Dr. Rhonda Patrick: “Proof That Saunas Help Improve Heart Health and Healthspan”

Rhonda Patrick

Watch longevity expert Dr. Rhonda Patrick reveal the research about how saunas dramatically improve heart health outcomes and general healthspan.

Rhonda Patrick(Scroll down for the video.)

This is my second article featuring Rhonda Patrick’s research on the substantial health benefits of regular sauna use. About 2.5 years ago, I wrote about how regular sauna use could help increase your healthspan, and possibly, lifespan. That article — 8 Ways Sauna-induced Hyperthermic Conditioning Can Help You Live Long and Strongfeatured the sauna research and recommendations of two PhDs (including Rhonda Patrick) and two MDs (one also with a PhD). They pretty much concluded that saunas where God’s gift to health and longevity.

These were among the many benefits they attributed to the “hyperthermic conditioning” achieved by regular sauna use:

  • Lowers
    • heart disease risk
    • dementia and Alzheimer’s risk
  • Increases
    • cardiovascular conditioning
    • muscle mass
    • human growth hormone
    • insulin sensitivity
    • memory and the connection between brain neurons
    • longevity

If any of those purported benefits intrigue you, click over to that article and wade in. The rest of this post will delve into how regular sauna use can improve your healthspan overall, and particularly you heart health, as presented by Dr. Rhonda Patrick in the video below.

Rhonda Patrick is one of the PhD’s referred to above. She’s a well-known longevity researcher. Recently, she presented her research findings and personal experience with saunas at the 2019 Heart Summit in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • The statistics gleaned from research showing heart health improvement from sauna use
  • Regular sauna use could improve healthspan and lifespan
  • Infra red saunas might even be better, says Amy Meyers, MD
  • Buy your own for home
  • Exhaustive research links complied by Dr. Rhonda Patrick

Let’s get going…

 

The Stats: Regular Sauna Use Improves Your Heart Health

Rhonda Patrick, longevity researcher says regular sauna use improves heart health

Credit: Express.co.uk

Several studies have shown that frequent sauna bathing (4-7 times per week, 174°F for 20 min.) is associated with a:

  • 50% lower risk for fatal heart disease
  • 60% lower risk for sudden cardiac death
  • 51% lower risk for stroke
  • 46% lower risk for hypertension

How frequent is “frequent”?

 4-7 times per week, 174°F/79°C for 20 minutes. 

Although consistency is ideal, know that just a single sauna session has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve heart rate variability and improve arterial compliance.

Some of the positive benefits of the sauna on heart health may have to do with similar physiological changes that also occur during physical exercise, says Dr. Patrick. For example:

  • There is a 50 to 70% redistribution of blood flow away from the core to the skin to facilitate sweating. After sweating for awhile in the sauna heat (about 174°F/79°C) your heart rate is likely to increase up to 150 beats per minute, which correspond to moderate-intensity physical exercise.
  • Cardiac output — the measure of the amount of work the heart performs in response to the body’s need for oxygen — increases by 60 to 70%. Immediately after sauna use, blood pressure and resting heart rate are lower than baseline similar to physical activity.

 

The Sauna, A Therapy for Longevity and Healthspan

Dr. Rhonda Patrick

The ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular-related mortality, the number one cause of death in humans worldwide, makes regular sauna use a therapeutic no-brainer, but such a practice may also have a positive effect on healthspan and longevity.

For example:

  • Using the sauna 2 to 3 times per week is associated with 24% lower all-cause mortality.
  • Using the sauna 4 to 7 times per week is associated with 40% lower all-cause mortality.

At the start of this post, I mentioned how regular sauna use could improve (lower) Alzheimer outcomes. Specific stats indicate that:

  • People that used the sauna 2 to 3 times per week had a 20% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and
  • Those that used the sauna 4 to 7 times per week had a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those that used it once each week.

As I delved into in my previous sauna article, some of the longevity benefits of sauna use may have to do with an increase in heat shock proteins, which is a protective adaptive responses to heat stress. Heat shock proteins have been shown to prevent and slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, slow human muscle atrophy, and are associated with human longevity.

The effects of heat stress on longevity have also been shown in lower organisms including flies and worms, increasing their lifespans by as much as 15%. The mechanism of lifespan extension was also teased out in these organisms and shown to be specifically dependent on heat shock proteins. The productions of heat shock proteins in response to heat exposure is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism from lower organisms like flies and worms, to animals to humans.

Without further adieu, here’s Dr. Rhonda Patrick presenting to the audience at the 2019 Heart Summit:

 

And there's more...

Go to time stamp 35:25 in the video above for Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s views on the healthspan and therapeutic benefits derived from Time Restricted Feeding, Dr. Valter Longo’s ProLon Fast, and Broccoli Sproutsgo here and scroll down to “Broccoli Sprouts Are Manna From Heaven”.

 

What About Infra Red Saunas?

Infrared saunas are made with three different infrared wavelength levels: near, middle, and far.

These different levels represent the different sizes in infrared wavelengths and refer to the intensity of the treatment.

Dr. Amy Meyers

Dr. Amy Meyers reports that:

  • Near-infrared levels are best for wound healing and increased immune function

  • Middle-infrared levels are ideal for increasing circulation and promoting muscle relaxation

  • Far-infrared levels are used primarily for detoxification purposes

Further, Dr. Meyers underscores these primary benefits of infrared sauna therapy:

  • Detoxification — When compared to traditional Swedish saunas, infrared saunas allow you to eliminate about seven times more toxins.
  • Relaxation — By helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone.
  • Pain Relief — If you suffer from muscle aches or joint pain, infrared saunas can relieve this form of inflammation by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles.
  • Weight Loss — an increased heart rate caused by increasing your core temperature is similar to what’s experienced when exercising.  An article titled, Effect of Sweating, in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn roughly 600 calories.
  • Improved Circulation — As the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature, your circulation will increase along with it. The middle-infrared level can stimulate blood flow, improve muscle recovery, and decrease pain and inflammation after intense exercise.
  • Skin Purification — Infrared sauna technology can help purify your skin by eliminating toxins from your pores and increasing circulation, resulting in clearer, softer, and healthier-looking skin.

If you’re new to infrared saunas, Dr. Meyer’s recommends that you begin with four-minute sessions at 100-130 degrees Fahrenheit and slowly working your way up to 15-30 minute sessions.

If using a regular sauna, you can still achieve some degree of detoxification with 10-20 minute sessions at 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

You Can Buy Your Own Sauna Kit

At this point you may be itching to get into a sauna. I certainly am. I’m seriously considering joining a gym, not only for a change of pace from deck workouts, but because it has an infra red sauna. Seems to me that regular sauna use really must be a part of one’s pursuit for healthy longevity.

If you don’t have access to a sauna, you can buy one for your home.

(Click images for more info.)

 

More Sauna Research Compiled by Dr. Rhonda Patrick

For those of you who want a deep dive:

1Overview of sauna practices

1.1Heat source

1.2Humidity

1.3Duration and temperature

2Physiological response to heat stress

3Molecular mechanisms involved in the heat stress response

3.1Heat shock proteins

3.2Nrf2

3.3FOXO3

3.4Interleukin-6 (IL-6) & Interleukin-10 (IL-10)

4Health benefits associated with sauna use

4.1Cardiovascular health

4.1.1Cardiovascular disease

4.1.2Congestive heart failure

4.1.3Ischemic heart disease

4.1.4Peripheral artery disease

4.1.5Dyslipidemia

4.1.6Hypertension

4.1.7Endothelial dysfunction

4.1.8Left ventricular dysfunction

4.2Inflammation

4.3Cognitive & mental health

4.3.1Enhanced neurogenesis

4.3.2Cognitive decline

4.3.3Depression

4.3.4Mental focus and attention span

4.4Hormonal and metabolic function

4.4.1Growth hormone

4.4.2Insulin and glucose

4.5Physical fitness and athletic performance

4.5.1Increased endurance

4.5.2Heat acclimation

4.5.3Muscle mass maintenance

5Detoxification

5.1Heavy metals

5.2Bisphenol A

5.3Polychlorinated biphenyls

5.4Phthalate compounds

6Sauna concerns and best practices

6.1Male fertility

6.2Special populations

6.2.1Pregnant women

6.2.2Children

6.2.3People who are ill or taking medications

6.3Hydration and electrolytes

7Conclusion

 

Your Takeaway

Remember these five things:

  1. Several 20 minute sessions per week in a sauna has been shown to reduce by over 40 to 60% the risk of fatal heart disease, sudden cardiac death, stroke and hypertension.
  2. Using the sauna 4 to 7 times per week is associated with 40% lower all-cause mortality.
  3. Those that used the sauna 4 to 7 times per week had a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those that used it once each week.
  4. Infra red saunas may be superior to regular saunas as it relates to wound healing, immune function, circulation and detoxification.
  5. You can buy your own sauna for home use, costing between $300 and $1,900.

 

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Joe Garma
 

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Victor Martin Tirado - September 15, 2019

But too much hot is bad for testicles and testosterone productio , isnt it?

Reply
Joe Garma - September 15, 2019

Victor, sauna use may lower sperm count but it’s temporary. This doesn’t necessarily imply lower fertility, though suggest if you’re trying to be a Dad, lay off the sauna till there’s a bun in the oven. https://www.livescience.com/28157-sauna-sperm-count.html

Re sauna and testosterone: “Sauna usage has been found to mildly increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol levels. Since the testosterone/cortisol ratio is the best hormonal marker we have for recovery from exercise, this may mean that using a sauna after working out can help you recover faster and may be performance-enhancing. However, these hormonal changes are short-lived, and ultimately what counts is your hormone levels over the long run, not just immediately after working out.” https://medium.com/better-humans/a-guide-to-using-sauna-to-increase-your-health-and-longevity-4c68d7739132

Reply
Steve Brink - September 15, 2019

I knew saunas had some positive therapeutic affects but not until reading this and Dr. Patrick’s website,I was surprised to learn just how far reaching the potential health gains can be. Quite amazing actually. As a guy with hypertension, it was a no brainer to order a 2-3 person infrared sauna, and also surprised at the very reasonable cost. Thanks Joe for putting this into focus. Steve in Denver

Reply
Joe Garma - September 15, 2019

Hey Steve… glad Rhonda was convincing. Let us know if it helps w/ your hypertension. Good luck!

Reply

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