During Lyme disease treatment, the liver and kidneys can become overwhelmed, especially during Herxheimer, or pathogen die-off reactions, which create greater amounts of toxins for the body to filter out of the blood and eliminate.
When trying to detox your body from Lyme neurotoxins and environmental toxins, you can give your liver and kidneys a break by eliminating some of those toxins through your skin with sauna therapy. With this therapy, you can reduce the amount of toxins that your liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract have to filter, process and eliminate and mitigate Lyme disease symptoms.
Reducing Lyme Disease Symptoms with Sauna Therapy
Not all saunas are created equal, so you’ll want to choose a sauna that is made of high quality materials that don’t outgas harmful chemicals and which have low levels of electromagnetic fields. Far infrared saunas work best for detoxifying the body at a deep level, although traditional gym saunas and other types can at least help you to sweat, and thereby confer some benefit for detox. That said, I have personally found high-quality infrared saunas to be much more effective for chronic Lyme disease and comfortable than traditional gym or other types of saunas, because they don’t heat the body to as high a temperature as the latter saunas. If you have compromised adrenal function, you will fare much better in a high quality infrared sauna—at least I have found that to be true for myself and other people that I know. At the same time, high quality infrared saunas go deeper into the tissues to remove toxins at the cellular level than other types of saunas.
In addition to detoxifying the body, infrared sauna therapy can support healthy inflammatory levels and in so doing help to reduce chronic pain. It also increases circulation and lymphatic flow, which may help the body to remove toxins and uptake nutrients, since one of the jobs of the lymphatic system is to shuttle nutrients to the cells and help to carry waste away from them for elimination by the body. It may also help to kill pathogens and support the body in removing cancer cells.
As great as sauna therapy is, it may not be beneficial for everyone with Lyme or at every stage of the healing process. Because saunas can mobilize toxins from deep within the tissues, if your body is already compromised from processing toxins from pathogen die-off, pulling more toxins out of the cells may overwhelm the detox organs. If your adrenal function is low, sauna therapy can sometimes exacerbate exhaustion. It may also be contraindicated in a few other conditions, so you’ll want to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before doing it.
Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Lyme Disease Newsletter (it's free!)
Saunas can be pricey, but I actually purchased a slightly used one on Craig’s List for $400. It is a very high quality Sunlighten portable sauna made from a special heating technology called Solocarbon. It emits low EMFs and I don’t feel exhausted after doing a session, unlike when I used to go to the gym. I have also found moderation to be key. I feel best when I use my sauna only a few times per week, for no more than 30 minutes. Some people may be able to do more, or less, but if you try sauna therapy, you may want to start out slow and at a low temperature to see how your body responds. Again, I recommend consulting with your local healthcare practitioner for guidance in this, especially since saunas can cause, or potentially exacerbate, Herxheimer reactions.
As a final note, consider doing some oil pulling or taking a toxin binder after you do your sauna. Oil pulling involves swishing a healthy type of oil, such as olive or coconut, around in your mouth for five minutes and then spitting it out. The oil will pull toxins from your bloodstream, through the mucus membranes in your mouth. Because sauna therapy mobilizes toxins, you may have a greater amount of toxins circulating around in your bloodstream after the treatment which is why oil pulling and taking toxin binders such as zeolite, chlorella, apple pectin, charcoal or glutathione following a sauna may be especially beneficial.
Sauna therapy is described in greater detail in my book New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment.
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on September 5, 2016 and was updated on January 9, 2020.
Connie Strasheim is the author of multiple wellness books, including three on Lyme disease. She is also a medical copywriter, editor and healing prayer minister. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: ConnieStrasheim.