The Benefits of Sauna Therapy

saunaThe use of the sauna therapy dates back to ancient Rome. Of the Roman saunas, Sidney Licht writes “Although the baths were used largely for cleansing and pleasure, physicians did prescribe the various forms of available heat for hygiene and in illness.” The Finns understood the healing power of saunas as early as 1112. There is an old Finnish proverb that says “the sauna is Finland’s medication . . . and a poor person’s apothecary.” Native American Indians have also been using saunas, aka: sweat lodges, for thousands of years.

A Shift to Parasympathetic Dominance

When the body is in a state of chronic sympathetic dominance (Can you spell S-T-R-E-S-S?) our detoxification processes slow down or in some cases come to a halt. When in sympathetic dominance, your organs receive a signal that you are in a state of flight or fight. No time to eliminate toxins. All hands are on deck for survival mode. Unfortunately, many folks living in modern, industrialized cultures live in a frenzied state of constant sympathetic dominance. Rather than long periods of rest dominated by the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, modern man lives in constant “fight or flight.”

One of the benefits of sauna therapy is that you are able to easily shift into parasympathetic dominance, unless of course you sit in the sauna with a cell phone engaged in an intense conversation or play loud music. In that case, all bets of benefit are off. The autonomic nervous system stays in sympathetic dominance, limiting the ability of the body to detoxify.

The Added Benefits

While the skin holds the second largest surface area of all the body’s organs (with the small intestinal tract having the largest surface area), it is not the only organ that benefits from dry sauna therapy. All internal organs detoxify during a sauna while the body is in a rested, parasympathetic state. In actuality we eliminate more toxins while sweating in a sauna than we do working out on a treadmill or running up a steep grade in the middle of a hot summer.

Sympathetic nervous activity, as in stress, inhibits toxin elimination, according to Larry Wilson, M.D., who specializes in detoxification. It is for this reason that sweating that occurs in the sauna is so much more beneficial.

To enhance the positive effects of sauna therapy, we encourage the following:

  • Before and after each sauna, drink 1-3 tablespoons Selectrolytes or 1⁄2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt in 12 ounces purified or spring water.
  • Start with 20-minute saunas, gradually working up to 30-40 minutes over several weeks.
  • After each sauna take a cool or warm shower (not hot) to rinse off the toxins on your skin. It is important to use a shower filter in order to avoid exposure to toxic chloramine that is found in tap water.
  • During a healing crises or detoxification reaction you may shorten the sauna to 15 minutes and increase the frequency up to 4 times daily.

In addition, consider these optional steps:

  • Dry brush prior to sauna (to stimulate the activity of the lymphatic system). See Dry Brushing instructions.
  • To enhance the effects of the sauna, take 2-3 capsules of BioSuperfood F1 or Chelaco. If using Metal Free or NDF, skip this step. These products are available through our office.

Sauna Sources:

Cedar Saunas Using Near Infrared Lamp Kit:

Tent Saunas Using Near Infrared Light (SaunaSpace may be ordered by calling our office):

DIY Sauna Plans:

Near-Infrared Lamp Boxes:

Further Sauna Education:

Shower Filter:

Whole House Chloramine Filter:

  • Whole house chloramine filter is available through our office.

Photo Credit:

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