dried root per cup of water and simmer on the stove for 15 minutes to make a decoction. Alternatively, take 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of the tincture, three times a day. Do not increase the dose - the herb has powerful laxative effects that can be harmful in larger doses.