Sauna Detoxification for Cancer Prevention and Treatment

The chemicals and toxic metals we use in the environment eventually make their way back into our bodies. Each of us has over 100 toxic chemicals banked in our fat cells,including furans, dioxins, bisphenol A, phthalates, brominated fire retardants, pesticides, PCBs, PVC, formaldehyde and many more. Many of these are hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and are toxic to the immune system and nervous system. Unfortunately they are carried through breast milk and pose a life long health risk to our children, with each generation more chemically burdened than the one before it.

As we work towards decreasing our use of chemicals by saying “no” to plastics, pesticides, and vinyl, we can use saunas to eliminate our body burden of chemicals.

The skin is a major organ of detoxification and we release toxins through it when we sweat. Perspiration carries out with it cellular and water-soluble toxins and toxic minerals. Substances that have been shown to be excreted through the skin during saunas are morphine, methadone, amphetamines, chlorinated pesticides, herbicides, and PCBs.

One Vietnam War veteran who had been exposed to Agent Orange (dioxin) was placed on a 37-day protocol using exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, and saunas. By the end of the treatments, a fat biopsy showed a 97% decrease in levels of PCBs and DDE. In recent years, the sauna has become recognized as one of the few methods to remove toxic chemicals from the body, particularly those stored in the fat cells.

We would do well to undergo an 80-100 hour sauna detox program every five years, as well as sauna on a regular basis one hour weekly. It is especially important for young women to cleanse in the sauna before they conceive their children.

Directions for a Sauna Detoxification Program

A sauna detoxification program is best done under the supervision of a health care professional and with a sauna “buddy.” Here’s some tips to maximize the benefits of sauna therapy.

1) Before beginning sauna therapy, improve bowel function by doing a colon cleanse for several weeks Constipation needs to be addressed and corrected. A colon cleanse may include 1 tbsp psyllium seed powder, 1 tbsp bentonite, 2 tbsp ground flax seeds daily, and a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus. Reduce or eliminate animal protein and consume legumes, whole grains, and eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

2) Niacin should be taken as per the supplement schedule below before exercising, usually beginning at 50-100 mg daily at the beginning of the therapy and rising to 2,000 mg by the end. Sensitive or smaller individuals may need to start with less. The daily dose of niacin is taken all at once at this time. Supplemental niacin is a key ingredient in sauna therapy. Niacin increases peripheral circulation and mobilizes chemicals from fatty tissue. Administration of niacin will cause flushing of the skin with a burning sensation within several hours. Initially, take 50-100 mg of niacin daily until you have a flushing reaction. When the reaction is not evident after the niacin, the dosage is increased incrementally in 100 mg units, usually proceeding to between 2,000 and 4,000 mg daily by the end of the third week. At 1,000 mg, you may increase the niacin in 500 mg increments rather than 100 mg units. Any dose above 2,000 mg must be monitored with liver function tests, as niacin may injure the liver in high doses. Niacin decreases blood pressure and lowers cholesterol levels. Sauna therapy is complete when there is no more flushing after any amount of niacin. This usually occurs after three weeks on the program.

3) Before entering the sauna, you should not be hungry, nor have just eaten. Wait one hour after eating before going into the sauna or two hours after a large meal. Digestion requires a lot of blood, and the sauna brings the blood to the skin as a coolant. The blood cannot be effectively used for both at the same time. Alcohol and drugs are avoided during sauna detoxification.

4) Begin with 20-30 minutes of exercise in the form of rebounding, running, or using a treadmill to stimulate the circulation of blood and lymph and to move the blood deeper into the tissues, from where it can draw out toxic residues. Aerobic exercise causes the cell waste to be carried out quickly and efficiently, and should be practised daily immediately before the sauna for 20-30 minutes.

5) After the aerobic exercise, use a dry skin brush on the legs, arms and trunk, using small circular movements and moving up the body towards the heart.

6) One litre of water or tea should be prepared and taken in to the sauna to drink over each hour of sauna time, along with 1 tsp of an alkalinizing powder containing potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and some Celtic sea salt, or other electrolyte mix or tablets. Good choice of tea is a blend of burdock, cleavers, dandelion, red clover, and Chinese licorice.

7) Maintain the temperature in the sauna between 48.8°C (120°F) and 54.4°C (130°F). An infra red sauna will be the most effective, and the temperature can be slightly lower than if a dry or wet sauna is used. A dry sauna is more effective than a wet sauna.

8) Place a clean dry towel over the seat of the sauna to absorb perspiration and toxins. Use a fresh towel each time, and have each person bring her own towels and wash them daily.

9) Immediately go into the sauna after the aerobic exercise, accompanied by a partner or group. The partner is there for safety’s sake, since a person undergoing sauna detoxification may experience unpleasant symptoms as chemical toxins are released. If you feel too warm or as though you are going to faint, leave the sauna and have a cool shower before returning. The sauna partner ensures that the participant does not fall asleep because salt or potassium deficiency could occur while asleep, through sweating. Symptoms of salt or potassium depletion include extreme tiredness or weakness, headache, muscle cramps, clammy skin, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. Should any of these symptoms occur, salt tablets and potassium gluconate tablets, or alkalinizing powder are taken. Miso soup with a banana may also be on hand.

10) If suddenly your body stops sweating and your skin becomes hot and dry, this may be a sign of heat stroke. Cool off with a lukewarm or cool shower and take fluids, salt, and potassium. Drink tea with electrolytes frequently to replace what is lost through sweating while in the sauna.

11) Practise slow, long deep breathing while in the sauna to assist liver detoxification and improve lymphatic circulation.

12) Each person may be different in terms of the length of time they are able to spend in the sauna. Aim for at least four sittings of 15-20 minutes each, for five consecutive days, then off for two, for a total of 21 sauna days. Cool showers can be taken between sauna sittings to activate the circulation. Some individuals may be able to do three sittings, each an hour long, every day for three weeks. A 15-minute cool down period occurs between each of these sittings. Consider how you can do 80-100 hours of sauna in the shortest time period, and schedule your program. David Steinman, author of Diet for a Poisoned Planet, recommends a home detox program that involves using saunas two to four consecutive days in a week for several months, with two or three 20-30 minute sessions in the sauna each of those days.

13) Maintain a highly alkaline vegetarian diet with an ample supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, juiced or raw, while undergoing sauna detoxification. Use parsley daily to help with kidney cleansing and coriander to help with mercury removal. Use turmeric to speed up Phase 2 liver detoxification. Other vitamins, minerals, and oils should be taken along with the niacin and increased proportionately to it.

14) Use calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio as a drink with apple cider vinegar to improve its absorption. Vitamin C is taken at 1,000 mg daily initially and increased incrementally to 6,000 mg daily as niacin is increased. A vitamin B complex is increased incrementally with the niacin to help prevent other B vitamin deficiencies and improve liver detoxification. A multivitamin and mineral supplement is taken to provide the remaining nutrients.

15) In addition to these supplements, quality oils should be taken, varying between two tablespoons to one half cup of oil daily. A combination of flax seed oil, uncontaminated fish oil, and extra virgin olive oil with added lecithin can be taken daily. Oils are cold-pressed and kept refrigerated. If your sweat becomes oily during the sauna, reduce your oil intake. Activated charcoal and 1 tbsp bentonite plus a fibre formula are used to improve excretion of toxins.

16) Sauna therapy will be more effective if liver, kidney and intestinal cleansers are taken simultaneously. These may include milk thistle, dandelion.

17) Ensure you have sufficient rest while on the program, eight hours of sleep daily. The program works best when done at the same time daily.

Contraindications: Women who have lymphedema following breast cancer surgery need to be very cautious about using a sauna, as it may aggravate this condition. Don’t do sauna detoxification if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Before getting married, consider doing the full sauna detoxification program with your partner, especially if you intend to have children in the future. At least three months before you conceive, do the full sauna detoxification program. Toxins continue to be released for several months after the therapy is completed, so do the cleansing well in advance of conception.

If you have heart, kidney, liver disease or a seizure disorder, consult with a medical doctor before beginning the program and do it with medical supervision. Do not do the program without supervision if you are anemic, or if you have sutures from a surgery.

Nutritional Supplement Schedule for Sauna Detoxification

Nutrient / Beginning Therapy / Ending Therapy

Niacin / 50-100 mg / 2,000-4,000 mg
Vitamin A / 5,000-10,000 IU / 50,000 IU
Vitamin D / 400 IU / 2,000 IU
Vitamin C / 1,000 mg / 6,000 mg
Vitamin E / 800 IU / 2,400 IU
Vitamin B complex / 100 mg / 300 mg
Calcium / 500-1,000 mg / 2,500-3,000 mg
Magnesium / 250-500 mg / 1250-1500 mg
Iron / 18-36 mg / 90-108 mg
Zinc / 15-30 mg / 75-90 mg
Manganese / 4-8 mg / 20-24 mg
Copper / 2-4 mg / 10-12 mg
Potassium / 45-90 mg / 225-270 mg
Iodine / 225-.450 mg / 1.125-1.350 mg

Cal-Mag Formula: mix together / 1 1/2 glasses / 2-3 glasses
1 tbsp. calcium gluconate
1/2 tsp. Magnesium carbonate
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
or take calcium-magnesium tablets with apple cider vinegar.

For several decades Sat Dharam has been integrating and creating a fusion of her three great passions: Kundalini Yoga, Naturopathic Medicine, and Environmental Sustainability. She has developed and/or teaches several programs: Kundalini Yoga Classes, The Healthy Breast Program, Four Season Yoga Cleanse, Beyond Addiction, and Compassionate Inquiry with Dr. Gabor Maté, taught in Canada and around the world. She invites you to participate and/or train with her on one or more of these extraordinary journeys to wholeness and fitness. She believes that together we can form dedicated, purposeful global communities to inspire, educate and uplift others. She looks forward to working with you to discover a way of living that helps sustain you and the planet. For more information, visit:

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  • Sauna detoxification is believed by some to aid in cancer prevention and treatment by promoting the elimination of toxins through sweat. The intense heat increases circulation, potentially enhancing immune function and overall health. While saunas can support well-being, it's crucial to integrate them with conventional medical treatments and consult healthcare professionals for comprehensive cancer care strategies.

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