The Glymphatic System: Your Brain’s Waste Management System

We would like to believe that our brains are relatively sterile and protected from germs, toxins, and waste. While we do have a strong shield called the blood brain barrier (BBB), we actually do have an internal brain waste system that was recently discovered in 2012, called the glymphatic or glial-dependent lymphatic system.

The glymphatic system works with specific immune cells in our brain, called glial cells, to move cerebrospinal fluid across the brain, cleaning our brain cells, and then transporting the waste down through our neck via our lymphatic system.

What is important to know, is that the glymphatic system relies on deep sleep to do its cleaning work. When you are not getting enough deep sleep, the glymphatic system is not turned on, so it cannot do its job. When you are sleeping, your brain actually shrinks to allow the fluid to circulate and clean your brain cells. Without adequate sleep, toxins and waste can build up in our brains.

An overload of metabolic waste in our brains can lead to inflammation and potentially neurogenerative disease. A healthy glymphatic system uses its waste clearing system to haul out waste, like a garbage truck. preventing inflammation and cognitive decline.

An important factor is that downstream waste draining pathways need to be open through the neck so that the lymph can flow down to the point where its ultimately eliminated. If you have lymphatic blocks in your neck or even downstream, for example, you are constipated, this can lead to a backup of waste. It could lead to toxins build-up in the brain and you may experience symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, blurred vision, or mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

So, here are a few strategies to have a great glymphatic waste management system:

  • Get adequate restful sleep (7-9 hours per night). See my sleep blogs here.
  • Open drainage pathways in the neck with: topical essential oils such as Vibrant Blue. Oils formulation Lymph™Blend which you can purchase here or other brain balancing essential oils here),
  • Neck and Lymphatic Massage creams with topical Sophia Flow Cream™ which you can order here or CBD oil (unless contraindicated by your provider).
  • Support good vagal tone (See my blog here on the vagus nerve).
  • Incorporate Yoga into your routine, as this practice promotes lymph drainage.

Keep your brain’s waste management system rolling and try out some of these techniques especially if you are experiencing some of the symptoms above.


Cohen, Jodi, Detoxify the Brain With Essential Oils. October 10, 2019

Lucky, Amy. Science Short: Brain Garbage, Breath & Yoga. March 30, 2019. Green Med Info.

Jessen, N.A., Munk, A.S.F., Lundgaard, I. et al. The Glymphatic System: A Beginner’s Guide. Neurochem Res 40, 2583–2599 (2015).

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    10 Ways to Keep Your Lymphatic System Flowing
    February 14, 2023 at 2:16 pm

    […] lymphatic system is also important for your brain. Referred to in your brain as your glymphatic system, it serves as a waste management removal system to help your brain function. Sleep is one activity […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.