While the past couple of weeks we have looked at research regarding sauna use with specific health conditions, today let’s look at its use for more general health benefits. I think one of the most well-recognized benefits of using saunas is for detoxification, through increasing sweating.
Research on saunas for detoxification shows that it may help detoxify heavy metals, BPA, and other toxins. We all have some level of toxic metals and BPA in our bodies, which accumulates over our lifetime. Yes, we want to minimize our toxin exposure and optimize our metabolism and excretion of toxins through the stool and urine. But excreting toxins via sweat is often an overlooked process.
Certain toxins, in fact, seem to be preferentially excreted in sweat. So sweat is an important channel of elimination.
The infographic below looks at a couple of the studies investigating saunas for detoxification through sweat.
Saunas for detoxification
While most of us presume we detoxify as we sweat in a sauna, there is actually less research to support this than there is for cardiovascular benefits. But, the research shows that for some toxins, sweat can actually be a preferred route of elimination.
Note that in the pesticide study above, they didn’t detect blood levels of pesticides, yet they were found in the sweat. This is most likely because many toxins are stored in our fat thus don’t show up in blood tests. While we don’t know from these studies if sauna sweating is actually reducing stored toxin levels, the fact that health improved in the policemen study and OCP levels were detected in sweat in the pesticide study, suggests detoxification may be another benefit to regular sauna use.
Again, before you jump in the sauna to detox, refer to my sauna precautions in a previous post.
Also remember, there are more ways to work up a sweat than just using a sauna. As we are constantly exposed to toxins, try to find a way to sweat every day. Think of your options: exercise/activity, short periods in the sun, saunas, or even sex!