How to do lymphatic drainage for your thyroid or autoimmune disease


Your lymphatic system is a complex web of tissues and organs that help your body get rid of toxic wastes. The lymphatic system moves “lymph” which is a fluid containing white blood cells throughout the body. White blood cells are our primary infection fighters. 

Those diagnosed with thyroid or autoimmune diseases are prone to having a “clogged” or “sluggish” lymphatic system, which means you aren’t properly disposing of waste materials, such as bacteria, in an efficient way. It can also mean infection-fighting white blood cells are unable to reach certain tissues of the body to stave off infection. 

Infections are an underlying cause of thyroid and autoimmune diseases, so it stands to reason that by maximizing your waste removal and white blood cell function, we can improve the status of your thyroid or autoimmune disease (and thankfully, there are studies to support this). Specifically, those dealing with thyroid-related illnesses such as Hashimoto’s Disease, Graves’ Disease, and basic hypo- and hyperthyroidism can absolutely benefit from regular lymph drainage.

You have lymphatic tissue all over your body — even in your gut! But the easiest lymph tissue to manipulate and drain will be the lymph nodes closest to the thyroid — on your face, jawline, and clavicle. You can hire a professional, such as a massage therapist to do this technique for you, but you can also easily learn to do it yourself at home on a regular basis.

How to do lymphatic drainage for your thyroid or autoimmune disease:

First, identify the location of the lymph nodes you are attempting to drain. The easiest to access will be those at:

  • the back of the cheeks, right in front of the ears
  • behind the ears
  • on each side of the jawline
  • under the chin
  • up the left and right sides of your neck
  • the crook where your neck and shoulders meet/the clavicle area

You do need to exercise care and gentleness with these areas as they can be inflamed, achy or sensitive for many thyroid and autoimmune sufferers. You also never want to apply too much pressure to damage these areas or cause them to swell.  Note: those with goiter or kidney or liver diseases especially should speak with their doctor before performing this on themselves at home. 

Next, either using your hands or a firm, fixed knob tool (I like to recommend the Fascia Blaster for body work) press firmly on these areas until you reach a level of pressure that is comfortable but providing resistance to the tissues. Some people feel an aching or releasing sensation while applying pressure and some people feel nothing at all. Do this motion repeatedly for just a few minutes at a time. Never press beyond your comfort level and be sure to avoid all major arteries. 

Help with detoxification:

You will only want to do one session every few days because there will be a toxic load that will be released from the tissues and your body will work hard to rid itself of this. After doing this lymphatic drainage technique, you may also experience “detox” symptoms such as rashes, hives, itching, soreness, nausea or lack of appetite, fatigue, and brain fog after these draining sessions. This is common and if it does occur, you should take the time to rest and recharge yourself with plenty of nutrient-dense foods and be sure to get plenty of sleep. 

Drinking lots of water and herbal teas, as well as taking liver supports are a good idea to assist this process. I especially like to recommend roasted dandelion root tea, which has a flavor similar to coffee but is non-acidic and an excellent liver support.  Also be sure to avoid refined foods that are acidifying, such as white sugar, corn syrup, refined grains, and too much protein. Rely on fresh-pressed juices, greens and green vegetables, (preferably those that are not goitrogenic, such as lettuces), and fresh fruits while you detoxify from the lymph drainage.

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3 thoughts on “How to do lymphatic drainage for your thyroid or autoimmune disease

  1. Hi Liz, would you be able to describe more how to do the technique. YOu have described the areas and what it does, but I am not sure if I should just massage it or in which direction should I move my fingers? Thank you

  2. My back, neck, and jaw line exploded with cystic acne after starting a detox routine and after dry brushing. I learned it was because the waste wasn’t being filtered out through my kidneys. Since the skin is the third kidney, my skin took the hit. Do you have any recommendations on helping the kidneys filter?

    1. Nicole, yes! First, I’m sorry to hear that. Great kidney supports: activated charcoal, fresh raw fruits and vegetables (a ton of these — as many as you can tolerate) because you need to create an alkaline state for optimal kidney function, limit acidifying foods including sugar, animal proteins, and grains.

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