The Health Benefits of Saunas (Joe Rogan Approved)

Joe Rogan • Saunas

Used for thousands of years in European countries such as Finland, saunas have also been a common sight at corporate gyms for decades.

However, I didn’t realise that there were any until I listened to Dr Rhonda Patrick on the Joe Rogan podcast talking about ‘heat shock proteins’ and cytokines etc.

The benefits of saunas include:

  • Detoxification of heavy metals such as mercury
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Decreased feelings of depression
  • May increase longevity by improving cardiovascular health
  • Increased recovery – thanks to release of growth hormone & IGF-1

Here’s a nice infographic on the subject:



Saunas & Growth Hormone

saunas growth hormone

So to summarise the snippet above, using sauna results in an increased production of growth hormone for a couple of hours after sauna use.

Read the full sauna report from Dr Rhona Patrick here

Saunas for Cardiovascular Health

A study found in the Journal of Athletic Training found that using a sauna, has similar benefits to a bout of exercise:

“Conclusions: We found that whole-body heat stress triggers some of the physiologic responses observed with exercise.”

In 2009 a review of the available research on Far-Infrared Saunas concluded that:

“There is limited moderate evidence supporting FIRS (Far-Infrared-Saunas) efficacy in normalizing blood pressure and treating congestive heart failure; fair evidence, from a single study, supporting FIRS therapy in chronic pain; “

An infrared sauna is definitely something that I’m looking to invest in…I even have a friend who used it as part of his holistic treatment of cancer (although I haven’t discussed this directly with him, so can’t vouch for his thoughts around effectiveness etc).

A 2015 academic paper examined the effect of sauna-bathing on sudden cardiac death (SCD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality (i.e. a death caused by any means).

The paper looked at men from Finland over a 20 year time period.

The results compared people who had 1 sauna sessions, 2 to 3 sauna sessions and 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week.

Over the 20 year period; 49.1% of the ‘1 sauna’ group died,  37.8% of the ‘2 to 3 saunas’ group died  and 30.8% of the ‘4 to 7 sauna group’ died.

Although somewhat depressing! This did suggest that having 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week, significantly reduced the chances of dying over the 20 year period, compared to having just 1 session.

Heart rate may increase up to 100/min during moderate sauna bathing sessions4,5,12,13 and up to 150/min during more intense warm sauna bathing,14,15corresponding to low- and moderate-intensity physical exercise training. These proposed functional improvements associated with sauna bathing correspond to similar benefits seen with regular physical exercise, such as improvement in blood pressure and left ventricular function.

Sauna for Detoxification

It’s not a myth (like I thought it was), using a sauna does cause detoxification – of heavy metals. In fact sweating, is by far the best way to get heavy metals ‘out of the body’.

In systematic review of research that was carried out in 2012, concluded that, in those with abnormally high mercury exposure/levels:

Mercury levels normalized with repeated saunas in a case report. Sweating deserves consideration for toxic element detoxification.

Sauna Safety

Remember that saunas are only healthy, if you use them in a sensible manner!

  • Don’t drink alcohol before, during or immediately after a sauna
  • Try not to sauna alone – if you have one at home etc.
  • Don’t over do it – 15 minutes is fine for a first go

Here one of the best bits about saunas and health / mortality from the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast:

Like this Blog Post? See our Blog Post on MMA Recovery

About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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