Saunas and Risk of Dementia

July 23, 2018

Saunas and Risk of Dementia


 References: Age AgingAm J of HypertensionScientific World JournalAlternative Med Therapies

 It's all in the title. "Sauna Bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in Middle-Aged Men". Nice! You see, in Finland building codes require that even apartment buildings have saunas in each unit. It's part of being Finnish. As part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease prospective study of 2,315 apparently healthy men aged 42-60 years at baseline, the frequency of taking saunas was studied. Over an average of 20 years, 204 cases of dementia of which 123 were labeled Alzheimer's, developed. 

The study adjusted for all the known risks of Alzheimer's like diabetes, smoking, history of heart attack, smoking, alcohol consumption - the whole gamut. Compared to men who only took 1 sauna a week, men who took 2-3 saunas a week were 20% less likely to get Alzheimer's and 4-7 were 65% less likely to get Alzheimer's. Whew! Did you get that! This is the most powerful effect of any intervention we know of for reducing the risk of Alzheimer's. The same study looked at hypertension and came up with similar salutary findings. Two to three saunas a week and your risk of high blood pressure diagnosis drops 24% and four to seven saunas reduces your risk 46%. 

High blood pressure! Helped by sauna?!?&@# Help me with this one! Do I have your attention? It sure has mine. I'm fascinated. This is a significant finding and one which we would be well served to pursue. What is the mechanism? Here is my hunch and I'll give you the references to read further if you wish. Taking a sauna stresses you and mobilizes a lot of pathways in your system that are not usually invoked. Your sweat glands start excreting tons of sweat, something they don't often do. In that sweat you can find lots of gunk, from bisphenol to mold toxins and heavy metals. Taking a sauna excretes all those toxins at a higher rate. 

One study of 28 mold-exposed patients given saunas along with IV vitamin, cleaning their environment and various other therapies, 27 returned to work after their sauna regimens. I've purchased a particle counter for my practice that counts the tiny particles in the ambient air of our environment. What I'm finding is that in my home, with HEPA air filters and all, I have between 170,000 and 300,000 particles in each cubic foot of air. In my office, it runs about the same: 150,000 or so. In a moldy basement, you will find 5,000,000 particles per cubic foot. All of us, every day, are breathing in 100,000 particles every time we breathe. That tiny dust you see on your computer screen. That stuff. You breathe it in. And then you have to get rid of it. It's part of life. Not possible to avoid. It creates a bigger burden to excrete as we get older and our immune system settles into senescence. Keeping our immune system robust may be a key strategy to add to our life plan. Saunas may be part of that. 

WWW. What will work for me. I'm fascinated with this. Having added a lovely Finnish women to our family (my son's spouse) and having visited her family in Finland, I've seen the saunas and heard about their building codes. I want to try the effect of saunas on mold illness. This article suggests that we all should be taking saunas considering that 50% of us are going to get dementia if we don't do something.  

 Pop Quiz

  1. If you are building a home in Finland, the inspector won't pass your building plans until you have evidence of what?                  Answer: A sauna
  2. Taking a sauna 5 days a week in Finland reduces your risk of Alzheimer's by what percent? 2%, 10%, 25%, 65%                          Answer: 65%
  3. Taking a sauna 5 days a week also will reduce your risk of what other risk factor for heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer's?           Answer: High blood pressure Bonus Points: By how much? 46% - almost half.
  4. What might be the means by which saunas perform their magic?                Answer: sweating is good for you. You sweat out all sorts of gunk
  5. Name one form of gunk we all breath in every time we breathe?                  Answer: mold toxins, bisphenol, parabens, VOCs.........