How Sauna Use Can Strengthen Your Immune System

How Sauna Use Can Strengthen Your Immune System

A visit to the sauna, with its comforting warmth and quiet, offers a perfect escape from the day's pressures. However, the benefits of sauna use extend far beyond mere relaxation.

Many are unaware that regular sauna sessions—particularly infrared saunas—significantly boost the immune system.

Understanding and using the health benefits of saunas can make a substantial difference in our well-being.

Why is Sauna Use Good for Your Immune System?

Why is Sauna Use Good for Your Immune System?

Unlike traditional saunas, which heat the air around to warm your body, infrared saunas work differently. They use infrared waves that penetrate your body, directly raising your core temperature.

This unique method offers a less humid experience while still allowing you to enjoy the therapeutic effects of heat. When you spend time in an infrared sauna, you're not just relaxing; you're potentially boosting your health in several ways.

These benefits include pain relief, stress reduction, and improvements in cardiovascular and respiratory health. Additionally, an infrared sauna can aid in increasing your metabolism, detoxifying your body, and even enhancing your sleep quality.

Each of these advantages is particularly beneficial when your body is fighting off sickness. Whether you're dealing with aches, congestion, or lack of sleep, a session in the infrared sauna might provide you with some welcome relief.

1. A Fever Simulator

High body temperatures create a hostile environment for viruses, making it challenging for them to survive and easier for your body to defeat them. This is your body's natural method of fighting off illness. In a way, using an infrared sauna can be seen as simulating a fever. It temporarily raises your core body temperature, mimicking your body's response to viral infections, thus aiding your body in combating sickness more efficiently.

This "fever simulation" triggers a significant reaction — the increase in the production of white blood cells. These cells act as the immune system's "first line of defense" against invading viruses, much like adding extra security guards in a building to catch an infiltrator. By boosting your white blood cell count, you're essentially fortifying your body's defense mechanism against pathogens.

Furthermore, infrared saunas contribute to your immune system's efficacy by prompting the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs) within your cells. HSPs serve to rearrange and stabilize cellular matter when it's compromised by injury or illness, enhancing your immune response and potentially speeding up your recovery process.

2. Fight Illness, Prevent Disease, Stay Healthy

Recent evidence from the Journal of Human Kinetics highlights the profound impact sauna use has on the immune system, particularly noting the increase in white blood cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and basophils in those who participate in regular 15-minute sauna sessions. These findings are crucial because white blood cells play a key role in our body's defense against illness, acting like our internal "soldiers" that fight off invaders. Increased levels mean our body is better equipped to tackle infections and other health threats.

Additionally, studies from Germany and Finland support the idea that regular sauna bathing not only boosts our immune system but also significantly lowers the occurrence of colds and influenza. In fact, those who regularly enjoy sauna sessions are about 30% less likely to catch colds or the flu. This becomes particularly relevant as we approach the winter season, a time notorious for an increase in these illnesses.

3. Improving Immune Responses Through Sauna Bathing

A fascinating 2013 study published in PubMed Central sheds light on how sauna sessions might be more beneficial to our health than we previously thought. Researchers noticed a significant spike in the number of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and neutrophils in individuals after they took a sauna. These cells are like the body's personal army against infections, suggesting that using a sauna could help our bodies fight off sickness more effectively.

But how does it work? Well, when you sit in a sauna, the heat increases your core body temperature, creating a condition similar to having a fever. This "fake fever" signals your body to produce more white blood cells along with other protective cells and send them into your bloodstream. This process not only helps eliminate any germs that might be hanging around but also boosts your overall immune health.

Furthermore, Jari A. Laukkanen points out that sauna bathing increases C-reactive protein levels and stimulates the production of heat shock proteins. These proteins play a crucial role in repairing cells and defending the body, adding an extra layer of protection against stress and inflammation. With this bolstered defense system, you're less likely to fall victim to seasonal illnesses or other random health setbacks.

Different Types of Saunas

Different Types of Saunas

Choosing the right sauna can greatly enhance your wellness routine by providing relaxation, detoxification, and immune system benefits. Understanding the differences between traditional, steam, and infrared saunas is crucial in selecting the one that best suits your needs.

1. Traditional Sauna

Originating from Finland, traditional saunas have been integral to Finnish culture for thousands of years. These saunas are characterized by their wooden interiors, where dry heat is generated by a heater warming up sauna stones. Temperatures in these saunas can soar between 150 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

You have the option to sprinkle water on the stones, creating steam and adding a touch of humidity to your experience. The intense heat improves circulation and induces sweating, leaving you feeling deeply relaxed and rejuvenated.

2. Steam Sauna

Steam saunas, or steam rooms, diverge from the traditional sauna experience by focusing on moist heat. The temperatures here are lower, around 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but with the humidity approaching 100%, creating a warm, misty environment.

This type of sauna is excellent for those looking to alleviate respiratory issues or hydrate their skin, as the high humidity levels help clear nasal and chest congestion and moisturize the skin deeply.

3. Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas represent a modern evolution in sauna technology, eliminating the need for heated stones and steam. Instead, these saunas use infrared lamps to warm your body directly with light waves.

This method allows for a more comfortable experience at lower temperatures, typically between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more tolerable for those sensitive to high heat.

Direct heat is not only beneficial for joint and muscle pain relief but also for deep tissue detoxification and improving skin health by stimulating collagen production, resulting in enhanced skin firmness and radiance.

Read More: Near vs. Far Infrared Sauna: Which Is Better for You?

Sauna Use Risks & Safety Measures

While sauna bathing can ease pain, reduce stress, and boost cardiovascular health, it's important to be aware of potential side effects and how to use saunas safely:

  • Dehydration is a primary concern. The high temperatures can cause extensive sweating, leading to dehydration. This can impact your blood pressure, heart rate, and electrolyte balance. To prevent dehydration, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your sauna session.
  • Avoid alcohol and certain medications before using a sauna. These can impair your ability to sweat and regulate body temperature, possibly leading to overheating. If you start feeling dizzy, nauseous, or faint, exit the sauna immediately and cool down gradually.
  • Blood pressure changes can occur due to the dilation of blood vessels in the heat, which might lower your blood pressure temporarily. Conversely, some might experience a rise in blood pressure from an increased heart rate. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, it's crucial to consult a doctor before sauna use.
  • Alternating between the extreme heat of the sauna and cold water from a pool can cause significant blood pressure fluctuations. It's best to avoid such drastic temperature changes.
  • Skin issues, such as rashes or burns, might occur from the heat or chemicals used for cleaning saunas. If you have open wounds or skin infections, steer clear of saunas. To protect your skin, wear loose-fitting clothes or a towel, and always rinse off with cool water post-session to remove sweat or dirt, followed by moisturizing.
  • Pregnancy precautions are vital. Pregnant women should exercise caution or avoid sauna use, especially during the first trimester, as high heat can potentially harm the fetus and increase the risk of neural tube defects.

Best Saunas To Boost Immunity

Roslyn 4 person Indoor Infrared Sauna

Roslyn 4 person Indoor Infrared Sauna

The Roslyn 4-person Infrared Sauna stands out for its spacious design, perfect for relaxing with friends and family. Its side-by-side seating and 10 carbon nano heaters make it quick to heat up, ensuring a comfortable, even temperature throughout.

For added comfort, it features ergonomic backrests and a variety of extras like 7-color CHROMOTHERAPY lighting, an oxygen ionization system to clean the air, and mood-enhancing interior and exterior lighting.

Entertainment is provided via an FM radio with CD and MP3 capabilities, alongside convenient cup holders to keep your beverages close. The sauna is simple to put together, and its Canadian red cedar construction not only looks good but will also complement any home decor.

Reserve Edition Full Spectrum Sauna

Reserve Edition Full Spectrum Sauna

Designed for six people, this infrared sauna is built from high-quality Reforested Canadian Hemlock wood. It measures a roomy 73" x 55" x 74" (outside dimensions), including a 4.5" roof overhang, with an interior size of 68" x 50" x 69".

Experience the ultimate relaxation with interior LED control panels, oversized reading/chromotherapy lights, and your own music through Bluetooth and built-in speakers. It's packed with advanced technology, featuring 6 Carbon PureTech™ Near Zero EMF Heat Emitters, 3 Full Spectrum Near Infrared Red Heat Emitters, and Himalayan Salt Bars, all designed for maximum relaxation and health benefits.

Easy to assemble and beautifully finished with a bronze privacy tempered glass door and ambient lighting, this sauna is a sanctuary of tranquility, perfect for enhancing your home wellness routine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is heat good for the immune system?

Heat, similar to a mild fever, positively affects our immune system. It speeds up the movement of T cells in our body, which are crucial for fighting off infections. This process happens because heat improves how well these cells move through our blood vessels in the lymph nodes, enhancing our body's defense mechanism.

Do saunas make you healthier?

Emerging evidence highlights that sauna bathing goes beyond just relaxation and pleasure, indicating significant health benefits. It's linked to reducing the risk of various conditions, including vascular diseases like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, as well as nonvascular conditions like pulmonary diseases.

Does a sauna increase white blood cells?

Yes, using a sauna can lead to an increase in white blood cells. After sauna sessions, studies have shown that people, especially athletes, have higher amounts of white blood cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and basophils. This boost helps improve the body’s immune response to fight infections.

What temperature weakens immune system?

Recent studies have shown a link between colder climates and the common cold. Specifically, when temperature and humidity levels drop over a three-day period, people are more likely to catch rhinovirus infections. The majority of these infections happen when the temperature falls to freezing (32°F) or lower.

The Takeaway: Immune System Sauna

Saunas can be a powerful tool for enhancing your immune system and offering various health benefits. By incorporating sauna sessions into your routine, you could see improvements in your body's ability to fight off infections and maintain overall wellness.

If you're seeking to boost your immune system or simply want to learn more about the health benefits of saunas, contact us or visit our blog for insightful information and tips.