by Dr. Joel Kahn, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Wellness, Michigan Healthcare Professionals PC
While most of us assume that sweating during a workout or in a sauna may be good for us, my hunch is that most of us don’t know why. The fact is, sweating is one of the best ways to remove toxins from our body and medical research can actually explain how this happens.
We live in a world where industrial toxins have become so prevalent that none of us are free of exposure. In fact, the umbilical cord blood of a newborn baby can be sampled and will reveal an average of over 200 synthetic chemicals, some of them with carcinogenic potential.
Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic are abundant in our environment and endocrine disruptors such as phthalates and bisphenol A can be found in our blood and urine.
What does the science say about removing these risks to our health through our sweat pores?
1. Sweating can help eliminate phthalates.
Phthalates are used in plastic toys, cooking utensils, fragrances, nail polish, cosmetics and paints. Researchers in Canada examined blood, urine and sweat concentrations of various phthalates in 20 people. They found that the concentration of these chemicals was twice as high in sweat as in urine and suggested that perspiration may help eliminate of some toxic compounds.
2. Sweating can help eliminate BPA.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is widely used to make clear plastics but is also used in cash register receipts, water pipes, electronics, and eyeglass lenses. This compound has been known for years to have estrogenic properties and exposure to it has been linked to obesity, early puberty, sexual dysfunction, miscarriage. The same group of Canadian researchers found BPA in the sweat of 80% of subjects tested. Some of these people had no detectable levels in their blood or urine, which suggests that sweat was the best way to excrete stored bisphenol A.
3. Sweating can help eliminate heavy metals.
The heavy metals arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury are confirmed or suspected carcinogens and are toxic in all sorts of ways to your body. They are known to harm the heart, brain, kidney, and immunological systems. Heavy metals are present in water, food, dental amalgams, cigarettes, and industrial emissions.
Studies show sweat can concentrate arsenic up to 10 times more than blood, cadmium up to 25 times more than blood, lead up to 300 times more than blood, and mercury somewhat more than blood, leading to effective elimination.
So how does this relate to you?
Sweating has been considered a therapy since the Roman baths, Aboriginal sweat lodges, Scandinavian saunas, and Turkish baths.
Recently, infrared saunas have become available that are cooler than other saunas but penetrate the skin deeper to promote sweating and toxin excretion.
As I review in detail in my book, a series of studies performed in Japan show that treatment with an infrared sauna, known as waon therapy, improves artery function and reduces the rate hospitalization and death in patients with heart disease.
Optimal health is in part a balance of toxin-toxout. In other words, you need to be aware of sources of toxicity (like those plastic water bottles), and you need a process to eliminate stored chemicals.
The Whole Heart Solution provides an overview of the most important environmental chemicals at home and work and offers strategies to help you eliminate them from your life to achieve optimal health.
It’s become trendy to see posts on social media declaring “too many people are counting calories and not enough are counting chemicals.”
Perhaps there are also not enough people sitting in saunas.
Dr. Kahn is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Wellness, Michigan Healthcare Professionals PC. He is a graduate Summa Cum Laude of the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He lectures widely on the cardiac benefits of vegan nutrition and mind body practices. He also writes for Readers Digest Magazine as the Holistic Heart Doc and his first book, The Whole Heart Solution, is available for sale now.
(As originally seen on MindBodyGreen.com)