For the Finns, the sauna has been a sacred place for curing the body and the soul. In the 19th century, the sauna was the only hygienic place and it was used also for giving birth and other medical care. Before the modern notion of hygiene, up until the 1900´s, the death rate of newborn babies was much lower in the Finnish countryside than in towns where family saunas were less common. A sauna is clean and as there were only the midwife and the mother present, communicable diseases were less likely affect the newborn.
Taking a sauna bath can be recommended for anyone. Only little babies whose body temperature control is not well developed, should not to be taken to a sauna. Everyone can take a mild sauna bath. The main rule for sauna bathing is: stay in the loyly as long as you feel comfortable. This rule is suitable for everybody, because young and healthy people tolerate more than sick and old people, whereas the older people may feel comfortable while young and healthy are just warming up.
Few illnesses prevent a person from taking a moderate sauna bath. If an illness does not cause problems in every day life, it will not prevent taking a sauna bath i.e. patients with coronary thrombosis, blood pressure or epilepsy can take a sauna bath. Pregnant women can take a sauna bath during the whole period of pregnancy, if everything is normal.
Influenza, skin infections, acute wounds and inflammations of joints and muscles and acute back disorders, such as sciatica, get worse in the sauna. Basic rule: avoid sauna bath if you have any acute symptoms.
A moderate sauna bath is good for physical and mental well being, but it does not prevent or cure illnesses as such. In the loyly, the skin temperature rises to about 39 degrees Celsius. This leads to increased blood circulation in the skin, and therefore to increased sweating. In a way, a sauna bath is equivalent to the physical strain of sports. The best way to imagine the feeling after the sauna bath is to think of it as the same feeling you get when relaxing after hard physical exercise and a shower.
© Saunasite, 1997