10 Benefits of Saunas
Saunas have been used for a very long time by certain cultures to aid health and recovery but few talk about exactly why and how they help, in fact, some believe it to detrimental due to the dehydrating effects a sauna will have. Saunas will always cause a level of dehydration but if this is managed correctly can have huge health benefits. Even more so if the sauna is a full spectrum infrared sauna, meaning it uses near and far-infrared light which has by itself proved to have many healing properties.
1. Improves mood and relieves depression symptoms Saunas have been shown to stimulate various euphoric hormones with lasting effects even after the user has finished, the pituitary secretion of beta-endorphin together with ACTH in response to thermal stress improves mood and a sense of wellbeing.
2. Decreases anxiety and stress As well as the wellbeing hormones increasing it seems that the key stress hormone (cortisol) actually decreases during a sauna too.
3. Increases Beta-endorphins and relieves pain A few studies have shown this release of Beta-endorphins to actually relieve pain and many more studies have shown infrared saunas to increase the rate of healing.
4. Increases BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) BDNF is critical in temperature regulation so the stress of maintaining body temperature has a beneficial effect on BDNF causing an increase in its release and the creation of new brain cells. It is a vital player in the brains plasticity meaning its ability to adapt even having functions in the brains transduction of pain and decreased levels of BDNF are also correlated with issues such as Alzheimer’s.
5. Increases focus and attention Saunas increase the release of ACTH and norepinephrine which aid in focus and concentration, saunas have also been shown to have positive effects on ADHD suffers reducing the need for medication if not removing it altogether.
6. Increases Myelin growth Myelin is the insulating sheath that protects our nerves, the destruction of this sheath is a cause of issues like Alzheimer’s. The removal of this sheath slows the nerves ability to send information so increasing it effectively upgrades the wiring to stave off illness and improve mental power. Saunas cause an increase in prolactin which is a hormone that promotes myelin growth as well as an important hormone for many other reactions including fertility and deep sleep.
7. Aids in the removal of heavy metals from the system Sweating is a major part of the body’s natural detoxing systems and has shown to be a method of releasing various heavy metals from the body including Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
8. Improves sleep At the right time saunas can even improve sleep, if used in the evening in cooler environments the sauna will cause a massive drop in body temperature that is synonymous with sleep it will also cause a surge of prolactin and growth hormone which will aid recovery and cell recycling at night. For those in warmer climates, this can still work if they add a cold shower at the end and allow at least 2 hours before bed. This is advised for most people but needed for hotter climates.
9. Supports thyroid function Your thyroid is a key gland in energy and metabolism that regulates 6,000 genes with the hormones it releases. Your thyroid needs ample amounts of iodine to function correctly but iodine has other competitors for the same receptors on the thyroid, if these competitors all belong to a group called halogens and if they bind with the thyroid instead of iodine they can block many of the needed functions. These other halogens are excreted through the sweat glands so saunas support the removal of these competing halogens. Some to avoid that you may come across are bromine, fluorine and chlorine, which can be in food or water.
10. Improves recovery Although dehydration is not going to aid recovery in any way if managed properly a sauna can improve growth hormone, circulation, ACTH & &eta-endorphins that aid the immune system as well as improve sleep and if it’s an infrared sauna can improve ATP production increasing the rate of healing.
Conclusion Saunas have a place in a health regime and have many great health benefits but as with anything what do you want, why are you doing it and what else are you doing? Don’t just put a sauna in your plan just because make sure it fits your best possible plan and if used right it will improve your life greatly.