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Scandinavian Health Secret: Sauna Therapy


Every day we’re exposed to many chemicals from our air, food and water, as well as a host of household products. The sweating induced from a sauna helps excrete these toxins through the skin, resulting in a remarkable array of health benefits.

Sauna therapy has been used for centuries to relieve asthma and joint pain, according to Dr. Luke Fortney, an integrative-medicine practitioner and assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He recommends it for people with high stress levels, seasonal affective disorder, muscle spasms and high blood pressure. In addition, alternative medicine practitioner Dr. Julian Whitaker reports that saunas are beneficial for congestive heart failure, mild depression, chronic fatigue and skin conditions.

What Benefits Do Studies on Sauna Therapy Show?

As with some other ancient health secrets, modern research on sauna therapy is providing scientific evidence of its value for wellness. Two recent studies found the following intriguing results:

  • In a 2016 investigation at the University of Finland, scientists discovered men who took a sauna bath four to seven times per week had a 66-percent lower risk of dementia compared to men who took a sauna once a week. The frequent sauna users also enjoyed a 65-percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This was the first research on the effects of saunas on dementia. The findings were published in the journal Age and Ageing.
  • A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine had equally impressive results. Men who took four to seven sauna baths per week had a 63-percent decreased risk of sudden cardiac death, a 48-percent decreased risk of fatal coronary heart disease and a 50-percent decreased risk of fatal cardiovascular disease. Even two to three saunas per week proved beneficial, as the risk of the events reduced 22 to 27 percent. Concerning all-cause mortality, four to seven saunas per week were linked to a 40-percent lower risk; and two to three saunas per week were associated with a 24-percent lower risk. As in the 2016 study, the results were in comparison to men who took one sauna per week.

Sauna Therapy Helped Rescue Workers of 9-1-1

When the World Trade Centers collapsed on September 11, 2001, police officers, firefighters and other rescue workers suffered prolonged exposure to tremendous amounts of toxins. Consequently, over the course of weeks and months, they developed a wide range of health problems, including respiratory distress, gastrointestinal ailments, cognitive disorders, depression and irritability.

Whitaker reports that between 2002 and 2005, 500 of the workers completed a sauna detox program. The results were amazing. Their symptoms reduced dramatically, and their thyroid function, IQ and balance improved significantly.

Prior to the treatment, approximately half were taking medications to manage their symptoms. Following the program, 84 percent of this group was able to stop taking the drugs because their symptoms had disappeared.

Start Sauna Therapy Slowly

Fortney advises novices to start slowly and take precautions. He says to use a lower temperature at first and to drink plenty of fluids to avoid lightheadedness. The buddy system offers greater safety, so don’t do sauna therapy alone. Because people with considerable medical problems, such as heart or kidney disease, may not be good candidates for saunas, check with your doctor before you begin.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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