Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sauna Therapy

"To sauna or not to sauna?" That is the question.

When a friend asked me for input about sauna therapy last week, I realized I've only mentioned it in passing on this blog. Whole books have been written about sauna therapy; it's not a simple issue. But if you want some basic information to consider, here are some of my thoughts about it.

To anyone who asks, I always say "be cautious about sauna."

1) The theory behind sauna has merit. The skin is one of the largest detox organs. Sweating toxins out through the skin can be great for certain people, (who are at least somewhat healthy). 

However, for other people sauna is just too strong of a therapy. If I had done sauna when one doctor recommended it to me in 2008, it probably would have killed me. No exaggeration. 

At that time my adrenals were incredibly weak. Even sitting in the car on a hot day would cause severe weakness and sometimes worse symptoms. My body was in no condition to handle elevated temperatures and excessive sweating.

For those with with weak adrenals or who are in an overly fragile condition, I think sauna is not a good idea, and can even be dangerous. 

2) There are various kinds of sauna. The sauna itself can be made of different materials. And it may use gas, wood, or electric heat, etc. 

Depending on your personal needs and sensitivities, you need to make sure the structure of the sauna is non-toxic for you (some of them are made of various woods, metals, etc.). All your pores are opened while in the sauna and you might unknowingly absorb any toxins from whatever is in the materials.

Or if you're sensitive to EMF's, electric heat could cause a serious problem.  

So finding a "safe" and non-toxic sauna is in itself a challenge (we never did find one I felt free to try).

3) Also when doing sauna, it's VITAL to have a doctor who you trust monitoring the process and checking your electrolytes and mineral levels. The excessive sweating can quickly deplete the body of these. And for already frail individuals who may not absorb minerals well, it can be difficult to get enough minerals and electrolytes back in the body in a timely manner. 

4) I've learned that the body detoxes and heals at its own pace. Last fall when I was detoxing a particularly nasty toxin, my doctor kept reminding me that I shouldn't do anything to speed up the process. That specific toxin had to come out very slowly in order not to cause damage to my body as it detoxed.

I think there are instances when sauna therapy may 'push' the body to detox things it's not really ready to handle. This could cause more harm to the body.

I know a lot of people rave about sauna, but it's not something to be done lightly. 

If you do decide to try it, please do your research thoroughly to make sure it's a good match for your situation and current condition. And please start VERY slowly, and make sure you have a capable doctor to monitor the process. 

My personal recommendation is always to start with lymphatic massage, which is much more gentle and activates your body's own natural detoxing process. And consider doing a regular detox bath.* 

Once your lymphatic system is moving well, then you can add other detox methods such as stretching, rebounding, juicing, etc. When the lymphatic system is healthy, other methods of detoxing should be more effective and hopefully better tolerated. (But again, always listen to your body and to a trusted health care provider, so you don't push your body too fast.) 

Any questions? Do you have any thoughts to share about sauna?

(*There's more info on detox baths here. But I also wanted to add that it's vital with a detox bath to know what specific product to use for your body. Each person's condition is different, and taking a detox bath in something not compatible with your body's current need can do more harm than good. So ask your naturopath, use muscle testing, or find some way to determine what works best for your body right now. 
What you body needs will also change from time to time. At different times in the past I've done detox baths using a tablespoon of liquid vitamin supplement, 3 drops of almond extract, or a teaspoon of mineral powder. Different products work better at different times based on what your body needs.
If you have any other questions about detox baths, you can leave a comment or send me an email.)

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