Dr. Seheult details how sauna and cold plunge helps improve our immune systems and can help fight off Covid-19

We in the sauna community are trying to digest the interesting report from Dr. Rogert Seheult, MD. (Thanks Jeff P., Sara, and Mike, and a few others for passing this along).

Many of us have been taking saunas for decades, and few of us have suffered from major colds or flus. But this is anecdotal, and not clinical. Dr. Seheult, in this video below, takes us through well researched studies and analysis of how hot/cold therapy may boost immunity – and fight off the effects of Covid-19.

You can skip to around the 2:00 mark to learn more about the immune system. The immune system is like our country’s Armed Forces. There are a lot of threats that can affect the human body. And the body fights back in multiple ways.

The virus is able to “down regulate” our immune system. When our innate immune response is a critical factor in disease outcome.

Monocytes (part of the innate immune system) and “Natural Killer Cells.” – two terms we may need to learn more about.

Suppressed innate immune response is what is making people sick.

Thermal infected fever monocytes. A thermal effect of fever directly activates monocytes.

Improving the immune system leads to fewer Covid-19 hospitalizations

Immune changes of humans during cold exposure effects of prior heating and exercise. 1990

Dr. Seheult “heat can improve the immune system, then subjecting to cold can actually enhance the immune system, especially the innate immune system which .. that’s the portion that is effected with Covid-19. exposure to cold.”

Statistical increase in white blood cell count.

Thermal stress dampens analogous to a natural fever.

Check out Dr. Seheult’s chart of current Nordic Countries Covid-19 reported affects:

Nordic Countries Covid-19 cases (as of April 1, 2020

And if this isn’t enough, he brings Japan into the mix, a country where thermic bathing is also very popular. Causation or correlation? Not sure, but it gets one thinkin’, especially as:

Fever can actually reduce the cytokine storm and improve the innate immune system.

The Austrian study: in six month time, there was significantly fewer colds with the sauna group. Regular sauna bathing probably reduces the common cold.

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2 thoughts on “Dr. Seheult details how sauna and cold plunge helps improve our immune systems and can help fight off Covid-19”

  1. More heat than light in this video and I think the author would acknowledge this. The studies that he is drawing from go back 30 years and the number of patients enrolled in the trials is low (7, 9, 22 , 50). I also don’t see from the table showing an increase in white blood cells that there is an increase in monocytes which is what he is proporting would yield an effective viral response. The underlying hypothesis that heat then cold stimulation stimulates monocytes response may have more implications for fever control than sauna practice. He is pretty clear that the mortality dataset have many confounding factors.
    I have a huge appreciation for your site and podcast and while I think that sauna is great for the body I occasionally see ideas floated that I do not think are supported by mainstream medicine (ie an alkaline diet). I don’t want sauna enthusiasm or anything else to diminish the importance of evidence based medicine. I say this as an ER doctor who will be heading back into work in a few hours where I very likely will be intubating another COVID + patient and I am just as thirsty as anyone for effective treatment strategies.
    My kuuma is still in my garage, my wife and I can’t wait for it to be in a backyard sauna. Thank you for your passion!

  2. Hi Andrew: Yes, for sure. You’re spot on about the age of the studies and low populations. I’ve emailed Dr. Seheult hoping for some follow up discussions, and thinking he’s probably busy looking for the next straw of optimism to grab onto.

    Yet his work reminds me of sauna building. Sometimes you just have to get started and do the work, otherwise nothing gets accomplished. I appreciate a guy out there hammering away. We are going to hit our thumb and cut a board short, but we’re tryin!

    Speaking for many of us, I thank you for your hard work as an ER doctor during this difficult time. I’ll email you separately, Andrew, as I have some follow up thoughts, relating to the Sauna Research Institute and the Kuuma in your garage.

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