4

votes

Are saunas really healthy?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Here - http://paleohacks.com/questions/86493/hot-sweaty-and-naked#axzz1mvfcHgYu - a few people discussed different approaches to sauna'ing, on the presumption that it is healthy. But is it?

I'm not challenging the OP on the linked question....I really don't know, and I want the input of PHers everywhere. (They're smarter than the average google search results.)

So is it really good for us to reach those elevated body temps? Wouldn't it needlessly stress the body? Does it mimic anything that Grok would have experienced? Will its helpfulness/healthiness depend on an individual's ancestry and where they lived?

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on February 21, 2012
at 12:35 PM

It is absolutely true that a FIR sauna is not like a traditional sauna, which is precisely why I like it so much. The rec center in town has a traditional sauna, and it is kept at 170 degrees; beyond five minutes, it becomes very uncomfortable for me. It was the very nature of traditional saunas that sparked my interest in FIR saunas. As for electrical problems, my understanding is that's an issue with poorly made saunas from China. The TheraSauna unit I bought is American made.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on February 21, 2012
at 11:36 AM

Wisper, in a FIR sauna, it's not the air that heats the body. Yes, the air heats up, but it is infrared heat directly from the ceramic heaters that heats up the body.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on February 21, 2012
at 08:23 AM

Same here - sweating daily seems to be the only thing that keeps my skin clear and I sleep so much better. I practice hot yoga.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on February 21, 2012
at 08:21 AM

Came here to say pretty much this! So many cultures include sauna/hot pool variations that there must be something to it right? I believe it's similar to the way massage and meditation are healthy - they have psychological effects that tie to physiological well-being. Sitting there, being comfortable, being connected with the way your body feels, and clearing your mind is really good for you!

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:59 AM

By "Scandinavian" surely you mean "Finnish." It was Finns who invented saunas, not Scandinavians. Finland is not part of (geographical) Scandinavia.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:55 AM

By "Scandinavian" you mean "Finnish." Finland is not part of (geographical) Scandinavia.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:54 AM

Infrared is not a sauna. Period. 115F is not a sauna. Full stop.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:53 AM

Infrared is not a sauna. Full stop.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 21, 2012
at 05:52 AM

They might have done sweatlodges, which a lot of arctic cultures do.

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5 Answers

5
3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

on February 20, 2012
at 04:34 PM

If you look around, many ethnic groups liked to relax in hot springs. They eventually built their own steam baths and saunas and invented treatment techniques (e.g., mud baths, whirlpools, steam baths, salt saunas). The Finns, Scandinavians, Russians, Eastern Europeans, Japanese, and Koreans have a longstanding tradition of relaxing in saunas. Is this Paleo, yes, I think so. It has a rich and long tradition.

But why is it exactly considered healthy and promote healing and detoxification? Don't know. The reason offered by spa operators is that it opens up clogged up skin pores, among others. The same as why people like to go to the beach to get some rays, get wet a little, and relax in the Summer. It's as much part of the tradition as doing something healthy or healing.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on February 21, 2012
at 08:21 AM

Came here to say pretty much this! So many cultures include sauna/hot pool variations that there must be something to it right? I believe it's similar to the way massage and meditation are healthy - they have psychological effects that tie to physiological well-being. Sitting there, being comfortable, being connected with the way your body feels, and clearing your mind is really good for you!

3
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 20, 2012
at 02:50 PM

I found that some of my healthiest years (as someone with autoimmune issues) were when I was doing a 'sweat' every 6 weeks. I wasn't doing it for health reasons -- it was part of a spiritual ritual that I was involved in as a shaman, so I lead spiritual "sweats" every month to month and a half. Since moving to the Gulf coast of TX, I haven't done any, but I'm seriously considering starting again.

I think that there are some folk who shouldn't sweat-- if you have heart disease or uncontrolled hypertension, or if a person is inclined to heat-related injury (as in if you've ever had heatstroke, etc.), then you probably shouldn't sweat. Other than that, I don't see a problem with trying it and seeing how you feel. Keep the sessions short, especially to begin with.

Dry heat, to me, is preferable to 'steam' saunas or wet heat. There's a much higher level of evaporation--but if you're going to use dry heat, make sure that you hydrate, hydrate, hydrate -- dehydration is one of the things that cause people to feel bad after a sauna session.

We always kept 2 spaces next to the door of the lodge available for people who were either unsure that they'd be able to finish a 'round' or people who had health issues. Right next to them sat the "lodge-keepers", whose were responsible for making sure that someone who had problems was assisted in getting OUT of the lodge AND getting any help they needed once they did get out. If you're going to 'sauna' or 'sweat', make sure that you have your sauna set up in such a way that, if you start feeling bad, you can get out and cool off.

Some folk never do get much out of sweating -- I think it's better to try on someone else's equipment before investing in it yourself. For me, I'm definitely looking to put a permanent dry sauna on property as we build up our new place.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on February 21, 2012
at 08:23 AM

Same here - sweating daily seems to be the only thing that keeps my skin clear and I sleep so much better. I practice hot yoga.

2
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:55 PM

I was under the impression that temperature cycling was really beneficial to the lymphatic system and circulation, hence the detox idea.

Certainly if you are in fragile health, releasing a bunch of stuff into your system or drastically dilating and contracting your blood vessels with temperature could prove to be bad news, never want the cure to be worse than the disease.

It certainly makes me feel more alive, whether that is a trick of survival hormones for dealing with the stress of it, or actually improvement in health (if those things are actually separate) is still a mystery to me. I suspect mobilizing and giving my body a chance to let go of environmental contaminants would be a good thing though.

1
7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on February 20, 2012
at 05:27 PM

I doubt that Grok had anything even remotely like a modern, far infrared sauna, but I absolutely love ours. And, since I'm not a paleo reenactor, I really don't care that Grok didn't use one. Conventional dry heat saunas are hot enough that they overheat my head, which I find very unpleasant. By regulating the air vent, I keep mine at around 115 degrees F, and I can stay in there for an hour or more, sweating profusely, with no discomfort.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 21, 2012
at 05:52 AM

They might have done sweatlodges, which a lot of arctic cultures do.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:53 AM

Infrared is not a sauna. Full stop.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:54 AM

Infrared is not a sauna. Period. 115F is not a sauna. Full stop.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on February 21, 2012
at 11:36 AM

Wisper, in a FIR sauna, it's not the air that heats the body. Yes, the air heats up, but it is infrared heat directly from the ceramic heaters that heats up the body.

0
B7531c66366dfed806d8eb41ed92a336

on February 21, 2012
at 05:36 AM

Many cultures have, indeed, used saunas and steam rooms as a means for maintaining their health for centuries. There isn't any solid proof of real detoxification, however. The best that can be said/proven for that is that you do sweat and open your pores, so anything that had settled in your pores would be expelled during your sauna/steam. Saunas do help with your circulation, which is good for your hair and skin. They also help with relaxation and have been known to shorten the length of minor sniffles and coughs.

There's an important line to draw here. Traditional Scandinavian style saunas, the kinds that have been used in one form or another for centuries by cultures all over the world, are NOT the same as the so called "infrared saunas" you see on the market today. Often these "infrared saunas" are poorly constructed and many have been recalled due to faulty wiring causing house fires.

Many customers have come to us wishing to turn their infrared saunas into traditional saunas because they're simply not pleased with it's performance. We've even heard it compared to sitting in a closet with a space heater. If you're looking for a traditional sauna experience you simply won't find it in an infrared sauna. I'd caution anyone thinking of buying an infrared sauna to go try one first so you can be sure exactly what you're buying.

I'd also caution anyone with any kind of medical condition to consult their doctor before using a sauna or steam room. Always stay hydrated, and even when in perfect health only use these enclosures for a short stay at any one time.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:59 AM

By "Scandinavian" surely you mean "Finnish." It was Finns who invented saunas, not Scandinavians. Finland is not part of (geographical) Scandinavia.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on February 21, 2012
at 12:35 PM

It is absolutely true that a FIR sauna is not like a traditional sauna, which is precisely why I like it so much. The rec center in town has a traditional sauna, and it is kept at 170 degrees; beyond five minutes, it becomes very uncomfortable for me. It was the very nature of traditional saunas that sparked my interest in FIR saunas. As for electrical problems, my understanding is that's an issue with poorly made saunas from China. The TheraSauna unit I bought is American made.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 21, 2012
at 07:55 AM

By "Scandinavian" you mean "Finnish." Finland is not part of (geographical) Scandinavia.

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