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Our methods of eliminating toxins in the body are few. We are limited to the feces, the urine, perspiration and respiration. When the liver, kidneys and lungs have been damaged by chronic exposure to environmental toxins our ability to rid our bodies of toxins becomes severely limited. Through various methods we can cleanse the liver and kidneys, which will help address future toxins, but we are still left with the fat-stored (lipophilic) toxins and heavy metals stored in connective tissue and the brain. Today, studies show that most of us have between 400 and 800 chemical residues stored in the fat cells of our bodies. These chemicals and heavy metals make up the "total toxic burden." When our bodies exceed the limit that we can excrete, we begin to store these toxins. This bioaccumulation seriously compromises our physiological and psychological health and leads to chronic disease. Perspiration is recognized by health practitioners worldwide as perhaps the most effective method of removing both difficult chemical and heavy metal toxins from the body. The combination of "resonant absorption" and low heat makes this the detox method of choice for chronically ill patients as well as those that are well and wish to stay that way by reducing their "toxic burden".
Perspiration comes from small sweat glands. These are small organs located in the skin. Due to certain stimuli, nervous or humoral they will secrete sweat which in turn helps with thermal regulation. There are two main types of sweat glands eccrine glands and apocrine glands. The eccrine glands are controlled by the sympathetic chain. As part of the physiological regulation of body temperature, the skin will begin to sweat almost precisely at 37°C and the perspiration will increase rapidly with increasing skin temperature. A man of average weight throws off through the skin during 24 hours about 18 ounces of water, 300 grains of solid matter, and 400 grains of carbonic acid gas. Ordinarily, this constant exhalation is not apparent, and the excretion is then termed insensible perspiration.
The cooling effect of perspiration evaporation makes use of the very large heat of vaporization of water. This heat of vaporization is 540 calories/gm at the boiling point, but is even larger, 580 cal/gm, at the normal skin temperature. Even when one is unaware of perspiration, physiology texts quote an amount of about 600 grams per day of "insensate loss" of moisture from the skin. Guyton reports that a normal maximum perspiration rate is about 1.5 liters/hour, but that after 4 to 6 weeks of acclimatization in a tropical climate, it can reach 3.5 liters/hr! You would have to just sit around drinking constantly, just to keep from getting dehydrated! That maximum rate corresponds to a maximum cooling power of almost 2.4 kilowatts!
A 30 minute sauna creates approximately the same amount of perspiration as a 10 kilometer run. As your body increases sweat production to cool itself, your heart works harder to boost circulation, thus improving your cardiovascular system. Your immune system is also strengthened because when your body temperature is raised, your systems fight this "artificial fever". Sweating helps detoxify your body, by removing the accumulation of potentially carcinogenic heavy metals as well as alcohol, nicotine, sodium and cholesterol. Profuse perspiration also deeply cleanses the skin, creating beautiful and improved tone, texture, and color. A single sauna session will burn as many calories as you would during rowing for 30 minutes. Weight loss occurs because body fat becomes water-soluble at 43ºC and the body can sweat it out.
Steam vs. Sauna
Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine wrote more than two thousand years ago "Give me the power to create a fever, and I shall cure any disease." During a fever the functioning of the immune system is stimulated, whilst the growth of bacteria and virus is forced to slow down. Fever is the body's defense against bacteria, microbes and consequent infection. This beneficial side effect triggers the production of white blood cells (leukocytes) by your bone marrow and killer T cells by your thymus. The result is immune system improvement. The production of white blood cells, the primary agents of the immune system, is increased, as is the rate of their release into the blood stream. The generation of antibodies speeds up, as does the production of interferon, an anti viral protein that also has powerful healing properties.
So what does this mean in terms of having a steam or sauna bath? Simple, steam and sauna baths produce the desired temperature rise in the body similar to a fever by a process called hyperthermia. However, there is a distinct difference between steam and sauna. The steam, which is condensed vapor formed by heating water, is wet and humid in nature. While the sauna is partially dry, where water is splashed on heated stones to raise the humidity level to as much as 40%. Without that the hot dry air of the sauna can irritate and burn the mucus membranes.
Steam bathing whether it is dry (sauna) or wet (steam) has been considered as one of the simplest ways to rid the body of toxins. As the pores in the skin open up millions of sweat glands start to excrete, the body rids itself of metabolic and other waste products. Sweat contains almost the same elements as urine and for this reason, the skin is sometimes called the third kidney. It is estimated that as much as 30% of bodily wastes are eliminated by way of perspiration.
The effectiveness of hyperthermia directly correlates with the ability to eliminate heat loss during a steam bath. As the body's temperature begins to rise, the body's natural response is to perspire so that the evaporation of the perspiration will cool the body. In a sauna heat, undesirable cooling undermines hyperthermia by the natural evaporation process and allows toxin filled perspiration to dry on the skin. However, in a steam bath, evaporation is not possible and therefore it allows little or no loss of valuable body heat. You still perspire as heavily, it just does not evaporate and dry on the skin. The higher moisture level actually causes condensation on the body to become the primary heat transfer mechanism additionally heating the body. The powerful cleansing and healing process of hyperthermia does not take place until the body reaches 101° F- 103° F. This is accomplished quicker and more effectively in a steam bath than a sauna and only requires 10 to 15 minutes.
Another benefit of steam bathing is that it has a stimulating effect on the cardiovascular system. The pulse rate increases from 75 beats per minute (average) to between 100 - 150 beats per minute during a 15 - 20 minute session. This increases blood circulation but not blood pressure, since the heat causes the tiny blood vessels in the skin to expand, accommodating the increased blood flow.
Steam bathing and thus steam inhalation is an effective treatment in respiratory conditions and is highly recommended for the treatment of the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies and asthma.
1. Steam relieves inflammation and congestion of the upper respiratory membranes.
2. Steam relieves throat irritation by moistening the air.
3. Steam relieves spasmodic breathing (asthma, croup).
4. Steam loosens secretions and stimulates discharges of mucous from the throat and lungs.
5. Steam relaxes muscles and relieves coughing.
6. Steam keeps the mucous membranes from excessive drying.
Firstly the steam room makes use of a steam generator which resides outside the room. Its purpose is to heat water, not air, and inject steam into the room. Unlike the sauna which uses a stove housed inside the room and surrounded by rocks. Pouring water onto the rocks regulates the temperature which ranges from 120° F. to 150° F.
The relative humidity levels, which are controlled in this fashion, vary between 10% - 30%. The steam room on the other hand has a constant humidity level of over 100% and the temperatures are much lower than those in the sauna, in fact they rarely exceed 120° F. thus reducing the risk of burns.
A sauna is constructed of porous material, usually untreated kiln dried wood, and depends on air circulation through intake and outlet vents. Perspiration filled with toxins finds its way into the porous wood which needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly with waxes and oils. The steam room on the other hand is completely enclosed and covered with water resistant, no-corrosive surface such as molded acrylic. This allows the steam room enclosure to fill completely with condensed vapor and clouds of steam envelope the bather.
Detoxifying the body helps in weight loss. People who have unsuccessfully tried many diets often find success with far infrared saunas because they are able eliminate chemicals stored in the fat cells. This makes weight loss much easier.
A Sauna assists in weight loss in three significant ways:
1. It effectively reduces heavy metals which have been directly related to metabolic imbalances in the body causing poor digestion and weight gain.
2. It decreases fat stored (lipophilic) toxins. Often weight loss cannot be accomplished unless these toxins are first removed.
3. Although weight loss due to perspiration (water loss) is quickly regained, sending more blood to the capillaries and converting fats and carbohydrates results in as much as 600 calories burned during one short sauna session.