We’ ve all seen them at our local gym or health club, but maybe never dared to go in. Maybe it was the towel-optional dress code or the fear of overheating, but the next time you come across a sauna, you may want to re-think your pre-conceived notions and give it a try. Saunas have been used traditionally throughout generations in American Indian and Eastern medicine especially. The skin is one of the most important organs for elimination of toxins in the body. Most sedentary people who do not sweat on a regular basis will not use these eliminating properties to the fullest. The sauna helps to enhance circulation and oxygenation to the tissues.
Saunas may be either dry heat or steam based, depending on the make. The average sauna is generally electric, gas or wood fired and pre-heats from 150 to 200 degrees. They vary by how the room is actually built to how it is heated. Saunas even vary by country of origin. For example, the Estonian sauna, Finnish sauna and Russian Banya are all very different. A newer form of the sauna that has been seen recently is the Far Infra Red sauna. This type does not require pre-heating. Rather, it heats the body only (through the use of infrared applied bulbs) while the air remains cool. The fact that the air itself is not hot allows for easier breathing and a more comfortable sauna experience. Some even believe that the Far Infrared saunas are better at deep penetration and elimination of toxins.
One of the many benefits of utilizing a sauna is the healing properties that is possesses. The heat from a sauna can eliminate viruses, toxins, and even eliminate tumors. The reason being is that these types of cells are generally weaker and therefore, are less receptive to heat. The idea is that the sauna helps the body mimic a fever, which naturally occurs when we are sick. During a fever, the body attacks the virus and by “giving your body a fever” via the sauna, you are helping to attack similar viruses and poisons when present.
You do not have to be “sick” in the true sense of the word to benefit from the sauna’s healing properties. Remember, that we come into contact with many everyday toxins that we should rid the body of. At a more basic level, the sauna helps the nasal passages to release and alleviate any pressure or congestion. Beyond that, sauna heat has the ability to penetrate tissues deep, allowing to work down at these cellular levels. It is extremely effective at assisting the body to rid itself of toxins and heavy metals that we are exposed to each day. Even if you think that you do not live or work in a heavy metal environment, think about everyday predators like dyes, preservatives, and chemicals (in clothing, food, cosmetics, body lotions, etc.). When used on a regular basis, the sauna can aid the skin and the body in restoring its elimination properties.
Another innovative use of the sauna is to use it as a detoxifying tool for people battling drug and alcohol addiction. It helps to release all of the poisons that have built up within a person’s body, especially after over-consumption and abuse of toxic drugs. The sauna has recently been used as a tool in rehabilitation centers. As part of the initial detox process, the sauna, along with other detoxifying and replenishing agents are given to the patient in order to jumpstart their recovery. The idea behind the sauna rehab detoxification is that it allows the detox process to happen quicker for the patient, as they are sweating out the toxins more efficiently than going through the process without assistance. This does not mean one should forego a formal detoxification process at a facility and attempt to do it on their own. Drug detox should always be done in the presence of medical personnel where the patient should be monitored. And it is important to remember that the real healing process begins only after the detoxification has finished.
Because of the deep penetration and circulation enhancing properties, the sauna is great for boosting your metabolism. Some people swear by it for quick (mostly water-weight) weight loss. Another benefit people claim to experience is mental clarity. Especially when used regularly, the detoxification as a preventative tool allows for the user to feel overall physical and mental wellbeing.
When using any type of sauna, it is important to follow set guidelines so to not dehydrate or further harm yourself. You should not stay in the sauna for any longer than 30 minutes and make sure to drink plenty of water before and after your session. It is also recommended that you lay or sit down for 10 minutes after you are finished. If you have a chronic condition or heart disease, make sure that you consult your physician before engaging in sauna use. Pregnant women should also avoid them. And as always, if you feel extreme discomfort, discontinue use. For example, when you are feeling under the weather, you may feel less tolerant of the heat, so do not push yourself to stay in as long (or at all) as you normally would if you were in perfect health. And if you ever feel that the heat is unbearable, there is nothing wrong with cracking the door open when you are using it privately.
To enhance the effects of your sauna session, shower after in cool to warm water, but not hot. Your body will have cleansed itself thoroughly so there is no need to use soap. In fact, the soap will only clog pores and defeat the purpose of your experience. You will also want to use a brush or loofa to exfoliate your entire body, including your face. This will enhance the cleansing process. Remember, that regular use of the sauna will not only enhance your body’s toxin -eliminating properties, but will change the way your body responds to the same amount of heat over time. So it will take you longer to work up a sweat in the sauna after you have been using it regularly, but your body will feel so much better, because it will in fact be working better!