Abstract lymph node shapes.

(Updated April 2023.) Except for a few half-hearted liver flushes, I did not bother with detox treatments in any of my health self-experiments until I suddenly switched my entire focus to mold avoidance.

I immediately started taking two binders (bentonite clay and psyllium) and a lot of water, as well as sweating for hours in the sun, and quickly discovered that anything more than this, detox-treatment-wise, was too much for my digestion (full stop) or my skin (my heels would split open) or my noggin (jitteriness and listlessness would worsen).

So I rolled with the binders-and-sweating approach for a few weeks until I started feeling, every once in a while, for a few minutes at a time, fantastically frickin awesome. As in, just this side of a religious experience. I mentioned this to the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) specialist I had visited in Chicago, who pointed out that heat on the head will dilate the blood vessels. If they had been inflamed for a long time, this would feel pretty good, assuming you were in a non-toxic environment.

(To me it seemed that a rapid change in temperature also was key — for example, emerging from an airplane onto a 95-degree tarmac, or from a cool shower in an AC-cooled house into late afternoon sun, or floating in a pool in 100-degree sun.)

What a backed-up lymph system can feel like

I went looking for other ways to reduce inflammation in the brain’s blood vessels and found boswellin, which is related to frankincense and smells like incense. I took that for a couple of days and was rewarded with splitting headaches, jaw pain, and facial swelling. Various mold avoidance forum discussions had mentioned the burden that detox puts on the lymph system, so I bought four lymph-cleansing herbal tinctures with the intention of rotating them. I started with burbur, which worked so well that I stayed with that for several years until it disappeared from stores. (I finally found it again on the NutraMedix website.) The red root, cleavers, and a combination tonic did not impress me as much at the time, but I use cleavers now with good results.

Effects of the lymph-cleansing herb burbur

I took the burbur for three weeks at a double dose. The first change I noticed was the disappearance of the small bumps at the base of my skull that I’d had for so long I had stopped paying attention to them. They clearly followed the path of the lymph vessels that run down the side of the neck and below the ear, but that had never occurred to me before.  The second thing I noticed was the improvement in digestive comfort and motility. Things got movin’.

On a lark, about 18 months later, I increased the burbur to a quadruple dose and after two days woke up with the feeling that something was very different. It took several minutes to realize that I was missing a dull pain under my armpits and upper arms that I hadn’t even realized I had. When I stop taking lymph-cleansing herbs for several weeks, this pain returns.

Effects of the anti-inflammatory herb boswellin

Three weeks after I first starting using burbur, I tried the anti-inflammatory boswellin again and this time experienced no headaches or jaw pain. I found that it lightened my mood and briefly improved an old frozen-shoulder injury, but after a few days made the shoulder feel worse, as if something raw was moving against something else raw, so I stopped taking it regularly. The boswellin also caused a frustrating slowdown of elimination. (Caffeine and Advil do also.)

Stop-start dosing

With these herbs, as with the mycotoxin binders, I’ve discovered that I have to stop and start the treatments, usually three weeks on and one week off. It’s pretty clear when this is necessary: I start feeling like crap.

Alcohol-based tinctures vs. coconut-oil-based tinctures

When I couldn’t find burbur and switched to cleavers, I began using the non-alcoholic, coconut-oil version of the tincture, since I had planned on using larger doses of it and even a quarter glass of wine lowers my mood. I have only tried the alcohol-based cleavers formula once at the large dose. I felt morose and sluggish for days, until one evening when I went from 0 to Projectile Vomiting in 30 seconds and then felt really good! So no more alcohol-based tincture for me.

Some camps believe that the alcohol tincture works better, so perhaps in this case it was gathering up more garbage than the coconut-oil one, and my body was reacting to the increased amounts of garbage as it moved slowly toward the various exits. Who knows.

Gliders and mini-trampolines to move lymph

Mini-trampolines are marketed for the purpose of moving sluggish lymph, but I did not have the physical stamina to use them. However, the day I moved out of my moldy apartment, I began sitting for hours at a time on a porch glider, which I now believe was doing something similar to a mini-trampoline but on a gentler scale. I was actually surprised I could sit still that long, because usually I could not sit on the stationary porch chairs for more than ten minutes without the aforementioned jitteriness returning, along with low-grade jaw and facial pain.


This content was first published in December 2018 and updated in April 2023.

Marjorie smiling, wearing an orange shirt.

Marjorie R.

Marjorie is the creator of AvoidingRx.com, a record of her and her guest authors’ experiences with non-prescription health solutions. She is a third-generation nutritional-therapy self-experimenter.

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