© Robert Hays, Airplane
Skin is your body's largest and fastest-growing organ. Skin is your body's coat. It protects you. It helps you stay warm when it's cold, and cool when it's hot. How can we nourish, replenish and maintain our body's special coat?

On this episode of The Health and Wellness Show we discussed how sweating in a sauna is one of the keys to living a longer, happier, and healthier life. Not only is it a physical detoxification of your body, sweating in a sauna or sweat lodge can be an emotional detoxifier as well. We discussed some of the numerous benefits of getting the heat on in this show: It hydrates and tones the skin, filters airways, relaxes muscles,helps reduce joint/bone issues,de-stresses the digestive system,encourages introspection and reflection, improves blood circulation, relaxes the nervous system to decrease stress and anxiety.

Get your sweat on with us and stick around for Zoya's Pet Health Segment the topic of cold and heat therapy for pets was discussed.

Running Time: 01:14:14

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Erica: Hello and welcome to the Health and Wellness Show. Today is Friday, September 2, 2016. I am your host Erica. Joining me in the studio today are Tiffany, Gaby, Doug and Elliot.

All: Hello's.

Erica: Our topic today is The heat is on: saunas, sunlight and sweat lodges. So the skin is your body's largest and fastest growing organ. The skin is your body's coat. It protects you. It helps you stay warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot. How can we nourish, replenish and maintain our body's special coat? Today we'll be discussing how sweating in the sauna is one of the keys to living a longer, happier and healthier life. Not only is it a physical detoxification for your body but sweating in the sauna or sweat lodge or in the sun, can be an emotional detoxifier as well. We'll discuss the numerous benefits of getting the heat on, hydrating and toning the skin, filtering your airways, relaxing muscles, reducing joint/bone issues, de-stressing the digestive system, encouraging introspection and reflection, improving blood circulation and relaxing the nervous system, decreasing stress and anxiety. So get your sweat on!

Tiffany: And call in if you have some good sauna experiences.

Erica: So we wanted to start off today talking about the benefits of sweating. Who's sweating out there?

Doug: It's pretty hot here actually.

Elliot: I was sweating in preparation for this show.

Erica: So sweating is a good thing, right?

Doug: Definitely.

Tiffany: There's was study in 2011 in Canada - Doug you'd like this, the Canadians are doing well.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: They tested all of these people, had them do something that induced sweat, like get in the sauna or exercise and they had them collect their sweat. An interesting thing that they found is that different bodily fluids excrete different toxins. So there are certain toxins that are only excreted in your sweat and there are certain others that are better excreted through urine. But they tested a bunch of different heavy metals like arsenic, aluminium, bismuth, cobalt, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead, antimony, selenium, tin, valium, uranium and zinc and they found that first women were more efficient at excreting trace minerals through their sweat than men were, probably because they have more fat and they found that the infrared sauna works better for bismuth, cadmium, chromium, mercury and uranium. The only elements that were excreted more in urine were thallium, arsenic, molybdenum and selenium.

Gaby: Huh! That's heavy.

Tiffany: Basically you've got to get your sweat on to get out most of the trace minerals that you want to detoxify from yourself because if you check your blood levels it may not give you a true picture of how toxic you are. It depends on your activity levels, your hydration levels, how much you eat and different toxins can shift between body tissues. So taking your blood sample will only give you a snapshot. If you want to really, really get rid of stuff you've got to sweat.

Elliot: It would be interesting to know how many people actually do sweat on a regular basis because I know for sure that in the wintertime I don't really sweat that much. I wouldn't say that I do enough physical activity to work up a sweat on a weekly basis and I know that there are a lot of people who are so toxic, for whatever reason, that they find it difficult to actually sweat anyway, even when they do physical exercise. So if what you're saying Tiff is that sweating is one of the best way to excrete these toxins, then we need to find out the ways which can help that process along, don't they?

Tiffany: Yeah. Well exercise is one of them. Not anything crazy like trying to run a marathon or anything but a very brisk walk for about 30 minutes or so might get things flowing.

Doug: There's some conflicting research on that. In preparation for the show I was reading some different stuff and there was one person - and I don't have it in front of me so I don't know how well backed it was - but they said that you need to be in parasympathetic mode - so the relaxed rest and digest mode - to be able to kick in your detox system and that exercise is not as good as things like saunas or other modalities where you're just chilling out. Because by exercising you're actually increasing the sympathetic which is the fight or flight mode. With exercise, I'm sure you're getting some of the bad stuff out just by sweating, but it's not activating active detox.

Tiffany: So you need to be in a rest and relaxation mode to actually get into that pathway in the first place? That kind of makes sense.

Doug: Yeah.

Gaby: For me too. Also, all these cultures which have sweat lodges or little places where they could go and sweat in a relaxing setting, they have found some of them are thousands of years old.

Doug: There was one article on SOTT called How Stone Age Man Kept his Pores Clean in the Sauna. It was talking about finding a structure - I think it was not too far from Stonehenge actually - and the only thing they can really determine that it was, was some kind of sweat lodge type thing because almost the entire thing is taken up by a fire pit type structure. So, they thought "Yeah, it must be a sauna". They might be wrong. It might have been used for something else but it looked like that's what it was for. They can't really determine what else it could be.

Tiffany: Yeah, maybe they used it for roasting pigs.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: And themselves.

Tiffany: Well that's probably how they discovered it. They were roasting a pig, standing there in the room with it and they got all sweaty and they noticed that they felt better.

Doug: They had an ecstatic experience during a pig roast.

Tiffany: So, who all has an infrared sauna blanket?

Gaby: I do.

Doug: I've got one.

Erica: I do.

Elliot: I don't unfortunately. I've never actually tried it. There's one down the road at a gym facility. It's only five miles away but I've been lazy. I haven't gone there.

Gaby: You can walk there.

Doug: The pre-sweat before you sweat.

Elliot: Yeah, just not too fast. I don't want to activate that sympathetic nervous system.

Erica: Well I shared on a previous show that I was never a sweater. We've talked about this topic of far infrared saunas before and I was never a sweater and when I started using the infrared blanket it took 3-4 months, but it really helped open up all those pathways. I had very poor circulation, cold feet all the time, cold hands and the sauna really helped with that and I don't have that issue anymore. So, I think as we were talking about, some people don't sweat at all. I think maybe there's fear of sweating, like "Ew, it's stinky" or whatever, but I think for me I really noticed a huge difference. Again, it really helped with circulation and things like varicose veins, where you open up those pathways and it really helped detox heavy metals for me, particularly mercury and arsenic.

Tiffany: So, there's the far infrared sauna blanket and then there's the little device that's far infrared that has a chair in it and it's kind of like a zip-up thing, so it's not actually touching your body. You're not wrapped up like in the sauna blanket. And then there's the units where you walk into it and sit down in a room-like space, but I only have the far infrared blanket. It depends on how toxic you are because when I first started it would take me a long time to begin to sweat and I had it all the way to 60 Celsius. I think that's about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. I would do that and I've tried it with some family members and put them in it and they wouldn't sweat until they got OUT of the blanket a lot of times. That's how toxic they were.

Doug: It's an interesting phenomenon. When I first started getting into the sauna blanket it never took me a long time. Probably within 10 or 15 minutes I would be sweating and then as I went on with it I seemed to start sweating quicker. I haven't actually done it in a long time, but by the time I finished I was sweating as soon as I got in there.

Tiffany: And you notice when you're lying in there, first of all it's very relaxing and soothing and it's hard to stay awake. But you notice that your heart rate increases and your circulation speeds up and it's actually really, really good for heart patients. People who can't tolerate any kind of exercise whatsoever, if you put them in the sauna blanket, they actually did a study where they had these heart patients and they used far infrared saunas and in three weeks they noticed an improvement in their heart function.

Doug: Yeah.

Gaby: That's pretty basic because usually they don't tolerate a normal sauna, like a sweat lodge but they can tolerate far infrared saunas just fine.

Doug: There was a Finnish study where they studied Finnish men. It was just an epidemiological study so there might be some co-founding factors there, but they found that men aged 42-60 who did regular saunas had a decreased risk of heart disease and a lower chance of dying from all causes. Those who enjoyed a sauna 4-7 times per week have a 48% lower risk of fatal heart disease or heart attack over those who used the sauna once a week. So, doing it more often seems to definitely be more helpful.
There was another point here. Vascular endothelial dysfunction can cause chronic heart failure. Sauna therapy promotes vasodilation and improves vascular endothelial dysfunction in patients who have it.

Gaby: That's pretty good because endothelial dysfunction is basically also the root of the problem when people have heart attacks. It's inflammation of the blood vessels.

Erica: Well what I think is nice about the sauna too is that for a lot of people who don't like heat so going into a sauna room or at the spa like Elliot was talking about, or the gym, so with the blanket, your head is not obviously in the blanket and so it's easier to adapt.

Doug: I would sweat on my head just as much.

Erica: Really?

Doug: I had to put a towel under my head when I did it because my head would be sweating just as much. It's not immersed in the heat, but because the rest of your body is, it's just like a very moist experience.

Tiffany: Yeah, your head definitely will sweat even if it's not in the blanket. You'll emerge with an Afro at times.

Gaby: I had a little experience. I'm very heat intolerant. I don't really like to be hot so I missed my saunas a lot and recently I went on holidays and I was able to experience a Russian banya, which is a Russian sauna. It's like a Finnish sweat lodge. You go into a little cabin and the temperature is extremely high and you scrub your skin. You use some honey with coffee to use as a scrubber and afterwards very cold water then you get out. It's probably a total of 10 of 20 minutes. I felt so great after that! At first I thought I was going to faint. I thought "I'm going to die!"
So, I started breathing slowly, remembering our previous discussion of cryotherapy. I know it has nothing to do with cryotherapy but breathing slowly seems to be the key to tolerate anything. I was able to tolerate it just fine and afterwards I cannot describe the effect, the well-being. It's like my mood changed completely. I felt almost euphoric. After that I had to eat a lot and I was pretty much "blocked" for the previous days. So, I was so impressed that as soon as I went home I tried the far infrared sauna again and I was able to sweat faster. I had the same problem as Erica in the beginning. I think the effect was sustained. It's like the key is just to break a good sweat.

Doug: It's interesting too because it seems that exposing yourself to heat in this manner actually has a hormetic effect, so hormesis is when you give your body a small dose of a negative stimulus and the body reacts to that and increases all the things that can help to adapt to that. So, it has an overall beneficial effect. There was one study I was reading where they said that actually by doing regular saunas you actually become more heat resistant and that can help with any kind of endurance exercise. So, it actually helps with your ability to withstand longer periods of endurance exercise just by helping you adapt to that heat.

Tiffany: And speaking of the hormetic effects, when you give your body exposure to some kind of stress it'll create something called heat shock proteins and they are produced during heat stress and it can actually increase your lifespan according to some studies. Heat shock proteins are created by your cells during stress and they regulate the proper unfolding of your proteins. So, you want as much of your proteins exposed as possible so that the heat shock proteins will make sure they're unfolded properly and they also inhibit apoptosis and necrosis and it boosts your immune system.

Gaby: It's like a rejuvenation marker.

Erica: I wonder if the same thing happens with cold therapy.

Gaby: Cold shock proteins.

Erica: Because I'm the opposite of Gaby. I can handle heat. It's the cold!

Gaby: Try the Russian banya in winter. They do extreme hot and then they get exposed to extreme cold and I swear that's the key.

Doug: Yeah, there's research to back that up actually.

Tiffany: When you think about it though, getting really hot is kind of nature's way of killing off critters. When you're sick you get a fever. So, you could kill of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. There are some other studies I've read that saunas increase the rate of growth hormone production.

Gaby: Oh yeah!

Tiffany: Yeah, so you can increase your muscle mass and increase your insulin sensitivity just by getting in a sauna. So, if you want to lose weight and put on muscle, a sauna is another good way to do it.

Doug: Just sit on your ass in a sauna.

Erica: Yeah, wasn't there an article about not needing to do doping drugs for athletes, that they could just do the heat therapy.

Doug: It's as effective.

Gaby: Judging from the euphoria that I had.

Erica: Are you going to go run a marathon Gaby?

Elliot: Have you got really big biceps?

Gaby: Well actually I feel like I was firmer after that, considering that I have not worked out in two months.

Tiffany: It was all the water you lost. Your muscles became more apparent.

Gaby: It was hidden below all the toxicity.

Doug: There is a study that showed 142% increase in growth hormone during sauna use. So, there's definitely something to that.

Elliot: There was another one that showed in the period of seven days, if you have two 1-hour sauna sessions it actually showed an increase of growth hormone by a 16-fold.

Doug: Wow.

Gaby: I read about it, yeah. I was researching about it because I think it is interesting that for healthy people for purposes of rejuvenation, but I was wondering, what about the elderly or people who are very, very sick? They did studies and apparently, people start to drop their growth hormone levels after 50 years old. They did studies comparing those who were younger, those over 50 and apparently, those over 50 don't release growth hormone after a sauna unless a specific schedule is made. For example, they did experiments and they noticed that if you do a sauna for 30 minutes every two days that releases sustained growth hormone in the elderly, even more than doing a 45 minute session for example. So, I thought that was interesting. It could be a matter of here and there.

Doug: Well it doesn't take too long. That one I was mentioning where they saw 142% increase in growth hormone, that was two 15 minute sessions but they were very hot. So they were actually at 212 Fahrenheit. That's something I wouldn't recommend people just jump up and start doing right away. I think you have to probably get up to that level and try and be very safe with it too. Don't go overboard. But apparently you can make up for a shorter session by doing a hotter session.

Gaby: I was surprised to read about that too because I had this idea that you have to stay at least an hour and actually even Dr. Myhill from the UK and treats people with multiple chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia - people with mitochondrial dysfunction basically, and she says "no, you don't have to boil yourself for a long time". You have to do short sessions. The first minutes you start sweating, that's when everything comes out and you have to dry it off so it will not get re-absorbed. So I think that's the key.

Erica: So when you guys do the far infrared sauna blanket, you wear a sweat suit and socks.

Tiffany: Yeah. I have to wear socks or my little toes will get burnt.

Gaby: Yeah, I know this.

Tiffany: I'm fully clothed in the sauna.

Doug: Oh really?! I actually like to put down towels to absorb the moisture.

Tiffany: Yeah, I put down towels too.

Erica: You're au naturel?

Doug: Yeah. I never put on any clothes or anything like that.

Gaby: Your birthday suit.

Doug: There's a nice image for everybody out there in radio land.

Tiffany: But it's really important, especially if you're not used to it, to start at a lower temperature and a short session, five to 10 minutes, and just work your way up to higher times, especially if you're older or if you have some kind of chronic disease, you want to take it really slow. If you're pregnant you definitely should think twice about doing it because you can detoxify a lot of things. Make sure you consult with a knowledgeable doctor who is knowledgeable in sauna and detoxification before you do it. And you want to make sure that you hydrate really well too because you'll probably sweat a lot once you get used to it so you don't want to dehydrate yourself. And you want to replace your minerals, especially magnesium afterwards.

And some sources that I've read said when you're done with the sauna you want to just rinse yourself off with tepid water and not necessarily use soap because that'll clog your pores and the whole point of detoxifying through sweat is that it opens up your pores so you want to let them close on their own, not clog them up with soap after you're done getting out of the sauna.

Gaby: How about cold water?

Tiffany: Yes. Well a lot of cultures do. They do the hot then they do the cold then they go back to the hot and they do the cold. It's really good for improving your circulation.

Erica: And I think it's easier to do the cold therapy when you're hot.

Doug: Definitely. Yeah, it's way easier. I definitely found that from personal experience, getting out of the sauna and immediately jumping into a cold shower was way easier than just getting out of bed and doing a cold shower.

One interesting thing I found about the saunas that was confirmed by some of the research out there was that I'd always feel really good. It's kind of like what you were saying Gaby, that you felt amazing afterwards. Apparently, saunas actually increase beta endorphins in the blood, leading to a feeling of euphoria. Using saunas has been shown to help improve symptoms of depression in cancer patients. You are exposing yourself to a stress and apparently going into the sauna releases an opioid called dynorphin which gives you the opposite feeling to euphoria because it brings you down. But to compensate for that the brain actually increases the production of sensitivity receptors to euphoric hormones like beta endorphin. So it's like you're having a negative effect but with that hormetic effect, your body kicks in to making you more sensitive to the feel good hormones.
Also they found in these studies that these changes are actually semi-permanent, so people who are using a sauna regularly will be more happy in day-to-day life; good for depression and anxiety as well.

Erica: I wonder if that's why when people are feeling down someone says "You have to have a spa day!"

Elliot: It probably is.

Erica: Or stressed, high performance lifestyle, whatever that is and then detox with a spa.

Gaby: One of the bloggers who wrote a very good article said that he was literally addicted to the sauna. The first thing he will do in the morning - he has his own in his home - and he just goes down there and turns it on and gets in there.

Doug: One other thing, it's good for the brain in general. Saunas actually increase the hormone BDNF which stands for brain derived neurotrophic factor. That's super fertilizer for the brain. It really helps with brain plasticity and is a very effective way of combating anxiety and depression. So that's another pathway that helps with that.

Elliot: Interestingly enough, cold also increases that as well. It helps regulate the production of that.

Doug: Interesting.

Elliot: In the Scandinavian cultures - I'm not sure whether they do it in Russia. Gaby, you know the sauna, is that situated next to a lake or a river or something?

Gaby: Everybody has their own sauna in their dachas which is like a garden. It's amidst nature. That's why kids do it, all the family do it. They all go in together. And in the winter yes, they do the sauna and then they go out on the snow.

Elliot: Yeah, it's the same as in Finland. I went to Finland a few years ago and I actually got to experience that as well. We were in the sauna and they were slapping our backs with these birch leaves.

Gaby: Yes. I had that too!

Elliot: And as you said, that's meant to help the release of toxins out of the skin but then immediately after 15 or 20 minutes in the sauna you would run across a small bridge and jump directly into the lake and that's apparently the tradition in all of these sorts of cultures. I think, whether they knew it or not, maybe the way that that tradition came about was that they knew if felt so good. But the science actually really shows that when you switch between really warm temperatures and then really cold temperatures and you do that a few times, you can see some amazing things.

Doug, you just said the BDNF. That rapidly increases with cold and the person you're talking about Gaby, the guy who wrote the article, Ben Greenfield, I know is a big proponent of this as well. Doing cold therapy mixed in with saunas, you can get some really amazing results. In his personal experience, he says that he's never had a better night's sleep after he's done the sauna and then gone into cold water and then gone into the sauna and then gone into cold water again. He says it knocks him out every single night.
It's interesting to see how the research is backing this stuff up now.

Gaby: Yeah, very fascinating. I see a lot of potential in the medical applications of these saunas because it's free. We're not even talking about a far infrared sauna blanket which can be very expensive. In Russia people make their own saunas. It's very simple. It doesn't look very expensive at all. It's a great opportunity also to socialize, to get together. So it makes me wonder also about the spiritual experiences described in some cultures like Native Americans where they use the sweat lodge for better moods but also for spiritual experiences.

The birch tree which Elliot mentioned, I think they used for detox purposes. I don't know specifically the properties of the birch tree but they use everything, the liquid of the tree bark. Then they used the branches. You get a big beating after the sauna with it. I think that was the key, that made me pee so much afterwards because I have the far infrared sauna and I have never had that urge before with the far infrared sauna.

Erica: They beat the pee out of you?

Gaby: Yeah, it was like oh god! This is like spirit release therapy.

Doug: I wonder if birch has some kind of diuretic property or something like that.

Erica: In sweat lodges, too they sometimes put eucalyptus leaves on the rocks to help with respiratory issues, breathing, open up pathways in the lungs and whatnot, so I wonder if it's a similar thing that's got that same sort of property for the skin.

Gaby: As a therapeutic modality, you can put in the sauna several essential oils, for example that you can breathe or you can do a scrub with a special essential oil on your skin. We used honey. Yes, I felt like had a baby bath afterwards.

Tiffany: So Gaby, do you know how they actually build their own sauna?

Gaby: No. I had a look at it. It was like a perfect cabin made out of wood. It was perfect in the sense that it was all sealed. Nothing got out or in. The heat was produced with wood and I do remember reading one of the articles in preparation for this show that some woods are better than others for burning. Then inside what they had was an old-style stove and they would pour water every now and then to produce a lot of steam. It gets very hot. I got in and I thought "I just want to get out now!"

Doug: Wow.

Gaby: No way out. But yeah, I breathed slowly and it got better.

Doug: And how long were you in again?

Gaby: I think it was between 10 and 20 minutes, the time we got scrubbed and then we sat down and we talked a little bit and we had a cold shower and then we beat the birch tree branches and then afterwards we got out. So it was 20 minutes at the most. Then the kids got in. First were the women and then the kids. It was like 6 years old at most. They got in and they spent quite a while inside.

Doug: Wow, that's pretty amazing.

Tiffany: I read that they make a lot of these saunas out of cedar in Scandinavian countries, first because they have a lot of cedar trees around, but also because cedar is resistant to mould and bugs. If you want to try and plan to make your own, cedar will be a good choice to use because it's resistant to bugs and mould. And plus it smells good.

Doug: It smells amazing. I was reading some really interesting research about saunas too where they were talking about how it's really good for people who have blood sugar issues. Apparently, they did a study where they took insulin-resistant diabetic mice and they were given 30 minutes of hyperthermic treatment - so sauna treatments essentially - three times a week for 12 weeks and by the end of that period the mice had a 31% decrease in insulin levels and remarkably lower blood sugar levels, both suggesting increased insulin sensitivity.

Tiffany: Well that's something you'll not hear from the American Diabetes Association.

Doug: Noooo. Take your pills. Take your pills.

Tiffany: And still eat carbs.

Doug: Yeah, lots of carbs.

Gaby: They need to sell insulin and anti-diabetic drugs.

Doug: Not saunas.

Erica: I have a question for Elliot on sunlight. Is it possible to get a lot of these similar effects from getting sunlight on your skin? Elliot, do you know?

Tiffany: Our light guru.

Elliot: Well if it's an infrared sauna, yeah. You have different types of infrared so depending on the frequency of the electromagnetic energy, that's how they classify what is near infrared or far infrared. So in some of the articles that we read for the show, there are some people who think that having a near infrared sauna is much more beneficial than having a far infrared sauna and that's because of the different qualities of the frequency of infrared energy. They do different things essentially.

I was thinking well instead of simply sticking to one band of infrared energy, when you're out in the direct sunlight you're actually getting all of the frequencies of infrared. If the sunlight's hot enough and you've got your clothes off, the chances are you're going to be sweating anyway. So technically we've got a sauna in our gardens if we're willing to go out and spend enough time in the sun. I would imagine that theoretically it may have the same effect as a sauna. But maybe you have to stay out there longer. I don't know.

Gaby: Do you sweat a lot when you are taking sunbaths?

Elliot: When I'm outside?

Gaby: Yeah.

Elliot: Yeah, yeah, I do.

Doug: You're just laying there, right?

Elliot: In the summer, I usually do tend to spend about 12 to 14 hours outside every day with maybe short 5-minute breaks or something. This summer I haven't really spent much time on my computer, one because I can't really see the screen outside and because it's been so nice so I've actually spent most of my time just reading loads of books. But yeah, I haven't been in an infrared sauna before but I went in the sauna in Finland and sitting out in the sun for eight hours, I feel the same as I did when I went in the sauna. I would imagine that it's a similar sort of concept.

Tiffany: It might just take a little bit longer.

Erica: Do you get sunburned?

Elliot: No. In fact at the start of the summer I did. I got really sunburned actually but then it just stopped. My skin seems to have adapted and I don't really look like I'm from England. I look like I'm from Gambia or something. But honestly, I walk into the shop - this happens so often nowadays - I walk into the shop and someone says to me "Oh, have you been on holiday? Where have you been?" I say "I've been in England in my garden." Wow, what do you do in your garden? You don't need to go on holiday to get sun. It's always there. It's just sometimes you have to spend a bit more time in it.

Doug: I've actually found that too, at the beginning of the summer I'll often get a sunburn but by the end of the summer I'm totally fine. I've adapted to it and I'm no longer burning even without any kind of creams or cover ups or anything like that.

Elliot: There are some people who actually would say that sunburn is beneficial. Essentially, sunburn is when the sunlight hits the skin it induces the release of something called nitric oxide, a neurotransmitter which vasodilates, basically opens up your capillaries. This does get quite complex but essentially what sunlight does is make your skin red and that's so that your blood can absorb the UV light contained within the sun because that is part of what your blood does. You've got a chemical we know as haemoglobin but there's another substance that's very like haemoglobin called porphyrins and its function is to absorb UV light.

So when the sunlight hits your skin it opens up the veins for the very reason of absorbing more UV light into the blood. Some people say that sunburn is actually deficiency of sunlight in the first place and if you are getting enough sun then you don't get sunburned, if that makes any sense. It's a lot more complex than that, but yeah.

Tiffany: It sounds like, as with all things, you have to start slow and if you're a light-skinned person, expose yourself slowly so your body can have time to adapt. Don't just go out and spend two hours in the sun and then say "Oh my god! I'm sunburned!"

Erica: We had a chatter ask about the potential damage of long exposure to the sunlight.

Doug: I was thinking about the same thing.

Erica: Please elaborate Elliot.

Elliot: To be honest, from the research that I've read - and there's quite a lot of it piling up - is that the people who spend more time in the sun actually have less incidence of skin cancer. They have less incidence of many diseases actually. I think what it comes down to is also you have to factor in your heritage, your genetics essentially. If you're northern European, say you're from Scandinavia or Britain or something, if you were to go down into Africa or somewhere on the equator and expect that you would be able to take that amount of sun permanently, that may cause damage. However again, I can't find any convincing research that actually says that sun exposure does cause these things. I would tend toward thinking that it does the opposite but then again it's probably debatable.

Doug: I think it actually has a lot to do with the person's condition before getting into the sunlight. If somebody is very toxic and they're not able to sweat as readily, so they're not eliminating the toxic build up in the skin, I think a lot of times the sunlight can actually react with that or cause release of those sorts of things. So if a person is very toxic and they have toxic skin, I think that excessive sunlight exposure can actually lead to some issues like skin cancer or something like that. But I think if a person is pretty clean then sunlight exposure should not be causing something like that.

Gaby: I think there is something to it. You are giving the example of skin cancer but there is also a whole spectrum of autoimmune diseases where the conditions get worse when you get exposed to the sun. But it's people who are very sick who have really big issues.

Tiffany: And again, that's where using an alternative method like the far infrared sauna can come in. You can still get the benefits of infrared light but you don't have to worry about burning or not being able to regulate your internal thermostat as much as if you're in a hot atmosphere because with the infrared sauna you're basically heating your skin, not necessarily all the air around you as well.

Doug: And there are some autoimmune conditions that actually benefit from sun exposure as well so it's not clear-cut there either. There is some speculation that the increase in vitamin D production can be very helpful for autoimmune stuff but you've got to be careful with it because it could go either way.

Tiffany: Yeah, you have to evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.

Gaby: There's a chatter who's quoting research about the L-form bacteria, the L bacteria. From what I remember there is a disregulation of the vitamin D receptor so they don't get real natural vitamin D that your body can use. There is a disregulation. It actually ends up feeding bacteria so there are people doing a specific protocol - you can discern them because they wear dark glasses and they look like mummies. They avoid the sun at all costs. That's them.

Tiffany: But there's also been research that the sun can be a very good anti-bacterial. It kills bacteria. People put their clothes or tools out in the sun and it kills the bacteria off of it.

Gaby: I think the key is toxicity again, killing the mitochondria or the root of the problem because it reminds me of the Gulf oil spill. There is lots of sun there. People have very nice sun tans. I remember some people reporting vitamin D deficiency only after the Gulf oil spill. So I think the toxicity nuked something in them and they started having this deficiency even though they had the same sun exposure as before. So I think there are several factors and toxins seem to be the key.

Tiffany: There's a lot of research too about how saunas are very beneficial for people who have chronic pain.

Gaby: Oh yeah!

Tiffany: When you lay out in the sun it just feels so good on your aching joints. That's why a lot of older people, if they have arthritis, will move to Arizona or someplace really sunny like that and they notice a decrease in their pain.

Gaby: The synovial fluid starts to flow better through the joints.

Doug: A lot of the immediate painkilling effects they say can be from the opioid-like chemicals that we were talking about before. They're your body's natural painkillers, but specific with sauna therapy, they've even found that it can have more long-term benefits, even with things like chronic pain with fibromyalgia. They think that maybe a lot of the benefits are coming from the fact that when the tissues are exposed to heat they become more elastic, collagen, tendons, that sort of thing.

Gaby: Yeah.

Doug: So they're more flexible with the increased temperature so it can really loosen things up. But they've found that with doing sauna therapy, the benefits can actually persist for months after the treatment.

Tiffany: I noticed that as well. Speaking of loosening things up, I stayed at a friend's house on vacation once. We stayed there for a couple of weeks and they had a dry sauna in their house. It wasn't far infrared or anything, but I noticed that when I got into the sauna and started sweating I was able to bend all the way backwards. I was just so loose. So it definitely does do something to the collagen.

Doug: That's evident from even doing the hot sweaty yoga ones, the ones where they actually crank the heat up in the room doing the yoga. People become much more flexible and able to do more.

Erica: I have a caveat on that though. I think with hot yoga, because people's muscles are much more elastic, they tend to hurt themselves more because they feel like they're much more stretchy and they may not feel the effects for two or three days afterwards. But I would say be careful with that because all of a sudden you're like "Oooh I can touch my toes!" and two days later you can't walk.

Doug: It's almost like a tool for overdoing it.

Erica: Yeah, exactly.

Gaby: But this is something definitely to have in mind because now with the epidemic of opioid intake, because big pharma is really pushing on that. Like the show you guys did, there's a vicious cycle that artificial opioids create, it enhances the pain and everybody's getting hooked on these drugs. Just reading all the research available on the normal saunas, not even far infrared, it's very promising if you release your own natural opioids it really works wonders as a painkiller. So there are specific medical problems but people seem to tolerate it fairly well for at least five or ten minutes.

Doug: Another interesting thing about saunas is that it apparently actually increases your resilience to stress. People who have HPA Axis disbalance can actually bring it back in line by doing regular saunas. They will actually lower cortisol and ACTH - what is that? Acetylcholine?

Gaby: No, that's ...

Elliot: That's adrenocorticotropic hormone.

Gaby: That one.

Doug: There we go. Yeah, it lowers those too.

Gaby: Well that's good because cortisol is almost impossible to lower. You have to buy phosphatidylcholine. The supplement is super expensive and it doesn't even work in all people. So there you go! Do a sauna!

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: And another good thing about sweating in a sauna, not just releasing heavy metals, but you can also sweat out pesticides and PCBs too.

Doug: And BPA.

Tiffany: Yeah, so with all this pesticide spraying and all the polluted plastics that people drink out, you can get rid of some of that stuff too.

Gaby: You mentioned uranium at the beginning of the show, right?

Tiffany: I may have. That's probably one of the ones. I think so, yeah.

Gaby: There you go. Sauna for detoxing uranium and arsenic and mercury.

Tiffany: But Elliot, you brought up something interesting in the chat which I wanted to bring up because I came across this doing the research - about saunas that are run on electricity, you expose yourself to EMF. So what's the trade-off here? Is it worth exposing yourself to a bit of EMF and at the same time sweat out a bunch of toxins?

Elliot: Well I guess, again, it's debatable. There are some people who'd say it was worth it; other people who say that it negates the benefits. But that is something to consider which I think is important. This is especially with the far infrared blankets. Despite some of their clear benefits what we have to remember is that we are putting something that is essentially holding an electromagnetic frequency directly on our skin. Even with the ones that aren't the blankets, like when you walk into the cubicle, they do emit powerful microwave radiation which is similar to Wi-Fi or cell phone radiation. So that is something to consider.

Gaby: So we have to build our own saunas.

Elliot: Yeah.

Gaby: Just like the Russians.

Tiffany: But there's also the research that says that the more toxic you are, the more sensitive you are to EMF radiation. So I guess it's something you have to decide for yourself.

Doug: Apparently with the near infrared sauna there's a lot less EMF emitted. From what I've read it seems to have a lot of the same benefits. So maybe near infrared is actually the way to go.

Erica: In our show description, we talked about sweat lodges which obviously don't have any sort of EMF. Have any of you had an experience in a sweat lodge?

Tiffany: I have not, but want to.

Gaby: A Russian banya is like a sweat lodge.

Erica: Well I've personally had experience in sweat lodges. We have some good articles on SOTT about how they're being used to help post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. I will say it is really an emotional experience as well, in addition to what we've been talking about in the show, all the heat. One thing that's very interesting about a sweat lodge and if it's done in a whole traditional manner, they take days to prepare the site and build the lodge.

Tiffany: How is the lodge actually made?

Erica: Usually with tree branches. Obviously you wouldn't want to use PVC plastic though some people do do that. It's made in a circle and the tree branches are tied together with twine and then wool blankets are put on top. And usually on top of the wool blankets is some sort of tarp or plastic to keep the heat in. But what's really interesting about them is there's a whole Lakota tradition of blessing the rocks and they have a water bearer. When you go in it's completely dark, so for a lot of people that can be very challenging because you're sweating and you're in the dark and the breathing is really important.

So if you're not used to heat and you're in this room and there are 8-10 people, it can get really intense. If you have a good person leading the lodge they'll let you out. Obviously they're not going to hold you in there. But it really is a challenge in overcoming discomfort and when you're sitting in the dark there are all these thoughts racing. I've been in a lodge before where people have had major emotional releases, crying and pushing past that discomfort zone, if that makes sense. They'll do 4-8 rounds, sometimes at 20 minutes apiece. Ideally you'd like to be next to a river or some sort of cold water to be able to chill out and then you can go back in.

It's a phenomenal experience. At first I thought it was a little weird, "I don't know if I'm interested in that" but when I did have an experience with it I was pretty blown away by the whole thing.

Tiffany: In the sweat lodge you were in, was there chanting or singing going on, or was it just complete silence?

Erica: Somebody led it and there was a drum, almost like a heartbeat. They would lead a discussion around the room making sure everyone felt okay and quite a few people in there were having what could be explained as claustrophobic issues, to be in such a dark space, not be able to see things, again with a lot of people. The opportunity to share "I'm afraid. This is uncomfortable". So it was almost like sitting in the dark with people and being able to discuss what you were going through emotionally.

Gaby: Did they smoke in there or use medicinal herbs?

Erica: Yeah, the eucalyptus on the rocks. So you have to be very smart about the type of rocks because they heat rocks up, usually river rocks. Obviously you don't want them to explode when you put water on. So it's definitely a whole practice tradition that you need to be knowledgeable about. You don't just want to willy-nilly do it because it can be dangerous, as with anything.

Doug: Well speaking of that, there was actually an incident a few years back where some new age guru type guy, James Arthur Ray, was leading a sweat lodge for people and three people actually ended up dying. So it does pay to be with somebody who actually knows what they're doing. Apparently he was really pushing them to go past any kind of pain or discomfort and discouraging them from leaving the sweat lodge prematurely. So these three people died.

Erica: I think that's an important reminder.

Tiffany: I think they said that they spent two hours in a lodge which is too long of a time. And they were getting sick and nauseous and vomiting and he still wanted them to stay in there.

Doug: Clearly he didn't know what he was doing.

Gaby: They paid $10,000 for that?

Doug: Yeah. Ten thousand dollars for death.

Tiffany: So make sure you get a trusted guru who actually knows about the science of sweat lodges and allows for breaks. Two hours in a sweat lodge is very excessive. And if you're feeling any kind of sickness, nausea or anything like that, whether you're just out in the sun or if you're in a sauna or a far infrared blanket, you need to get out! Too much!

Erica: Yeah. And like what Gaby was saying, at this one that I did, there were children in there too as young as six years old and the focus was really on them feeling comfortable. They can probably spend 10 minutes. It's funny because kids are talking "Oh it's dark, ya-da-la-la-la" but the leader of the lodge was very much on it as far as any time you're feeling nauseous. They would suggest to bring in a light piece of wet cloth so if you started to feel intensely overwhelmed you could try putting the cloth on your head and then bringing your face closer to the ground as a suggestion. And then if you really needed to get out you would get out.

Gaby: Despite the exceptions it sounds like a great experience. I was reading that it is recommended for those with PTSD, veterans. There were Native Americans encouraging people with PTSD to have these experience of the sweat lodge, and they were chanting tribal chants. They were encouraged to pray in their own faith and apparently it works amazingly well.

Doug: I just found some information that counteracts that whole EMF argument at least somewhat. Apparently there was a study in 2009 on mice that found in 30 days of periodic far infrared therapy it reduced tumours by 86%. There was another one where researchers in Japan found that whole body hyperthermia - putting yourself in a far infrared sauna, the whole body - slowed the growth of breast cancer tumours in mice without any adverse side effects. Another study showed that sauna treatment at just 43 degrees Celsius for 60 minutes caused the death of bone cancer cells. Apparently sauna therapy also increases the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.
So I don't know. To me, that sounds like maybe the EMF thing might be a little bit less drastic than what people are saying. I don't know.

Gaby: To be honest, when I read about it I thought "Oh this is a marketing technique" because these saunas are expensive. Actually the far infrared blanket is the cheapest version that you can get from what is available, unless you make your own in your garden. But as far as far infrared sauna goes yeah, the cheapest is the zipper, cabin unit Tiffany was talking about, or the blanket.

Elliot: As I said, it's probably debatable but from what I've looked at the reason I think that the infrared sauna is so effective at what is does is because of the effect it has on water within the body, the effect that it has on structuring exclusion zone water and the effects of that. The only thing that I think about is even if you've got your phone on airplane mode or something, just the electronic signal that's coming off of the device that's turned on is still picked up by the body and unfortunately EMFs have an interesting effect. They dehydrate the cell of water and they prevent the exclusion zone from being able to build. So I don't necessarily discount the fact that in the short term they are very beneficial but I think as a long term solution, the sun can provide all of those frequencies anyway. That's the way that we would naturally get these frequencies in nature so I think unless you've got a real issue with sensitivity to sunlight then I would imagine that you would want to limit your EMFs while still getting the infrared and the way that you could do that is simply go out into the sunlight. That's the way that I would see it anyway. That could be wrong.

Erica: I think there's so many options too now with spas and gyms having these saunas built in. There's both dry and even steam rooms.

Tiffany: Steam rooms are kind of hard to take because the air is just so thick. I guess if you have a lot of breathing problems that may or may not be something that you would choose to put yourself in.

Erica: They're even building saunas out of Himalayan salt and we've talked about that on a previous show. So it is a dry sauna but heated with the salt and helps with respiratory issues for sure.

Gaby: That sounds great. It's like those mines from eastern European countries which are very rich in salt and people with asthma go there.

Tiffany: So would this be a good time to go to the pet health segment?

Erica: I think so.

Tiffany: It's on cold and hot therapy for your pets.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. My name is Zoya and today I would like to talk about possible ways to speed up or ease up recovery of pets from illness, and particularly mention cold or heat therapies. I already talked about this before as part of the segment about inflammation but this topic is definitely worth revisiting.

So cold therapy should be used on new injuries within 24 to 48 hours. It is used for local swelling, pain and inflammation which is the body's response to the tissue damage and the pain. The cold helps to numb the area and causes vasoconstriction which slows the flow to the area and reduces fluid build-up in the area. It treats the swelling and redness but it's important to note that it does not treat the actual injury which should be seen by your regular veterinarian. You should apply cold to the area as soon as possible to reduce the amount of swelling, redness and pain. It can also be used on muscles after you take your pet on a long hike or run or exercise that can also cause inflammation and pain.

You can use many different items to apply cold therapy to your pet. Commonly used are ice packs, but frozen vegetables work really well. They conform to the injury and can be refrozen. You can also buy commercial products to freeze and re-freeze that work just as well.
Cold therapy should be applied as quickly after the injury as possible. You should apply cold therapy for 10-20 minutes at a time, giving your pet's tissues a break between applications. You need to always have a barrier between your cold or frozen item and the skin and never leave them on for too long as it can cause tissue damage.

Now about heat therapy. Heat therapy is most commonly used on chronic, long-term injuries or for infected wounds or abscesses. It can be a source of relief to muscles and can be used to treat spasms and soreness due to exercise and can increase range of motion. Heat treatment on infected wounds can help draw out the infected materials. It is most commonly recommended after 48 hours.

Heat is very calming and increases blood flow to the area of the body it is applied to. It carries oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and carries away toxins and lactic acid which is responsible for muscle soreness after exercise. You should use heat therapy for an ongoing source of pain and aggravation from soreness and stiffness. When using heat on your pet for exercise purposes it should always be applied beforehand, not after. You can use many different items to apply heat therapy to a pet. Commonly used are warm towels or washcloths that have been run under hot water. They conform to the injury and can be washed and reheated. The washable feature is especially helpful if you are using it on the abscessed or infected wound that is draining.

Never apply heat directly to the skin. There needs to always be two layers of fabric between your pet and a hot water bottle or heating pad. Pets that are immobile or sedated are at high risk to be burned by heat therapy so special care is needed. You should apply heat therapy for 10-20 minutes at a time, giving your pet's tissue a break between applications just like with cold therapy. You should periodically check with your hand to ensure that heat therapy is warm but not hot enough to burn or injure. You also shouldn't use heat therapy on an open wound or on stitches after surgery.

There are two other methods that can assist in the recovery from injury but it is mostly applicable to dogs, like walking. Walking is excellent therapy for dogs with mobility issues and those who are recovering from certain surgeries. Walking can help increase your pet's range of motion, promote normal gait and movement, improve strength and muscle mass, promote good circulation, improve endurance and help prevent joint degeneration.
Another method is hydrotherapy or exercising in water. It is one of the best all-round rehabilitation therapies because it reduces swelling and pooling of fluid in the body, improves muscle mass, strength and range of motion, increases endurance, encourages weight loss and decreases pain. But of course both these methods should be initiated after consulting with your veterinarian or your pet therapist.

Well this is it for today. Thank you for listening and have a great weekend.

Tiffany: Those are some goats that have been in the sun.

Erica: They're getting the heat on. That was very interesting. But don't leave your dogs in a hot car.

Tiffany: That's not therapy.

Erica: No. I don't think dogs sweat either. I think they just pant.

Tiffany: Don't they sweat on the balls of their feet?

Erica: Maybe. Something to look up.

Gaby: Or the nose? I don't know. We should ask. Maybe Zoya will clarify for us.

Erica: Yes. Do dogs sweat?

Tiffany: Through their paws.

Erica: Oh yes, through their paws. So does anybody have anything else they must share about getting the heat on? Personal testimonials? No.

Doug: I think we've covered it.

Tiffany: So the recipe for today is to do a sauna.

Gaby: Yes.

Erica: Infrared or sunlight recommended, a few more months here before winter comes.

Doug: Or build a sweat lodge.

Erica: Yeah.

Tiffany: Get your sweat on.

Erica: Alright. Thank you everyone for joining us. Thank you chatters and listeners. We're glad you could make it today and we look forward to hearing from people. Feedback is always good and we'll be back next week with another stimulating, informative topic. Have an excellent day.

All: Good-byes.