Saunas have an age-old history. The first ones saw the light in Finland around 1100, in the shape of plain holes in the ground with a stack of stones inside to serve as a hearth (“Ground sauna”). However the beneficial effects of steam baths were already known to the Egyptians, Romans and to the populations of the Middle East. Smoke saunas (“Savusaune”) were an evolution of the ground saunas and kept being used until the XX century. They implied the presence of a rough oven emitting fumes that had anti-bacterial effects. In the XIX century, the sauna heating system saw a progress, thanks to the introduction of a metallic cone that kept the fumes away; starting from the ‘30s the first electric sauna models were patented and spread across Europe and the US in the first world war aftermath. Known for its purifying properties, the sauna is particularly appreciated for its healthy impact on the psycho-physical balance, for the body and mind relaxation and because it induces to sleeping. “The sauna... is the apotheosis of all experiences: Purgatory and Heaven; ground and fire; fire and water; sin and forgiveness” [Constance Malleson]
How does a sauna work?
A sauna is a dry steam bath. Differently from hammams – humid steam baths –, saunas are characterized by a strong dry heat that enables the evaporation of skin transpiration. Therefore the permanence inside needs to be limited to slots of 10-15 minutes. Saunas are extremely useful to reduce daily anxiety and stress, for the rapid recovery from muscles traumas thanks to their soothing work on the muscles and because they raise the immune defenses. Moreover, saunas detoxify from impurities and accurately clean the epidermis, making the skin shinier. Contrarily to what is commonly thought, the sauna does not contribute to loosing weight, since it favors the loss of liquids rather than weight, but does contribute to improve the imperfections deriving from cellulite. Given the extreme environmental conditions, saunas are to be used moderately and always following to a medical check-up. The abrupt loss of high quantities of liquids and mineral salts caused by the abundant sweat inside the sauna, can bring to a drop of the circulating blood (hypovolemic shock). Saunas are thus contraindicated for hypotensive or hypertensive people, people with heart or blood circulation diseases or having temperature, during menstruation and pregnancy.
The difference between saunas and Turkish baths
Similar by appearance, the Sauna and Turkish Bath differ from one another due to a series of elements that let the scale tip on one or the other option. First of all, we need to look at the origin of each product and where do they come from. The Turkish Bath was born in the Southern Mediterranean, while the sauna is Finnish par excellence. Another substantial difference stands in the materials used. It is very common to find wood saunas and stone or marble Turkish baths, due to the internal temperatures and the moisture released by the heat. In both baths is is easy to come across seats that are positioned at different heights, depending on the temperature one wants to perceive. Saunas reach 50°C at the first level, 75°C in the middle and the highest seat can also go up to 85°C. In a Turkish bath thermal lapses are much smaller, ranging from the 20/25°C of the lower seats, to the 40/45°C of the higher positions. Being the sauna a dry environment and devoid of moisture, a stove with lava stones is usually positioned in the inside; once heated, the stones contribute to radiate heat, but, especially if wet, they provide a humid sensation which is desired and wished to have in an environment that can reach up to 90°C. Apart from these due distinctions, one thing is for sure; be it a sauna or a Turkish bath, both baths grant benefits on the skin, lymphatic system, blood pressure through vasodilatation and the elimination of toxins and excess fats.
Saunas: different models for different outcomes
Nowadays it is possible to benefit from a sauna even at home, with pretty much affordable costs. But how to choose the best sauna? The traditional model is the Finnish Sauna, a room completely made of wood, featuring hot and dry air jet and temperatures ranging between 75°-100°C. Saunas are heated by electric or wood stoves, having on the inside dark, heavy and big stones that stow as much thermal energy as possible. These saunas are equipped with wood benches and a water sink to be poured with a ladle on the hot stones so to produce steam. For a sauna to be effective it is advised to spend from two to three slots of 5, 10 and 15 minutes each. Once out of the sauna, a shower with room temperature water can help bring the body temperature down to normal levels, while laying down enhances the benefits of the treatment. This translates in relax and unleashing of endorphin, the hormone of wellness. Alternatively to Finnish saunas, there are infrared saunas, more appropriately defined infrared rooms. Infrared rooms work differently from saunas, as the dry heat is generated by waves of infrared rays, similar to solar light. Infrared rays are invisible to human eyes and emit a heat that penetrates tissues up to 4cm depth, in a way to increase the body temperature and favor sweating. As a reaction to the high temperature, the body intensifies the heart beats and the blood flow through the heart. As a consequence, the passive effect of IR rays allows to strengthen the cardiovascular system for people with mobility issues or with non-inflammatory diseases like arthrosis, sciatica and reumathisms. Compared to a classic sauna, infrared rooms work with temperatures around 50°-60°C, hence being more suited to people with cardiovascular diseases, for whom the use of Finnish sauna is discouraged. Given the fact that infrared rooms do not release humidity and that they only require connection to electric power, it is easy to place an infrared room in any room of the house.
Are you in search of an alternative sauna?
If you wish to enrich your sauna experience following the principles of holistic medicine, you can try herbal saunas, a lower temperature treatment (50°C) based on the principles of the aromatherapy. The water is poured on a bundle of officinal herbs laid on an infrared stove. The officinal herbs emanate a scented steam and essential oils that benefit respiration. Similar to herbal saunas are saunas with aromatherapy, endowed with a drip tray placed upon the stove stones to liberate essential oils through the emitted steam. Indeed, in environments like a sauna, balsamic essences are key to entice delightful, stimulating or soothing emotions through the smell. Furthermore, balsamic essences like those of pine or eucalyptus are especially useful to improve breathing, while peperite meant or rosemary have antiseptic properties. In alternative, you can opt for saunas with chromotherapy, equipped with integrated lamps of several colors that can be combined in RGB mode. As a matter of fact each color has its own waves length and frequency able to influence the limbic system and create balance and harmony; this is the reason why colors have been used since ancient times to entice psycho-physical wellness. Choose the sauna that best fits your needs on Archiproducts!
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