Some avid sauna users would say that the Sauna has many healthy
effects on the mind and body. These sauna lovers enjoy their sauna for many reasons,
your sore & tired muscles.
excellent for fighting winter colds.
stress and tension
Your skin will
never look & feel better.
You will feel
You will never
sleep better than after a sauna.
the body and mind.
Refreshes the skin - deep cleans and moisturizes
great for lower back pain & arthritis.
and pains in joints
is a time of peace.
sinus, and chest congestion
If you're in reasonable health, the benefits of a sauna or steam bath are numerous.
If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, saunas may be OK for you, but
check with your physician first. And with either of these conditions, it's not
a good idea to jump right into cold water or snow afterward. Finns almost always
follow a sauna with a refreshing and enjoyable dive into cold water.
The following health study summary from "Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing
Outweigh Risks" is reproduced here with the permission of one of the co-authors
of the report, Samer Ellahham, MD, of the Washington Hospital Center (DC), Division
of Cardiology. He has co-authored the report with Minna L. Hannuksela, MD, of
the Department of Internal Medicine and Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Finland.
The entire article has been published in the February, 2001 issue of the "American
Journal of Medicine.
SUMMARY: "Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing Outweigh
"For most healthy people, as well as for most patients with stable coronary
heart disease, sauna bathing is well tolerated and safe. The physiological and
hormonal changes that occur during sauna bathing are transient. Sauna bathing
does not cause drying of the skin. The effects of hyperthermia on the pharmacokinetics
of several orally administered drugs are minor. Sauna bathing does not lower fertility
in men or women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Healthy children who are accustomed
to sauna bathing tolerate it well. Sauna bathing has also been shown to be safe
for most coronary patients with stable angina pectoris or prior myocardial infarction.
The risks of myocardial infarction, coronary death and sudden death are lower
during sauna bathing than during other daily activities.
Sauna bathing may also tolerate therapeutic value. Some studies have suggested
that regular sauna bathing may lower the blood pressure in patients with hypertension
and increase the left ventricular ejection fraction in patients with chronic heart
failure. Sauna bathing may also improve lung function in patients with obstructive
pulmonary disease and alleviate pain in patients with rheumatic disease. Although
sweating may increase itching in patients with atopic dermatitis, patients with
psoriasis may experience some relief. Larger randomized studies are needed to
establish the clinical relevance of these findings.
Sauna bathing is contraindicated during high-risk pregnancies and for patients
with unstable angina pectoris, recent myocardial infarction, and severe aortic
stenosis. Decompensated heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia are relative contraindications.
Some studies have reported ECG changes, ectopic beats, and perfusion defects suggestive
of myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary heart disease, but these occur
less frequently during sauna bathing than during exercise. Blood pressure may
decrease after sauna, sometimes resulting in syncope. Alcohol intake while sauna
bathing can create serious health risks and should be avoided."
Be sure you drink plenty of water, to replace the water you're losing.
It is a good idea to cool down after strenuous exercise and to have a light
shower before entering the sauna. The shower will remove the fine layer of salt
that is on the skin, something that really burns your eyes when you start sweating
in earnest in the sauna. The oil and salt on the skin is not good for the sauna
When you take a sauna, the heat causes increased blood circulation near the
skin and stimulates sweating which helps the body rid itself of unwanted materials
and improves general circulation. Some people suffering from toxic poisoning or
severe allergies need to purge their systems by sweating heavily, the sauna delivers
It is a good idea to remove chains and bracelets before the sauna session as
they can get very hot and spoil the mood of relaxation.
Pregnant women should consult with their doctor before getting into a hot sauna
for the first time however the best option is to take the sauna at a lower temperature
(130F) for a more relaxed and gentle sweat session. A word of caution. Studies
have shown some association between neural-tube defects and heat exposure, during
the first three months of pregnancy. The biggest problem was hot tubs, which pregnant
women should approach cautiously. Saunas do not raise the body's core temperature
nearly as much as hot tubs do. (Neural-tube defects include anencephaly and spina
In Finland, however, it is common for doctors to allow saunas and there, neural-tube
defects are very low. In fact, in Finland saunas were once a traditional place
for childbirth. Finnish women stay in the sauna for about six to twelve minutes,
and they shorten that time during pregnancy.
Finnish saunas also tend to be different from most US versions - unless these
are run by Scandinavians. In Finland, saunas are usually heated by a wood stove.
First there's a dry phase that can get hotter than 200° F. Then the participants
splash water on the stove and spend some time in the steam. Many Canadian and
US public saunas use electric units and they do not allow patrons to pour water
on the heater. Some people find the dry hot air irritating while others are pleased
with the conditions. This is one of the main reasons people like the convenience
of a personal 'at home' sauna. You get to dictate the temperature and humidity
levels whether it be dry or moist.
Even if you're in a very hot steam bath or sauna, it's mostly the temperature
of the surface of your body that goes up. As it increases, blood vessels dilate,
and circulation in the skin climbs. As resistance to blood flow through your veins
and capillaries drops, your blood pressure goes down. Then your heartbeat increases
to keep blood pressure normal.
The main risk of a sauna is staying in too long and fainting from overheating.
People who are most susceptible to this are those with heart disease or who have
been using drugs or alcohol. It really isn't a good idea to combine drinking or
other drugs with a sauna or hot tub. Children should not use saunas without supervision.
Sitting in a sauna won't deplete your body of vitamins. Sweating, however,
may cause you to become dehydrated, so drink plenty of liquids before during and
afterward (stay away from alcohol).
If you spend too much time in a sauna with the temperature too high, fainting
may occur. For that reason, be reasonable when deciding how long you will stay
in a sauna. Give yourself time to cool down, and the experience will be a positive
Some people say that using a sauna makes them feel euphoric. Depending on whether
you like dry heat or wet heat, saunas and steam rooms can feel very relaxing.
The biggest benefit they offer is the release of muscle tension and joint stress,
particularly after a hard workout.