Health Benefits of a Steam Room
"Give me power to create a fever, and I shall cure any disease"
Hippocrates, father of modern medicine
When the body is heated above its normal temperature, as in a steam room, certain bodily functions are activated to help cool its core temperature while certain chemicals and enzymes are produced that can help ward off pain and infection. Some medical practitioners recommend steam rooms or saunas, where increasing the body's temperature can be likened to a fever.
Research has shown that fever in the body can trigger several important bodily functions [1,2] to help stave off infection and viruses. These include:
- Increasing proliferation of T-cells (type of white blood cell)  and mobility of leukocytes
- Enhancing activity of interferon  and leukocytes phagocytosis
- Decreasing endotoxin effects
In fact, Tyrrell et al. believe that three separate satisfactory trials have now shown that colds are improved for several days after [hyperthermia] treatment and this is clinically and statistically significant . Nina Silver describes fever as "a strategy the body devises to literally 'cook' to death microbes that cannot survive in high heat" .
Benefits of Heating the Body
The physiological health benefits and effects of heating the body above its normal temperature are documented to include :
- increased heart rate, causing increased blood flow especially to the capillaries near the surface of the skin
- increased production of white blood cells
- disabling and killing of microbes
- faster metabolic rate of nutrient assimilation and toxin removal
- muscle relaxation
- increased enzyme production
- decrease or elimination of pain in muscles, nerves and joints
- reduction and elimination of disease
A steam room or steam shower cubicle uses a steam generator that produces heated water vapour to fill the cabin to your chosen temperature. The warm temperatures inside the steam room causes skin pores to open, body metabolism to increase and subsequently results in the sweating process.
The Miracles of Sweating
Sweating can be activated by either the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. Each will result in the activation of different bodily functions. In fact, Dr. Lawrence Wilson  notes that sweating through hypothermic therapy, as in a steam room, is likely to be much more helpful for detoxification than sweating during exercise.
Dr. Michael Lyon, MD, of the Cline Medical Centre Hyperthermic Detoxification Program states that sweat is manufactured from lymph and toxins found therein will exit the body when sweating. As the kidneys and liver are not required for this process a burden is not placed on them during hyperthermic therapy, enabling detoxification when the liver or kidney function is impaired or not working to their optimum.
Toxins can be classified into two groups; endogenous (biological waste from inside the body) and exogenous (chemicals and pollutants from outside the body). The body absorbs numerous toxic chemicals including pesticides, fertilisers, heavy metals, exhaust fumes and pollutants that can build up and lead to health problems. If toxins overload the body then illness is likely to result. The skin plays an important role in helping the kidneys, liver, lungs and other organs to control and remove toxins from the body.
Tissue (interstitial) fluid found in the tissue spaces contains waste products as a result of cell metabolism and is a component of sweat. Also, fat-stores are recognised as depositories for toxins. When the metabolism increases the body breaks down these fatty tissues for energy, releasing the toxins into the bloodstream for removal from the body. Sweating in a steam room can release toxins from the tissue fluid and help flush out chemicals in the pores of the skin.
Steaming your way to Good Health
Maintaining good health cannot be achieved just by using a steam room and will be determined by numerous aspects of your daily life. Dr. Nenah Sylver suggests that these include :
- Amount of pure water consumed
- Eating clean, whole, fresh, unprocessed food
- Eliminating toxic chemicals from your environment
- Breathing fresh air (filtering city air)
- Maintaining a positive outlook
However, many health benefits are linked to steam rooms. We conclude by highlighting some key observations from steam room users and research into the associated health benefits, include:
- The warm steam helps loosen and relax muscles and joints, helping relieve symptoms and effects of arthritis.
- Aromatherapy oils can be diffused through the cabin in the steam. Aromatherapy is linked to benefits such as relaxation, clarity of mind and aiding congestion.
- Due to the moist air in the steam room it has been shown to aid people suffering from respiratory conditions and asthma.
- For most, relaxing in a steam room is a thoroughly enjoyable experience putting you in a positive frame of mind during and afterwards.
- The steam will open up skin pores and flush out dirt and any pollutants that have been collected. Users have suggested that this has helped improve their skin complexion.
- Research by Liao  has shown that increasing body temperature prior to the onset of sleep may increase sleep quality in the elderly. The patients perceived "good sleep" and "quickness of falling asleep". Additional research has shown that heating prior to sleep, such as in a steam room can help with sleeping problems such as insomnia.
- A steam or sauna session can stimulate the cardiovascular system with an increase from a typical 75 beats per minute up to between 100-150 beats per minute during a 15-20 minute session. Furthermore, blood pressure doesn't fluctuate too much as smaller blood vessels in skin expand to allow for increased blood flow [Sanderfoot].
-  Craven, R and Hirnle, C. (2006). Fundamentals of nursing: Human health and function. Fourth edition. p. 1044
-  Lewis, SM, Heitkemper, MM, and Dirksen, SR. (2007). Medical-surgical nursing: Assessment and management of clinical problems. sixth edition. p. 212
-  D. Tyrrell, I. Barrow, J. Arthur. Local hyperthermia benefits natural and experimental common colds. BMJ 1989;298:1280-1283
-  Lawrence Wilson, M.D. Sauna Therapy for detoxification and Healing, 2006
-  Nenah Sylver, PhD. The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy, 2004
-  Nenah Sulver, The Handbook of Rife Frequency Heaing: Holistic Technology For Cancel and Other Diseases. Stone Ridge, NY, 159
-  Liao WC. Effects of passive body heating on body temperature and sleep regulation in the elderly: a systematic review. Int J Nurs Stud. 2002 Nov;39(8):803-10
Please note: Di Vapor is not responsible for the views, opinions or advice represented in the articles on this site. If you plan to use a steam room for any health program or suffer from any illnesses then you are advised to consult with your doctor before use. Copyright © 2009 Di Vapor.