• Sauna is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing
• While the sauna is very healthy, you should be careful with it because of exposure to heat
• There are a few tips and tricks to make your sauna session more effective including using essential oils, lymphatic drainage, and herbal teas
Sauna benefits and dangers
A sauna can offer multiple benefits for a healthy lifestyle. Sauna benefits include:
Overall relaxation and recovery
Slowing down aging
Decreasing blood pressure
Improving cardiovascular health
Detoxifying the body of chemicals and heavy metals
Increasing athletic performance
Improving mood and emotional health
Improving immune system
With any benefit, there are dangers too if you are not doing things correctly. With sauna, you might experience:
Severe dehydration - may cause a multitude of issues including heatstroke, liver failure, loss of consciousness, seizure, and so on.
Rapid changes in blood pressure - may cause issues like a heart attack or stroke.
Also, for some individuals with certain medical conditions sauna usage should be avoided altogether unless a health provider permitted it. Those conditions include:
1) Heart conditions
2) High or low blood pressure
3) Lung and breathing conditions such as asthma
5) If you take psychiatrist prescribed drugs for mental health conditions
7) If you consumed a lot of alcohol, caffeine, or any other types of legal or illegal drugs
With that being said, there are certain guidelines you can follow in order to make your sauna visit safe and pleasurable.
How to use sauna correctly
Take off jewelry, watches, etc before you enter. This will prevent possible damage to your items as well as prevent burns to your body from overheated metal.
Please, take shower before you enter the sauna and make sure to enter and exit quickly. This is hygienic and ensures you don't release too much heat when entering. Simple sauna etiquette will go a long way.
Make sure to stay hydrated. It is a good idea to take a source of hydration with you in the sauna. Keep in mind that the metal bottle might get too hot to drink safely out of it.
Expose yourself to the heat slowly. Start by sitting on the lower bench in order to make sure you have adapted to the heat.
It might be a good idea to wear a sauna-specific hat to prevent head overheating.
Don't overstay in a sauna! This is the main reason for dehydration, heatstroke, and other issues. Don't look at other sauna goers, they might be more experienced than you. Sit in a sauna as long as you personally feel right for yourself.
Make sure to cool down between each entry into the sauna. Depending on your experience you might just sit outside and cool down, take a cool or cold shower, or plunge into the ice-cold pool. The contrast between heat and cold can be very good for the immune system and overall health, but you need to make sure you are adapted to it. Please, make safe decisions.
Tips and tricks to make your sauna visit more effective
When it comes to hydration, it might be a good idea to go beyond just water. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes with sweat which must be replenished to ensure body functions. Hydration drinks help replenish lost minerals fast. I prefer to go with a sugar-free option since I drink a lot of electrolyte drinks and must keep my calories low.
Many traditions use essential oils in their sauna sessions for the benefits of aromatherapy. Mixing oils in the water you pour on the stones creates a fantastic smell and gives additional health benefits. Before you add any essential oils, please make sure it is allowed at the sauna you are visiting since some establishments prohibit them. Here is the list of some essential oils you might want to use with the benefits they offer.
Eucalyptus - helps with respiratory issues as well as kills bacteria and germs in the sauna.
Peppermint - boosts mood and helps with nausea and similar issues.
Birch - a scent used in traditional Finnish saunas the most. Has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Cinnamon - helps with respiratory conditions like common flu.
The body's lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal and for delivering nutrients to cells. Sauna stimulates this bodily function, but you can also boost it even more by using a lymph drainage brush. Simply massage your body during or after the sauna session the same way you would use a regular body brush. Some brushes combine both lymph drainage and regular body brush, which makes it even more convenient.
In some sauna traditions, it is customary to consume herbal teas in between sauna sessions. You can try some of those to get additional benefits from your sauna visits. Please keep in mind that it is better to avoid caffeinated teas such as black or green since they can raise your blood pressure. Here are some herbal teas to consider:
Peppermint - helps digestion, stomach pain, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome
Ginger - helps with inflammation and boosts the immune system.
Chamomile - has a calming effect and helps get a good night's sleep.
Hibiscus - has antiviral properties, positively affects blood lipid levels, and reduces high blood pressure.
Rosehip - has anti-inflammatory properties.
In the end, there are multiple ways to make your sauna visit more effective and the most pleasurable for you. Find out what works the best and enjoy!