It's an ancient ritual with just a little twist: using heat to purify the body, such as the American Indians practiced in the sweat lodge. Modern versions supplement the detoxification with niacin. The theory is simple -- both saunas and niacin (vitamin B3) stimulate body detoxification in a one-two punch. Niacin speeds metabolism and acts on your body's fat at the same time, where many toxins are stored. The released toxins travel through small blood vessels, now dilated to allow freer passage. The sauna, in turn, increases body temperature, encouraging the immune system to strengthen and toxins to flush out of your pores as sweat. While experts debate if it really works, many claim a niacin and sauna detoxification has real benefits.
Eat a nutritious meal, concentrating especially on fresh fruits and vegetables, no closer than two hours before detoxification--and a couple hours after, at the soonest. While portions of the detoxification process affects nutrient levels, which may be deficient already, rich nutritional intake combats depletion as well as the toxicity of any chemicals released in the program.
Measure and ingest at least 2 tablespoons of polyunsaturated oil each day, up to 8 tablespoons maximum. Consider mixing it into an oil and vinegar salad dressing if preferred. While polyunsaturated oil is considered "bad" cholesterol, many toxic elements are lipophilic -- fat-loving -- and hydrophobic by default, meaning they hate water. The toxins will therefore seek out the fat in your bloodstream and use it as a transport, while the detoxification will eliminate both the fat and toxin. Use olive oil, not canola oil.
Take a multi-vitamin -- preferably vegetable based for easier digestion and absorption -- that includes folic acid each day of your detoxification program, just before exercising. Add 100 mg to 300 mg of both potassium citrate and magnesium citrate for optimal results.
Supplement your nutrition with a multiple mineral, in either capsule or tablet form. Look at the dosage information when using it; split the recommended dose so you can take half the dose before exercising and half right after getting out of the sauna. Some detox programs advocate additional minerals and vitamins; consult with your doctor for recommendations.
Consume a dose of niacin along with the vitamins and minerals. Start with 100 mg before exercising, followed by an equal dose immediately after your sauna. Gradually increase the dose, once it is clear how the niacin will affect your body. Do not use niacinamide or time-release niacin and don't exceed the dose limits recommended by your physician. While the National Institutes of Health recognizes niacin's role in breaking down the fat and releasing toxins, NIH also warns that niacin can prove toxic at high levels and is not appropriate for all individuals.
Exercise for at 20 to 30 minutes, choosing an aerobic exercise suited to your situation. Jogging, walking, swimming, biking and similar activity increases your metabolism, burns fat and circulates your blood, aiding in the detoxification process. Avoid a cooling-off period following your exercise, proceeding to the sauna immediately while your body is still stimulated from the niacin, exercise and nutrients.
Enter a dry heat sauna of your choice. Temperature ranges generally used for detoxification range from about 100 degrees Fahrenheit up to at most 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Start with lower temperatures to allow your body to adjust to the treatment and gauge how the complete detoxification will affect you.
Strip naked, if possible, and get comfortable in the sauna. Spend at least 15 minutes, if possible, in the sauna to begin with, working up to longer periods during the course of your detoxification program. During longer sauna periods, such as a 90-minute sauna period, consider breaking for a cool shower periodically to wash away toxins emerging in your sweat.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially electrolytes, while you are in the sauna to replenish every bit of moisture that your body sweats out. Sip an amount equal to about a 16-ounce bottle for every half hour you spend in the sauna. Don't wait until you are thirsty; sip the fluid constantly during the treatment. You may choose a specialty hydration formula or detox cocktail as desired, but green tea or just plain water will also flush your system.
Rinse off with first a cool shower or rinse, switching to warmer water and soaping up after the initial flush of water. Repeat the sauna detoxification process as desired; some programs call for shorter sessions throughout the day, while others call for a single session treatment per day. Detoxification treatment may continue for up to six weeks in some programs.