Detoxification by “sweating it out” in sauna therapy is becoming accepted as a major benefit of a sauna.
Studies reveal the process that makes detoxification using sauna therapy so effective. There is more to sauna therapy detoxification than simply “sweating it out”. First lets look at toxins and how they react with your body.
We are all bio-accumulators, meaning some of the chemicals we come in contact with we don’t get rid of. Our modern world is full of toxic chemicals. Many of these are retained in our bodies in fat cells and intercellular fluid. Blood is over 50% fluid (as opposed to the blood cells) but there is also fluid found between the tissue cells, which is known as intercellular fluid.
The liver is the main detoxifying organ of the body, aided by the kidneys and skin. Blood fluid is cleaned by these organs but intercellular fluid is typically not accessible.
When the fluid level of the blood gets low, intercellular fluid to used to replenish missing blood fluid. This allows the formerly inaccessible fluid to be exposed to the liver, kidneys and sweat glands for cleaning.
Sweating during sauna therapy is a great way to reduce the fluid levels in the blood, causing the toxin rich intercellular fluid to be available for detoxification. This is why drinking a lot of fluids before or in a sauna actually slows down the cleansing process.
Fat cells also store toxins. Taking a sauna increases metabolism, which burns fat for energy, releasing some toxins for removal. In addition the physical heat from the sauna helps liquefy fat further breaking down the chemical lock on the toxic molecules.
It is this “fat sweat” that makes saunas so efficient at eliminating toxins.
Showering after a session in the sauna is highly recommended to remove excreted toxins from the skin.
Some studies indicate that an effective routine is to exercise before taking a sauna. This preheats the body and starts the release of toxins from the cells and surrounding fluids. The time in the sauna then allows the sweating process to help the liver and kidneys eliminate toxins. Some evidence indicates that sweat is actually more efficient at removing certain toxins, like heavy metals, than the liver or kidneys.
To my surprise virtually all the information I found about detoxification using sauna therapy was focused on infrared saunas. The theory is that this type of heat penetrates much deeper into the skin, better activating the fluids and fat cells.
There is either strong evidence (which I have not seen) to support this notion or the myth has been repeated enough to become the prevailing opinion. Literature consistently affirms the deeper heat penetration of infrared saunas. Some claim heat penetration up to 3 inches and 2-3 times the amount of sweating occurs in an infrared sauna.
Unfortunately the benefits of NEGATIVE IONS (another great benefit of saunas) come from the production of steam in a traditional style sauna. Infrared saunas are dry saunas. Is it possible to get both detoxification and NEGATIVE IONS in the same sauna? You have two options. You can get a duel sauna. There are a couple of companies selling saunas with both conventional and infrared heaters in the same units. Another option is to put one of these sweet little salt lamps that emit negative ions in your infrared sauna.
Here are some links that have more good information about detoxification and healthy living.
Detoxification through the use of sauna therapy is effective and established. Combine this with all the other benefits of a sauna and you begin to see why sauna fans are so dedicated, healthy and happy.