What Are the Benefits of Dry & Steam Saunas?

For thousands of years, people have used dry and wet saunas for therapeutic purposes. In his 1978 book, “Sweat,” Mikkel Aaland traces the history of the sauna to ancient Greece and Finland, where it was championed for cleansing the body and ridding it of toxins. Wet and dry saunas are still quite popular in Europe and Asia, and are typically found in North America at fitness clubs and ski lodges.

Improves Heart Functions

A team of Israeli researchers studied the effects of dry sauna bathing on heart failure patients. The 2006 paper published by Drs. Nava and Arnon Blum reveals “Long-term sauna bathing may help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and improve left ventricular ejection fraction in patients with chronic congestive heart failure.” The paper also observed that test subjects consumed more oxygen, which could then be circulated through the body.

Relief of Rheumatic Diseases

Those ailing with arthritis, tennis elbow and fibromyalgia can find relief in dry saunas. According to a 2007 paper published by Dr. Lawrence Wilson for the Center of Development, the dry sauna “dramatically enhances circulation to the joints.” Increased blood flow flushes toxins and relieves inflammation of the joint, which is the cause of rheumatic illnesses.

Eases Asthma

Dr. Michael Segal speaks of the power of steam in “The Segal Guide to Asthma.” Segal writes that steam removes mucus from the lungs and bronchial tubes. This mucus causes inflammation in those areas, leading to chest tightness and shortness of breath. Regular steam treatments are considered a good, non-medicinal therapy.

Post-workout Relaxation

Most people head to the sauna–dry or wet–after a workout. When muscles and joints are worked, they release built-up lactic acid and other toxins that are expelled from the body through sweat. The heat from a post-workout sauna session can help the body release remaining toxins, while the atmospheric heat keeps muscles loose and prevents cramping.