Spending 20 minutes sweating in a sauna could be as good as performing a vigorous activity such as mowing the lawn or jogging as the heat mimics fever and activates each and every organ in your body. At the same time, you get cleansed inside out because of sweating. In fact, Ayurveda, the oldest known medical document written in Sanskrit in 568 BC prescribed sweat bath. According to enthusiasts, a sauna relieves common cold, headaches, arthritis and hangovers. These claims may be a little bit exaggerated, but medical evidence shows that your body experiences profound beneficial effects if you enjoy sauna treatment at 195F or 90 degrees Celsius.
Let’s look at amazing sauna health benefits that you might not know about.
Sweating is as important as breathing and eating. This is because it removes wastes from your body, regulates critical temperature and keeps your skin pliant and clean. Sedentary lifestyle, antiperspirants, smog, synthetic clothing and artificial environments act to clog pores on your skin and prevent sweating. Sauna helps to reverse these detrimental effects.
When you are in a sweat bath, the nerve endings that are sensitive to heat produce acetylcholine. This chemical sends signals to 2.3 million sweat glands, but all are not activated. The abundantly present eccrine sweat glands respond to heat. A 15-minute sauna helps to excrete about one liter of sweat. The clear and odorless eccrine sweat acts to cool down your body and excretes heavy metals. Your kidneys will have to work for 24 hours to remove the same quantity of heavy metals.
Salt removed through sweat is beneficial in the case of patients with mild hypertension. Sweating also removes the metabolic by-product urea and lactic acid that is responsible for stiff muscles and general fatigue.
Skin is sometimes referred to as the third kidney. Skin that is properly cared for resists eczema, pimples, blackheads and athlete’s foot. Using a loofa during a sweat bath removes dry skin and prevents clogging of pores. Further, your skin remains fresh if you use vitamin B2 and E supplements in conjunction with your sweat bath treatment. Herbs such as cayenne pepper, peppermint and ginger promote sweating.
Inner Body’s Heating and Cooling Systems
When you use sauna, the capillaries dilate and increase blood flow to the skin. The heat is transferred from the surface to the inside of the body. This increases the heart rate in order to make up for the additional blood requirement. Toxins in the liver, kidneys, muscles, brain, stomach and other organs are removed and the kidneys and the skin filter out the wastes through urine and sweat.
In a sweat bath, skin temperature may go up by about 10 degrees Celsius and the inner temperature increases by about 3 degrees C. All diseases cannot be cured because of this increase in inner temperature, but many viral and bacterial agents cannot survive at temperatures higher than the body’s normal temperature. Further, increased metabolic rate may help to repair damaged cells when fever conditions prevail. Cooling down of your body slowly reverses the effects of heat.
Negative Ions and Their Positive Effects
It was believed that increased blood circulation and relaxation contributed to the healing power of saunas. However, it was discovered later that the presence of negative ions in some types of saunas was also a reason for the healing power of a sweat bath. Scientists believe that ions have a role to play both in the functioning of your body and how you feel. Research studies have shown that a lack of ions or the presence of more positive ions than negative ions can cause physical harm.
Cosmic rays and radioactive substances on the earth’s crust cause most ionization. Fire, crashing water and plants produce negative ions. Europeans are known to install negative ion generators in offices, banks, passenger cars, hospitals and airliner cockpits. The presence of very few negative ions and too much of positive ions can cause anxiety, fatigue and tension that can lead to the condition referred to as “pos-ion poisoning” which occurs because of weather disturbances, smog, central air conditioning and driving for long. This condition has been linked to aggravated asthma, heart attacks, migraine headaches, rheumatism, arthritis, insomnia, hay fever and allergies.
Sweat Bath Spirits
Religions have given sweat baths a lot of importance because it served humankind in several practical ways. Sweat was considered to be a healer as people believed that ill health was caused by evil spirits. People called on the fire spirits to purge demons off their bodies instead of relying on fire’s antiseptic properties. The sweat bath spirits drove away aches and pains off the body through sweat.
The communal character furthers sauna’s spiritual and medicinal values. It is considered as a social event just like meeting in the coffee shop or neighborhood bar. Historically, sweat bath rituals and ceremonies were considered as strong expressions by the community. Cherokee tribe elders used the sweat bath for passing on the teachings of their forefathers. Finns, gathered inside the sauna for talking, escaping the Nordic cold and for soothing aching muscles.
Get your sweat on and enjoy these amazing sauna health benefits.