The Samahita Blog

Why Sweating is Essential for Detox

Anthea Grimason
By Anthea Grimason

Many cultures around the world have enjoyed induced sweating rituals for centuries, from saunas in Finland to Russian banyas, all of which have become popular worldwide today for health benefits. In recent years, science has provided clear evidence that induced sweating is particularly effective for the elimination of toxins. Good information for anyone that wants to embark on an evidence based detox program.

An Effective Detox Includes:

  1. Mobilization: the liberation of stored toxins from tissues and cells, accomplished by calorie restriction, consuming specific macronutrients, time restricted eating, exercise, and sauna sessions.
  2. Detoxification: the proper metabolism and biotransformation of toxins through all four phases of detoxification, so they can be effectively excreted and eliminated from the body, accomplished through the consumption of specific foods, beverages, and supplements.
  3. Excretion: the elimination of detoxified xenobiotics from the body, accomplished by sweating during exercise and sauna, and specific binding supplements.

    Sweating is key to both the mobilization and excretion of toxins.

In Ayurveda this has likely been understood for thousands of years, as sweating therapy is a key part of panchakarma, the Ayurvedic detoxification program that is still popular today. Panchakarma patients undergo swedana (sweating therapy) to help mobilize toxins into the GI tract for elimination, as well as out through the skin, in preparation for other treatments within the program.

These days, it has been backed up by scientific research specifically on the elimination of toxins through blood, urine and sweating, that induced sweating is indeed an effective method, and often more effective than other methods for eliminating certain toxins such as metals from our bodies.

At Samahita, while we honour ancient wisdom and practices, we also look to the latest scientific research for validation, to ensure the highest quality of our programs, and to continuously improve them to support modern day life. One of the best updated and researched functional medical approaches to detox is Dr. Bryan Walsh’s detox program. Samahita’s programs are similarly aligned in that we offer induced sweating as well as yogic practices, exercise, specific nourishing food, and healing body and mind therapies, all beneficial for detoxing in a natural way.

We will look closer at types of toxins we are being exposed to and the detoxification process within the cells in further blogs in this series. For now, let’s say it’s clear that today we are all exposed to many toxins whether from the environment, food, water and household products. The affect of these really depends on the health of the person. Someone with a good diet, who exercises, eliminates well, sweats, has a fairly healthy lifestyle and maintains a good weight will likely not hold on to as many toxins as someone who doesn’t. Toxins that are not water soluble are typically stored in fat cells, tissues and sometimes bone, and have the ability to cause cellular dysfunction, by damaging DNA, mitochondria, and disturbing epigenetic expression.

What the research shows is that an effective detox program supports the full end-to-end process, starting from the initial mobilization of the toxins, to the detoxification process within the cells, including the biotransformation of fat soluble to water soluble toxins that can be excreted, and finally the excretion of the toxins once they are out of the cells, through various pathways.

What the Research on the Effectiveness of Induced Sweating and Toxin Elimination says:

Sweating helps eliminate phthalates

Phthalates are chemical compounds that are used frequently in plastics, household products and cosmetics.

“The phthalate family of chemical compounds are components of innumerable everyday consumer products, resulting in a high exposure scenario for some individuals
Some parent phthalates as well as their metabolites were excreted into sweat.”

The study concluded:

“Induced perspiration may be useful to facilitate elimination of some potentially toxic phthalate compounds including DEHP and MEHP. Sweat analysis may be helpful in establishing the existence of accrued DEHP in the human body.”

Sweating shown to be useful for elimination of BPA

BPA stands for bisphenol A — an industrial chemical that is used to make certain plastics and resins.

“In 16 of 20 participants, BPA was identified in sweat, even in some individuals with no BPA detected in their serum or urine samples.”
The study concluded that sweat analysis and induced sweating should be considered for analysis of BPA levels and its elimination:
“Biomonitoring of BPA through blood and/or urine testing may underestimate the total body burden of this potential toxicant. Sweat analysis should be considered as an additional method for monitoring bioaccumulation of BPA in humans. Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of BPA.”

Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury levels shown to be higher in sweat than urine or blood

This review focused on heavy metal excretion during induced perspiration and found that the concentration of toxic metals in sweat sometimes exceeded plasma or urine concentrations, and that arsenic and cadmium were especially concentrated in sweat.

“In individuals with higher exposure or body burden, sweat generally exceeded plasma or urine concentrations, and dermal could match or surpass urinary daily excretion. Arsenic dermal excretion was severalfold higher in arsenic-exposed individuals than in unexposed controls. Cadmium was more concentrated in sweat than in blood plasma.”

Note also how repeated sauna use brought mercury levels back to normal:

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

Sweating helps eliminate toxic trace metals

This study shows how sauna therapy was helped eliminate metals such as nickel, copper, zinc and lead.

“Sweating is a demonstrably significant route for excretion of trace metals, and sweating may play a role in trace-metal homeostasis. Essential trace metals could conceivably be depleted during prolonged exposure to heat; conversely, sauna bathing might provide a therapeutic method to increase elimination of toxic trace metals.”

Toxic elements preferentially excreted through sweat

This study again shows how certain toxins showed up in sweat that did not show up in blood or urine, therefore must have been stored in the body.

“Many toxic elements appeared to be preferentially excreted through sweat. Presumably stored in tissues, some toxic elements readily identified in the perspiration of some participants were not found in their serum. Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of many toxic elements from the human body.”

We can conclude from the scientific literature that induced sweating may be a very effective method to support the elimination of toxic trace metals and certain compounds. While not all compounds are effectively eliminated by sweat, it seems imperative to induce sweat daily as part of a well structured detox program, in order to support both the initial mobilization and the elimination of toxins from the body.

At Samahita, we provide a complimentary steam room to all guests every evening, and have two saunas, a full-spectrum infrared sauna plus a pure near infrared sauna, that guests can book, which are automatically included as part of our wellness programs.

Footnotes

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213291

Human elimination of phthalate compounds: blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study.

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22253637

Human excretion of bisphenol A: blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study.

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22505948

Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review.

(4) http://clinchem.aaccjnls.org/content/19/11/1288

Atomic Absorption Spectrometry of Nickel, Copper, Zinc, and Lead in Sweat Collected from Healthy Subjects during Sauna Bathing

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21057782

Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements.

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