Why the People of Finland have as many saunas as televisions: regular sauna reduces the risk of many diseases by up to 50% according to recent study

Root Whole Body Blog

What do we offer at Root Whole Body that is shown to improve your healthy lifespan, enhance your mood and brain function, as well as significantly reduce your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia?  

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) showed significant benefits of regular sauna use for cardiovascular health.  The study followed a group of approximately 2300 individuals over the course of a twenty-year period and examined outcomes in their health compared to their frequency and duration of sauna use.  It was found that people who use a sauna 2-3 times per week are 27% less likely to die from a heart related disease compared to people who do not sauna. 

20 minutes is recommended; but frequency is more important than length of time. You can double the benefit with more frequency of visits.

Furthermore, those who doubled that frequency, utilizing it 4-7 times per week, had double the benefit by showing that they were 50% less likely to suffer death from a heart-related cause.  It’s examined that it has such great benefits to our cardiovascular systems, as it increases left ventricular function, decreases blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, enhances blood circulation through both the heart and periphery, and improves vascular compliance and endothelial function. Other powerful statistics: sauna frequency of 4-7 times a week showed 60% less incidence of stroke, and 50% reduced risk of high blood pressure.  Time duration of sauna session was also found to be dose dependent. Healthy effects were noted with any level of use, but increased with more time in the sauna, showing 20 minutes to have the most potent effect.

Good for mind as well as body: Frequent sauna reduces risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia by 65%.

In Chinese Medical philosophy, the mind and heart share an inseparable relationship, so it’s no surprise that something that supports the heart would also enhance the mood and mind.  Studies show that people using sauna 4-7 times per week have a near 65% less chance of developing Alzheimers and dementia, compared to those using it once per week. At this higher frequency, it’s also been shown to reduce chances of suffering psychotic disorders by 77%.  The heat stress reaction the body experiences through sauna releases a variety of proteins, such as BDNF, which stimulates nerve growth and repair, lightens depression and anxiety, and is essential for memory centers in the brain to appropriately function. Sauna and other therapies that warm the core temperature of our bodies show antidepressant, attention, and mental focus effects, possibly by way of endogenous opioid systems and hormonal mechanisms, improved cerebral blood circulation, and reduction of inflammation that may be affecting the above.

Available at Root Slabtown, infrared saunas heat from within the body, enabling a deeper sweat and release of more toxins in the body on a deeper level.

Its benefits go far beyond cardiovascular health however.  People who utilized sauna 2-3 times per week were shown to have a 27% reduction in all causes of mortality, such as cancer, respiratory infections, and diabetes; those using it at a 4-7 per week frequency showed an enhanced benefit of 40% less premature death.  Interestingly, this figure was not dependent upon duration of time in the sauna, but frequency in number of times per week. It’s suggested that spending any time in the sauna, whether a few minutes or the optimal amount of time as noted above, shows similar benefits on overall long term health. Even a quick dose of heat gives one a significant positive impact.

Other studies on sauna suggest it helps increase physical endurance and boost athletic performance through a variety of physiological mechanisms.  It’s shown to improve diabetes through reduction of blood glucose and increases insulin sensitivity of muscle tissue, and can improve cell function and regeneration by stimulating the release of growth hormone.  It’s detoxification abilities are powerful as well, as perspiration is shown to eliminate heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, up to 25-fold compared to urine. Sauna is also known to help you sweat out BPA, and some forms of PCBs and phthalates, giving you relief from these chemicals known to contribute to health challenges.  Sauna, although traditionally utilized for centuries, is starting to emerge in the medical and scientific community as a therapeutic adjunct for your health and wellness to prosper. 

At Root we can help. We offer sauna, conveniently available at each of our locations in NE and NW Portland. It is a perfect enrichment to an acupuncture session, and the typical fee for sauna is waived when in tandem with an appointment.  To know more and to see if sauna is right for you and your health goals, our doctors and practitioners are available for treatments or complementary consults as well.  We hope to find you sweating it out at our clinic soon!  

With qi, Dr. Jon Conant