Dealing with a winter cold or the flu is the worst, especially when it seems like nothing can make you feel better. What can you do for a cold if you've tried all the medicines, cough drops, and powders the pharmacy has to offer?
Believe it or not, sitting in a sauna could be the secret to helping you feel better. Why is a sauna good for a cold? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Why is a Sauna Good for a Cold?
The main reason why sitting in a sauna helps treat the symptoms of a cold or the flu is the heat. The heat helps your body create the conditions it needs to fight the sickness.
Here are a few ways that the heat in the sauna helps your body fight a cold or the flu.
Heats Your Body Mimicking a Fever
When the body is dealing with an infection, it creates a fever to fight the infection. Fevers work to fight infection in a couple of ways. The increased body temperature helps to kill the pathogens that are making us sick. It also helps to stimulate the immune system.
There are certain cells in our bodies that specifically fight infections. Research has shown that these cells fight infection better in higher temperatures. So, a fever works to activate these infection-fighting cells and produce more of them.
A fever raises the body's temperature from anywhere from two to six degrees. The higher the fever, the harder the body is fighting to get rid of the infection.
Sitting in a sauna also raises your body's core temperature up to three degrees higher. This mimics a fever, which can help your body's infection-fighting cells do their job.
If you already have a fever, be careful about sitting in a sauna. You don't want to raise your temperature too high. But if your body hasn't produced a fever to fight your cold or flu yet, sitting in a sauna can kickstart your body's immune system.
Increases Blood Flow
The heat of the sauna also helps to increase blood flow throughout the body. It also helps to increase the oxygenation of the blood.
Increased blood flow, especially of oxygenated blood, helps bring more white blood cells to the areas of the body impacted by the cold or the flu. White blood cells are part of the infection-fighting team within our bodies.
So, the more white blood cells the better. Since the white blood cells travel with the rest of the blood flow, increased blood flow helps fight infection.
When we're sick, the blood vessels throughout our body dilate, making it easier for the blood to flow where it's needed. The heat of the sauna helps these blood vessels dilate further, making it even easier for more blood to get where it needs to go.
Flushes Out Your System
Sweat is the way that our bodies naturally flush themselves out.
Sweating helps rids the body of the excess fluid build-up that happens when the body is fighting an infection.
Sweating also helps get rid of toxins that can build up in the body. Chemicals and toxins are expelled with the sweat, so sweating in the sauna effectively helps detoxify your body.
So, the heat of a sauna can help flush out your system by making you sweat, a lot. There are also ways to maximize your sweat during the sauna to get even more benefits:
1) Use your sauna inside a radiant tent to multiply the amount of sweat your body produces with each session. The humidified sweat that accumulates inside the enclosure can be effectively cleaned out with a quality air purifier. And unlike wood, canvas, or other material sauna tents, the humidified sweat will not absorb into radiant material. However, the healing near-infrared light will be retained inside the tent, so your body will continue to be bombarded with the beneficial sauna rays.
2) Try adding negative ions into the sauna, as well, to even further increase your body's sweat volume. Studies show the presence of negative ions is extremely beneficial to sauna therapy. Despite the extra sweat, subjects who participated in studies where they took a sauna with negative ions implemented were not too hot and actually felt fantastic.
Relieves Sore Muscles
A bad cold or the flu is often accompanied by body aches. These body aches are caused by systemic inflammation that occurs as part of our immune system fighting the infection.
We often think of inflammation as a bad thing, but it's actually a crucial part of the healing process. The immune system sends white blood cells to fight the infection. This results in a build-up of fluid because the white blood cells are carried by sending increased blood flow to the infection. That's all inflammation is - a build-up of fluid.
Unfortunately, this inflammation makes us feel worse before we start to feel better. It often causes achy muscles and joints that leave us feeling as if we ran a marathon the day before.
Heat is a great way to soothe sore muscles. It helps tense muscles to relax, which helps to decrease the pain from muscle tightness and stiffness. Heat also helps to reduce the inflammation that's causing the pain.
So, sitting in a hot sauna can go a long way to easing the body aches that often come with a cold or the flu.
Helps You Relax
Rest is the most essential part of healing from a cold or the flu. Though it's easy to lay on the couch or in bed while we're sick, it's not always easy to get much rest. Symptoms like a stuffy nose, a cough, body aches, and headaches make it difficult to relax enough to actually get some sleep.
Instead of lying around in bed, trying to catch some shut-eye, try sitting in a hot sauna for a bit. The heat will help relieve your symptoms, and it will allow your whole body to relax. The heat also provides comfort, especially if you've been enduring chills from a fever.
Once you get some relief from your achy, sick, body, your mind can start to relax too. When your body and mind can fully relax, you'll find it much easier to get the sleep you need to get better.
More Natural Remedies
So, is a sauna good for a cold or flu? Definitely. It can help relieve your symptoms, boost your body's immune system, and encourage your body to heal itself. Sitting in a sauna is a great, natural way to help your body fight a cold or the flu.
Looking for some other natural remedies to help you feel better this cold and flu season? Check out our shop to get everything you need to feel your best.