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John Hibb's Sauna Health Article

Regular use of sauna is one of the healthiest things we can all be doing!

I’ve taught and practiced naturopathic medicine on the faculty of Bastyr University for 36 years, specializing in environmental toxicology and chronic disease. In the last couple decades, we’re seeing an explosion in the frequency of insulin resistance and diabetes 2, thyroid problems, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, diseases of energy metabolism, autoimmune diseases and diseases of chronic dysregulated inflammation in connective tissues, kidney disease, learning disorders, dyslexia and mood disorders in children and adults, cancer, and more. Thermal therapies with induced sweating dynamically offer primary prevention and improve outcomes for all of these chronic problems, in some cases as much or more than any other treatment studied.

Our skin is the largest organ of excretion we have, and for most of us probably the least used. Every environmental chemical and toxic metal studied is excreted well in sweat, in most instances better than any other excretory route (with one exception – perfluorinated hydrocarbons do not appear in sweat, but are excreted well by the liver). While few prospective human trials have been done to see if sweating out environmental poisons improves outcomes for people with excessive poison exposure, I can say that I’ve yet to see a patient with chronic disease and a history of excess environmental poison exposure that did not improve when they implemented a program of therapeutic heat and sweating. And to take that a step further, I’ll say that can apply to just about all of us, can’t it? We’re all over-exposed to environmental chemicals and metals on our now-toxic planet, and can all benefit from regular heat and sweating.

In addition to reducing blood and tissue levels of environmental poisons, thermal therapy induces the expression in all of our cells of Heat Shock Proteins and the near miraculous sequence of cell strengthening and repair they bring about. This is one of the most exciting and broadly applied therapeutic and preventive methods being studied today. Thermal induction of the Heat Shock Protein (HSP) cell repair and strengthening response is reported in hundreds of papers to dramatically prevent every chronic disease studied and to improve or slow disease progression in same. This includes first or second heart attack, stroke, hypertension, heart failure, insulin resistance and diabetes 2, Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, Parkinson’s Disease, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, arthritis, autoimmune disease, and mood disorders. If this sounds like the same benefits we know come from regular exercise, it’s true, and several papers have now made that point. Some of the measurable results of thermal induction of the HSP response are creation of new mitochondria (each cell’s energy factory), improved cellular management of oxidation, cell cleanup and repair (called autophagy), and improved cell membrane function and communication with other cells.

The magic number of saunas per week appears to be 4, for best long term results. For more information, go to pubmed.gov and search “sauna AND heat shock proteins”.

Please understand sauna safety before undergoing rigorous clinical depuration.

John Hibbs
Naturopathic Medicine Team Care
Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle, WA

Cedarbrook Sauna + Steam

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