Most sauna detoxification programs use exercise, nutrients and low-temperature long duration heat exposure. The combination of these promotes the mobilization of stored toxins from fatty tissues and enhances their excretion. Mobilization of stored chemicals is not desirable if the routes of elimination are not also enhanced. Chemicals are excreted through many routes including feces, urine, sweat, sebum, and lung vapor.
Heat stress is a means of increasing circulation and of enhancing the elimination of compounds through both sweat and sebum. It is documented that methadone, amphetamines, methamphetamines and morphine, as well as copper, mercury and other metals and compounds appear in human sweat. Enhancement of this elimination route is a key purpose of the sauna aspect of this program.
In addition to an increase in sweat production, increased body temperature results in heightened production of sebum, the material produced by the skin's sebaceous glands. In patients exhibiting chloracne, a specific skin disorder caused by chemical exposure, the causative compounds may be detected both in adipose tissue and in sebum of the skin.
After a sufficient number of days, chronic heat stress will reduce the body's burden of fat-soluble toxins. Various chlorinated and volatile hydrocarbons have been measured in the sweat of those undergoing sauna therapy, and fat tissue biopsies clearly support this claim. An added benefit is that detoxification continues for several months after the program is completed. This is probably explained by a continued enhancement of elimination through the skin.
The minimum acceptable program length is two weeks, but longer programs are typical and may extend up to six weeks. The average time spent per day in the sauna is 3 hours. Although this sounds like a lot, it is usually well tolerated. Completing such a program is difficult when working at the same time. It is best accomplished during a vacation period. The greatest benefit will be gained by following an established program under a doctor’s supervision.