What are Lymphagogues?

When I began walking down the plant path and started to include more plant medicine into my realm of healing, I had no idea I would find a group of plants that help the lymphatic system!

I stumbled upon a WHOLE group of plants categorized as Lymphagogues! So what is a lymphagogue? It's a lymph-moving herb that aids the body in getting lymph flowing and assist with detoxification.

One of the things that fascinates me about plants is that they are very multi-dimensionalhelping several different systems at the same time, which can be wonderful, because we are multi-dimensional complex beings. For example, in our bodies, you can't truly separate our circulatory system from our respiratory system, these systems are interconnected and depend on each other to function their best. This is a two edged sword in that when something is wrong with one system, other systems will be affected as well. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Thats the essence of the wholistic approach - interconnected experiences need interconnected approaches.

So with that in mind, Lymphagogue plants are also great for the skin and skin, immune, gut, mental, and hormonal health. So there isn't a once size fits all approach to your symptoms and the plants offer different support depending on what suits your body best.

My top loving Lymphagogues are:

Red Clover - Red Clover's blossoms are tender, sweet, and a joy of summer. They are excellent lymph movers and helpful as blood purifiers. You can use the flowers internally or externally. This perennial can grow in the wild in Canada and parts of Europe. You can grow them in your garden too. Bees and butterflies love them.

Calendula - a happy, helpful perennial herb that improves lymph flow, and helps decrease inflammation and itching, making it a helpful skin soothing herb too. Grow this herb in your garden and pick the blossoms as they are ready from mid summer summer/early fall.

Echinacea - has become a star herb in the modern world for its immune boosting ability. Traditionally, echinacea was best known for being a lymph mover and for its ability to treat blood poisoning. Native American tribes traditionally used the root of Echinacea to treat wounds from poisonous snakebites. This plant can be used topically and internally.

Burdock Root - has been gaining in popularity as a very effective detoxifying herb and liver cleanser, as well as hair strengthener. It blends well with dandelion and ginger roots. It's gentle and one of the most well tolerated lymph moving herbs. 

Violet Leaf & Flower - Is another gentle lymph mover wand more pleasant taste than burdock. It has a variety of nutrients making it a nutrient tonic that can be used both internally and externally.

Cleavers (aka Sticky Weed) - This is one weed I love to invite into my garden! It is a lymph mover and detoxifier, that you can use both internally and externally. I find it best fresh to use either in a smoothie, tincture, tea, garden pesto or add to a bath.

Chickweed - Similar to Cleavers in energetics  in that it's a cooling herb that you can use both internally and externally and its best to use it fresh.

Red Root (aka known as Wild Snowball, Desert Lilac, Virginia Tea) - has often been called a Queen of the Lymphagogues. It's a tonic for the spleen, which is an important blood filtering organ for both the lymphatic and immune systems. It works well in a detox blend or immune blend for congestion infections like the common cold, sore throats, swollen lymph nodes and more.

Green Alder - This herb has seen a revival of sorts in recent years. It's an astringent herb with tightening and toning properties, but also is a good lymph mover, helping to boost immune function and clear out those stubborn infections. 

Ginger Root - This all in one herb is helpful for the immune system, gut, lymphatics, circulation. The lymphatic, digestive and immune systems are intimately connected. Ginger is known to decrease inflammation, boost detoxification, and increase circulation with its warming carminative properties. Can be used fresh, dried, both internally and externally. 

Rosemary - 

Rosemary -  an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean, but grown all around the world now and can be found in fresh and dried form in many kitchens. It's a rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation, as well as help lymph nodes drain. Rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus. My guess is that it is activating the Glymphatic system in the brain, opening up pathways, and boosting circulation. It's bot ha culinary super star offering a lemon-pine aroma to foods and a herbal wonder using in traditional medicine for thousands of years.


1) Groves Maria N (2016). Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care.

2) Inkpen, Wayne & Van Eyk, Rob. (2016) Guide to the Common Native Trees and Shrubs of Alberta. Inside Education. https://www.insideeducation.ca/wp-content/uploads/files/Guide_To_The_Common_Native_Trees_and_Shurbs_of_Alberta_2018_web.pdf

3) Gaia Herbs. https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/red-root