How does a sauna detox your body?

Have you ever washed greasy dishes without hot water or dish soap? The dishes don’t get clean, do they? When toxic metals and chemical food additives get inside your body, it takes a strong cleanser to scrub your body clean from the inside out. Our modern world is full of toxic chemicals, and we are all bio-accumulators. Many of these toxins are retained in our bodies in fat cells and intercellular fluid. A significant number of these toxic chemicals are lipid or fat-soluble and tend to bioaccumulate, particularly in the fatty tissues throughout the body. Over 400 chemicals have been identified in human tissue, with 48 in adipose tissue, at least 40 in milk, 73 in the liver, and over 250 in blood plasma.

Sauna detox is a technique that has been around since before the meridian of time. Sweating is the body’s natural way of releasing toxins, so the deeply concentrated sweat you get from the sauna detox can quickly force toxins, heavy metals, pollution, and chemicals in refined foods to the surface. While the physical benefits of sauna detox are scientifically proven, the mental effects of reducing stress and calming the mind are also clearly evident. 

These environmental toxins are suspected of playing a role in a number of diseases, including cancer, arthritis, weakened immune system, autism, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and many more. Many doctors truly believe that the process of cleansing and detoxification is virtually one of the most powerful healing therapies. Cleansing, fasting, and detoxification are different degrees of the same process of reducing toxin intake and enhanced toxin elimination. The process is key to health and vitality.

There are several methods of detoxification. One of the methods is chelation therapy, in which chemicals that have the ability to bind toxins and remove them are injected into the bloodstream. In addition to synthetic agents, several natural substances are used to remove toxic metals from the body. They include alpha-lipoic acid, sulphur-bearing amino acids found in garlic and garlic extracts, alginates, pectins, the sulphur amino acids, N-acetylcysteine and cilantro. Other popular detoxification methods include fasting, alone or with herbal therapies, and sauna therapy.

Sweat is the most important elimination route for toxins. Everyone, in today’s society, is exposed to toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Although it is a major eliminative organ, most people’s skin is very inactive. Repeated use of the sauna can help slowly restore the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins. Released toxins are then eliminated from the body by perspiration and through the intestinal tract. Sauna detoxification is thought to lead to the removal of fat-soluble chemicals from the body by encouraging their elimination through sebaceous glands (microscopic glands in the skin that secrete an oily/waxy material) and sweat glands.

Not all sweat promotes detoxification, however. While sweating through exercise is great, the blood flow to vital organs is lowered. Wilson says sauna increases heart rate and blood flow to the organs, promoting the excretion of toxins from those organs and out through the skin via sweat.

Sauna 101

Saunas have been used for centuries all over the world, and in some countries, like Finland, almost every home has one. Besides detoxification, long-term sauna use has been associated with some pretty great health benefits, including stress relief, lower risk of heart attack, dementia and Alzheimer’s, and increased longevity.

The type of sauna used is critical for effective detoxification. Dry heat saunas are preferred over steam saunas as they are more effective for producing sweat. The electric dry heat saunas typically found at fitness centres can work, but they usually produce large electromagnetic fields that are harmful and can actually block detoxification. Research has shown that infrared saunas cause more toxins to be expelled in the sweat than traditional dry heat saunas.

There are a few different kinds of infrared saunas. Far-infrared saunas are the most popular and are the most effective for sweating. Sauna companies will either use ceramic heaters, carbon heaters, or hybrid ceramic powder-coated carbon heaters. There are some minor pros and cons to each type of heater, but all are effective (though sauna salespeople will tell you otherwise). The most important factor is that the heaters are certified with testing to be low EMF, and produce no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Inexpensive saunas almost always produce high levels of EMFs from cheap heaters and let off gaseous VOCs from glues and other harmful construction materials. Also, be aware that some of the higher-end saunas come with unnecessary wireless tablets and Bluetooth speakers that emit high levels of EMF, even if the heaters are certified low EMF.

Near-infrared saunas are also available. Though near-infrared rays do not penetrate and heat the body as deeply as far-infrared rays, their wavelengths have mitochondria-enhancing properties and other benefits that far-infrared does not have. Some companies that make far-infrared saunas offer near-infrared heaters as add-ons if you want the additional benefit of near-infrared.

Traditional Sauna

When most of us think sauna, we picture a wooden box with hot rocks heated by electricity or wood-burning heat. This traditional sauna tests most people’s heat endurance with temperatures up to 200 degrees F. These saunas can also be wet, by introducing steam through generators or by pouring water onto the hot rocks. Steam rooms offer similar benefits to saunas, but the temperatures are lower (110–114 degrees F), and the humidity produced by generators is 100 per cent, requiring the rooms to be made of tile and other rustproof material. Most experts recommend building up your heat tolerance at first by staying just a few minutes and then cooling off with a shower before going back in again, not exceeding 10 minutes.

traditional sauna

Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas are a good option for those with an intolerance to high heat. The infrared heater produces radiant energy, which is the same as the heat from the sun, only without the harmful ultraviolet rays. This type of sauna heats the body from the inside out instead of heating the air, so the room temperatures are lower, and sessions can last longer up to 45 minutes.

Replenish Your Minerals

Whichever sauna you land in, don’t forget your post-sauna electrolytes. Sweating results in vital mineral loss, so it’s important to replenish. Just ¼ teaspoon of Natural Calm Magnesium along with ½ teaspoon of maple syrup in 16 ounces of water, will do the trick.

Sauna detox helps you sweat the small stuff.

Did you know that sauna detox has been widely embraced as a healthy treatment in alternative medicine? As the world moves toward more natural and self-directed treatments, sauna detoxification is getting more and more attention.

Why? Well, the leading principle of sauna detoxification states that the build-up of toxic substances can lead to a host of common illnesses. Ridding the body of these toxins through a natural sauna detox may help relieve symptoms, prevent future illness and increase overall health and vitality.

Detoxification isn’t new. Just better.

Researchers have long told us how the body sweats out toxic substances, including heavy metals. As long as you maintain proper hydration, the more you safely sweat, the more toxins you’ll expel from your body. And what is one of the safest and most effective methods for inducing a detoxifying sweat? A sauna, of course. In sauna detox, your body sweats out numerous toxins through pores. But not all sweats are the same, and neither are all saunas.

It is believed that Sunlighten saunas are up to seven times more effective than a traditional sauna. It is commonly thought that sweat from traditional saunas is 95 to 97% water with salt making up a part of the rest. Renowned detoxification expert, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, combine the use of far infrared saunas with the chelating agent DMPS in a heavy metal detox protocol. He states that infrared mobilises Hg in deeper tissues (3″ down) making infrared saunas an effective solution for removing Hg from the skin. Far infrared saunas are believed to be more effective in moving toxins through the skin than traditional saunas because in a far infrared sauna only 80 to 85% of the sweat is water with the non-water portion being cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid.1

Sunlighten saunas are highly effective for detoxification because of our highly-efficient and patented Solocarbon far infrared heating technology – the only technology proven to raise core body temperature by two-to-three degrees. Rather than simply heating the ambient air to draw out toxins, our sauna detox will heat your core to expel them.

Steps to Sauna Detox

Now you know the health benefits of sauna detoxification, but do you know how to use an infrared sauna to properly detox? While everybody is different, we have created a helpful guide to detoxification using Sunlighten Solocarbon far infrared sauna technology.

Step 1: Hydrate

Before your sauna detox session, drink 1-2 glasses of water, and rinse off in the shower. This is for your benefit to stay hydrated, but also for the benefit of other sauna users. A quick shower before entering is just good sauna etiquette. No one wants to share a sauna with someone who just came off a sweaty workout. While some saunas accept nudity, a towel or bathing suit is generally preferred, especially if you’re using a sauna in the United States.  

Each day you are planning to use your Sunlighten Sauna, make sure your water intake increases. While our far infrared sauna detoxification isn’t harsh, you are still sweating – some much more than others. The sweat produced in a far infrared sauna is 80 – 85% water, so it is important that before, during, and after your sauna detox session, you drink plenty of water to rehydrate.

Step 2: Set Time Limits

Enter the sauna, using a towel to sit on. The sauna benches can be hot, so it’s important to have a towel for comfort. Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth so your lungs can work harder to begin expelling toxins. 

The amount of time spent in a sauna detox session may vary depending upon your tolerance and daily activity level. To get your body accustomed to infrared therapy, start with 10-15 minute sessions every other day. Gradually increase towards 40 minute daily sessions in the optimal temperature range. Listen to your body. Be aware of excessive detoxifying. If you begin to feel symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, or flu-like symptoms during your sauna session, discontinue use.

Step 3: Find a Comfortable Temperature

Preheat sauna and begin session when your sauna reaches 100°F. The optimal sauna experience occurs between 100° and 130°F. With our mPulse 3-in-1 sauna collection, there is a detoxification program that combines far and mid-infrared, starting at a high intensity to increase core temperature then reduces to a low, comfortable intensity level.

Set your timer. It’s important to time your sauna detox sessions and not let yourself fall asleep in the sauna. Start with 10-15 minutes, and you can gradually increase to 20 minutes as you feel comfortable.

Step 4: Rinse Off

After your session, exit the sauna and close the door quickly to reduce the heat escaping. If you have your own sauna, you don’t have to worry about this but if you’re using a public sauna, be courteous to those who are still bathing. 

After each sauna detoxification session, dry off with a towel. It is best to let your body cool off naturally while still burning calories. Finish it off with a cool glass of water, and you are ready to take on the day.

When you’re done with your sauna sessions, rinse off, rehydrate and apply any lotion or skincare products you’d like. Do not use a moisturiser that contains mineral oil, petroleum, or glycerin because these will trap moisture. Body oils tend to work best for post-sauna moisturising. Honestly, a pure argan oil like this one is clean and hydrating for even sensitive skin.

How to maximise the benefits of saunas for detoxification?

The use of a sauna for liberating toxins from the adipose tissue has been fairly well established as being effective for the treatment of toxicity for many years. The studies that I have read were all published before infrared technology existed. So, it is safe to say that saunas of any sort are likely to benefit patients with toxicity. Infrared technology claims that it is able to cause a more vigorous sweat at a lower temperature, which may create a more comfortable experience for the user (less time needed and at a less high temperature). Infrared technology also claims that it can penetrate deep within the tissue for effective elimination. While visceral fat (the fat surrounding the organs) is certainly capable of housing toxins, it is the adipose tissue found in the subcutaneous layer that is viewed as the primary culprit for toxin accumulation. To reach the subcutaneous tissue, you simply need heat. Heat can be generated internally. Consequently, exercise is an excellent way to generate heat and burn the fat housing the toxin, to begin with. Many patients are too sick to consider this as an option, but patients who can tolerate exercise should be encouraged to do so. Better yet, do both exercise and sauna therapy.

niacin flush woman

Detoxification in a Sauna

Deep sweating is the best way to use the body’s natural systems to release the toxins we absorb from the environment around us. The benefits of detoxifying our bodies regularly are some of the biggest reasons for the surge in sauna detox popularity. 

The natural process of sweating has always been a “cleansing” process. However, a recent study in 2012 showed that sweating from sauna use was more than just cleansing. It was actually the most effective way to remove Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury from the body. 

Don’t think you have these metals in your body? Think again.

We inadvertently consume these harsh metals through everyday activities like playing with toys on the floor with your kids and taking a receipt from the cashier at the store, handling plastic containers, enjoying a cold can of soda on a hot day—even a tall glass of water from the sink.

There’s simply no way to avoid the toxins and chemicals that enter our bodies short of living in a bubble. However, the natural effects of sauna detox use can combat these toxins and give our bodies the benefits they crave. 


The heat helps to destabilise lipophilic compounds just enough so that they can become mobilised by the fluids that are simultaneously released during heat exposure. Some compounds can be liberated directly into the sweat while others will be transported by the bloodstream into the liver for metabolisation and/or conjugation. The vasodilatation that is induced by heat exposure provides increased blood flow to these organs. Nicotinic acid (niacin or niacinamide) can induce flushing in doses above 50 mg, which will subsequently increase blood flow to the liver and kidney. It is often used as a part of the detoxification protocol because of what is referred to as rebound lipolysis. High dose niacin is used therapeutically to inhibit free fatty acid release, decrease LDL, and increase HDL. This effect is soon compensated for, and free fatty acids return to normal and in some cases above normal. The rebound effect varies from study to study but is generally considered mild. It is the release of free fatty acids that also causes the release of toxins in the body. Practitioners are hoping to achieve a greater degree of toxin release through this rebound effect that niacin can have about two hours after administration.

In addition to the rebound lipolysis and vasodilatation, niacin also inhibits oxidation in the vasculature, which is an important factor with detoxification. It is worth exercising caution with niacin in patients with diabetes, history of gout, on blood thinners, and who have MTHFR/methylation gene mutations. The rebound effect is associated with insulin resistance in many studies. Patients who are already diabetic tend to have the greatest difficulty with this. High dose niacin can also cause elevations in uric acid, increased prothrombin time, and decreased platelet counts. It can also cause stress to the methylation pathway because this compound requires methylation to be eliminated. In fact, there are documented cases of hyperhomocysteinemia occurring in patients taking 1000 mg of niacin per day, which is the standard dose for a flush. I typically only recommend niacin as part of the detoxification protocol in patients who have demonstrated their ability to tolerate it or who have a minimal risk for methylation pathway disruption.


Heat allows toxins to become reintroduced into circulation, and there is an increased potential for oxidative damage. For this reason, I recommend that patients take antioxidants before and after sauna therapy. Liposomal glutathione is an obvious choice because it is not only an antioxidant but an important substrate required for conjugation of many toxic compounds by the liver. I recommend a teaspoon before and a teaspoon after sauna treatment. This equates to approximately 400 mg twice a day. I also recommend taking plenty of vitamins E, A, C, D, and K.

The lipophilic, toxic compounds that find their way to the GI tract should ideally be flushed out through fecal elimination. To ensure the greatest possible chance for this to occur, patients should first and foremost be eliminating bowels every day. To prevent the reabsorption of these compounds, bile acid sequestrants and binders can be used, and there is evidence to support their use. Bile acid sequestrants are just that - agents that sequester the bile, essentially making it unavailable to bind with other lipids. The prescriptive agent that is most commonly used is called cholestyramine. This agent has a very short half-life (6 minutes) and is capable of binding up to 80% of bile in that short time. This short half-life also means that taking cholestyramine before sauna will not interfere with the absorption of nutrients at mealtime. This is an excellent choice for patients who can tolerate this prescription. Fibre is also capable of binding bile acid but to a lesser extent. Both soluble and insoluble fibres like lignan, alfalfa, bran, and guar can bind between 10%-30% of bile acids. Cellulose does not effectively bind with bile, so it should not be considered as an option for this particular application. Binders are agents that prevent reabsorption by adhering to the toxin itself. Examples of binding agents are bentonite clay and activated charcoal. GI elimination is the only way for the extremely lipophilic, toxic compounds to be eliminated. When doing sauna therapy, any toxic compound in tissue has the potential to be eliminated, so taking these measures to ensure proper elimination via stool is important.

Electrolyte monitoring is an equally important consideration when detoxifying patients. To an extent, the minerals K, Na, Ca, and Mg will be lost during dieresis. Binders used to prevent the absorption of toxins will also prevent the reabsorption of certain minerals that are in the gut, so a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement such as Spectrum Mate should be taken throughout the detoxification process.


The degree that a patient is likely to respond to sauna therapy depends on several things. The amount of toxin accumulation in tissue and the ability of the liver to safely mobilise toxins are two major factors. Toxic compounds that are not conjugated are either extremely hydrophilic or extremely lipophilic (to the extent that they cannot be measured in the urine). Some compounds are more toxic when they have been metabolised, and others actually become more stable. The more time exposed to heat, the more toxins will be liberated, but the body can only do and handle so much of this at once. For this reason, I recommend that when patients are in crisis, they start sauna therapy very slowly and work their way up in time spent per session and how often they do sessions, as they become more tolerant.

In summary, patients should be given metabolic supports and be eliminating bowels every day prior to initiating a sauna detoxification program. Heat therapy is effective at removing many toxic compounds from the body, and sauna therapy is a passive form of heat therapy. Advise your patients to take antioxidants before and after the heat therapy (liposomal glutathione, if possible). Give binders and bile acid sequestrants prior to heat (sauna) therapy. Make sure that patients remove as much sweat as possible during and immediately after sauna sessions. Monitor your patients’ serum electrolytes. Finally, have patients start with sauna therapy slowly and progress toward longer and more frequent (even daily) sessions until complete elimination of the toxin is observed through testing.

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