“Although sauna bathing is one of the oldest therapeutic modalities in human history, our forebears did not always understand exactly how or why it works,” says Nenah Sylver, PhD, author of The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy. Modern science allows us to understand how and why body heating and sweating, in the structure we call saunas, works.
Sweating is such an essential function that most of us take it for granted. In the chapter on “How and Why We Sweat,” you’ll learn more about this vital process and how you can harness it for health and healting. For example, you’ll learn that
- your skin is the largest organ in your body
- your skin weighs approximately 6 pounds and averages 20 square feet of area
- your skin is like a third kidney
- sauna therapy and the sweating it induces can reduce the burden on your kidneys
- sweating helps to alkalinize the body
You’ll read about studies and clinical trials that successfully used sauna therapy to detoxify people who were exposed to noxious chemicals––such as PCBs, PBB, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, and radiation (from nuclear accidents) ––at work, at home, and in the environment. You’ll also read about how sauna therapy has helped people heal from and overcome drug addiction and about how regular sauna use can boost your immune system, improve cardiovascular function, and much more.
In addition to the history of saunas, how and why we sweat, what we sweat and why we need to get rid of it, The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy covers the three main types of heat, the construction of saunas, who should and should not use them, how to take a sauna, detoxification programs for getting and staying well, and a brief summary of ozone therapy, which some practitioners use in conjunction with sauna therapy.
In the chapter on “Who May Use the Sauna and Who Should Not,” Sylver explains that “whether you are being treated by a physician for chronic or acute illness, have general wellness issues, or simply want to use the sauna to relax, you need to understand how heat affects the ways in which your body functions.” While there are very few conditions that would prohibit sauna bathing, it is still wise to know whether you need to consult your health care provider, make adjustments to your sauna bathing practice, or avoid sauna therapy under certain conditions.
Taking a sauna might seem straightforward; however, “Knowing how to use the sauna can make the difference between having a pleasurable experience or possibly hurting yourself,” says Sylver. The chapter on “How to take a Sauna” contains practical suggestions gleaned from data collected over many years by doctors, clinics, spas, and sauna manufacturers. It walks you through what to do before, during, and after a sauna bath.
The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy contains some fascinating facts. For example, did you know that
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves saunas as therapeutic devices
* Some insurance companies reimburse claimants for the cost of sauna therapy or of the saunas themselves
* By some estimates, the Finns have been using saunas for 2000 years
* The earliest non-native saunas in America were built prior to 1638 by Finnish and Swedish immigrants to the Delaware River Valley
* In 1988 the number of private saunas in Germany reached 400,000 and by 1998 the number climbed to one million
* In the late 1880s Dr. John Harvey Kellog of Battle Creek, Michigan, pioneered some of the most radical changes in sauna construction
* Dr. Kellog was the first American to therapeutically use ozone in his medical treatments
* “The Finnas are so serious about their saunas, that their Olympic team carries a sauna with them whenever they travel.”
Whether you’re a lay person contemplating using or purchasing a home sauna for your health or a health practitioner considering adding sauna therapy to your practice, The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy will educate you about the effectiveness of saunas and how to use them safely to improve your own health and the health of those you care about.
If you’re thinking of buying a sauna, Sylver’s book will help you understand the importance of the sauna’s construction and building materials and how these will influence the quality of your experience and overall health. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of different types of saunas and about how to maintain them.
In an upcoming post, I’ll tell you about the sauna I researched and purchased 18 months ago.
I highly recommend The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy by Nenah Sylver. You can read additional reviews of it and purchase it here. You can also read excerpts about the book on the author's website, here: