While at the Fresh Start retreat, as a part of your daily routine, you’ll be taking an evening steam bath with cold water treatments and aromatherapy. These powerful 45 min. treatments are one of the key healing elements of our programs.
What are the Benefits of a Steam Bath?
Immune System Boost
A steam sauna strengthens the immune system. The heat in a steam room benefits your immune system by inducing an artificial fever. No, this doesn’t mean that you get sick! An artificially induced fever causes an increase in the production of white blood cells and activation of the immune system. As a result, bacteria and viruses are forced to slow down their growth and start dying off. Most bugs cannot survive temperature above 37⁰C. This includes Candida overgrowth. Macrophages – the main cleaning agents of the lymph system are activated with heat. Additionally, due to the imitation of natural fever during an infection, the body will turn on the mechanism of hiding iron into storage from the unwanted bacteria, further depriving them of nutrition and making them weaker.
High body temperature destroys unhealthy cells while leaving healthy ones perfectly intact, as healthy ones are only destroyed at temperatures beyond possible in the body. For example, a cancerous cell is damaged at 39 C and dies at 42 C. A healthy cell is damaged at 43 C and dies at 46-47 C. Therefore, special hyperthermia treatments are used in natural cancer healing protocols.
Steam is a great therapy to prevent colds and flues, as well as help the body to recover from them faster. People with allergies may receive enormous benefits from the steam. In addition to boosting your immune system, it helps clear up allergens and mucus out of lungs.
One of the main benefits of the steam bath, along with an immune system boost, is improving of lymph detoxification. Lymph is a sewer through which the toxins leave the tissues. We can 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 both a river and lymph system can become a cesspool of toxins, bacteria and parasites.
Signs of sluggish lymph are:
- chronic fatigue
- lack of mental clarity
- vulnerabilities to colds
- migraines (especially those that start as pressure in the back of your neck and can make the top of your head, behind your sinuses, or whole head feel highly pressurized)
- breast tenderness
- menstrual cramps
- tissue swelling (edema)
- mood swings
- joint pain/ arthritis
- itchy legs
- skin breakouts
- swollen lymph nodes
Swelling and tenderness in the lymph nodes is usually a sign of inflammation in areas that are drained by those nodes. Lymph nodes purify the lymph from toxins; including cancerous cells, which the nodes may effectively remove until taken over by their excess and after getting clogged with other debris.
Lymph Movement in the Body
70% of our lymph vessels are located near or just under the skin. The remaining 30% surround most of the body organs. Lymph constitutes the fluid that leaves the cells after bringing them nutrients and accepting wastes. This fluid first moves into one-file lymph vessels, following into bigger ones, where it gets purified in the lymph nodes and afterwards exits into the veins next to our neck.
Signs of Clogged Lymph Vessels
When your lymph is clogged, your body looks for alternative ways to get rid of waste. The alternative plan is making mucous out of it. Coughing up lots of phlegm in the morning is a sure sign of a problem. Runny nose or clogged sinuses is another sign of congested lymph. Another route is to send toxins into the skin, which contributes to acne, dry skin, and other skin problems especially from the chest or back, up to the neck and face.
If your lymph is clogged then the toxins accumulate around cells and cannot escape, and the main plumbing outlets (thoracic ducts) work below their optimum level or get clogged. If this happens with the left duct, this will affect digestion, both legs and pressure on 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 pressure on the right part of the head. When lymphatic congestion develops close to the ears, they do not drain properly as the pressure back-up won’t let them, causing various ear-related issues.
How Does Steam Help the Problem?
Most mucous glands are located along the respiratory tract and skin. Steam greatly assists in its elimination via sweating and increased rate of breathing, as well as increasing 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 diseases are: lupus, rheumatoid and reactive arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis + over 70 other similar illnesses. Autoimmune processes may start virtually in every organ and recently have become pandemic. Many think that these are caused by the body starting to behave abnormally and attacking its own cells thus eventually destroying them. Due to such understanding most treatments of the autoimmune conditions are directed at immune system suppression, with the reasoning that it helps minimize the 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 lose its mind. This just does not make sense. What if there are structures in the body that need to be taken apart, that the perfectly sane system intends to accomplish. And there are so many sick cells that their removal affects the organs integrity.
What Causes Formation of Sick Cells?
If we study a bit 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 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 could potentially explain why we observe epidemics of brain cancer among 30-year olds. The young developing brain is being bombarded with harmful electro and radioactive rays for hours each day, over many years.
Maybe the immune system is not our enemy and is doing just what it is supposed to, what it is designed to do: remove unhealthy cells. Yet it gets slammed, hammered and gives up on its job. As we know the suppression of the immune system does not provide a permanent solution to the problem, just symptoms management. When immunity is lowered, the body becomes defenseless against bacteria, viruses and toxins; the body is also more vulnerable to pathogens and associated diseases. By treating one thing, we cause problems elsewhere. There should be a better solution than this. A good to ask is: how to help the body get rid of the garbage and simultaneously replace 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. The toxins in the lymph system is a primary factor in autoimmune processes and should be addressed ASAP. A steam bath, along with removing foods that may be a culprit and detox, do just that.
Effects of the Daily Steam Sessions
So far we have observed that many people with autoimmune diseases ONLY benefited from the steam bath, especially combined with internal purification of the lymph system.
Additionally, one of our clients, who had an increase of white blood cells, has reported a significant drop in the cell counts after the program according to the blood tests. This is because the body is very intelligent. While getting rid of defective cells, it will stimulate healthy immunity and production of healthy white blood cells. It will also promote synthesis of healthy proteins and elimination of the unhealthy ones. It knows how to self-regulate.
Disclaimer: in cases of advanced diseases, the body may not always able to perform its regulatory function efficiently, so please take caution and do not take the information above as a medical advice.
Strengthening Heart and Blood Vessels
Small blood vessels (arterioles) are the water taps of our circulatory system. When exposed to steam, they direct the blood to the skin and muscles: the capillaries widen, and the blood moves from the central blood vessels to the periphery, or close to the outside of the body. As a result the blood flushes all corners of the body and increases cellular metabolism. This also lightens the work of the left atrium and ventricle of the heart and blood circulation in the arteries. Additionally, it starts circulation of the reserve blood, located in spleen, liver and muscles. This blood is rich in nutrients and will rejuvenate and recharge our cells. It also will melt cholesterol, which is typically an inactive molecule with 18 particles of carbon and only one oxygen – and therefore not easy for the body to eliminate.
When a person starts a steam session, his/her blood pressure increases at first. But soon due to widening of the blood vessels it drops. Increase in the blood temperature stimulates the cardiac muscle and increases the amount of blood going through it by 1.5 times. This exercises the heart and the entire circulation system. Similarly as exercise effects the body muscles, they strengthen and improve the heart function.
Are there any Contraindications and Precautions when Using a 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
Lungs, just like skin, are our first line defense from pathogenic microorganisms. Saturation with steam promotes exchange of air in alveoli and improves function of the mucous lining of the respiratory pathways. Steam 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, are full of phytoncides, essential oils and aeroiones, which have antibacterial action and let the steam penetrate deeper into the lung tissues.
Due to effect of heat on the mucous lining of the nose, the steam decreases obstruction of sinuses and initiates mucous removal. It is excellent for people with asthma, chronic cough, those who quit smoking and a variety of other respiratory problems. During the steam bath, the bronchi widen, the muscles of the respiratory system relax, and as a result breathing becomes more rapid and deep.
Calming Nervous System
Lightness, peace and state of deep relaxation leading to deeper sleep is typically experienced after a steam bath session. Because the blood moves to the skin and muscles, this decreases the blood flow in the brain and lowers the activity of its frontal lobes. Steam also tonifies our parasympathetic system and decreases action of the sympathetic (our self-protective but so overused fight-and-flight) system. This takes off psychological tension and calms the nervous system (NS). A calm NS improves mood, attention and other cognitive functions. A steam bath helps you unwind at the end of the day; decreasing obsessive thoughts and unnecessary emotions.
Improving Skin Problems
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 lots of sugar and fats, it’ll show as boils, pimples, and other skin blemishes. And if there is too much animal protein in the diet, feet may start emanating unpleasant smell. With high toxicity of the body, a person will have bad, smelly sweat and breath. Different skin issues such as eczema, papilloma, psoriasis, warts, and new birth marks are signal that the body is dirty inside and uses various routes to eliminate toxins.
If we used a microscope to look at the skin, we’d notice in most cases dry, pale, yellowish, covered with dead skin particles, under which live multiple bacteria and small tics-saprophytes that you cannot see with a naked eye.
The shower and bath will not help with these. The old dead particles are securely held together by sweat and subdermal fat, which together form a crust. If you just take a bath, hot water may dilute these particles and let them penetrate in deeper layers of skin, leading to inflammation. This is why it is a great idea to shower before a bath.
Steam on the other hand is able to peel the crust off and decreases the number of pathogenic microorganisms located under it, and kills skin germs, which will be washed away with a shower following the steam.
Professor Nagorny has compared an organism with a burning candle, in which the processes of self-restoration are decreasing. According to him, this is the main reason for aging. Increase of the processes of “melting” of the old formations in cells, as well as stimulation of synthesis of the new proteins and associated nutrients is necessary for preventing of premature aging. 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 excellent at improving the circulation and heart muscle function, as well as increasing synthesis of healthy proteins and other nutrients.
Additionally, the steam bath improves work of all endocrine glands, including thyroid, pituitary, parathyroid, and pancreas. These glands are interconnected and regulate activity of our 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 look, even wrinkles get smaller or go away. This is largely due to the fact that the steam in alternation with cold 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 the skin. The American hematologist Harding Jones found, that in an 18-year old male about 25 cm3 blood are moving through 1.5 cm3. By age 25 this amount and the diameter of capillaries decrease almost in half. This especially occurs with those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
These facts mean that supply of nutrients to cells and removal of products through metabolisms significantly goes down. By opening, cleansing and widening these passages, which happens as a result of the steam “gymnastics”, we rejuvenate skin (and the entire body) and help it become firm and young again.
Improving Metabolism and Weight Loss
Due to the heat effect, 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 that release heat most actively, the liver and muscles. According to research, malignant tumors are linked to disruption of the protein metabolism. And of course, increased metabolism is a friend of healthy weight loss.
Restoration of Connective Tissues, Muscles, and Joint Functions
The contrast between hot and cold promotes flow of oxygen and nutrients to joints, which improves their restoration. This is why using this powerful treatment is so crucial in the period of restoration from physical traumas to other muscular-skeletal issues. The steam is also a form of muscle exercises and improves muscle function, particularly strength, stamina and mass. It has effect not only on surface muscles, but also on those that lay much deeper.
I.P. Neumyvakin. Steam Bath: Healing Effects, Myths and Reality. Moscow, 2005.