Saunas are usually something we associate with the gym, health club or luxury hotels. In fact, most of us probably think of a sauna as a special ‘treat’, and only use them very occasionally. But did you know that a regular sauna could be hugely benefit to your health?
Sauna therapy is nothing new. It’s been around for hundreds of years – much longer than many other detoxification therapies! Saunas have been used for centuries to open up the body’s detoxification pathways, allowing the body and mind to heal.
If you’re suffering from a gut imbalance like Candida, saunas can help. Saunas are a way to increase the elimination of toxins and reduce the symptoms of Candida. As you will see, the type of sauna that you use can make a great difference to the effectiveness of your treatment.
The History of Sauna Therapy
Today, saunas are one of the most popular health-oriented facilities on the market. Interestingly, they haven’t changed much from their original form.
It’s believed that the Mayans original used a type of sauna therapy in the form of sweat houses around 3,000 years ago. However, Finland is credited with developing saunas as we know them today. Saunas have been used in Finland for thousands of years, with around a third of the population still using them regularly!
The earliest evidence of saunas indicates they were built by the Finns back in the 5thcentury. The original saunas were dug into embankments in a hill or the ground. Later, they were built above the ground for easier accessibility.
These first saunas used rocks for heat by burning them in a stone fireplace. When the room reached the right temperature, the smoke was cleared from the room and users were allowed to enter. Some of these original style saunas – called savusauna in Finnish (which means “smoke sauna”) are still used today. The wood smoke is believed to be part of the cleansing ritual.
Later, saunas evolved into the type that uses a metal woodstove (kiuas) with a chimney. The air temperature of traditional Finnish saunas was usually around 70-80 °C, but some were known to exceed 90°C. Bathers created steam vapor by splashing water on the heated rocks. The steam and high heat caused the bathers to sweat profusely, which was believed to help cleanse the body of impurities and toxins.
Saunas have remained an integral part of Finnish culture. Today, Finns go to the sauna to relax with friends and family as much as they go for physical and mental relaxation.
What Is A Sauna?
The typical sauna you will see in the US or Canada today is a small room that can have both dry and wet heat sessions. Some may have dim lights or a candle.
These saunas are usually heated to around 70° – 100° Celsius or (158° – 212° Fahrenheit). The traditional Finnish saunas are the ones that tend to use dry heat, keeping the humidity to around 10-20 percent. These differ from Turkish-style saunas, which prefer a high level of humidity.
While in the sauna, you can expect your skin temperature to rise to around roughly 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit). This causes heavy sweating. Your heart rate will also rise as your body attempts to keep cool. It’s possible to lose up to a pint of sweat during a long session!
Before you take the sauna, you will usually take a bath or shower. You then enter the sauna and simply sit and relax. In a traditional Finnish sauna, a bunch of silver birch twigs may be used to “whip” the body. This is great for boosting circulation and enhancing muscle relaxation.
The average sauna session is around 30 minutes to an hour, or simply whenever you feel you’ve had enough heat. It’s quite normal to jump straight into cold water afterwards, which leaves your body feeling thoroughly refreshed. The whole cycle may be repeated two or three times, or more on certain occasions.
Top 9 Benefits Of Taking Saunas
Saunas have a vast range of health benefits for the body. As well as providing a means of relaxation and comfort, they are believed to help flush out more toxins than almost any other form of detoxification.
1. Improved Detoxification
Did you know that sweating is one of the most efficient methods of detoxing your body? When you sweat profusely in a sauna, you can help to shift hundreds of different toxins, including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, and many other harmful chemicals.
Your skin works in a similar way to your kidneys. Toxins are eliminated in your sweat like kidneys process and flush out harmful toxins through your urine. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and is responsible for up to 15% of all toxin elimination
Research has linked regular sauna use with a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and also many other chronic diseases. One study showed that those who used the sauna every week had fewer “poor physical health” days, fewer sick days, more sleep hours and lower levels of neurotoxicity. (1)
The sauna’s role in detoxification is particularly relevant for those suffering from intestinal yeast overgrowth. The toxins released as part of the Candida albicans metabolism, including acetaldehyde, uric acid and more, contribute to a wide range of symptoms. Saunas can help to boost the detox pathways that will remove these and other toxins from your bloodstream.
2. Reduced Stress
It’s widely believed that sitting in a sauna can be hugely beneficial to your stress levels! Not only will you be taking time out for yourself, you’ll also be flushing out the toxins that are keeping your body in ‘fight or flight’ mode: sugar, coffee, cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones.
Saunas promote relaxation, allowing you to switch into ‘rest and digest’ mode. This means that normal restorative care of your mind and body can resume.
3. Balanced hormones
The ultimate consequence of a relaxed mind is lower levels of stress hormones, particularly cortisol. When your body is less compelled to constantly produce cortisol, your other hormone-producing glands are also kept in balance. This includes your thyroid hormones, insulin, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen levels. (2)
It’s also believed that sauna therapy can help your adrenal glands to secrete more aldosterone, which helps keep your electrolyte levels in balance.
4. Slowing of The Aging Process
Some types of saunas – such as near infrared saunas – may help to reduce the visible signs of aging. The treatment can also improve the health of your skin by simulating collagen production. The result is soft, firmer skin and fewer wrinkles. Because the infrared light boosts both collagen and elastin, your skin cells will become more plump and supple. (3)
Saunas can also improve the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite. It’s also possible for deep sweating to improve skin cell turnover, which can help remove bacteria from your skin. This can go a long way in reducing acne and alleviating skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema.
5. Weight Loss
One of the most popular benefits of sauna use is weight loss! Although sitting in a sauna can increase your heart rate, it also lowers your blood pressure while increasing oxygenation and metabolic rate. This has a similar physiological impact as cardio exercise.
A study even showed that a group of women using stationary bicycles experienced a 444% increase in weight loss when exposed to infrared light when compared to a group who used exercise only. (4)
It’s since been found that infrared radiant heat can burn more than 600 calories in a 30 minute session. Near-infrared saunas appear to help with weight loss by stimulating human growth hormone.
6. Boosted Circulation
While in a sauna, your body temperature rises. This causes your blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow and overall circulation. Blood is the vehicle for sending nutrients and oxygen to your body tissues to help them heal.
Research shows that infrared therapy can help to recharge mitochondria. This makes it excellent for increasing energy and stamina, and also for helping tired muscles heal more efficiently.
7. Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease
When you reduce your blood pressure and boost oxygenation and circulation, the muscle that benefits most of all is your heart! Saunas are also as good at boosting cardiac output as exercise. This makes sauna therapy a highly beneficial and safe alternative to exercise. (5)
8. Removal Of Heavy Metals And Chemicals
Many of the most serious toxins you pick up from your environment – such as heavy metals and chemicals – will end up in your sweat, rather than your blood or urine. Studies show that metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury tend to be flushed out through the skin just as efficiently as they are excreted in your urine.
There is some evidence that intestinal Candida overgrowth is associated with heavy metals, particularly mercury.
One study found that the concentration of phytates is twice as high in your sweat as in your blood or urine. Phytates are the chemicals present in toys, fragrances, cosmetics and other everyday items. Yet another study found 80% of their subjects had BPA in their sweat, yet had no detectable levels in their blood or urine. This suggests that sweating may be the best way to excrete this and other toxins. (6)
9. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases
Recent research from Finland has found that men who use a sauna at least four to seven times a week for around 15 minutes each time showed a 66 percent lower risk of developing dementia. They also had a 65 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s when compared to those who use a sauna only once a week.
Another major study found that men who regularly used a sauna had an over lower risk for sudden cardiac arrest, fatal cardiovascular disease, fatal coronary heart disease, AND all-cause mortality. This certainly shows that saunas can help you live longer!
Types of Saunas
The variety of saunas has grown considerably today. Sources of heat include wood, electricity, gas, and even less conventional methods such as solar power. There are dry saunas, wet saunas, smoke saunas, and steam saunas. These are all based on two main types of stoves: a heat-storage stove or a continuous-heating stove.
- Wood-Burning Saunas (Traditional Finnish Sauna)
These are the original Finnish type. Wood is used to heat the sauna by burning it in the stove, and the desired temperature is controlled by the amount of fire in the stove. Temperatures are usually above 65.5 Celsius. Water is thrown onto the heated rocks to add humidity.
- Electric Sauna
These have been around since the 1950s and are the most common. Electric saunas are efficient, safe, and easy to use. Some have remote controls, and the heater is usually wall-mounted or floor-mounted. There are heaters for different sizes of sauna room.
- Smoke Sauna
The smoke sauna – known as “savusauna” in Finnish, features a large wood-burning stove. Unlike other saunas, it doesn’t have a chimney. These types are less common these days and the large rocks have to be heated for many hours before ventilating the room.
- Steam Sauna/Steam Room
These are more like the Turkish-style spa room rather than a sauna. The humidity level of a steam room is usually around 100%, but the temperature is much lower than in a traditional Finnish sauna. Seating is usually on one level and the temperature is kept at around 49 C.
- Infrared Sauna/Heat Therapy Room
Now known for their many therapeutic benefits, the infrared heating system is based on the user’s body heat rather than on the air heat. This is why these types are called “heat therapy rooms”. Water isn’t used in the infrared room, so they lack the ‘steam’ element. They are most recommended for healing or toning the muscles before or after exercise, or for basic relaxation.
Sauna Therapy Can Help Your Mind And Body
Using a sauna regularly could be an easy and enjoyable way to improve your overall health. Sweating out toxins is hugely beneficial to your body and can significantly boost your normal detoxification processes.
Even though exercise is also great for you, the benefits are different from those experienced in sauna sweating. A sauna increases your heart rate and the blood flow to your vital organs, allowing those organs to flush out harmful toxins. Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, also boosts heart rate – but reduces the blood flow to your vital organs.
Visiting a sauna once or twice a week can help your body to overcome infections, mind fog, hormonal imbalances, and poor circulation. If you are suffering from Candida symptoms or a Candida die-off reaction, saunas can help your body to process and remove those toxins. Saunas can give relief from your symptoms and potentially help to prevent the Candida overgrowth from returning.
When your body is able to move the ‘rubbish’ out of your vital organs and blood stream more quickly, there’s less of a chance for those toxins to be absorbed into your tissues – which means a healthier body and mind!
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