Health Benefits of Turkish Baths

In the Arab world, Turkish baths (hammams) are visited weekly by much of the population. Although poorer people depend upon public baths for basic bathing, hammams are valued by all social classes for deep skin cleansing and exfoliation.

Health Benefits of Saunas, Turkish Baths and Steam Showers

Sitting in a hot, dry sauna or hot, humid steam room offers a number of health benefits. These include:

  • an elevated body temperature, which works as a fever would to boost immunity by increasing white blood cell production
  • heavy sweating, which helps eliminate toxins, chemicals and other impurities from the skin
  • increased heart rate, blood circulation and metabolic rate
  • looser, relaxed muscles after exercise
  • relief for stress, tension and high blood pressure
  • sense of mental well-being and rejuvenation.

Steam Inhalation

Steam rooms, steam baths and steam showers offer the added benefit of steam inhalation, which helps alleviate congestion, inflammation, and coughing brought on by allergies and other respiratory conditions. Steam inhalation loosens mucous and other secretions, and helps reduce spasmodic breathing.

Saunas and Steam Baths Promote Healthy Skin

The combined high temperature and steam in a wet sauna, steam bath or steam shower are good for the skin. They help to:

  • open skin pores and release trapped oils and dirt
  • increase blood circulation to the skin
  • relax tense facial muscles
  • loosen dead, dry skin which makes exfoliation easier
  • promote a clear complexion.

Scrubbing with a loofah or exfoliating gloves immediately after steaming will remove any dead, dry skin which has accumulated, leaving skin glowing, smooth, and soft.

Use of Saunas in Holistic and Natural Medicine

Natural, holistic and alternative medicine practitioners have long recommended saunas and steam rooms as detoxification treatments and to promote mental well-being. They are also used to treat pain and inflammation, as well as a variety of medical conditions such as skin problems, asthma, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and muscle and soft tissue injuries.

Health Risks of Saunas, Turkish Baths and Steam Showers

Although a 30-minute session in a sauna or steam room is safe for most people, prolonged exposure to high temperatures and steam may cause faintness, dehydration, overheating and even rare sudden death in some people. Pregnant women, very young children, and those with cardiac problems, low blood pressure, diabetes, and other health conditions should use saunas only under the advice of a physician. The use of alcohol, drugs and some medications may also increase risk to some people.

Want to try a steam bath in the privacy of your home? See How to Take a Turkish Bath (Hammam) at Home.

Disclaimer

This article is for informational purpose only. Check with a physician before using a sauna, steam shower, steam room or steam bath.

Sources:

  • Sweat: The Illustrated History of Saunas, Sweat Lodges, Roman Baths and More by Mikkel Aaland (cyberbohemia.com)
  • The Home-Sauna-Center.com
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