An article by our community partner Kelsey Barrett of Land of Verse
Saunas saved my life. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. After severe mold exposure, saunas became the core of my detox routine over a five year road to recovery.
Modern environmental toxins are everywhere, and our body stores many of them, leading to varied health impacts over the course of our lives. Detoxing through the skin, as we do when we sweat, is an easy practice to cleanse and nourish the body. When done right, it’s also safe and gentle, in contrast to more extreme protocols, which may not be right for everyone.
Here are my top five tips for enjoying the pleasure of an optimal detox in the sauna.
Take a Toxin Binder
The body stores environmental toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, mold and more in our adipose tissue, brain and nervous system. Using a sauna, and especially those with infrared light, releases these toxins. It’s important to catch them as we push them out of hiding and into our bloodstream, so we don’t accidentally reabsorb them into our system, causing even more stress! Toxin binders, or “binders”, attach to toxins and remove them via the digestive tract, saving the liver from doing all the work of detoxification. Take a binder thirty minutes to one hour before you sauna, or afterwards if you forget to take it beforehand. Some of my favorite binders are cracked cell chlorella, citrus pectin and zeolite, each designed to capture and remove specific toxins.
Apply Topical Oils
Frequent sauna use can dry out our tissues, which naturally become less hydrated as we age (just look at a withering flower or your grandmother’s hands). To retain moisture while also improving skin tone, complexion and relaxing the nervous system, massage oil over your entire body before entering the sauna. As our pores open to release heat, they’ll also receive the emollient qualities of the oil. I like to use herbally infused oils like this one for added medicinals effects.
Sweating too much can deplete the body of vital minerals and internal fluids, also known as yin in Traditional Chinese Medicine. If you tend towards dryness, thirst, constipation or can become easily exhausted, it’s important to not overdo it. This is especially true when doing a series of saunas or other detoxification protocols. Enjoy the benefits of saunaing while protecting yourself by limiting your time to five to ten minutes sessions once you break a sweat.
Cold Shower! Or not 😉
After your sauna, wash off any excess oil in the shower. At the end of the shower consider a thirty second cold water rinse! If you tend towards severe cold, try this on your arms and legs only. Cold water constricts blood vessels and moves circulation, supporting a gentle detox!
Mix 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt into 8 oz of water, stir and drink! Minerals are needed for the nuts and bolts of hundreds of functions in the body. When we sauna, we sweat them out. Remineralize after sauning and every day. If you have ridges in your nails, this can be a simple sign that you need more minerals!
More about the Author:
Kelsey Barrett is a clinical herbalist based in California. She focuses on mental wellness, detoxification, high density nutrition, using exploratory inquiry to reveal the psycho-emotional roots of disease. Her mission is to foster intimacy with self, health and the natural world. Her herbal and environmental insights have been published in Vogue, Edible East Bay, GOOD Magazine and Gestalten. She is currently Director of Verse, a 3-year experiential live online school of herbal medicine.
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