Infrared Sauna and COVID-19

How can an Infrared Sauna help with COVID-19?


There is still a lot to learn about the corona virus. Scientists are discovering new information every day. A recent Chinese investigation discovered that COVID-19 is sensitive to high heat and seems to spread faster in colder temperatures. The most rapid spreading is in 47 degrees Fahrenheit.

James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, recently highlighted a core mechanism by which our body fights viral infections, namely fever. A fever is our body’s way of raising our core body temperature, and most pathogens do not fare well in a high heat environment. DiNicolantonio says,  “high heat exposure activates the heat shock proteins which may prevent viral nucleoproteins from being exported suppressing viral replication.”  You can acutely and temporarily raise your core body temperature by sauna use, taking a steam bath, physical movements that induces sweating or simply by bundling up in warm clothes. Thus sauna therapy early on in an infection, may have the potential against RNA viruses.

DiNicolantonio reports that infrared saunas, which are known to increase the core body temperature by 3-4 degrees, create a ‘pseudo fever’. And since fevers increase heat shock proteins, that will work against a viral infection.

There have been a number of studies investigating antiviral effects of sauna use. For example, one clinical study involving 50 volunteers showed regular sauna use had half the rate of common cold compared to nonusers. Those who use a sauna at least two-three times per week also have a lower risk of influenza and pneumonia.

Another study showed that animals placed in a sauna before being injected with influenza virus had dramatically reduced lung pathology and mortality. Viral replication was suppressed in sauna-exposed animals. A German review of the benefits of sauna use shows that regular visits to the sauna significantly reduce the frequency and severity of influenza infections in children and adults

Infrared sauna use kills bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses and boosts your immune function by increasing white blood cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils and basophil counts. The increase in heat shock proteins helps block the replication of the influenza viruses. COVID-19 is thought to incubate in the sinuses for about three days before moving down in to your lungs. It appears to be destroyed by temperatures around 133 degrees F. Most infrared saunas reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees F. One researcher states that “It is quite possible that high heat in your nasal passages would destroy COVID-19 before it passes down to the lungs.”

As reported by WHO during the 2003 SARS epidemic, “Heat at 132 degrees F kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10,000 units per 15 minutes.” Chances are COVID-19 may be equally susceptible at this temperature.  Its not the heat itself that provides all the benefit. It’s the elevation of heat shock proteins.

According to DiNicolantonio, sauna sessions help reduce the viral illness by increasing the heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) and prostaglandins A1 (PGA1). A 2004 study in the Journal of Virology, explains how Hsp70 and PGA1 block the replication of influenza viruses. Viral nucleoproteins are synthesized in the nucleus, forming a special complex that enables their export from the nucleus and allows them to form complete virions on the surface of the cell membrane. In the nucleus, Hsp70 interferes with the formation of that export complex, trapping the viral nucleoproteins inside the nucleus. Since it is trapped inside, it doesn’t have a chance to become active and infective. Heat shock proteins also trigger mitochondrial biogenesis, thereby supporting your overall health, especially your cardiovascular, cardiac and brain health.

Heat Shock Proteins - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics


Focus on your health during this challenging and stressful time

If you’re feeling worried and anxious during this time of quarantine, remember that your immune system is the first line of defense. There are plenty of ways to boost your immunity. Get plenty of sleep, drink a lot of water, exercise, stay in the moment, eat healthy and take all the recommended precautions.

And when our quarantine is no longer mandatory, BOOK your infrared sauna sessions so you can boost your immune system and feel for yourself all the benefits from regular sauna use.

If you want to learn more about Dr. DiNicolantonio, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @drjamesdinic