More than 80 million individuals in the United States are estimated to be suffering from the uncomfortable symptoms or serious disability caused by autoimmune disease. While the specific presentation may vary widely, the biochemical process linking all these people can be described as a runaway immune response. This occurs when systemic inflammation from chronic stress and toxin overload results in the body attacking its own tissues.
When it comes to reducing the toxic burden on the body, there are two primary goals: prevention and detoxification. Prevention can be achieved by eating organic foods, minimizing use of plastic and other toxic petrochemicals, filtering air and water, and using toxin-free body products. While that is the ideal, supporting and actively engaging in regular detoxification practices is now recognized as equally important; it’s simply not possible to live in a toxin-free bubble.
Detoxification has many meanings in this context. It means supporting the body’s detoxification pathways by getting plenty of the vitamins and nutrients needed by the liver (where most detoxification occurs) and staying hydrated. It may mean hands-on techniques such as massage, lymphatic drainage and others, which help the body to break up congested tissue to improve circulation and the body’s natural elimination routes. It also means doing activities to make us sweat, such as exercising or using an infrared sauna. A regular detoxification program to combat modern-day life’s toxins will improve mental, physical and emotional health, no matter what condition someone is in when they begin.
A plethora of practitioners are available to offer expert guidance about the most appropriate food or supplement-based internal cleanse for individual needs, schedules and patience level. Then consider augmenting the internal detox process by using external modalities, such as salt, heat, vibration, massage/lymphatic drainage and others.
Heat is known to increase circulation while triggering the body to get rid of toxins through the sweating process. During a sauna treatment, the sweating is more intense, which can diminish the amount of detoxification time needed. In our area, infrared sauna can be found at a growing number of places such as Stamford’s Haute Healing Oasis and Soul Synergy Wellness, Darien’s Inner Light, Monroe’s Muktinath Holistic Center, Fairfield’s Whole Body Medicine and Salt of the Earth Sanctuary in Woodbury, among others.
Far infrared (FIR) saunas are used at temperatures between 100 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which are lower than that found with traditional saunas. FIR saunas heat the body more directly, allowing for deeper tissue penetration. These will cause a mild increase in core body temperature, which is analogous to a slight fever, the body’s natural mechanism for destroying bacteria and viruses. Research indicates that regular FIR use increases microcirculation, enabling blood to flow more easily throughout the body. This, in turn, removes toxins faster and brings oxygen to joints and extremities, speeding healing of sore joints and damaged tissues.
Sauna detoxification programs—which can last several minutes a day up to hours with varying frequency—are planned according to each individual’s state of health, tolerance and availability. The program will also vary based on whether an infrared or traditional sauna is being used. Consult with a qualified practitioner before undertaking a sauna detoxification program, or be sure to follow an expert-designed program that may include nutritional and supplement support.
The efficacy of a sauna detoxification program can be enhanced in some simple ways. For example, exercising for a short time or getting a light massage before a sauna session can increase blood circulation; this serves to bring more toxins to the surface for disposal through the sweating process. Increasing doses of vitamin B3—also known as niacin—promotes microcirculation while digestive enzymes can aid in breaking up “trapped” toxins in tissue that the body would otherwise have trouble accessing to clean up.
While most of us are good candidates for sauna detoxification, a medical doctor, naturopath or nurse practitioner should be consulted for those with serious autoimmune conditions or on multiple medications, as well as those who are chemically sensitive. The sauna protocol can be adapted for children but their detoxification protocol should be supervised by medical personnel.
Building on the efficacy of infrared heat, the BioMat is a mat that uses a combination of far infrared rays, negative ion therapy and amethyst crystals to increase circulation, raise the body temperature and stimulate the sweating process to boost the immune system. In addition to increasingly common use in hospitals and health clinics, the BioMat—an FDA-registered Class II medical device—is available for home use and can be found in many area businesses, including Valley Spirit in Washington Depot, Salt of the Earth in Woodbury, Yoga For Everybody in Fairfield and Presence of Wellness in Monroe. Whether used at a facility or at home, a session lying down on the mat may last from 15 to 60 minutes.
Since the body is electrical, a new class of medical applications called electroceuticals is emerging in the healthcare field and a German Bio-Electromagnetic Energy Regulation device (BEMER) is now available in the United States for individuals seeking to improve their health.
Designed to improve circulation, the BEMER’s patented, multi-dimensionally configured signal (waveform) helps with the delivery of nutrients, oxygen, chemical messengers and immune cells. It also assists in waste disposal, so cells, tissues, organs and body systems can modulate their effectiveness and return to their healthier state. The signal stimulates the proper function of the smallest vessels ‑capillaries‑ supporting the whole circulatory system and aiding in prevention of further degeneration of the cardiovascular system. The BEMER technology helps cells produce and supply more energy, enabling the body to then carry out necessary biological tasks, including metabolism, in a more functional manner.
Used for more than 20 years around the world, BEMER is gentle, easy to use and has no known side effects; the only contraindication is for those that have had recent transplants. Since BEMER is a well-tested and validated technology, many well-known individuals, sports teams and corporations volunteer their endorsements, including NASA. BEMER is registered as a Class 1 medical device by the FDA, and has been extensively studied and tested. In the local area, BEMER experiences are offered in New Haven county by Earleen Wright in Madison (see ad on page 3) and in Fairfield County in Stamford at the New England Center for Chronic Pain, Haute Healing Oasis and Soul Synergy Wellness, among others.
Norwalk’s Kure Spa—the first Vibrosaun-authorized clinic in the United States—offers the Vibrosaun machine, which combines dry sauna heat and a padded vibrating bed. The bed, used for decades in Australia and Europe, has been shown to help with weight loss, chronic pain, detoxification, and a myriad of other conditions including sports injuries and insomnia. The heat and vibrations from the machine dilate blood vessels, relax muscles, and increase pulse rates and blood flow. By increasing functioning of the kidneys and lymphatic system, the machine is useful in helping with toxin removal, such as lactic and uric acids. People on blood thinners should consult with a doctor before using the Vibrosaun.
The Vibrosaun machine is not recommended for pregnant women, those with circulatory or vascular diseases, cancer, infectious diseases or pacemakers. A session usually lasts 30-45 minutes with five to eight initial sessions normally recommended. Vibrosaun is not recommended for those younger than 16 years of age.
Remedy Bodyworks and Soul Synergy Wellness in Stamford each offer different vibration technology experience for stimulation of the body’s circulatory and lymphatic systems.
Used for thousands of years as a natural and powerful health therapy, salt can be particularly helpful with respiratory detoxification and overall health. Floatation centers—such as Westport’s iFloat, Trumbull and New Haven’s PuREST, Surrender to the Float in Guilford and Harwinton’s A Healing Trail—use up to 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt in their float tanks. The salt, a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, is mixed with a warm solution of water to produce a high buoyancy effect. Soaking in a bath enriched with Epsom salt has been shown to increase magnesium and sulfate levels in the body. Magnesium can help with reducing inflammation, improving both muscle and nerve function, and preventing artery hardening. The sulfates found in Epsom salt also assist with flushing out toxins and heavy metals. Research has shown floating to have significant effects on pain and discomfort associated with autoimmune conditions and Lyme Disease.
If the sensory deprivation experience of floating seems like it may be too intense an experience, try simply soaking in a bath tub with a generous scoop of Himalayan salt dissolved in it. Add some coconut oil to the bathwater for a more indulgent experience that will leave the skin looking and feeling terrific. The use of certain essential oils in a soaking bath may intensify the cleansing effects for the body and its systems. However, use them judiciously as some combinations may be overwhelming to a system already set on overload.
Himalayan rock salt is used in another form of salt therapy that has been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Salt caves—such as Rain Wellness Spa in Branford, Saltana Cave in Ridgefield, Salt Cave of Darien, Newtown Salt Spa and Salt of the Earth Sanctuary in Woodbury—offer their clients the healing benefits of rock salt rich in trace elements and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iodine, bromine, copper, selenium and iron. Modeled after salt caves in Eastern Europe, the indoor salt room experience combines speleotherapy—the use of salt cave and mine microclimates to treat diseases—and halotherapy. The latter utilizes a salt vaporizer to push dry aerosol salt vapor into the air to help with various respiratory and skin issues, allergies and other conditions. A session in a salt cave involves relaxing in a gravity chair with feet up while breathing in the healing, detoxifying salt air.
Other detoxification therapies, such as ionic foot baths, draw out toxins by working to discharge them through the soles of the feet.
No matter which physical detoxification strategy is chosen, it is best to consult with a health practitioner if underlying autoimmune conditions exist to ensure that the selected program is the most appropriate.