Sweating is one of the most effective methods of detoxing the body of hundreds of different toxins, including heavy metals, PCBs, flame retardants, pesticides, herbicides, and many other harmful chemicals. Regular sauna use is also associated with a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The skin is almost like a third kidney, in that toxins can be eliminated in the sweat, similar to how they can be eliminated by the kidneys through the urine. Saunas are also a simple, fairly inexpensive, and enjoyable way to detox. After the initial cost of a few thousand dollars for an in-home sauna, the electricity cost is less than a dollar per hour of use. They can be small enough to fit in a bedroom or large enough to fit multiple people, and are fairly simple to assemble. Compared to fitness centers or clinics that typically charge 1-2 dollars a minute or a monthly fee, purchasing a sauna can save a lot of money in the long run.
The type of sauna used is critical for effective detoxification. Dry heat saunas are preferred over steam saunas as they are more effective for producing sweat. The electric dry heat saunas typically found at fitness centers can work, but they usually produce large electromagnetic fields that are harmful and can actually block detoxification. Research has shown that infrared saunas cause more toxins to be expelled in the sweat than traditional dry heat saunas.
There are a few different kinds of infrared saunas. Far-infrared saunas are the most popular and are the most effective for sweating. Sauna companies will either use ceramic heaters, carbon heaters, or hybrid ceramic powder-coated carbon heaters. There are some minor pros and cons to each type of heater, but all are effective (though sauna salespeople will tell you otherwise). The most important factor is that the heaters are certified with testing to be low EMF, and produce no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Inexpensive saunas almost always produce high levels of EMFs from cheap heaters, and let off gaseous VOCs from glues and other harmful construction materials. Also, be aware that some of the higher-end saunas come with unnecessary wireless tablets and Bluetooth speakers that emit high levels of EMF, even if the heaters are certified low EMF.
Near-infrared saunas are also available. Though near-infrared rays do not penetrate and heat the body as deeply as far-infrared rays, their wavelengths have mitochondria-enhancing properties and other benefits that far-infrared does not have. Some companies that make far-infrared saunas offer near-infrared heaters as add-ons if you want the additional benefit of near-infrared.
There are a few important strategies for getting the most out of using a sauna. Before getting in a sauna, it is best to do something that increases circulation. If tolerated, it is good to use a rebounder, whole-body vibration plate, or other means of exercise to increase circulation. You can also take niacin 30 minutes before to flush the skin. You may need to start with a small dose of niacin at first, and increase as tolerated.
Many people are unaware that only 70% of the detoxification effect of using a far-infrared sauna is from sweating. Japanese researchers have found that 30% of detoxification happens internally due the effect of the infrared rays’ resonant frequencies penetrating the tissues.4 This causes the cells to detoxify, and the toxins are then processed through the organs of elimination and out through the stool and urine. Taking intestinal toxin binders before sauna use is absolutely necessary to absorb the internally mobilized toxins. Obviously, saunas also cause water and electrolyte loss, so drinking plenty of water with electrolytes before and after is also necessary.
The amount of time per session and frequency of use can vary by individual, but the amount needed is not as much as one might think. Research has shown that upwards of 85% of the toxins come out in the first five minutes of sweating. Staying in longer than this does not have much additional benefit, and can further cause dehydration and electrolyte loss. A general rule is that if you feel worse after a sauna session, then it was too long.
Afterwards, it is best to take a cold shower to close the pores, and wash off with soap to remove the toxic sweat and prevent any reabsorption. It is also recommended to continuously towel off sweat during a sauna if staying in for an extended period of time. If you only stay in for five minutes of sweating, then this is not that important. All towels should be thoroughly washed to remove any absorbed toxins.
Many chronically ill individuals have a hard time tolerating heat or are unable to sweat, especially early on in treatment. Because 30% of the detoxification from sauna use happens internally without sweating, using a sauna at a lower heat setting without sweating is still effective. Even if you are only able to tolerate sitting in a sauna for a few minutes, it can still be helpful. Over time, most people are able to build tolerance to higher heat and amount of time. For those who are unable to produce sweat, this can also improve with gradually increased use.
4. “The Scientific Basis and Therapeutic Benefits of Far Infrared Ray Therapy”, Yamazaki Toshio, Japan.