5 Science-Backed Health Benefits of the Sauna
Are you ready to get your sweat on? For centuries people have been using saunas to get their sweat on for health, hygiene, social, and spiritual purposes. Today, they are commonly used for health and wellness reasons. And it's no wonder because the benefits of the sauna seem endless!
After you read this article, you'll be itching to get yourself a sauna that you can use daily. Read to the end to find out my favorite sauna recommendation for you.
But first, it can be a bit confusing of what type of sauna you should use, so let's touch on that quick.
How Does a Traditional Sauna Work?
A traditional sauna encompasses very high levels of heat (usually from an electric or gas heat source or wood-burning fire). These saunas can be either dry or wet, but only the wet saunas produce steam by heating rocks and pouring water on them.
Near-Infrared Sauna Benefits
Near-infrared saunas use light wavelengths (810-830nm) that are closer to the spectrum of natural sunlight. We need this natural sunlight to thrive. For example, this is why you should expose yourself to natural sunlight to increase your vitamin D levels...we need this energy from the sunlight for optimal health.
Near-infrared saunas don't penetrate the body as well as the far-infrared sauna (3cm vs 9 inches) but it does help with skin surface issues like rashes, acne, dermatitis, eczema.
Far-Infrared Sauna Benefits
Far-infrared saunas penetrate deep into your body’s tissues, healing your body from within. This causes profuse sweating, similar to a traditional wet sauna. Because this type of sauna penetrates deeper, it’s great for improving circulation, metabolic function, and detoxification.
Sauna with Redlight is a Bonus!
If you choose a sauna with redlight, that's even better! Red light therapy can promote wound healing, reduce inflammation and pain for quicker recovery, and help you detox more effectively (but more on that below).
Benefits of the Sauna
The number of sauna benefits is endless, but here are some of my favorites from a functional health perspective.
Boosts Mitochondria Biogenesis
Aids in Inflammation
Enhances Vagal Response
Sauna for Detox
Saunas are fantastic for detoxification. While exercising and breaking a sweat is always encouraged, sitting in a sauna can give you detoxification benefits as well! Since saunas can induce a significant sweat, your body is able to release oils, dirt, and old skin cells, and most importantly, certain toxins and toxic substances. These include heavy metals, like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, and bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics.
Since these toxins can wreak havoc on your body's functioning and processes, it's vital that you (1) avoid them in the first place but also (2) get them out of your system as soon as possible. Saunas are a great way to promote that toxin elimination!
Saunas Boost Mitochondria Biogenesis
Saunas can even benefit your cellular health, which we know, determines your overall health. When you use a sauna regularly, it can boost your mitochondria. One study showed how repeated exposure to heat stress (aka sauna) for 6 days increased mitochondrial function, through oxidative phosphorylation, by 28%! Mitochondrial function is essential to longevity and overall energy since mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. Remember that your cells need to be working optimally in order for your body to run optimally.
Saunas Reduce Pain
Instead of grabbing for pharmaceuticals to reduce body pain, you can opt to use the sauna. In one study, participants with lower back pain used a dry sauna twice per day for 5 days for one week (15 min in 90°C dry sauna). A shocking 70% of participants said the therapy was a successful treatment!
Saunas Reduce Inflammation
Numerous studies show how regular long-term sauna use can have significant benefits in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Studies show how using the sauna more frequently reduces the level of C-reactive protein. This is a biomarker used to measure systemic inflammation. People who used the sauna 5-7 days a week had lower C-reactive protein compared to those who used it once a week.
Since inflammation is linked to numerous chronic diseases (like IBS, allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and arthritis), regular sauna use can help keep your inflammation low and prevent more serious health issues in the future.
Saunas Enhance Vagal Response
Your vagal response is an automatic response within your body that occurs when your vagus nerve is stimulated. This nerve, which is the longest nerve in your body, has a major influence on your parasympathetic nervous system (aka "rest and digest") response. Using the sauna can help strengthen your vagus nerve, aiding your body to go into its rest and digest state.
A strong vagus nerve or (high vagal tone) has been linked to lower rates of depression, better digestion, overall mood, and health.
Not to mention, the sauna is a relaxing practice where you can do some deep breathing and meditation that can also activate your "rest and digest" state. This can help your body better cope with stress, helping your overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Additional Benefits of the Sauna
Promotes weight loss
Boosts immune function
I told you the benefits were endless!
How often can you use an infrared sauna?
You can use the sauna daily or even a couple of times a week to see the benefits. Start with enough time that you are producing a sweat for 10 minutes- this can vary from person to person. Depending on your goals, you can increase the time and frequency as your body tolerates. Guidance from a functional health practitioner can help you figure what is right for your unique body.
Reminders for Using the Sauna
Remember to hydrate before and after you use the sauna. You want to be hydrated to allow the sweat to carry out all the toxins. Bring a towel or two as well. You can place one under your bottom and use one to wipe away the sweat. You are detoxing and sweating out all those nasty toxins. You don't want the toxins to get on your sauna seat or reabsorb back into your skin.
Best Sauna Recommendation: Therasage
While you can benefit from all types of saunas, I highly recommend using a full spectrum sauna to experience the best of both saunas. I personally use and LOVE the Therasage. I found this one to be the most beneficial for such an affordable sauna price. Imagine hopping in your sauna to end your day knowing you are contributing to your health and longevity!
This one even shields EMFs (super important) and is portable, where you can easily fold it up and store it in a closet or under a bed. If you hop on over to my Instagram, you'll see how I love using my sauna!
Ready to Optimize Your Health?
Reaping the benefits of the sauna regularly can kickstart your journey towards a long, healthful life. If you're ready to take your health to the next level and feel the best you ever experienced, make an appointment with me. I'm Jessica Meyers, a Functional Medicine, and Herbal Expert.
I create personalized protocols based on functional lab testing and analysis that are unique to you. This includes recommendations on diet, movement, supplements and lifestyle changes, and more!