Sauna, Steam and  Your Immune System

Sauna, Steam and Your Immune System

Sauna and Wellness

The Scandinavians are famous for their use of sauna for health reasons.  For Finns it is almost a religion.  There is evidence of sauna use in Scandinavia going back thousands of years.  They would even have babies delivered in them because it would be a sterile environment as a result of the regular heat.

Known to be some of the healthier people in the world, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to imitate them.  There are numerous other ‘healthy’ things that the Scandinavians do that we could emulate, eating healthier, walking more, etc.  The Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and Finns have pretty good lifestyles.  

Similar structures have been used over the centuries by certain Native American tribes - Sweat Lodges;   the Romans, Turks, and even the Irish have histories of common use of saunas, steam baths and similar  structures using heat for health and well-being. 

Saunas and other ‘heat’ rooms have been used to help break fevers but I wouldn’t suggest using it for this without consulting a physician that was well versed in their use.  Used incorrectly they can be dangerous.  Some dangers can be dehydration and over heating.  

Here is a quote from Agence France-Presse, a news agency in Paris, France: 

“  According to Agence France-Presse, experts from the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture stated on September 5, 2005 that the sauna can effectively kill the bird flu virus because the virus cannot survive high temperatures. For this reason, the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture requires people who return from avian flu-affected areas to immediately “sauna disinfect” themselves and their clothes, shoes, and luggage. Clothes need to be steamed for 3 hours at a high temperature of 70 degrees Celsius…”   

“Even with good soap cleaning, the coronavirus can be destroyed. The virus also degrades, for example, in alcohol-based solutions. Even the sauna is useful, at these temperatures these viruses probably won't live anymore” said Marjomäki.” - Varpu Marjomäki, associate professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland 

So, you can see that the sauna is almost like a religion in Finland and some other Scandinavian countries. They are a pretty healthy people.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information has mountains of scientific information, studies and white papers.  Some, quite difficult for the un-indoctrinated to wade through. But their data is extremely well researched and most of the time pretty accurate and factual. Here are a couple of quotes regarding heat and saunas from studies on that website:

“In both groups the frequency, duration and severity of common colds were recorded for six months. There were significantly fewer episodes of common cold in the sauna group.”

“Time in a sauna may be even more important during cold and flu season. A single 15-minute sauna session can raise your white blood cell, lymphocyte, neutrophil, and basophil counts—all signs of a stimulated immune system—according to a 2013 study done by researchers in Poland. The effects were even more enhanced among athletes. Researchers say the stress put on your body by the heat of the sauna gives your immune system a little jumpstart.”

This next quote is from ‘Mister Steam’ but the original data comes from webmd.com, I believe.  It applies to the viruses that cause colds:

Research has shown that rhinovirus is inactivated at a heat above 109 degrees Fahrenheit (steam rooms exceed that temperature). Another study found that when a group of subjects experienced intermittent hyperthermia over a period of six months, the subjects suffered fewer colds than the control group.”  - Mr Steam 

Right now saunas and steam rooms are not readily available in most health clubs, gyms and YMCAs.  If you have a friend that has one or you can find somewhere to make use of one, it could do a lot for your immune system.  

Part of the reason that I’ve put these last few blog posts up on building one’s immune system is that there is a lot of conflicting information in the media and a lot of scary ‘be careful’ news.  My goal is to help you stay healthy and keep you from getting sick in the first place. 

If you can’t get into a steam or sauna a few times a week, remember to eat healthy, get some exercise and take your vitamins.  And check out my previous blog posts for some other immune boosters.

“…it [the sauna] boosts the immune system by kicking it into high gear.”

- Prevention


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