What are the benefits of a sauna?
The benefits of a sauna are plentiful.
by Dr. Ben Lynch
A big issue is you must know how to sauna in order to obtain these incredible benefits.
Many countries and cultures utilize sauna practices, such as Russia, Japan, and Korea. The way they use them varies quite a bit; however, the end result is the same: sweating.
What are the benefits of a sauna?
- increased oxygenation to peripheral tissues and cells
- increased elimination of harmful metabolites, heavy metals and solvents through the skin via sweat
- decreased burden on the liver due to increased elimination through the skin
- relaxation and downtime
- external and internal warmth
- increased metabolic rate due to increased temperature
- increased heart rate which provides heart rate variability
Should everyone just jump right in and enjoy the benefits of a sauna?
Let me give you an example.
Back in college, I was on the University of Washington Crew and sometimes after practice, we’d hit the sauna.
The sauna was especially enjoyable after those frigid winter practices.
We’d pack into the traditional wet sauna (hot rocks with water poured over them) with our gallon of spring water and savor the warmth.
Within five minutes, I was already needing to get out of there.
I felt horrible.
- intense fatigue
- excessively hot
- very fast heart rate
- ‘sick’ toxic feeling
Of course, I’d try to tough it out as I couldn’t have my teammates poking fun at me for being such a wimp in the sauna.
I would get out, do a cold shower contrast and then get back in.
That helped some but the benefit was short-lived.
I made it about 10 minutes and that was it.
I was done. Very done.
Why did I have these negative reactions to sauna when my teammates didn’t?
There are many reasons.
- electrolyte deficient
- glutathione deficient
- methylation deficient
- adrenal fatigued
- omega 3 fatty acid deficient
- high chemical burden
- inferior genetics
- unknown food intolerances and food allergies
- mitochondrial fatigue
- possibly hypothyroid
Before I get into discussing the details of each one of these negative reactions, I want to inform you of this key point when using a sauna:
At the first sign of feeling ‘off’, you’re done. Get out of the sauna. Don’t return until the next day. In other words, DON’T PUSH IT.
There is not much worse than getting into a sauna and pushing yourself to stay in there longer.
The only thing you are accomplishing is making yourself weaker, sicker, and uncomfortable.
Who should not sauna? Period.
As always, discuss with your doctor if a sauna is right for you.
There are many conditions that may worsen from sauna or are just plain contraindicated.
- Pregnant women
- High blood pressure
This is not a complete list.
Can children use sauna?
If your doctor approves, yes. Since I am a doctor, I let my sons use the sauna.
How often should you sauna?
Ideally, I want to sauna once a week. Do I do it? Not always.
There are times when one has to sauna more – and times when one has to sauna less.
The key is to sauna when you feel somewhat strong. If you need to sauna and you are not feeling strong, do a low heat and short duration sauna.
What type of sauna to use?
One that makes you sweat is a general rule of thumb – with some key points.
The sauna can be wet or dry, infrared, wood burning, hot rocks or electric.
The most critical points to consider are:
- no solvents or toxic glues used for construction
- low volatile oil woods ideally
- ventilation – vent or fan in ceiling and gaps in door to allow air in and out
- low EMF for those sensitive
- light inside
- no insulation unless natural
I’ve used many different types of sauna.
The saunas I currently use are:
- Combination wet/dry with hot rocks – powered by wood (in our family's cabin in Russia)
- Infrared Saunas by High Tech Health
- Massive savings – receive $500 off any sauna by High Tech Health when you use code 'drbenlynch' (You must call for discount, you cannot buy online with discount.)
What should you do in order to obtain the benefits of a sauna?
After receiving approval from your doctor, the best method I’ve discovered over the years is quite comprehensive – and effective.
I've put this into easy, manageable steps for you.
Supplemental Support for an Optimal Sauna Experience
The supplements that I and my family use for an optimal sauna experience:*
- Optimal Electrolyte: one serving per day for a week prior to your sauna, one serving in the morning on the day of your sauna, and one serving after your sauna if needed (refer to the How-To Guide for additional direction).
- Optimal Liposomal Glutathione: take daily one week prior to your sauna – start with a few drops once a day, and work your way up to 1/4 teaspoon taken twice daily (once in the morning and once in the afternoon). On the day of your sauna, take a few drops or whatever amount you tolerate immediately before entering the sauna.
- Optimal Liposomal Vitamin C: one serving per day for a week prior to your sauna and one serving in the morning on the day of your sauna.
If you are fatigued and need additional energy support:*
- Adrenal Cortex: one serving with breakfast for a few days prior to sauna and day of sauna if needed – cease use if experiencing increased irritability.
- NADH + CoQ10: if you cannot get up out of bed in the morning, consider 1/2 to 1 serving taken while still in bed (best taken immediately upon waking while still laying down). If taken, do not take with food and do not eat for two hours after using.
Alternatives to a Sauna
If you don’t have access to a sauna or lack the funds, there are other things you can do to encourage sweating:
- Exercise – low impact, moderate intensity and encourage lots of sweating over a long period of time. Soccer is a great example as is tennis.
- Hot Yoga – excellent, but again, duration is key.
- Mud Bath – these are fantastic and very effective.
- Epsom Salt Bath – excellent as they provide sulfate and magnesium.
- Dead Sea Salt Bath – also excellent.
What’s your sauna story?
How has sauna been in your life and with your health? What do you find works best?
Please feel free to share below in the comments!
I have gone from being absolutely intolerant of a sauna to increasing my sauna endurance so that I can enjoy it for longer sessions.
This is my How-to Guide for how I do it – every time.
I am supporting my energy, hydration, detoxification, brain and cell membranes.
The key is to support all systems – and to go incrementally.
Don’t push it.
~Dr. Ben Lynch
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.