The Holistic Handbook
of Sauna Therapy
by Nenah Sylver, PhD
Sweat it out:
Book outlines how and why of sauna
Anne Pyburn, reporter
High Falls, New York, 2006
Dr. Nenah Sylver says on her website that when she was first invited to write about sauna therapy, she thought she'd be writing a pamphlet. Applying her inquiring mind to the subject of sweat, she soon realized there was far, far more to say than she had realized.
Modern medicine seems to be gradually coming to terms with what traditional cultures from China to Europe to Peru and beyond have long known about disease: It's the toxins, silly. Toxins in our food and in our environment build up in our bodies, resulting in a host of maladies from the annoying to the life threatening. Modern life, of course, exposes us to toxins our ancestors never dreamt of.
Those same cultures, as Sylver makes plain in an early chapter, understand the value of simple sweating--brought on by heating the body--as a way to flush those toxins out and leave room for health to happen. And although saunas may have caught on as an essential component of the modern American health spa or club, it's doubtful that most people really understand the depth and breadth of benefits they can realize by making sauna therapy a regular part of their health regimen, as the Finns have done for generations.
The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy aims to correct that situation, and does so admirably, with chapters on sauna history, how and why we sweat, what's in sweat and why our bodies need to get rid of it--and goes on to discuss heat types, sauna construction, various health conditions that may benefit from sauna therapy and a few that rule it out or require modifications, how to sweat properly, overall detoxification problems, and where to find the nearest sauna or get one of your very own.
The author's intelligence and depth of research are formidable; thankfully, her writing style is not. She manages to be both in-depth and conversational, not to mention extremely convincing--her enthusiasm is backed by exhaustive study, which she clearly enjoyed, and the sense of enjoyment shines through in the text. Sylver has found out something good to share with the rest of us, and does so with panache, sincerity and sensitivity.
Should you read this book? Do you inhabit a human body? (If you don't, and are currently reading this, please contact the Bluestone Press for a feature story.) Would you like to regain or maintain health and vitality for the rest of your years, without relying on the pharmaceutical industry and the wizards of managed care?
The book is available at www.NenahSylver.com, along with a host of other intriguing stuff. Check it out. Enjoy.
Excellent Work on Sauna Therapy
Brian McInturff (Marietta, GA)
creator, CAFL (Consolidated Annoted Frequency List)
December 8, 2004
I know someone with MS who has used many alternative regimens to combat his illness. He did well for a couple of months on holistic therapies, but after going to the dentist to get the last of the mercury in his mouth removed, he needed his crutches continuously. Now he is in a wheelchair.
What I found odd was that he had mentioned that he didn't sweat.
Years ago I had an emergency root canal. The dentist packed it with a whopper mercury filling. I remember that my arms lost a significant amount of strength, my left much worse than my right (the filling was on the left side if that had anything to do with it) and the left was also a bit sore. Exercise with swimming and biking did not help the problem. This lasted through the winter months, but as springtime and summer came to Atlanta, with the 100 degree F days and me working in the yard and being "blessed" with the capacity to sweat a great deal, the strength returned to my arms in about two weeks.
I thought back on this and wondered if perhaps the problem with my friend was he just did not sweat enough to get the mercury and other toxic metals out of his muscles and other tissues. Further study on the matter revealed that it may not just be the mercury in "silver fillings" that causes neurological and muscle disorders, but other toxic metals including tin and nickel.
Then I read Dr. Nenah Sylver's book, The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy. It confirmed my suspicions.
Sylver explains that this is indeed the case—that sweating can be a major avenue of detoxification for the body and not just for metals but also for toxic chemicals and metabolic wastes. She explains the processes by which they are eliminated. She cites and examines studies which show how many toxic elements can be removed by sweating and it is surprising that certain types of toxins, including some metals, are most effectively excreted by the skin than by the usual avenues of elimination—the kidneys, liver, and bowel. As Dr. Sylver states, a sauna can be a necessary piece of medical equipment.
The Handbook also details many other aspects of sauna use including the available types, how to construct one's own, instructions on their use, who may use a sauna and who may not, details on how to use a sauna for detoxification purposes, and how, why, and what we sweat.
Besides the excellent content, Sylver's writing style is a delight. It is thorough yet accessible, with just the right amount of technicality to satisfy the practitioner without losing the laymen in the details. Highly recommended!
Easy to read and inspiring!
December 1, 2004
As a novice I found this book a wonderful resource. I feel that it saved me months, perhaps years, of personal research. When it comes to health it is not wise to learn the facts after the fact. You can make a bad situation worse this way. And when it comes to saunas lack of knowledge can be a serious problem. There is more to know about a sauna than "you sit in a hot room for a half hour or an hour and slowly get well." There is a safe way to do it and a multitude of not safe ways to do it. If you are seriously interested in improving your health through the use of saunas I would seriously encourage you to get this book and learn how to do it correctly, and safely from the start.
Best Book You Will Find on Saunas
Hakim Chishti, ND
author of Traditional Healers Handbook and Book of Sufi Healing
February 10, 2006
This book is easy to sum up: without doubt, the most well-researched and comprehensive book on the topic in the English language.
As a physician and author myself, I was absolutely impressed with Dr. Sylver's thorough research and writing style. It is rare to find someone who can write about complex medical and scientific topics in such a clear, even fun way.
This book is a presentation of what is one of the two or three best techniques anyone can use for getting and staying well. Saunas -- applying heat to the body to induce sweating -- has been in continuous use as a healing method for tens of thousands of years. It is applied today in virtually every therapeutic approach to treatment of a wide range of conditions, ailments and diseases. Saunas are affordable enough to be part of everyone's home regimen for health.
I recommend this book to everyone interested in discovering one of the best healing methods available, anywhere, at any price.
Review by Gina Ritter
Holistic healing has come out of the closet over the years with an approach to integrative medicine that combines the best of traditional healing and western medicine. Regardless of whether you practice both traditional medicine and holistic medicine or only one, holistic concepts are becoming more respected and recognized. The truth is, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the holistic medicine our ancestors once used, so it makes sense that we infuse their expertise into our lives today.
Internationally published author Nenah Sylver, PhD, brings renewed meaning to one of the oldest therapies of humankind in her second expert book, The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy.
Bathing and sweating with family, friends and neighbors has always been an important tradition in many of the world’s cultures. While we no longer congregate in huge bath houses, we do find saunas in many homes, hotels and health-related businesses and find them an integral part of relaxation and healing in hospitals, sports and physical therapy offices, long term care facilities, and spas the world over — with good reason!
Much like steam cleaning your home without chemicals, “sweating it out” removes toxins from the body (and diseases with them) without introducing other chemicals or toxins to do the job, using one of the simplest and healthiest kinds of system flush: body heating. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be sitting in the lap of luxury to use your own, either.
Dr. Sylver takes us through the history of saunas, the biology of sweat and understanding the ozone and types of heat, as well as an imperative chapter on the contraindications of spa therapy (who should and should not use a sauna). She also shows us how to construct and use a sauna and gives us a list and description of detoxification programs. An impressive 43-page spread of resources and spa listings is included in the back of the book, going above and beyond many health books and articles.
Perhaps most importantly, the book is filled with drawings, tables and photos and is presented in an easy-to-understand manner while still being infused with contemporary medical information. No need for a doctoral degree or translator to read The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy, and yet you can be assured you’ll find the book on your doctor’s desk or nightstand as well.
Very Well Done!
November 15, 2004
The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy was truly a delight to read. Dr. Sylver has a gifted ability to do comprehensive research, perceive the technical information that is available to the analytical mind, and then transform it into an enjoyably readable book for globally minded random thinkers such as myself.
Having read Dr. Sylver's previous book on Rife Therapy, I expected the comprehensive writing skill and outstanding layout of her quality work. That was all present in this new book, but I was also pleasantly surprised at how much I learned about saunas, and how important they are for detoxification. Indeed, I was able to see that in some cases saunas may be the only therapy that can eliminate drugs, chemicals, and heavy metals especially in a rapid time frame.
Dr. Sylver begins by reviewing historically documented evidence of the long history of sauna usage, construction, and cultural and social aspects of the sauna. She explains, in incredible detail, how and why the body produces sweat, and the positive benefits of deliberately inducing sweating.
As in all of Dr. Sylver's work, she goes above and beyond the subject at hand by giving an expansive education of all complementary aspects of the subject. For instance, in discussing the many types of saunas and the benefits and weaknesses of different types of sauna construction, she touches on the FIR (far infrared) saunas, and gives a comprehensive education on the electromagnetic spectrum, complete with wonderful graphic charts, to make wavelengths and cycles per second theory very understandable to lay persons. She goes on to discuss the heat spectrums of visible and infrared (invisible) spectrums of light. All this comes into play in FIR saunas. As I've said, she puts so much more into her books than just the topic of the book, and this makes it so enjoyable to learn.
Another thing that was so interesting was her discussion of toxins that we all come in contact with, and how each of these are directly and indirectly responsible for allergies, syndromes, disease -- in fact, all kinds of chemical and hormonal problems that we might not ever suspect are responsible for our diseased states. Even for nerve diseases that we think of as incurable in the medical world, she give evidence of significant measurable relief of symptoms directly due to the elimination of chemicals and heavy metals. The detoxification is so noticeable that it shows up in pre-program vs. post-program tests. For instance, Dr. Sylver shows conclusively that in test subjects having central nervous system afflictions as well as autoimmune diseases, in a specified program of 50 days sauna therapy gave a 99% reduction of symptoms. While we may not be able to say that medically this person was "cured," we can say it sure made a measurable difference in the quality of this person's life.
I must say that I was totally impressed. My own husband is in construction. He is constantly exposed to various chemicals in building products, paint, thinners, etc. He and I also live in an agricultural community where crop dusting goes on for days several times a year, so we are constantly exposed to abnormally large amounts of chemicals. After reading Dr. Sylver's case for how these various chemicals affect different systems, including neurological and endocrine, I was convinced that finding a sauna soon was not just a luxury to experience, but a necessity for achieving a healthy life -- free of toxic symptoms. Dr. Sylver states her case most eloquently.
This book is truly a must have resource. I really enjoyed it, and learned more than I ever anticipated. Very well done!
Rose Marie Williams (New Paltz, NY)
columnist, Townsend Letter
December 31, 2004
For ten years, as a health and environmental advocate, I have worked to raise people's awareness of the health risks associated with environmental chemical exposure. As a columnist for the Townsend Letter , I have often written about the need for increased awareness of how environmental toxins lead to degenerative disorders. We are exposed every day to pesticides in the home and in our food supply, to preservatives and solvents in personal care products, and numerous other categories of noxious chemicals. These common and dangerous toxins interfere with the body's immunity, and over a long period of time affect our ability to maintain health and stamina.
In order to avoid the numerous degenerative diseases that plague Americans, it is crucial that we eliminate these accumulated toxins from our bodies. Nenah Sylver has written a very readable book--informative, clear, interesting, well researched, ideal for both the layperson and the professional health care provider. The documentation is comprehensive and covers many areas. A few sources are over a century old and quaint by today's standards, but still relevant. I was familiar with much of the research, but this book makes everything accessible in one place.
This book is well organized. Its index and "how-to" instructions are user-friendly, and the medical tables are inventive. There is also an excellent explanation of Far Infrared, which comprises most of one chapter, with an unusual chart of the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition to medical studies and data on biology and physiology, there is information on saunas themselves: design, heaters, how heat is transmitted, construction materials etc., which helps the reader sort through the hype of sauna manufacturers. I was pleased to learn how Far Infrared exceeds the value and benefits of other heat treatments.
The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy is well worth the price. Not only is the information superlative, but the design of the book is excellent, with good margins and easy-to-read print. The book is also extremely comfortable to hold, like a well loved lap dog.
This book is an excellent tool for anyone interested in health maintenance and disease prevention. There are many simple measures that we can do for ourselves to keep us well, without relying on others. Sauna therapy is one such measure. I am currently investigating which model of sauna will best suit my needs. This book will help me decide.
Ahhhhhhh a Sauna!!
Saralou M. Pedigo, BA, BDiv
December 1, 2004
The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy is one of the most readable reference tomes around. This is a handy "how-to" book containing practical details for maintaining or regaining health through the use of the sauna. But this book is also an authoritative reference, with its careful notes at the end of each chapter and an extensive bibliography which add authority and scientific credibility to an age-old method of healing.
Dr. Nenah Sylver has done excellent research and covered all the common questions (and some uncommon ones) that people have regarding sauna therapy. In addition to fascinating details on matters ranging from the physiology of sweating to the history of the far infrared sauna, Sylver has included a list of spas and clinics using heat therapy and recommendations of sauna manufacturers, thereby increasing the usefulness of this valuable resource.
Read this book if:
you want to increase your benefit from a sauna
you found the malady that plagues you in the index
you know you are exposed to toxicity in your workplace
you want to build your own sauna
you enjoy learning about non-invasive healing modalities
your doctor said to avoid saunas
you have been exposed to heavy metals
you suffer with a chronic health issue
I found the information in this book to be of particular value in this age of increasing sensitivity to environmental toxins, and with the increase of drug-resistant pathogens due to the overuse of pharmaceuticals. This book is a serious addition to the arsenal of tools effective in alleviating physical degeneration and aiding in the restoration of good health. After reading this book, you will want to add sauna therapy to your own healing regime.
This book is very well written, and well worth adding to your library.
This is an excellent book on saunas, one of a kind. Never have I seen this subject dealt with so comprehensively and in a manner that shows a full understanding of how saunas work and how they function.
Joan Amtoft-Nielsen, MD, PhD
Healthcare For The 21st Century
This comprehensive reference for sauna therapy is an invaluable resource for all consumers and professionals. The use of this guide can do much to improve a person's general health and well-being.
Abbas Qutab, MD
Élan Vitál Medical Centers and Spas
Truly magnificent--an "everything you ever wanted to know and should have asked" book. It is clear, concise and to the point, very complete, well organized, well written, and extremely informative, full of interesting and practical details. It's a Godsend for those who want and need to know more before they use a sauna. Dr. Sylver is to be commended for creating such a useful and necessary book that more and more people will soon find out they need. This is simply the best book I have ever read on this topic.
Doris J. Rapp, MD, FAAA, FAAP, FAEM
author of Is This Your Child? and Chemical Time Bomb
Anyone concerned with their health, lifestyle, and longevity, needs to read this book. The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy is a definitive work on sauna: comprehensive and thorough, academically discussing the science as well as the practice of sauna therapy. It is well documented, covering the historical origins, technical aspects, and the application of sauna. This book is transcultural and global in nature, and should have an impact on the world of health.
J. Paul DeVierville, MSSW, PhD,
Professor of history, humanities and interdisciplinary studies,
St. Philip's College;
Director, Alamo Plaza Spa, San Antonio, Texas;
Secretary, International Spa Association
For the past twenty years, I have used the sauna to detoxify several thousand patients exposed to a multitude of toxic chemicals at work, in the environment, and from drug abuse. This is an excellent primer, backed by solid research, explaining all aspects of sauna therapy. Dr. Sylver provides a good overview of the history of body heating in past and present civilizations. She discusses the materials that may be used in sauna construction, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. She also describes in wonderful detail how to use the sauna, what the limitations of use might be, and what to do and what not to do before, during, and after being in the sauna. This book also contains the most readable discussion of the physiology of sweating that I have ever seen. You are given all the necessary information to start your journey into the world of heat therapy, whether you are a novice, advanced user, or physician contemplating the use of sauna treatment in your practice. This book fills a great need. After 3,000 years’ use in recorded history, sauna therapy is finally coming of age and achieving the recognition it deserves!
David E. Root, MD, MPH
Fellow, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
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