Everyone who’s tried spending some time in a sauna swears by its ability to soothe nerves after a long week of being busy at work. Even science has proven that saunas do wonders for your blood pressure, skin health, and muscle and joint pain. But there’s been an ongoing debate about detoxification claims. Do saunas actually help you detoxify?
The short answer is that saunas do help your body release toxins with the sweat that comes out all over your skin. Some substances that this sweat carries include heavy metals like lead and mercury, BPA, and phthalates. However, medically speaking, this doesn’t immediately translate to detox.
In this article, we dive deeper into the sauna detoxification debate to give you the full picture.
The Truth About Sauna Detoxification (Backed By Science)
Before we can determine whether or not saunas can double as detox stations, let’s first understand what detoxification is.
What Exactly Is Detoxification?
Detoxification refers to the process of cleaning your blood from toxins, which naturally happens in your body through the kidneys and liver.
Because detoxification is the main function of these two organs, many experts say that it isn’t the job of sweat to detox the body, as its only purpose is to cool you down.
So, if we take things from this point of view, then no, saunas don’t exactly detoxify your body.
Can Sweat Contribute to the Detoxification Process?
There’s another opinion that considers the lungs, skin, and organs of the digestive system detox organs besides the liver and kidneys. Each one of these organs helps with detox in its own way no matter how seemingly subtle.
For instance, your digestive system can get rid of harmful substances through vomiting or diarrhea. Similarly, the lungs detoxify the body by removing unwanted gasses in your system.
Once you look at the facts, you’ll know that despite not being a dedicated detoxification organ, the skin releases sweat that carries toxins out of the body. The amount of sweat lost even intensifies inside a sauna, as it reaches its maximum after spending 15 minutes at around 195F.
More interestingly, it was found that the concentration of many heavy metals in sweat is higher than their presence in the urine, including aluminum, cadmium, and nickel.
As such, many experts don’t completely deny that saunas help you detoxify; they just don’t think that they have a significant impact on the overall detoxification process in your body.
The bottom line is that saunas can technically contribute to getting rid of toxins through sweat, but we can’t 100% depend on them for this purpose.
Are Infrared Saunas More Effective Than Traditional Saunas in Detoxification?
There’s a general belief amongst sauna users that infrared saunas are better for detoxification than their traditional counterparts. Rumor has it that the sweat produced due to exposure to an infrared heat source is made up of 20% toxins, while that induced by a traditional heater has only 3%.
What backs up this claim is that it’s been found that infrared rays penetrate the skin three inches deep. On the other hand, sweating in a traditional sauna is somewhat superficial, which led many people to believe that infrared is more effective in getting rid of toxins.
But is that true?
Unfortunately, we’re yet to find an authoritative source or a study that supports the percentages mentioned above.
Yes, it’s a fact that infrared rays reach deeper into the skin to pull toxins from fat cells. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the sweat they induce consists of seven times more toxins than traditional heating.
Still, you can argue that while these percentages aren’t accurate, infrared has the potential to be more effective in detoxifying your body anyway. That’s because it encourages you to sweat more profusely, so it makes sense that it’ll allow you to get rid of more toxins!
Is Spending Time in a Sauna Better Than Working Out as a Detoxification Method?
The answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as you think because exercises vary in intensity. So, if you compare the sweat lost during your time in a sauna vs. running vigorously at high speed, chances are you’ll sweat more while working out.
Other factors also come into play here, like the temperature of the room you’re exercising in, the natural sweat rate of your body, and more. Therefore, comparing the two situations may not yield results that are set in stone.
To be fairer, let’s compare the amount of sweat your body produces doing a medium-intensity workout vs. bathing in a sauna.
In the first scenario, the average person tends to lose around half a pound of sweat if they exercise for 15 minutes. For the same amount of time, you could shed more than one pound of sweat if you sit in a sauna at a temperature of 195F.
In short, spending time in a sauna makes you lose double the sweat you’d otherwise shed working out! But does that mean that you can skip your workouts and replace them with sauna sessions?
In our opinion, no; because there are countless advantages to exercising that a sauna will simply not be able to make up for. This is why it’s best to include both in your weekly schedule to reap as many health benefits as your body needs.
Do saunas actually help you detoxify? You should have your in-depth answer after reading our article.
To recap, saunas can help you detoxify in their own subtle way by inducing sweat that carries toxins out of your body through the skin. At a temperature of 195F and in only 15 minutes, your body produces the highest amount of sweat it’s capable of using a sweat-inducing heat method.
Better still, some heavy metals are found in higher concentrations in sweat than urine, which only adds to the detoxification abilities of saunas.
While you can’t completely depend on these nifty creations for healthier living, they’re still worth including in your detox routine!