While saunas are known to be beneficial to health (by inducing ‘heat shock proteins’) and might even aid hypertrophy (muscle growth), the evidence for a ‘detox’ effect is less clear. It is plausible, as the skin is a major excretory organ and can help the body to eliminate toxins, and the increased metabolic activity and catabolic processes initiated by heat-shock proteins may amplify this.
At this stage though, research is lacking although a few studies have shown some isolated findings for an effect of saunas on detox, including improved healthy questionnaire scores and reduced neurotoxicity findings.1, 2
1. Lennox RD, Cecchini-Sternquist M. Safety and tolerability of sauna detoxification for the protracted withdrawal symptoms of substance abuse. Journal of International Medical Research. 2018;46(11):4480-99.
2. Ross GH, Sternquist MC. Methamphetamine exposure and chronic illness in police officers: significant improvement with sauna-based detoxification therapy. Toxicology and Industrial Health. 2011;28(8):758-68.