Sauna therapy (including infrared) is an ancient method of detoxifying and healing the body, mind, and spirit.
When it comes to sauna benefits, they stem from a sauna’s ability to help your body detox. Yep, a relaxing sauna can help you remove more toxins than almost any other mode of detoxification!
Our bodies are built to detox to a certain extent on their own. However, because we are exposed to so many more toxins today than ever before in human history, it’s important for us to practice simple detox measures regularly.
I love saunas because they are super safe and make me feel amazing. They also activate our greatest detox organ… OUR SKIN!
Saunas are nothing new
Throughout history, humans have used sauna therapy as a safe and powerful means of detoxification. Examples include Native American sweat lodges and Finnish wood-fired saunas, where saunas have been in use for over 2,000 years.
10 Sauna Benefits (that will blow your mind!)
Sauna health benefits are amazing. Here’s are ten of the biggies.
Sauna Benefits #1 – Extreme stress reduction
Saunas are huge stress fighters. Thanks to sugar, coffee, lack of sleep, stressed adrenals, and toxic chemical exposure, many of us are stuck in the sympathetic or “fight or flight” state. Saunas encourage our bodies to go into the parasympathetic state, which allows us to de-stress, digest, rest, and heal.
Sauna Benefits #2 – Balance hormones
Stress reduction helps to lower stress hormones (cortisol). When cortisol is kept in balance, thyroid, insulin, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen are also kept in balance. In fact, progesterone levels can increase if we keep our cortisol in healthy range. Saunas help the adrenals secrete aldosterone, which helps keep electrolytes in balance too.
Sauna Benefits #3 – Get superpowers!
Saunas can make it seem like you’ve acquired super healing strength. A number of studies show that near infrared saunas can significantly improve tissue and wound healing, including retinal injury!
One study found that mice who were blinded by chemicals had their eyesight damage completely reversed because of NIR therapy. Finnish and German studies show that saunas can reduce the incidence of cold and flu by about 30%.
Sauna Benefits #4 – Fountain of youth
Near infrared saunas can help reduce signs of aging and help your skin be healthier and younger looking. The red light stimulates collagen and elastin production. Collagen and elastin help plump and firm the skin which can also help alleviate stretch marks and cellulite.
Deep sweating can also help improve skin cell turnover. It can remove bacteria from the skin, which helps with acne and improves skin health. Additionally, NIR saunas are shown to reduce inflammation, which can alleviate skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema.
Sauna Benefits #5 – Lose weight effortlessly
Saunas can help with weight loss. Saunas can increase heart rate while lowering blood pressure and increasing oxygenation and metabolic rate. These physiological affects are incredibly similar to cardio exercise!
A study involving a group of women riding stationary bicycles demonstrated a 444% increase in weight loss for the group exposed to near infrared light when compared to the exercise only group. Far infrared radiant heat can burn more than 600 calories in a 30 minute session! (That’s my kind of exercise 😉 )
Near infrared saunas can also help with weight loss by stimulating human growth hormone which helps keep us young and fit.
Sauna Benefits #6 – Improve circulation and oxygenation
When you sit in a hot sauna, your body temperature begins to rise. This causes your blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow and overall circulation. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to all body tissues and help them heal. Studies show that infrared therapy recharges mitochondria, so it’s reaching us at a cellular level and is a great practice for increasing energy and stamina.
Sauna Benefits #7 – Avoid heart disease
We already know that saunas reduce blood pressure, increase oxygenation and circulation, all of which support heart health. Studies show saunas are less likely than exercise itself to cause cardiac episodes in men who have underlying heart conditions. However, saunas are just as effective at increasing cardiac output (exercising the heart) as exercise, making them a great alternative for those with some heart conditions that make exercise potentially dangerous.
Sauna Benefits #8 – Helps with medical conditions
Saunas have been shown to be useful in alleviating symptoms associated with depression, autoimmune disease, and chronic pain and fatigue. It helps with chronic tension headaches. Sauna therapy reduced pain and fatigue associated with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Sauna therapy has even been used to support various cancer treatments. It is known that high temperatures can kill cancer cells, usually without hurting normal cells and body tissue.
Far infrared therapy inhibited the growth of solid tumor cells. One study showed that the use of hyperthermia alone resulted in complete overall response rates of 13%. Using hyperthermia, in addition to other treatment modalities, has shown significant improvement in tumors of the head, neck, breast, brain, bladder, cervix, rectum, lung, esophagus, vulva and vagina, and also for melanoma.
Sauna Benefits #9 – Removes heavy metals & chemicals
Many toxins seem to prefer to dump into sweat versus blood or urine. Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury have been shown in studies to be excreted through the skin as well or better than they are excreted in urine.
Furthermore, a Canadian study found that the concentration of phytates (chemicals in toys, fragrances, cosmetics, etc) was twice as high in sweat than in urine or blood.
Another study found BPA in 80% of the subjects’ sweat, while finding no detectable levels in their blood or urine. This seems to point to sweat being the best method for excreting the toxin.
Sauna Benefits #10 – Protect Your Brain
A recent study conducted by researchers in Finland — a country where it’s not unusual for a home have a sauna — found that men who used a sauna four to seven times a week for an average length of 15 minutes had a 66 percent lower risk of developing dementia, and 65 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s, compared to men who used the sauna only once a week. (Source.) WOWZERS!
Sauna Benefits BONUS – Live to 100
And finally, one huge, landmark study found that the more men used their sauna, the lower the risk for sudden cardiac arrest, fatal cardiovascular disease, fatal coronary heart disease, and ALL-CAUSE MORTALITY. Basically, the more you sauna, the longer you’re gonna live.
“Can’t I just work out hard and reap all the benefits of sweating?”
While exercise is certainly good for you, it has different benefits than sauna sweating. During aerobic exercise, your heart rate is increased but the blood flow to vital organs is lowered. A sauna increases heart rate and blood flow to vital organs, allowing for the excretion of toxins from those organs.
Impressive, isn’t it?
We were truly amazed as we began digging into sauna benefits! Such a great tool for healthy living.
Coming up: an article about the different types of saunas, which is best, plus a review of the sauna we are using.
How about you?
Do you sauna? Which sauna benefits surprised you most?