Many years ago, a Finn discovered that pouring water on heated rocks in a small enclosed room developed a kind of dry heat, and this was used as a therapeutic treatment. Since then the use of the sauna has grown, with various versions used in spas, resorts or even at home.
With the sauna’s many health benefits, it has become a natural way to help treat a variety of medical conditions to a greater or lesser extent. Some of the more general benefits of sauna are its ability to deep cleanse the skin, increase body circulation and relieve muscle pain.
The body contains two main types of sweat glands:
- Apocrine glands, located mainly in the armpits, pubic area and scalp, that secrete sweat containing fats and other organic compounds. Bacteria in the skin interacting with these compounds are what causes the body to produce odor. These glands, which become functional at puberty, also emit hormones and pheromones that help attract the opposite sex;
- The eccrine glands, which number more than 2 million and are scattered throughout the body, are primarily responsible for sweating. Activated by heat as well as stress and strong emotions, these glands secrete odorless and watery sweat that cools the body as it is evaporated from the skin.
Saunas help cleanse the skin, increase circulation, open the airways and nasal passages, alleviate muscle and rheumatic pain, strengthen the immune system, improve joint movement, and act as a relaxation process under conditions of tension and stress. Sweating opens the pores, eliminates toxins and impurities from the body, increases circulation and is ideal for stimulating vessels that help in the healing process of infections.
One more benefit of the sauna is still being able to accelerate the recovery time of injuries such as arthritis and muscle pain. Another bonus includes their ability to stimulate endocrine glands, which are important for regulating mood, tissue function, metabolism, sexual function and the reproductive process.
A sauna session is known to increase the amount of oxygen and nutrients in organs – especially the skin. Saunas make the body warm up the same way it does when the body is in a feverish state, helping it to heal on its own. It helps to relax muscles of the face, improving the overall appearance of the skin, removing impurities and oils from the face.
Sweat in a steam room contains about 97% water, while infrared sweat may be even better as it contains only 80% water and 20% toxins, so more waste can be eliminated.
Many of the tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals in the environment interfere with the food, water and air we eat. No matter how healthy a person’s diet or lifestyle is, the body still contains traces of hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals such as pesticides, solvents and dioxins.
One way to get rid of stored toxins is through sweat. Sweating mobilizes toxins stored in the body tissue and helps to eliminate. That is why one of the most important benefits of sauna is to improve the natural process of sweating.
Several researchers corroborate the benefits of sauna in eliminating toxic loads from the body. The best studied is the Hubbard Sauna Detox Program. This program includes daily workouts followed by two and a half to five-hour sauna sessions with refreshment and rehydration intervals. Participants in this program also ingest niacin to stimulate fat circulation and mobilization, as well as multivitamins and polyunsaturated oils.
The benefits of sauna extend beyond detoxification. It is known that the sauna is also fundamental for the heart. Saunas sessions have similar effects to mild exercise. The heart gets a gentle workout as the heat of the sauna dilates the capillaries and improves blood flow.
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 15 minutes in a sauna a day for 14 days improved the function of endothelial cells lining the arteries in 40% of participants.
Japanese researchers have found that the sauna is particularly useful for congestive heart failure. After performing daily saunas sessions for four weeks, 13 of 15 patients with severe heart failure experienced significant reductions in blood pressure and improvements in ejection fraction (a measure of heart pumping capacity), exercise tolerance, and oxygen consumption.
Sauna Benefits List
- Strengthens blood circulation;
- Relieves rheumatic and spinal pain;
- Cleans pores and moisturizes the skin;
- Fight stress;
- Fighting hypertension;
- Improves sleep;
- Promotes relaxation of facial and body muscles;
- Prevents sagging skin;
- Clear the airway;
- Promotes a sense of serenity;
- Eliminates toxins from the body;
- Fight respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, flu and sinusitis;
- Improves heart health;
- Reduces chronic fatigue;
- Treats the skin problems.
Precautions & Tips
Stay hydrated! During any sauna session, you should drink plenty of water as sweating can often result in a great deal of water loss. Without replacement, this can cause fatigue or interruption of normal heart rhythms. Sessions longer than 15 minutes should not be held more than three times a day.
Saunas are not recommended for pregnant women or very young children, as well as those with low blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems. If you are taking medication, you should consult your doctor first and furthermore, you should never stay inside a sauna if you feel weak or nauseous.
In a typical sauna session, a person may lose large amounts of sweat, which is a reasonable amount of fluid. People with heart disease, kidney disease, low blood pressure or a previous history of fainting should avoid these loss of body fluids.
When a person loses a lot of sweat, they lose many electrolytes in the body, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. These electrolytes need to be replaced to keep the heart’s electrical system healthy and functioning normally.
Alcohol is a diuretic and can make you lose fluid even when dehydrated. Ingestion of alcohol and then exposure to a hot dry sauna can be a dangerous combination that leads to fluid shortages, low blood pressure and electrolytes in the body.
The good news is that research by Finns has shown that using a sauna in an almost daily therapy that includes relaxation, as well as favorable stimulation for the heart and blood vessels, can lead to powerful long-term benefits. Thus, the benefits of the sauna as a whole can increase life expectancy and significantly decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.
– Dry Sauna
The dry sauna involves the sequence of pouring water over heated rocks to create a high heat. This usually creates a humidity of about 20%, allowing heat to transfer to the body at a slower rate rather than warming up very quickly. This allows you to be able to sit in the enclosed room longer.
Inside, heat can reach up to 70 ° C (or higher), and body temperature is forced to produce more sweat to cool your body, reducing your body temperature and creating stability. This helps in removing various toxic metals like sodium, lead and cadmium. In one session, you can burn up to 300 calories – the equivalent of a long run or an hour of bodybuilding.
– Steam room
Unlike a dry sauna, a steam room (often known as a wet sauna) has a humidity of 100% and reaches temperatures of about 35 to 50 ° C. Because of this, a steam room can relieve congestion, inflammation, cough, allergies and respiratory illnesses – making it a great ally of asthmatics. The steam room helps to relax the muscles and moisten the throat by opening the airways. This type of sauna also combines with the use of aromatherapy essential oils so that you can combine both therapies in one session and get even more benefits from the sauna and aromatherapy for skin and health.
The combination of essential oils such as cloves, cinnamon or lavender has been clinically proven to improve bronchitis problems to the same extent as antibiotics. In addition to helping to relax, essential oils are also potent antibacterial and antiseptic agents.
Like the dry sauna, in the wet sauna the circulation of steam increases, speeds up the muscle recovery process and assists in the burning of calories. Steam saunas act as an immune boosting system, increasing blood flow and the amount of white blood cells in the body, which is ideal for chronic fatigue sufferers.
– Infrared Sauna
Infrared light is part of the sun’s rays and is necessary for all living beings. This light is not harmful and is therefore used to treat newborns in hospitals. It is a light quickly absorbed by the body, creating a thermal energy that transmits a sensation of heat.
Infrared saunas work differently than dry or steam saunas: instead of warming the skin to release water, they work to warm the body using lower temperatures. This treatment process acts on the core of the body, producing a lot of sweat.
The human body can accumulate toxins such as mercury, cholesterol, aluminum, nicotine and alcohol, and gases like formaldehyde and sulfur. Accumulation of these toxins and gases can disrupt the body’s natural healing processes, so saunas are powerful for boosting the immune system.
Saunas are great ways to help remove toxins through perspiration. When toxins and gases are removed, the human body becomes easier to flow, which helps to provide healthier skin. Better blood circulation means more toxins are eliminated from the surface of the skin, deeply cleaning the pores.