|Sauna benches (Photo credit: Matti Mattila)|
Steam Rooms Promote Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness...Even Before You Add Eucalyptus
There may be some who will argue whether or not there are therapeutic benefits to steam rooms. There are even a few who might try to prove that there may be some dangers with steam rooms. After exhausting just about every well written (if not necessarily research based) article about steam baths available, and throwing in humidifiers to boot, here is the conclusion:
Steam Rooms May Provide benefits to circulation, detoxification, muscle relaxation, and respiration, or, maybe not. Here's the dope.
Humans have believed for at least hundreds if not thousands of years that steam is good for the respiratory system, skin, and muscles. We lay people have observed that dry whether causes chapping of lips, skin, the inside of our noses and even our throats. We use steam baths, hot showers, facial saunas, and humidifiers (both room and whole-house) in our attempt to balance out nature's dry climates or seasons.
While science seems to be having difficulty proving one way or the other whether steam might help with chapping, including the chapping of our throats that leads to sore throats and colds, lay observation seems to confirm for us enough relief or benefit to continue to use these methods.
Open those pores - When we sweat, and sweating is the main activity in a steam room, our pores open wide and we sweat out water. This process is widely touted as a way to sweat out unwanted toxins and just plain dirt that we don't want clogging up our pores. Science is mixed on this. But one might conclude that we would all stop doing it if there was no evidence of effectiveness.
Soothe Aching Muscles - Heating our skin, increases blood circulation. The body's response is to direct more blood to the skin's surface and the muscles. With more blood flow, the build up of lactic acid from a muscle that has been worked will be expelled more quickly. The blood also bring oxygen and nutrients needed to help the muscle heal.
Clean Out Your Nasal Passages - If you need scientific proof of this effect, you've never been in a steam room. Your nose will run, and your nasal passages will be clean afterwords. Does this help prevent colds, reduce cold symptoms, or speed recovery. Many websites point to a study at the University of Munich that makes multiple claims as to possible benefits related to respiratory issues. If you can find that original study, please send me an email or give me a link in the comments. I can find no evidence that the study exists.