Real Health Benefits of Sauna
Sauna therapy has been found to provide many health benefits, all well-documented in major, peer-reviewed medical journals. It improves circulation, cardiovascular functions and immune functions. Patients using sauna on a frequent and long term basis were found to have reduced incidence of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality. In one study men and women having regular sauna therapy over 15 years had a 62% reduced risk of stroke.
- Sauna reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after 30 minute sessions. Arterial stiffness improves indicating enhanced arterial elasticity.
- There is also evidence for improvements in cognition. Men who had sauna treatments 4-7 times per week had a 65% reduction in Alzheimer disease and dementia compared with those who had only one sauna session per week.
- Sauna exposure improves breathing in patients with asthma or chronic bronchitis. It also reduces the incidence of common colds.
- Sauna bathing reduces pain symptoms from degenerative arthritis, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been found to improve headaches in individuals with chronic tension type headaches.
- Sauna may also improve skin health, particularly in individuals with psoriasis, by facilitating removal of hyperkeratotic scales. There is increase in hydration of skin layers.
- Inflammatory markers decrease with sauna therapy. These markers include C-reactive protein, fibrinogen and white cell counts.
- There is an improvement in general sense of well-being with sauna therapy. This may be related to increased production of circulating hormones including endorphins. The combination of aerobic exercise and sauna therapy further provides protection against cardiovascular events and reduces all-cause mortality events.
Alcohol intake should be avoided during sauna therapy, as it may increase risk of low blood pressure and cardiac complications. Individuals with uncontrolled hypertension, unstable chest pain from heart disease, and severe aortic stenosis would require greatly reduced intensity of sauna therapy. Make sure to review the use of sauna with your physician first if you have chronic disease.