It's no secret that healthy lifestyle factors such as physical exercise and nutrition are important for maintaining a clear mind and sharp thinking skills.
But what many people don't know is that there are other things they can do to improve their cognitive function, including sauna bathing.
While everyday brain fog can be cleared with a little bit of physical activity, some root causes may be a little bit more of a 'high-tech' health problem.
In this article, we're going to talk about some of these underlining causes of brain fog and how infrared saunas could potentially support this.
Sauna bathing and brain fog
Infrared sauna mental health benefits have been well documented, and studies show effects at potentially lowering the risk of dementia, mental illness, and major depression.
While sauna use may not be the initial and preferred treatment from your doctor, sauna bathing or sauna therapy could be a solution away from clinical medicine or socioeconomic factors.
This is because infrared sauna therapy has been shown to positively impact the parasympathetic nervous system and improve emotional stress.
While sauna use as a means of improving brain fog is a relatively new concept, the research that has been conducted thus far is very promising.
What is brain fog and what are the symptoms
Brain fog is a condition that affects many people and can severely limit cognitive performance.
It can be difficult to describe as it affects people differently, but for some, brain fog causes heaviness in the head and a lack of focus.
It may make it difficult to think clearly, and remember things, and can also lead to feelings of confusion, disorientation and fatigue.
For these reasons, it is closely tied to a person's overall mental health.
Often accompanied by other symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness and vertigo, for some people, brain fog can make even the simplest tasks seem impossible with an increase in forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and problems with vocabulary.
There are many possible causes of brain fog, including but not limited to:
- Lack of sleep or sleep disturbances
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Frequent sauna bathing may be able to assist with the improvement of brain fog by allowing adequate blood supply and circulation, as well as helping to activate heat shock proteins, promote sleep and support ongoing physical activity, all of which we will explain later.
How infrared saunas help improve brain fog
Sauna use has been shown to increase blood flow and circulation as well as allow for the removal of pollutants from the brain.
This improved circulation can help to provide more oxygen to the brain, which can help to clear the cobwebs and improve cognitive performance.
They have also been shown to improve mood and cognitive function in those suffering from depression as shown in a recent study looking at whole-body hyperthermia protocols.
Detoxification of heavy metals improves brain function
Toxicity can impede cognitive function in a number of ways.
First, exposure to toxins can cause damage to the brain cells themselves and inhibit new brain cells.
Second, toxins can inhibit the ability of brain cells to communicate with one another.
This can lead to a decrease in cognitive performance and an overall decline in mental health.
Mercury, for example, is a toxic metal that can be found in many different products, including seafood.
In a study with over 10,000 pregnant women, researchers discovered that seafood accounted for less than a half of the mercury taken in through the diet, representing around 20% of blood mercury.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning can vary depending on the amount of mercury someone has been exposed to, but can include memory loss, irritability, and depression.
Saunas have been shown to be effective in removing mercury from the body, whereas in one study, people who used a sauna for four weeks had a significant decrease in mercury levels in their blood.
Sampled sweat-inducing sauna use has reported higher levels of toxins than sweat-inducing exercise, as found by researcher Dr Joy Hussain.
The benefits of saunas for brain health go beyond just the removal of toxins however more studies are needed in the field of detoxification.
Is there such thing as sauna brain fog?
Heat stress is caused by exposure to high temperatures and can lead to a number of negative health effects when used incorrectly, including brain fog.
We've all experienced difficulties of focus when exposed to high temperatures, and heat stress from sauna therapy is no different.
While heat stress can lead to brain fog, passive body heating from an infrared sauna has been shown to provide positive brain and mental health benefits.
These positive effects on the brain include increased blood flow and the removal of toxins as mentioned earlier.
Sauna treatment for neurodegenerative diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases are a class of progressive neurological disorders that cause the death of neurons in the brain.
This can lead to a decline in cognitive performance and an overall decline in mental health.
The most common neurodegenerative disease is Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and fatal brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and cognitive skills.
There is no known cure for developing Alzheimer's disease, and while there are treatments available that can delay the progression of the disease, they do not stop it from progressing completely.
Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in mental ability that interferes with daily life.
While there are many different causes of dementia, Alzheimer's is the most common cause, accounting for 60-80% of all cases.
One study found that regular sauna was associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's.
The study, which was conducted in Finland, looked at 2,315 men aged 42-60 over a period of 20 years.
The men who used saunas four to seven times per week were 66 percent less likely to develop dementia and 65 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than the men who did not use saunas.
It's too early to state if sauna use can provide dementia protection, but the benefits of a sauna in this study are undeniable.
Another study found that sauna use was associated with improved cognitive function in men aged 55-74.
The study, which was conducted in Japan, looked at 1,621 men over a period of 20 years.
The men who used saunas two to three times per week were 22 percent less likely to experience cognitive decline than the men who did not use saunas.
Sauna therapy has also been shown to improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression as found in the Global Sauna Survey which found that regular sauna use was associated with a reduced risk of depression.
Sauna bathing affects the brain
Brain cells are very sensitive to heat exposure and can be damaged if they are exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time.
The main mechanism by which heat exposure can be bad for the brain is through the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
ROS are highly reactive molecules that can damage cells and lead to cell death.
Traditional saunas like a Finnish sauna can increase the levels of ROS in the brain, but it is not clear if this is harmful or beneficial.
This is due to the extreme heat raising the body temperature through the air and severely heating the head.
Most infrared saunas such as far infrared saunas use infrared wavelengths to heat the body.
This creates a dry heat for a passive body heating mechanism for optimal health, makings far infrared saunas and infrared sauna therapy the preferred treatment.
Brain proteins for health
Brain cell proteins play a crucial role in brain health.
They are responsible for the transportation of nutrients and ions in and out of brain cells, and they are also involved in the signalling process that allows neurons to communicate with each other.
When proteins are not working properly, it can lead to a variety of neurological problems.
One important protein is called BDNF, which is short for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.
BDNF is important for the growth and survival of neurons in the brain and is also involved in memory formation and learning.
BDNF levels are known to be reduced in conditions such as depression and Alzheimer's disease.
One possible explanation for this is that saunas cause a release of catecholamines, which are hormones that are involved in the stress response.
Catecholamines have been shown to increase BDNF levels.
It has been suggested that saunas may be able to increase BDNF levels by activating heat shock proteins (HSPs).
What are heat shock proteins?
Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a family of proteins that are produced in response to stress.
They play an important role in the cell by helping to protect it from damage and assisting with the repair process.
HSPs have been shown to be beneficial for both health and longevity and may offer protection against a variety of diseases.
The role of HSPs in the brain is not yet fully understood, but they are thought to be involved in cognition and memory.
Recent research has shown that saunas may also offer benefits for cognitive function.
A study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that sauna use was associated with increased levels of HSPs in the brain.
The study participants who used saunas had higher levels of HSP70, a type of HSP that is known to be involved in cognitive function.
Infrared sauna and brain fog, a symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome
Sauna bathing offers a range of mental health benefits, from the cellular activity of producing heat shock proteins to the relaxing therapeutic method of meditation.
These infrared sauna heat sessions can therefore provide support for multiple chronic diseases, such as dementia risk, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and heart disease, as well as disease from other lifestyle factors such as stress and poor sleep, all from increasing the body temperature.
Chronic fatigue is a condition that results in extreme tiredness and lack of energy, and sufferers may fall into the category of feeling brain fog.
While the exact mechanisms are not yet understood, it is thought that saunas may help to improve brain fog by increasing blood flow and circulation, removing pollutants from the brain, and increasing levels of HSPs.
Infrared sauna has also been shown to lower nighttime sleep disturbances, possibly lower the risk of dementia and combat chronic fatigue syndrome, all of which could be a contributing factor to brain fog.
Sauna bathing as a means of improving brain fog is a relatively new concept, but the research that has been conducted thus far is very promising.
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