The primary benefits of a sauna is that it induces sweating. Although most of us go to great lengths to avoid sweating, perspiration has two essential functions: It cools you down, and it rids the body of waste products. 

   The benefits of heat in saunas has been well documented, here are a few of the many positive outcomes from sitting in a sauna. 

Sweat does more than regulate body temperature.

Many of the tens of thousands of man-made chemicals in our environment make their way into our food, water and air. No matter how pure your diet or lifestyle, Your body contains traces of hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals such as pesticides, drugs, solvents and dioxins. And one of the best ways to get rid of stored toxins is sweating.

Sweating mobilizes toxins stored in the fat and enhances their elimination. If you’ve ever been around a heavy smoker or drinker, you know they reek of nicotine or alcohol—it literally pours out of their skin in their sweat. The same is true, although less obvious, of other toxins.

The body contains two main types of sweat glands:

  • Apocrine glands, located mostly in the armpits, pubic area and scalp, secrete sweat that contains fats and other organic compounds. (Bacteria on the skin interacting with these compounds is what causes body odor.) These glands, which become functional at puberty, also emit hormones and pheromones believed to attract the opposite sex.

 

  • Eccrine glands, which number more than 2 million and are scattered all over the body, are the real workhorses when it comes to sweating. Activated by heat as well as stress and emotions, these glands secrete odorless, watery sweat that cools you down as it evaporates on the skin.                                                                                                                                                              

Here’s where the benefits of doing sauna's comes in. On an average day, your eccrine glands put out about a quart of sweat. But when you get in a sauna, they pump out that much in 15 minutes.

Several researchers have looked at the benefits of a sauna on the body’s toxic burden. The best-studied is the Hubbard Sauna Detoxification Program. This protocol involves daily exercise followed by sitting in a sauna for two and a half to five hours a day, with breaks for cooling down and rehydrating. Participants in this program also take niacin to stimulate circulation and fat mobilization, as well as multivitamins and polyunsaturated oils.

Mental health benefits of the sauna.

The high temperatures cause your brain to release feel-good endorphins, and the atmosphere provides a place to de-stress and relax.

Study of 9/11 Rescue Workers

One of the most recent studies of this program is the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. When the World Trade Center buildings collapsed on September 11, 2001, massive amounts of toxins were released, and the firemen, policemen, and other rescue and cleanup workers bore the brunt of this environmental disaster.

As you might expect, acute respiratory distress was common in this group. However, over the subsequent weeks and months, a significant number of these individuals experienced a wide range of health issues, including gastrointestinal complaints, worsening pulmonary problems, depression, irritability and cognitive disorders.

From September 2002 through September 2005, more than 500 of these rescue workers, the majority of them firefighters between the ages of 35 and 45, completed this sauna detox program, and the results were astounding.

Before Treatment (which averaged 33 days)

  • They missed a median of 2.1 days of work per month,

  • Had 4.4 days of limited activity,

  • Symptom severity scores—which rated 10 systems, including skin, respiratory, emotional, cognitive and musculoskeletal—were high,

  • And half of the participants were taking drugs to manage their symptoms

After Treatment

  • The number of days of missed work or limited activity fell to 0.2,

  • Symptom scores dropped dramatically,

  • And 84 percent of participants had discontinued all their drugs because their symptoms had cleared up.

  • They also had significant improvements in thyroid function, balance, reaction time and even IQ!

Cardiovascular Benefits of a Sauna

The benefits of a sauna extend beyond detoxification; it’s also good for your heart. Sitting in a sauna has effects akin to mild exercise. The heart gets a gentle workout while 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 the endothelial cells lining the arteries by 40 percent.

Japanese researchers have found that sitting in a sauna is particularly helpful for congestive heart failure. After taking daily saunas for four weeks, 13 of 15 patients with serious heart failure had significant decreases in blood pressure and improvements in ejection fraction (a measure of the heart’s pumping ability), exercise tolerance and oxygen uptake.

Additional Benefits of a Sauna

Other conditions for which sauna is proving to be helpful include:

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Mild depression

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Musculoskeletal pain

  • Skin conditions

  • Detox from addictions

  • Cancer

  • Lyme disease

  • Weight Loss

  • Fast recovery time for athletes 

  • Reduces mental stress

A sauna session can help relax and loosen muscles to prevent soreness, as well as alleviate deep muscle pain and achy joints. The heat causes your body temperature to rise, which then forces blood vessels to dilate. The increased blood circulation accelerates the body’s natural healing process and is especially helpful after a good work out or physical activity which produces a lot of laxtic acid in your muscles. It helps you not feel so beaten up the next day.

And don’t forget this very important point: Sauna just makes you feel good.