634: The One About Sauna Use and Benefits – Short Episode

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The One About Sauna Use and Benefits - Short Episode
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634: The One About Sauna Use and Benefits – Short Episode

Today I’m talking about getting all hot and sweaty – in a good way. Saunas have been used across many cultures and since ancient times to improve health. They’re something that I personally use a lot and I’ve seen benefits from. In this episode we’ll take a closer look at the science behind saunas, how to use them, and the best options.

Regular sauna use is linked to better heart health and a decreased risk of heart attacks. Since it works the cardiovascular system, it also mimics some of the effects of exercise. Sauna has also been shown to help with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Plus it can help with weight loss, chronic fatigue, and diabetes risk. That’s just scratching the surface of how sauna can help the body!

I’ll also cover the minimum effective dose based on my research (how hot and how long to use it). And I go over which saunas I have and which ones are the best ones to get. Thankfully there are various price ranges with some more affordable options. I hope you’ll join me and listen in as I chat about all things sauna related!

Episode Highlights

  • How sauna use has the potential to reduce the risk of all cause mortality, heart disease, and many other issues.
  • The history of sauna use and how many cultures have used heat therapy since 2000 B.C.
  • What the different types of saunas are (dry sauna, steam sauna, and infrared sauna) and how they work
  • Which sauna is best
  • What heat shock proteins are and how sauna impacts this
  • The benefits of sweating
  • How sauna can impact heart health, detoxification, muscle recovery, mood, weight loss, and more!
  • Timing of sauna use and what time of the day is typically recommended
  • Examples of how I use sauna during the week, what temperature, how long, and what kind
  • How often you should use a sauna and how to begin

Resources Mentioned

More From Wellness Mama

Read Transcript

Child: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.

This episode is sponsored by Wellnesse, the personal care company I co-founded when I couldn’t find products I felt comfortable using on my family that worked as well as conventional alternatives. My focus was figuring out the 80/20 of products that account for the most harmful chemical exposure and making safer alternatives that worked just as well. We started out with oral care and haircare and now also have a safe natural deodorant that actually works. By changing out just these products in your routine, you can reduce your chemical exposure by as much as 80% and these products are safe for the whole family. Wellnesse has three types of remineralizing toothpaste, original whitening mint, whitening charcoal and natural strawberry for kids. The deodorant has a neutral scent and is designed to work without causing irritation like many natural deodorants do. And the haircare is designed as a hair food… focused on nourishing your hair and scalp for healthier and healthier hair the longer you use it. Check out these all the Wellnesse products at Wellnesse.com.

Katie: Hello, and welcome to the Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie, from wellnessmama.com. And this short episode is all about sauna use and sauna benefits, which you may know by now, is a topic that I love and a modality that I use often. But I wanted to do a short episode to give a overview of the reasons why, and the benefits, as well as some practical information and cautions as well. This is part of a series of short solo episodes that will air in addition to the two regular episodes each week. And these episodes, I aim for it to only be about 15 to 20 minutes long, but some do go longer. And they will cover my understanding of the research and information around a particular topic. These are in response to requests of how to make these topics directly actionable, without having to listen to dozens of other episodes or delve into the research.
I’d like to emphasize that the short episodes share my own understanding and experience with these topics, along with key takeaways and summaries, sort of my Feynman summary, if you will. And these, like all episodes, are for educational purposes only. And of course should not be considered medical or health advice. Like always, these are simply a starting point for your own research and experimentation, which I encourage you to always do your own research, to consult with your doctor or practitioners, and to always become your own primary health care provider, and to take responsibility for your own health. So always question everything, including and especially me. And always stay curious and keep asking why.
That said, this episode is all about sauna use, the different types of sauna, the benefits and the cautions. And I said before that if sauna were a pill, everyone would take it because of its many benefits and its potential to reduce risk of all-cause mortality, heart disease, and many other issues. In fact, using the sauna two to three times per week was associated with a 24% lower all-cause mortality. And using it four to seven times per week decreased all-cause mortality by 40%. So this is a statistically pretty significant effect. I also want to say that I don’t think it’s necessary to use a sauna to have good health. But I do think it can be extremely helpful if it is within your budget and your ability. And later on, I’ll discuss various cost options and talk about the ones I’ve used before and currently use, and also how you can get cheaper options at home. But I want to go into some of the research first.
So to start off broad, what are saunas and how long have they been used? Essentially, for centuries, people around the world have used some form of heat for therapeutic benefits. In recent years, scientists have started to examine these benefits more closely, and the results are pretty interesting. So we see everything from improved heart health to reduced inflammation. Sauna use appears to offer a range of benefits for both the mind and the body. And in this episode, I’m going to explore what the research says about the benefits of sauna use and how you can incorporate this practice into your modern wellness routine if you want to. Like I said, the Finnish people have known all about sauna use for years, and the rest of the world is finally starting to catch on. I got to spend time in Finland a few years ago. And that really anchored for me the benefits of sauna and also just how relaxing it was. And this has now become a regular part of my routine. But there are years of scientific research that back this practice as well.
We see sauna and heat use in traditional cultures for thousands of years, dating back as far as we know to the Mayans, the ancient Grecians and Romans. And nowadays sauna use is ingrained in many cultures, from the Finnish saunas, to the Swedish bastu, to the Russian banyas, and much more. And the term sauna can refer to any type of small or large room or device, designed to help the user experience dry heat or wet heat, which we think of as steam. And there are now also infrared, which has some categories within that which we’ll explore in a minute, that emit infrared light and claim to heat the body more effectively. I’ll delve into that, like I said, in a minute. Modern research has shown that there is minimum effective dose guidelines for both temperature and time, which you can use to maximize the benefits of sauna if you choose to use it. I’ll discuss those later on as well.
But before we get there, I want to just explain the different types of saunas you may encounter if you did a search on the internet. There are multiple types, including sort of in a broad category sense, traditional dry saunas, which can be heated with fire, or hot stones, or gas, or electricity. And these are the ones you’ll often see in Scandinavian or Finnish culture. And this is the one I have outside on my patio of my home, and that I probably use the most often. There are also things like Steam saunas, where you can generate steam by applying water on a heating element. Some of these are often found at spas and gyms. This is also the method used with things like ozone saunas, which I’m not going to go deep on today, but these are growing in popularity. These are not my personal favorite just because the humidity makes it hard for me to stay in for as long to get the heat benefits. But many people do love that method as well. And then now we have a whole category of infrared saunas, which use invisible light with certain frequencies to penetrate and heat up the body’s tissues directly. And there are smaller homes units available for this. I have the Creatrix infrared one in my home indoors, and I also have the HigherDOSE sauna blanket in my home. And I’ll explain more about those later as well.
But infrared sauna can actually be broken down into three categories, which are near infrared saunas, far infrared saunas, which are often abbreviated FIR, or full spectrum infrared saunas. And there’s a lot of debate on infrared saunas versus traditional saunas. The infrared sauna is a more recent invention, which we think we can trace back to the 1800s with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg from Michigan, who put what he called an electric light bath together from light bulbs. This was right about the time that light bulbs, which emitted a lot of near infrared light, were invented. He presented this at the Chicago World Fair, and a German entrepreneur saw the advice, replicated the design, and sold it all over the world because of its powerful healing abilities. It was anecdotally said that it got rid of gout for the King of England. Though I couldn’t find any verification of this. But the theory with infrared saunas is that while traditional saunas heat the air to heat the body, infrared saunas say that they use invisible light just below the red-light frequencies, to penetrate and heat up the tissues of the body directly to a depth of up to 1.5 inches into the skin. So although our eyes can’t see it, we can feel that gentle, radiant heat. And some of those same wavelengths are found in sunlight. So they may have some additional benefit as well.
And the mechanism here is called photobiomodulation, which you might have heard before. It’s a big fancy sounding word. But it just means a form of therapy that uses light. And this is of course, also the same method as red light therapy. If you’re not familiar with that term, just a brief overview. According to quantum physics, molecules can be excited by specific light frequencies. The higher frequency the light is, the more energy it carries. And that excited molecule then goes through a process to release that energy and return to its normal state. Typically at a lower form of light or lower frequency. And you can observe this process happening every day inside of a fluorescent lamp, when a UV light excites chemicals coating the inside of the bulbs to emit visible light. So, photobiomodulation is when living organisms use this process. And this is where the distinction between near and far infrared comes in. So if you’re interested in the difference, near infrared saunas typically use higher frequency red light and near infrared light.
And they can excite energy producing enzymes in the mitochondria, which we know are the powerhouse of the cell. And this increases potentially mitochondrial function. And for this reason, people think it may initiate a lot of healing processes in the cell, including increasing ATP production, cellular energy, reducing oxidative stress and reducing inflammation. Far infrared saunas, scientists are still trying to understand why the far infrared spectrum has so many health benefits. But the theory is that this light spectrum has more clinical studies supporting the benefits over other infrared bands. And that rather than exciting mitochondrial enzymes, far infrared light affects the health of the cells by exciting water molecules within them. So aside from producing heat, far infrared may also increase mitochondrial function by structuring the water molecules that surround the mitochondria.
So understanding a little bit of the different types, which sauna is best. I would say the research is still out on this. But when you actually look at the studies and the data, most indicate that the heat is the mechanism, and most studies are done on traditional saunas. At the same time, many companies claim that infrared saunas have additional benefits, though, we’re still sort of waiting on studies to really delve into that. Infrared saunas are often much less expensive and easier to fit into a home environment. So they are a more reasonable option for most of us. And as long as the minimum heat requirements can be reached, I think they’re a great option. As I mentioned, I have both the traditional barrel sauna that can get above 200 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an indoor Creatrix sauna, which I will link to both those in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. And the Creatrix can reach almost that same temperature. And it has near infrared as well.
I will say, the indoor one is a much more budget-friendly option. It can also be easily taken down and put up. So that’s more doable for a lot of home environments. And there are now even things like the sauna blankets from HigherDOSE that can fold up and store under a bed or in a closet. So these are good, affordable options for those with limited space as well. I will link to all of those in the show notes if you want to see more detail. And then companies like Sunlighten and Clearlight also make indoor or outdoor infrared units which are great. Like I said, just be sure they can get up to the minimum temperature, which we can discuss more in a minute. But studies vary, it seems like we want to see at least above mid-150s, but that above 170 is actually better. And that’s what I aim for with my sauna use, is anything above 170, 175.
Speaking of benefits, there are a lot of potential benefits of sauna use. And research continually backs these up. Like I said, they’re varied in many benefits. We likely fully don’t understand them yet. But one thing that we do know is that sauna use increases the production of heat shock proteins in the body, which this is an important concept to understand. Heat shock proteins or HSPs are a family of proteins that are synthesized in response to stressors, logically, such as heat, but also in response to oxidative stress, radiation, and other cellular stressors. They play a vital role in protecting cells from damage, by assisting in protein folding, transport and degradation, and promoting the recovery of damaged proteins. Sauna use has been shown to increase the production of heat shock proteins in the body. When the body is exposed to high temperatures in the sauna, it triggers a heat stress response. And this response activates the synthesis of heat shock proteins, which can help protect the body from the damage caused by the heat.
So in addition to the direct effect of the heat, sauna has also been shown to increase the production of heat shock proteins through other mechanisms, such as activation of the immune system and stimulation of the nervous system. These effects may be mediated by the release of certain molecules, such as heat shock factor one, which plays a key role in the regulation of heat shock proteins. But overall, increasing production of heat shock proteins through sauna therapy may have several health benefits, including improved immune function, increased resistance to stress, and reduced risk of certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Sauna use has also been shown to elicit several cellular repair mechanisms in the body, which can promote tissue repair and regeneration. Some of the key cellular repair mechanisms that are activated by sauna include things like the heat shock proteins already mentioned, that sauna use can stimulate these. And these play a key role in protecting cells from damage and promoting protein folding, transport, and degradation.
Sauna use can increase circulation. The high temperatures in a sauna can cause blood vessels to dilate, which can increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues. And this increased circulation can help flush out toxins and promote tissue repair. Sauna use can also increase production of growth hormone, which is important for tissue repair and regeneration, as well as activation of the immune system. There’s some research that sauna can help activate the immune system, which of course plays a key role in tissue repair as well. And there’s some evidence that sauna use can lead to the induction of autophagy, which is a cellular process that involves the breakdown and recycling of damaged proteins and organelles in the body. So sauna use has been shown to induce autophagy. And this can help sort of clear out damaged cellular components within the body and promote tissue repair. Another factor I want to mention is that sauna use is often considered an exercise mimetic, because it can activate many of the same physiological responses that occur during exercise.
Some of the key ways in which sauna is an exercise mimetic would be things like increased heart rate. So sauna use can increase heart rate, which you might have experienced if you’ve ever spent much time in a sauna, similar to the cardiovascular response during exercise. Quite logically, sauna use also can increase sweating, which is a mechanism used by the body to regulate body temperature during exercise. Sauna use can also increase circulation, which is similar to the increased blood flow during exercise. It can increase production of growth hormone, which is also increased during exercise. And it can increase metabolism when used over time, which is also similar to the increased metabolic rate that occurs during exercise. So, that’s why some of the reasons that sauna is considered an exercise mimetic. And you can get some of the same effects from sauna use that you can from regular exercise. And over time, these benefits can include things like improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance, improved immune function, and even reduced risk of certain diseases like type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So, sauna as an exercise mimetic may be especially beneficial for individuals who are unable to engage in regular exercise due to physical limitations like injury or illness. And in these cases, sauna may provide a viable alternative to exercise, since it can activate some of those same physiological responses and benefits. However, for most people, it’s important to note that sauna should not be considered a replacement for regular exercise, but rather as a complementary activity. And there’s a lot of research about using sauna for instance, right after exercise, to actually get kind of additional benefits by combining them. In a little bit more nuanced sense, I just want to go through what the research says about specific sauna benefits on things like, for instance, heart health and blood pressure. A review of all the published scientific literature about saunas shows a strong trend of coronary benefits. Most notably, in their ability to help normalize blood pressure and reduce the chance of congestive heart failure.
In fact, a Harvard review of data showed that a potential 40-plus percent reduction in heart attack risk from using a sauna four to seven times per week. And the benefit went up with increased use. In other words, the studies show that the more often and the longer a person uses a sauna, the more benefit, and on average, the longer that person lived. A 2018 study published in the Journal of the “American College of Cardiology,” found that regular sauna use was associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. And the study followed over 1600 middle aged men in Finland for an average of 21 years. And found that those who saunad four to seven times per week had a 63% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than those who used saunas once a week or less. The study also found that frequent sauna use was associated with a reduced risk of fatal and non-fatal heart disease events, as well as lower blood pressure.
Like I said, one of the mechanisms here is that heat conditioning or sauna use resembles cardiovascular exercise in many ways. We know the benefits of exercise for heart health. And because the cardiovascular system has to work harder to eliminate the heat in a sauna, we get a lot of those same benefits, including that increased blood flow, sweating, and potentially increased cardiovascular fitness. Some people also report that post exercise euphoria after sauna use as well.
Also briefly touching on again the benefits of sweating and detoxification in the sauna. The increase in circulation and sweating can aid the body’s natural detoxification pathways. So in this way, sauna therapy helps the body’s natural process of detoxification, through sweating. There’s also some evidence that sweating might reduce the buildup of toxic chemicals in the body.
And a systematic review in 2012 found that toxic heavy metals and other toxins were excreted in the sweat of people who sauna’d recently. Another study found that mercury levels normalized with repeated sauna treatments. Again, this is likely due to the sweating and not any specific mechanism of the sauna itself. But it illustrates why sweating is so beneficial. Of course, for anyone who has any kind of known heavy metal buildup in the body, I would always recommend working with a practitioner who’s experienced in that and addressing that directly as well.
Many people also use the sauna for pain relief and muscle recovery. Like I said, because saunas increase heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes, and stimulate cellular cleanup or autophagy, this can help our cells function more optimally. In aging mice, an increase in heat shock proteins helped delay aging and improved cognitive function with age. Sauna also can increase several anti-aging hormones, including growth hormones, insulin-like growth factor one or IGF-1. And IGF-1 in particular can really help with injury healing.
Several heat shock proteins can even help with increase in muscle mass without even weight training. So through things like photobiomodulation, infrared therapy, this has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that can accelerate injury healing. And this is the reason that many people now turn to sauna for pain relief and post-exercise recovery. There’s also a whole category of research on the mood and cognitive function benefits of sauna. So just as when you go for a run, you get those endorphins, sauna use can increase endorphins as well. And endorphins are the happiness hormone. It could also increase the body’s natural production of opioids, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, as well as a molecule called brain derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF in the brain. And BDNF stimulates neurogenesis, which is the growth of new neuronal cells in the brain. And it protects new neurons from damage. So improving BDNF levels is therefore a big factor in cognitive function. In addition to that, low or abnormally low levels of BDNF may be the cause for several mental and psychiatric diseases, or at least be linked.
Infrared saunas can also help reduce stress by rebalancing the stress response axis. It can help lower cortisol when it’s too high, and thus helps with stress related health problems. Saunas can also improve the neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which can improve cognitive performance as well. And it seems like new studies are also pointing to sauna being able to offer other benefits for mental health as well. There was a 2018 study published in “JAMA,” that found that sauna use was associated with a lower risk of depression and an improved sense of wellbeing. They followed over 2000 middle aged men in Finland for 20 years, and found that those who saunad that same four to seven times per week had a 66% lower risk of developing depression than those who saunad once per week or less. The study again found that sauna use was associated with a reduced risk of anxiety as well as other stress related disorders.
Sauna is also both well studied and often cited anecdotally for weight loss and metabolic health. So I think there’s some important caveat to understand though. So contrary to popular claims, heat and sauna use do not directly burn fat or kill fat cells. However, saunas can help improve insulin sensitivity because of that exercise mimicking effect. They can increase lean muscle mass, and they can reduce that by changing the hormonal environment. In addition, we talked about how saunas can reduce inflammation. Therefore, sauna therapies can help in that equation of obesity and diabetes, and we already mentioned cardiovascular health as well. A Japanese study found that two weeks of sauna therapy, increased appetite and food intake in people of a healthy weight. However, in overweight people, far infrared sauna usage, together with a low-calorie diet, resulted in significant weight loss and body fat loss. So while this study did not compare the fat loss group with a group that did not use sauna, the reduction in body fat was about 4.5% in a two-week time, which is considered pretty fast and definitely statistically significant.
To go a little bit deeper on the inflammation component. So as I mentioned, sauna use may increase the presence of heat shock proteins, which are anti-inflammatory. So for this reason, saunas may help lower chronic inflammation. But as many guests of this podcast have explained, inflammation is connected to almost every major disease. So it’s something we want to pay attention to and reduce when possible. There was another study where participants used saunas regularly, and they showed lower levels of oxidative stress even within just two weeks of sauna use. While another study, that same one I mentioned before, found that men who used the sauna four to seven times per week had 32% lower levels of C-reactive protein or CRP. Additionally, a 2015 study published in the “Journal of Human Hypertension,” found that sauna use was associated with a reduction in inflammatory markers within the blood. And another study published in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” found that sauna use reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
And this lines up with my personal anecdotal experience, and a very small-scale test I ran during lockdown actually, where there were about six of us who were in the sauna. We hit that four to seven times per week, at 170 degrees or above. We actually did 45 minutes without a break. And we all saw on our labs, reductions in things like C-reactive protein, and inflammatory markers, and improvements in beneficial markers in the blood as well.
Sauna use can be used strategically for sleep benefits as well. According to Dr. Michael Breus, who’s a clinical psychologist, past podcast guest and board certified in sleep medicine, the steep drop in body temperature at night is one of the circadian cues the body takes to know that it’s time to sleep. This explains why a warm bath or a shower before bed can improve sleep quality. And so because the sauna typically heats the body up much hotter than a warm shower, it can take the body a few hours to cool down for bed. So if you want to use sauna for sleep quality, considering a sauna session in the afternoon before dinner to allow the body to cool down by bedtime.
A Japanese study I mentioned also found that far infrared ray exposure improved sleep quality in both rats and insomniac humans objects. And my personal preference when possible is to do sauna in the afternoon, before dinner. I find that I have the best sleep and the most benefit from that. Though sometimes on Saturdays, I will do longer sessions in the morning, including one designed to spike growth hormone, which I’ll talk more about in a couple of minutes. But in general, my sauna use is in the afternoons when possible. Sauna use is also tied to better skin health. Because in order to eliminate heat, your body increases blood flow to the skin and increases sweating. In addition, the skin adapts to this process, which makes it healthier over time.
There’s an interesting German study that found that the skin of regular sauna users could better hold moisture and maintain a healthier skin pH. And in addition, these sauna users had less sebum on their foreheads, suggesting that they might be less likely to get acne. Skin problems like eczema and psoriasis both involve inflammation and a vulnerability of the skin barrier. So by helping both with strengthening the skin barrier and reducing overall inflammation, sauna use, if tolerated, can potentially really help with those conditions as well. But some people, the sweat irritates their condition, might have to start slowly or not use it.
Of course any conversation about any modality, talking about the benefits, I always want to also make sure that we delve into risk and cautions. Though sauna use is generally considered safe, anyone considering sauna use should check with a doctor or medical professional first, as some people including people like Tim Ferriss, have genetic conditions that can lead to overheating and health problems from sauna use. Common sense cautions include avoiding direct contact with the heating elements to avoid burns. Not using sauna for more than the recommended amount of time and building up slowly. And of course not using sauna after alcohol or drug use ever. Anyone new to sauna, I would recommend starting off gently at a lower temperature for shorter periods, and gradually increasing the temperature and duration of sauna use. Don’t jump in with that 170 degree plus 45 minutes that I did. I did not start there. Take breaks or finish your sauna session early if you don’t feel well. And of course, always remember to hydrate and replace electrolytes accordingly during and after your sauna session.
I also want to call out that the really effect that it’s most mentioned in all of these studies is the heat itself. So it’s assumed that the most beneficial part of the sauna use is the heat itself. So while infrared saunas may potentially give some additional benefits, these are definitely not as well studied. And I would make sure that you’re still hitting that minimum heat requirement, which I mentioned is like mid-150s in the low end, toward, I like it above 170. But I started slow and worked up to spending as much as half an hour or more at one time. I consider the minimum effective dose based on my understanding of the research and the work of people like Dr. Rhonda Patrick, to be about 19 minutes at a time, without a break. So that’s my minimum effective dose I aim for if I’m going to use the sauna is, 19 minutes at 170-plus degrees. I noticed that personally, the sauna is now my relaxing time. I do some breathing exercises in there. And I feel like it’s been very good for my skin as well.
And I mentioned some of the sauna options as well. I’m gonna put more links in the show notes rather than go deep on them in here right now. But there are many options now for more traditional, just heat element saunas, as well as indoor and outdoor infrared, all the way down to sauna blankets that take up very little space. The ones I have in my home, I’ve collected quite a few over the years. I have the outdoor barrel sauna. I have the indoor Creatrix near infrared sauna. I have the HigherDOSE sauna blanket. I also have the Sunlighten Solo Pod, which is a one-person sauna that can get body temperature up pretty quickly. And that’s the one I’ll often use if I feel like I’m starting to get sick, to help my body get a fever. But again, I’ll put links to all those so you can learn more in the show notes.
There’s also the question of how often we should sauna and for how long. As I found in Finland, many people in Finland use the sauna daily. And saunas are generally considered safe to use on a daily basis for healthy people. Again, if you have any kind of medical condition, or are taking any medication, or are pregnant, obviously check with your doctor. Those will be times you don’t want to use the sauna. But most of the research agrees that as long as a person is healthy and can tolerate saunas, regular use can be beneficial and in a dose dependent way. In those studies, four to seven sauna sessions per week, lasting at least 20 minutes, and I would add at above 170 degrees, show the biggest result in all of the above beneficial categories we mentioned, as well as the biggest result in reduction of all-cause mortality. Based on Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s work, as I mentioned, I aim for at least 19 minutes without a break per sauna session for the most benefit. And I’ve also experimented with Andrew Huberman’ssuggestion of a protocol to increase growth hormone, which is to do several 30-minute sessions in a row, with about a 10-minute cooldown period in between, which is definitely more intense.
I did this last week, and I did about four in a row. So I did end up taking a break during a couple of those just to get air for about a minute. I also follow the Huberman recommendation of about 16 ounces of water for every 15 minutes I’m in the sauna. And I also alternate in and drink some LMNT for electrolytes. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. But I find that I sweat out a tremendous amount of water while in the sauna. And I’m very careful to make sure I replenish that.
I’d also like to mention in closing, that while I think the sauna is amazing, and hopefully I’ve made a pretty strong case for the research supported benefits. I do not think sauna is necessary for people to be healthy, especially if it’s something that’s outside of your budget or not possible to access where you live.
I think that the foundational habits that I’ve talked about on here before, like morning sunlight, proper hydration, and sleep, and solid nutrition, are a really important starting point before adding in anything additional like sauna, or supplements, or any kind of more advanced bio hacks. And I think on the long-term, those foundational things will make anything additional more effective anyway. And so don’t feel like if you can’t access sauna, you cannot be optimally healthy. I don’t think that’s the case. I think that if sauna is within your budget and availability, it can be something that helps make optimal health a little more easy. I also find it personally just very relaxing and a calming habit to have. But I do not think you need it to be healthy. However, if it’s possible, I do think it can be a great aid in optimal health.
And like I mentioned, there are many different resources related to this. I have articles on this as well. I will link to my articles about sauna use as well as the different types of saunas I have in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm, so you can learn more there, as well as some past podcast episodes that touch on the benefits of sauna. But I appreciate you going on this short episode journey with me about sauna use. I would love to hear your own experience with using a sauna if you have. You can always email me, leave a comment on the show notes post or reach out to me on social media, and share your experience. As well as I would love to know what topics you would love for me to tackle in future short episodes.
And as always, I’m so grateful for your time today, for sharing your most valuable resources with me, your time, your energy, and your attention. I’m so grateful that you did. I don’t take that lightly. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the Wellness Mama Podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

This episode is sponsored by Wellnesse, the personal care company I co-founded when I couldn’t find products I felt comfortable using on my family that worked as well as conventional alternatives. My focus was figuring out the 80/20 of products that account for the most harmful chemical exposure and making safer alternatives that worked just as well. We started out with oral care and haircare and now also have a safe natural deodorant that actually works. By changing out just these products in your routine, you can reduce your chemical exposure by as much as 80% and these products are safe for the whole family. Wellnesse has three types of remineralizing toothpaste, original whitening mint, whitening charcoal and natural strawberry for kids. The deodorant has a neutral scent and is designed to work without causing irritation like many natural deodorants do. And the haircare is designed as a hair food… focused on nourishing your hair and scalp for healthier and healthier hair the longer you use it. Check out these all the Wellnesse products at Wellnesse.com.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


5 responses to “634: The One About Sauna Use and Benefits – Short Episode”

  1. William Avatar

    Thank you, Katie! I also enjoy my sauna time. Regarding temperatures, traditional saunas typically reach 180°F+, enhancing sweat and detoxification. However, far-infrared saunas operate at lower temperatures (100-140°F) because their heat penetrates deeper into the body, providing a similar sweat response at cooler settings. This difference allows for a more comfortable experience while still promoting weight loss and other health benefits.

  2. Silke Rochtus Avatar
    Silke Rochtus

    In Finland the social aspect of sauna use is important to take into account. People talk, laugh and bond during that time 🙂 It is inscribed into the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage!

  3. Gabrielle Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    I just finished listening to your short episode on sauna use. I’ve been considering getting one, but I have a hot tub and I’m curios to know if they offer similar benefits or if one is better than the other. Do you have an episodes comparing the pros & cons of hot tub use vs. saunas?

    Thank you


  4. Susie Williams Avatar
    Susie Williams

    Love your podcasts! We bought the Sunlighten Signature 1 a few years ago and really enjoy it. As a breast cancer survivor (bilateral reconstruction so I have implants) I do wonder about the safely of the sauna with implants and if there are any studies on preventing cancer reoccurrence. I have asked my drs about safety use and they don’t seem to have concern…. but I’m very interested in knowing if any studies have been done or what other physicians (knowledgable about sauna use) might have to say. Thanks!

  5. Heather Howell Avatar
    Heather Howell

    Thank you for this episode, Katie. I love my sauna time, too. You mention 180+ temperatures. This is for traditional heat saunas, the far infared saunas are not designed to go that high (with regulators) because it is believed the penetration of heat in the body is different.
    I wonder if you could address this difference, please for clarification. Thanks!

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