There have been a lot of discussions and debates in the wellness industry about what interventions can strengthen your immune system to prevent or reduce the risk of COVID-19 since there is no cure for it. The use of sauna therapy has been discussed widely as a method to bolster the immune system and support people with the virus.
Chris Cuomo on the Use of Sauna for COVID-19
American TV journalist and presenter of the popular show, Cuomo Prime Time on CNN, Christopher (Chris) Cuomo suffering from COVID-19, has been using 30 minutes of sauna therapy daily along with 45 pills, CBD and a healthy diet to combat the virus. According to Christina Cuomo, Chris’ wife who wrote in The Purist, since the COVID-19 virus has no remedy, Chris used oxygenated herbs to boost his immune system so that he could prepare for the battle ahead.
Chris has also been sitting in a sauna daily, which has helped him to feel better and also with his fever. Chris’ doctor and President Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarus President recommend the use of sauna therapy as a way to combat the coronavirus. However, it must be reiterated that sauna therapy is not a cure for COVID-19. It was also reported that Chris Cuomo was taking CBD, which possibly offers a synergistic effect along with sauna use.
Sauna Against COVID-19?
Viruses like coronavirus and rhinovirus are enveloped viruses that are contained in a lipid membrane and can be active for long periods of time in dry and cool conditions and can cause an increase in the rate of respiratory infections. However, these viruses, like SARS-CoV-2, are heat sensitive and high temperatures can destroy their lipid sheaths and deactivate them.
There is no data to suggest that sauna therapy has an effect on COVID-19 infection. However, there is a convincing argument that the use of sauna therapy can help to promote changes in the immune function that can boost defense in a beneficial manner. Sauna therapy is similar to other activities such as exercise and is therapeutic rather than being a life-saving cure.
However, there is robust evidence that demonstrates that sauna therapy helps to promote mild hyperthermia, which can, in turn, induce several beneficial physiological responses, which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and also activate the cellular defense systems like HSPs (heat shock proteins) that help to protect against several diseases.
According to a study, the use of sauna therapy helps to reduce the risk of developing respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia by around 40%. In fact, frequent use of the sauna can help to reduce pulmonary congestion, leading to improvements in lung function such as tidal volume, vital capacity, forced expiratory volume and minute ventilation.
Also, according to a study, the use of sauna helped to reduce common cold in participants who used the sauna around 1 to 2 times per week for 6 months compared to participants who did not use it. The mechanism of how frequent use of sauna reduces the incidence of colds and pneumonia is unknown; however, it could be related to adjustment of the immune system.
Can Sauna Use Protect You Against Coronavirus?
The primary line of defense against the coronavirus is avoiding situations that can lead to infection. The second line of defense is that you should strengthen and fortify your body as much as possible to resist the effects of the coronavirus. It has been seen that sauna therapy can be an extremely useful way to boost the immune system, which is the best way to combat any virus or infection.
Despite whatever precautions you take, the fact is that anyone can contract the coronavirus and people with strong immune systems and with the best physical health will probably be in the best position to battle it. While you are probably aware of all the basics for good health like proper diet, regular exercise and good sleep; nevertheless, the best way to boost the ability of your body to combat viruses and infection is via sauna use.
The benefits of sauna therapy are from the heat. The hot environment of the sauna tricks your body into believing that it has an infection or virus. This is essentially the reason why you get a fever when you are sick and fever is the natural response of the body to fight any illness. A sauna mimics a fever causing the body to create antibodies and setting up to combat the infection causing the fever.
According to studies, the coronavirus lodges itself initially in the nasopharynx. Studies also show that the COVID-19 virus is sensitive to heat. The hot air of the sauna acts on your skin, as well as the respiratory tracts. So, we can assume that when exposed to the heat of the sauna, the viruses in the upper respiratory tract are inactivated. In fact, heat has been used for centuries in the form of hot mud, hot springs and sweat lodges to prevent and treat infections of the respiratory tract.
Other Health Benefits of Sauna Therapy
Whether sauna therapy can be used as a means to treat or prevent COVID-19 is debatable; however, we know that sauna therapy is an effective tool and has proven to have several other health benefits including:
- Reducing stress and anxiety and increasing overall mental well-being.
- Reduction in all-cause mortality.
- Reducing congestion, cold and flu symptoms.
- Increasing blood flow and production of antibodies.
- Improving cardiovascular function.
- Killing viruses and bacteria.
- Reducing asthma symptoms.
- Increasing white blood cells.
- Helping you to sleep better.
Since there are no clinical protocols supporting the use of heat-based therapies of COVID-19, there is no proof to show effective prevention or treatment of the disease. Nevertheless, the ease of access, convenience and affordable cost of heat-based therapies like sauna along with its several physical, as well as psychological benefits, make sauna therapy an extremely desirable option to combat respiratory infections including COVID-19 along with other treatment methods.