Sauna for Vitality

Written by Dr. Camille Koontz on December 6th, 2019

If there was a magic pill that gave us more energy, helped with weight loss, lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and could lead to a longer healthier life… well, I’m pretty sure we’d all be jumping in line to get some! How about instead of taking a pill you were told that a regular sauna practice would get you there? That’s right sitting and relaxing in the warm cocoon of an infrared sauna can do all this and then some for your health.

Sauna has been around a long time and there is plenty of scientific evidence to show how it promotes health, energy, and longevity. Let me see if I can give it to you in a nutshell: Sauna causes a heat stress which in turn helps our cells become more resilient to stress. Heat shock proteins are associated with cellular integrity, and they are promoted via the heat shock response.(2) We can trigger this heat shock response by getting the the sauna! Easy! And it is these heat shock protein genes that have been linked to longevity (2).

We all know exercise is good for us, but what if you can’t exercise because of an injury or fatigue? The sauna is a fabulous alternative that can boost metabolism and improve energy production of our cells. Mitochondria are famous for being the little energy centers of our cells and heat shock proteins can make those energy centers work better. (3) I personally recommend regular sauna to help cure chronic fatigue and improve your metabolism.

So what’s the catch? No catch, all you need to do is get access to a sauna and make a commitment to doing it regularly. There are some contraindications and safety considerations you should know: talk to your doctor if you have just had a heart attack, unstable angina, or severe aortic stenosis. Don’t mix sauna and drinking alcohol and don’t sauna if you are dehydrated. Most people tolerate sauna without any trouble.

This is how I recommend you get the most out of a sauna practice.
- Commit to 1-3 times a week
- Stay well hydrated, especially on the days you will be in the sauna
- Consider adding some electrolytes to your water on sauna days
- Start with just 10-20 minutes and build up how long you stay over time
- If you ever feel faint, dizzy, or nauseated then get out, hydrate, and rest
- Make sure you put sauna in context with the rest of your treatment plan, talk to your Naturopathic Doctor

Still not sure if sauna is the next best thing for you? The Naturopathic Doctors at Northwestern Clinic (NCNM) are experts in sauna therapy. We offer sauna therapy at our clinic to our patients. If you are new to NCNM, schedule your free 15 minute consult with one of our providers to see if Sauna would be a good addition to your health plan.

Well, that’s about all we have time for today. There are so many more health benefits associated with sauna, but those will have to wait for another day. We hope to see you see you soon at NCNM.

Resources:
1. Heat Shock Response And Ageing: Mechanisms And ApplicationsPhilippe Verbeke-Jannik Fonager-Brian Clark-Suresh Rattan - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1006/cbir.2001.0789
2. Singh R, Kolvraa S, Rattan SIS. Genetics of human longevity with emphasis on the relevance of HSP70 as candidate genes. Front Biosci. 2007;12:4504-4513.
3. Henstridge DC, Whitham M, Febbraio MA. Chaperoning to the metabolic party: The emerging therapeutic role of heat-shock proteins in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Mol Metab. 2014;3(8):781-793. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2014.08.003.

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