As a part of your daily routine, you’ll be taking evening steam baths with cold water treatments and aromatherapy. These powerful 45 min. treatments are one of the key healing elements of our programs. Here is why.
What are Benefits of the Steam Bath?
Immune System Boost and “Artificial Fever”
The heat in a steam room temporarily induces what we call the “artificial fever”. No, this doesn’t mean that you will get sick! It simply means that by increasing your body temperature, you activate your immune system in the same way as if you had a flu fever. This process will increase production and activation of your white blood cells, especially Macrophages, which are the main cleaning agents of the lymph system and destroy “germs”. Additionally, due to the imitation of natural fever during an infection, the body will turn on the mechanism of hiding iron in the storage from unwanted bacteria, further depriving them of nutrition and making them weaker. At the same time, at high temperatures, bacteria and viruses are forced to slow down their growth and start dying off. Most bugs cannot survive the temperature above 37⁰C. This is why the steam is a great preventative therapy for colds and flues.
The artificial fever may also be very beneficial in case of Candida overgrowth. Candida is a bacteria that normally lives friendly in our gut, but under certain conditions may turn into a fungus. The fungal form of Candida may cause damage to the intestinal track by growing root-like rhizoides and perforating it (=cutting “holes”), which in turn may lead to so called “leaky gut syndrome”. According to the research, leaky gut syndrome may be involved in autoimmune conditions, allergies, inflammation of the intestines, eczema and inflammations in various other organs. People with allergies may receive enormous benefits from the steam. In addition to boosting your immune system, it helps remove mucus and allergens from lungs.
Heat therapy has many more benefits. Localized hyperthermia (=increased body temperature) has been widely used in natural cancer healing treatments. High body temperature has been found to destroy cancer cells, while leaving our body cells perfectly intact as those are only destroyed at super high temperatures. Compare: A cancerous cell is damaged at 39 C and dies at 42 C. A human body cell is damaged at 43 C and dies at 46-47 C.
One more important benefit of the steam bath is enhanced lymph detoxification. Lymph is a body sewer system, through which toxins are eliminated from the tissues. We can also compare the lymph system with a river. When it runs clear, it is healthy. When the lymph system is clogged, it becomes like a river blocked by soot and silt, pocketing pollution in small pools. Eventually, the lymph system may become a cesspool of toxins, bacteria and parasites. And, like a clogged sewer system, it may start spilling toxins all over the body.
Signs of sluggish lymph are:
- chronic fatigue
- lack of mental clarity
- vulnerabilities to colds
- migraines (especially those that start as pressure in the back part of your neck and move up to the top of your head, behind your sinuses. Or when the entire head feels under pressure)
- breast tenderness
- menstrual cramps
- tissue swelling (edema)
- mood swings
- joint pain/ arthritis
- itchy legs
- skin breakouts
- swollen lymph nodes
Swelling and tenderness in lymph nodes is often a sign of inflammation in the areas that are drained by those nodes. Lymph nodes purify the lymph from toxins, including cancerous cells. However, if taken over by the toxins excess and clogged with debris, the nodes cannot do their job properly.
70% of our lymph vessels are located near or just under the skin. The remaining 30% surround body organs. Lymph constitutes the fluid that supplies the body cells with nutrients and removing waste. After leaving body cells, lymph moves into small one-file lymph vessels, then into bigger ones, where it gets purified by the lymph nodes. After this, the lymph exits into 2 large veins, located near our neck.
Signs of Clogged Lymph Vessels
When lymph system is clogged, your body will look for alternative ways to get rid of waste. One way to do it is to start producing mucous. Coughing up lots of phlegm in the morning is a sure sign of the problem. Runny nose or clogged sinuses is another sign of congested lymph. Another emergency route of elimination is via skin. Toxic lymph may contribute to acne, dry skin and various skin rashes, especially in the areas above the chest and back, as well as on the neck and face. The reason why the upper body is affected first is because our main plumbing outlets (or main vessels of the lymphatic system), thoracic ducts, originate in the abdominal area, go upwards near the spine and drain into 2 veins near the base of the neck. So if the main sewer pipes are clogged, the toxins from the upper body will not be able to drain properly, and the organism will attempt to use the skin for elimination.
Toxins may get trapped in any tissue or organ. If lymphatic system won’t get rid of them, they will be accumulating around cells, not able to escape. If the left lymph duct has a blockage, this may affect digestion, both legs and cause pressure in the left part of the head, including ear popping and ringing. Clogged lymph in the right shoulder/back area is connected to the liver function and may cause pressure in the right part of the head. When lymphatic congestion develops close to the ears, they will not drain properly, leading to ear aches, infection and other ear-related issues.
How Does Steam Bath Help the Problem?
Mucous glands are located predominantly along the respiratory track and skin (besides intestinal track). Steam greatly assists in mucous elimination via increased sweat, respiration, as well as lymph and blood circulation.
Addressing Autoimmune Conditions
It may surprise some, but steam can be greatly advantageous for people with autoimmune conditions (immune-system disorder with the gradual destruction of various body organs). Examples of such disorders are: lupus, rheumatoid and reactive arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis + over 70 other similar illnesses. Autoimmune processes may start virtually in every organ and gradually move to others. Many think that these are caused by the body starting to behave abnormally and attacking and destroying its own cells. Based on this understanding, most treatments of the autoimmune conditions are directed at suppression of the immune system, with the reasoning that it helps minimize cellular damage.
However the belief about the body “going crazy” does not quite fit into the basic principle of natural health that “our body is innately intelligent, self-regulating and self-restoring. It always aims to restore homeostasis (balance and original healthy state)”. The body must be stupid to kill itself, in fact it has to completely be out of its “mind”. This just does not make sense. There should be a serious reason for such phenomena. Instead of “punishing” the immune system for the harm, first of all, we need to understand first why it does it.
The body will normally de-assemble the cells that cannot function properly anymore. It will do so, to get rid of the dysfunctional cells and to replace them with healthy ones. If a self-attack mechanism turns on, it means that there are so many sick cells that when the body starts doing its usual job (=getting rid of them), it affects the organs and tissues integrity. So the problem is not the “crazy” body, but the underlying causes of why the cells got sick in the first place.
What Causes Formation of Dysfunctional Cells?
Studying about protein formation, we’ll learn that in case of high lymph toxicity, chemical poisoning, electromagnetic rays exposure and some other factors, the proteins in our body are not able to coil (=fold) properly. In that case they create useless deficient protein formations depositing in various tissues (as inclusions in cells and aggregates outside), causing sclerosis, or hardening of the tissues. This may lead to such problems as Alzheimer’s, hardening of the arteries (main factor in HBP), stiff heart disease, stenosis and many other similar conditions. This also may potentially explain why we observe epidemics of brain cancer among 30-year olds. According to research, malignant tumors are linked to disruption of the protein metabolism. The young developing brain is being bombarded with harmful electro and radioactive rays of computers and cell phones for hours each day, over many years.
The immune system is not our enemy. Yet if we treat it like one by hammering and slamming it by anti-immune therapy, it will get weaker and weaker and eventually may give up on its job of keeping body healthy altogether. While prolonged suppression and annihilation of the immune system may provide a symptomatic relief, in a long run, without dealing with the underlying cause, it may lead to much bigger problems, than originally. When immunity is lowered, the body becomes defenseless against bacteria, viruses and toxins and more vulnerable to various diseases. By treating one thing, we may cause problems elsewhere. So the questions is: how can we help the body get rid of the garbage and gradually start replacing the defective cells with healthy ones?
The location where the body processes and accumulates the most toxins is the lymph system. This is definitely the first place to start. This “highway” needs to be cleared to ensure that the toxins get removed and that there may come new nutrients, out of which the body can assemble healthy proteins and other cell components. The toxins in the lymph system is a primary factor in autoimmune processes and should be addressed ASAP. A steam bath, along with elimination of foods that are unhealthy to the immune system and providing our body with healthy building materials (= nutrients) may greatly assist us in accomplishing that.
Effects of the Daily Steam Sessions on autoimmune conditions
So far we have observed that many people with autoimmune diseases ONLY benefited from the steam bath, especially combined with advanced cleanse of the lymph system via specialized drinks. In fact, one of our clients, who had an abnormal increase of white blood cells, after retesting the blood upon completion of the program, has reported a significant drop in the white blood cell counts.
Our body is very intelligent. If provided with energy and nutrients, it will be synthesizing healthy proteins, while eliminating the dysfunctional ones. It knows how to self-regulate.
Disclaimer: in cases of very advanced auto-immune diseases, the body may not always able to perform its regulatory function efficiently and may need advanced and specialized support.
Strengthening Heart and Blood Vessels
Small blood vessels (arterioles) are water taps of the circulatory system. When exposed to the steam, they direct the blood to the skin and muscles: the capillaries expand, and the blood moves from the central blood vessels to the periphery (=areas that are close to the outside of the body). As a result, the blood reaches all areas of the body and increases cellular metabolism and detoxification. Movement of the blood to the periphery lightens work of the left atrium and ventricle of the heart and the blood circulation in arteries. It also initiates release of the emergency blood reserves, located in spleen, liver and muscles. This type of blood is rich in nutrients and, having started circulating through your body, will rejuvenate and recharge our cells.
Additionally, the heat will start melting cholesterol, which is an inactive molecule with 18 particles of carbon and only one oxygen – and therefore not easy for the body to eliminate. Just like exercise effects the body muscles, the steam sessions assist in strengthening and improvement of the heart function. When a person starts a steam session, his/her blood pressure will increase at first. But soon, due to widening of the blood vessels, it will start dropping back down. Increase in body temperature stimulates the cardiac muscle and increases the amount of blood going through it by 1.5 times. This provides an amazing exercise for the heart and the entire circulation system.
Are there any Contraindications to the Steam Bath?
Yes. There are. People suffering with advanced cardiac conditions should not do the steam. These include, though are not limited to:
- HBP 200/120 and above
- Unstable stenocardia
- Heart attack in stage I and II of rehabilitation (up to 6 months)
- Acute inflammatory conditions of cardio-vascular system
- Acute thrombophlebitis with venous insufficiency
- Currently present high fever
- Extremely high body toxicity (elimination of toxins may start happening too fast)
- Inability to breathe due to very advanced respiratory issues
- Extreme sensitivity of the skin to heat
Sinus and Lung Health
Lungs, just like skin, are our first line defense from pathogenic microorganisms. Their saturation with steam promotes exchange of air in the alveoli and improves function of the mucous lining of the respiratory pathways. It improves diffusion of gases, increases use of oxygen and elimination of carbon dioxide by 100 times more than in the surrounding atmosphere. Coniferous oils, like fur, cedar and eucalyptus, which we use during the steam, provided there are no allergies in the group, add phytoncides, essential oils and aeroiones, which add antibacterial effect and let the steam penetrate deeper into the lung tissues.
Through re-hydrating and detoxification of the mucous lining in the nose, the steam decreases obstruction of sinuses and initiates mucous removal. It many be especially helpful for people with asthma, chronic cough, as well as those who quit smoking or has other respiratory issues. During the steam bath, the bronchi widen, the muscles of the respiratory system relax and breathing becomes more rapid and deep.
Lightness, peace and state of deep relaxation leading to deeper sleep is typically experienced after a steam bath session. As the blood rushes to the skin and muscles, it decreases the blood flow to the brain and lowers the activity of the frontal lobes. Steam tonifies our parasympathetic system and decreases action of the sympathetic (our self-protective but so overused fight-and-flight) system. This takes away tension and calms down the nervous system (NS). A calm NS means improved mood, attention span and other cognitive functions. Steam bath may help you unwind at the end of the day, as well as decrease obsessive thoughts and negative emotions.
They say that the eyes are a mirror of the soul. The skin is a mirror of one’s health. A healthy person will have healthy pinkish cheeks, firm skin and minimum wrinkles. If a person consumes a lot of sugar and fats, it’ll often manifest as boils, pimples and other skin blemishes. If there is too much animal protein in the diet, one’s feet may start producing an unpleasant smell. With high toxicity in the body, a person will have a badly smelling sweat and breath. Different skin issues, such as eczema, papilloma, psoriasis and warts may be a signal that the body got dirty on the inside and starts using emergency routes to eliminate toxins.
If we looked at the skin via microscope, we would notice on it lots of live bacteria and small tics-saprophytes. You cannot see these with a naked eye . Unfortunately, the shower or a bath will not be able remove these, as they bury themselves under dead skin particles. The old dead particles are securely held together by sweat and subdermal fat, which form a crust. If you just take a bath, hot water will simply dilute these particles and let them penetrate into deeper layers of skin, which in turn, may even lead to skin inflammation. This is why it is a great idea to shower before or after a bath.
Steam, on the other hand, is able to peel this crust off and to decrease the number of pathogenic microorganisms located under it. It kills skin germs, which will be washed away with a shower following the steam.
Anti-Aging and Hormonal Health
Professor Nagorny has compared our body with a burning candle. Just like a candle burns out, over time the ability of our body to self-regenerate is decreasing, which is the main reason for aging. Activation of the processes “melting” the old cell formations, as well as stimulation of the new proteins synthesis are essential for slowing down and prevention of premature aging, according to Nagorny. Physical exercise, exercise of the heart and the entire circulatory system are very important for the body’s ability for self-restoration and self-renewal. And as we mentioned, steam is very helpful for removal of the old dead cells, enhancing of lymph and blood circulation and heart muscle function, as well as at increasing synthesis of healthy proteins and other nutrients.
In addition to the above benefits, the steam bath improves work of all endocrine glands, including thyroid, pituitary, parathyroid, and pancreas. These glands are interconnected and regulate activity of all organs and body systems.
Why Do We Use Steam in Combination with Cold Water?
Most guests who come to Fresh Start, especially those who stay for longer programs, experience amazing improvement of skin color and texture, even wrinkles get smaller or go away. This is largely due to the fact that we use the steam in alternation with cold water, which is like gymnastics to the blood vessels. When exposed to the heat, blood vessels dilate, when exposed to the cold, they constrict.
A quarter of our blood is located in the small capillaries located in our skin. The American hematologist Harding Jones found, that in an 18-year old male 25 cm3 of blood is moving through 1.5 cm3 blood vessel per second. By the age of 25 this amount and the diameter of capillaries are decreases almost in half. This is especially true for those who lead sedentary lifestyle. These facts tell us that supply of nutrients to the cells and removal of metabolic by-products significantly slows down as we age, if we do not do something about it. By cleansing and widening of the blood vessels as a result of the steam “gymnastics”, we rejuvenate skin (and the entire body), helping it become firm and young again.
Metabolism Re-set and Weight Loss
Steam increases protein, gaseous and mineral metabolism, elimination of inorganic sodium, phosphorous, uric and lactic acids. Lactic acid forms in the muscles as a result of physical activity; its accumulation leads to fatigue. Uric acid crystals, which are by-products of protein metabolism, accumulate in joints and big toes and are a primary factor in the beginning of arthritis and gout.
Cooling down during the cold water treatments further increases the metabolism, especially in the organs which release heat most actively, such as liver and muscles. And of course, the heat assists in increasing of fat metabolism and healthy weight loss.
Connective Tissues, Muscles, and Joint Function
Hot and cold water contrast promotes healthy flow of oxygen and nutrients to the joints, which enhances their cleansing and healing. This is why using hot and cold treatments may be so helpful in the period of restoration from physical traumas and other muscular-skeletal issues. Just like for the heart muscle, the steam is also a great exercise for the body muscles. Such exercise improves muscle strength, stamina and mass and effects not only muscle surface, but also much deeper layers.
I.P. Neumyvakin. Steam Bath: Healing Effects, Myths and Reality. Moscow, 2005.
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