Sauna, a Scandinavian word, is an ancient form of heat therapy that is used in many cultures around the world. Heating the body, and the body`s response to heating cause many beneficial physiological effects. Facilitating detoxification is probably the most unique and essential benefit of sauna therapy.
The idea that toxic substances cause disease is very ancient. Herbal medicine and natural healing methods have emphasized toxin removal for thousands of years. Baths, enemas, poultices, emetics, laxatives, purgatives, skin brushing, cleansing diets and other methods for eliminating poisons are integral parts of these sciences.
Removing chemical, metal, biological and radioactive toxins from the body is a prime rationale for the use of saunas by everyone at this time in history. Never before in history have large numbers of people been exposed to such a great variety and high levels of toxic chemicals. Often, the effects of these chemicals are subtle and cumulative. Avoiding exposure is all but impossible.
As toxins accumulate inside our bodies, they contribute to hundreds of physical and emotional health conditions. Testing for thousands of chemical is costly when tests even exist, and modern medicine has little to offer to eliminate them from the body. The diseases they cause have become epidemics.
Sauna therapy is re-emerging as a safe and effective way to detoxify and heal the body. As we age, a number of changes take place that are reversed to varying degrees with sauna therapy. These include a slower metabolic rate, less sweating, slower healing and a reduced ability to eliminate toxins and infections. These changes contribute to the risk of major illness and to the process of aging. Since sauna therapy helps reverse them, it may be considered a prime anti-aging therapy.
All saunas help to open the pores, eliminate skin infections and toxins lodged in the skin, and restore elimination through the skin. Near infrared sauna, in particular, is excellent for acne, eczema, psoriasis, burns, keloids and other scars, poor skin tone, lacerations, dandruff, neurodermatitis, wound healing, postoperative edema, sun damage and the removal of toxic chemical build up in the skin. With repeated sauna sessions, the skin becomes more active and detoxification process more efficient.
Another important component that is now confirmed to affect skin health is status of our immune system. Fatigue, stress, unhealthful lifestyles, toxic conditions and nutritional depletion can all stimulate the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. This in turn stimulates cortisol production that suppresses immune system activity. Stress from any cause activates the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn reduces liver activity. Stress also impairs digestion, which leads to more toxin generation in the intestines which is now proven to cause many skin disorders. Sauna therapy inhibits sympathetic nervous system activity. This enhances the activity of the immune system.
The effects of saunas occur in two phases. In the first phase, the body temperature remains approximately at basal level and sweating is light. Although tissue healing occurs, the body is able to dissipate the extra heat by increasing circulation, pushing blood to the skin and sweating. As a result, the body temperature does not rise. Benefits include inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system, inducing sweating, relieving pain, reducing heat production, improving oxygenation and dilating peripheral blood vessels.
In phase two (after 10 – 30 min) the body can no longer dissipate the heat of the sauna so body temperature rises. Blood is more forcefully pushed to the surface. The heart rate and sweating increase. It may be tempting to get out of the sauna at this point, but this is not recommended unless discomfort is extreme. Some of the greatest benefits occur during the second phase.
Phase two sauna effects include increasing the body temperature and accelerating the death of weaker cells. Other benefits are directly disabling of pathogenic microorganisms, resolving infiltrates and exudates (cellular waste product that is exuded from a cell or organ) and normalizing activity when basal body temperature is low.
Sauna therapy shines brightly as a simple, effective therapeutic modality to help eliminate chemical toxins from the body as it dramatically improves circulation and relieve internal congestion. Heating the body helps destroy bacteria, viruses, and tumors. The great benefit of saunas are due to a combination of a dozen or more physiological effects and this is the wonderful secret of the healing power of the sauna.
However, there are certain medical conditions that have to be considered prior to starting sauna treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your medical doctor.