In 460 BC, Hippocrates, named ‘the father of modern medicine’ was to have said: ‘Give me the power to create fever and I shall cure any disease.’
Fever is not in itself a sign of illness, but a sign that the body’s immune system is working to rid itself (make the temperature intolerable) of the invading disease. The health nurturing properties of steam have been widely known for thousands of years. Steam is used to elevate the temperature of the body to boost the immune system, causing our body to perspire. Perspiration removes as much as 30% of waste elements through the skin and steam is an excellent method of stimulating the skin to perspire to remove toxins.
Modern living; the use of anti-perspirants, synthetic clothing, pollution found in modern towns and cities and a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to blocking the skin’s pores to inhibit the flow of perspiration that cleanses our bodies of toxins and assists in maintaining good health.
The steam shower or bath excels in creating an ‘artificial fever’ to stimulate the immune system and creates levels of body heat that are intolerable to bacteria and viruses. Steam also detoxifies the lymphatic system.
Steam stimulates our body’s internal temperature regulator, causing the production of perspiration. Steam is also a well known alleviator of stress, muscular pain and sinus pressure. Regular use of steam has wide beneficial effects on a wide range of ailments.
The high moisture content of steam is beneficial to our respiratory health; GP’s today still prescribe steam inhalation to relieve respiratory symptoms. As steam rooms have a high concentration of steam, they are much better and faster at reliving symptoms than a vaporiser. Steam dilates the tissues of the respiratory system which increases the air intake capacity; it also dislodges blockages by increasing moisture content. Steam also relaxes the body and mind which helps in alleviating symptoms of respiratory distress.
Heat increases the flow of blood around the body and has a remarkable effect on the vascular system. White ‘disease fighting’ blood cells are produced, and the increased blood flow excretes toxins through the skin, enhancing oxygen levels, essential nutrients, and lymph exchange at cellular level.
Muscular and Joint Health
Steam has a restorative effect on joint and muscular aches, spasm and pains. By increasing the extensibility of muscles through heat, it also reduces painful rigidity and swelling in joints. Ice should be used on any muscular injury initially, but after 48 hours heat can be applied to an injury or ache to cause the blood vessels to dilate, which bring more oxygen rich blood to the area. This has a direct soothing effect on the painful area and helps to relieve pain and spasm.
The skin is the largest organ of the human body; it is the first line defence from harmful virus and bacteria. Steam is widely known to stimulate blood flow which pushes toxins through the skin through the effect of perspiration. Steam opens the pores of the skin to allow the cleansing out flow of toxins. This process reduces spot causing blockages and creates a healthy, youthful, beautiful, moisture rich complexion.
Steam also has an affect on cellulite, 10 minutes in a steam shower is thought to be more beneficial in reducing cellulite than a one hour body-wrap. A cool shower should be taken straight after a steam bath to flush the toxins from the skin and close the pores to ensure that the skin is not open to further toxin exposure.
Dermatologists have long recognised the health benefits of steam to the skin. Not just to bring a healthy glow to the complexion, but as the steam causes an increase in oxygen and nutrient rich blood circulation to the surface of the skin to boost a healthy, nourished and glowing appearance.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Steam has a relaxing affect on our mind. The effects of steam ease muscle tension and release toxins from our blood, increasing oxygen levels, providing us with an all round sense of wellbeing.
Many sufferers of a wide range of ailments including; rheumatism, sciatica, back pain, arthritis and menstrual cramps have reported alleviated symptoms through the use of steam bathing.
Boosting the Benefits of Steam
Aromatherapy has been used in a wide range of cultures and civilisations throughout the centuries to relieve, relax, calm and inspire, these oils have a well documented affect on our mind and body. From the use of eucalyptus oil in a steam bath or shower to relieve the symptoms of sinus infections and a blocked nose to lemon oil to invigorate and lavender to relax and soothe. Fresh or dried aromatic plants can also be added to steam to give beneficial effect.