In recent weeks, we have been receiving more questions about the health-promoting effects of sauna than ever before. That is why we are pleased that Prof. Karl-Ludwig Resch from the German Institute for Health Research in Bad Elster was available to answer questions about how sauna heat and dry salt inhalation can be effective against the coronavirus. In recent weeks, he has been researching intensively on the SARS-CoV-2 viruses and finding ways to reduce these viruses as quickly and as easily as possible.
Typical course of the coronavirus
The novel coronavirus, now usually referred to as ‘SARS-CoV-2’, is a type of virus that, so far, primarily affects the respiratory tract and causes damage there. A lot can currently only be presumed based on the assumption that SARS-CoV-2 behaves the same way as other viruses that cause acute respiratory diseases.
So-called droplet infection is likely the most important type of transmission. This would also explain why the SARSCoV-2 virus typically first spreads in the nasopharynx. While aerosols consist of tiny droplets and are therefore inhaled deep into the lungs, larger droplets and particles are often already trapped in the nose or are deposited in this area. Any virus particles contained in the droplets use special ‘arms’ to dock to the mucous membrane cells in a sophisticated way. By the way, these arms gave the virus its name: corona, Latin for ‘crown’, which describes the spherical outer shape with the ‘contact arms’. Once the virus has succeeded in docking on a cell that is suitablefor it, it penetrates the cell and forces it to produce copies of the virus in large quantities and to emit these. This greatly damages these captured cells,and they die. This damage explains the painful symptoms, such as sore throats or coughing.
The beginning defensive activities of the body’s own immune system are the main cause for the accompanying fever that sets in. Once the virus manages to establish itself deep in the lungs, the associated cell damage has very different consequences. In the lungs, where the exchange of oxygen takes place, there is only a thin layer of cells between ‘the inside and the outside’. If this is damaged, a barn door opens, through which the pathogens can make their way into the body.
Sauna against the coronavirus?
One of the few findings that can certainly be assumed about the SARS-CoV-2 virus is that it usually initially lodges in the nasopharynx. Now we also know that coronaviruses generally – and also the new SARS-CoV-2 virus – are quite sensitive to heat, and we know this about the sauna: ‘the hot air in the sauna acts on the skin and the respiratory tracts’. Anyone who has experienced a ‘proper’ infusion ritual can confirm this. So it is very conceivable that viruses in the upper respiratory tracts are inactivated with every breath in every saunasession.
The strong heat stimulation and also the usually significant cold stimulation after every sauna bath have reliable and immediate effects on the part of our immune system that is currently particularly important.
What effect do essential oils typically added to infusions have?
Of course, lots of people find the smell of many essential oils pleasant, but there are also scientific studies that show that essential oils have many and relatively positive effects on one’s health. Ascent that is subjectively perceived as pleasant induces increased production and the release of many other substances in the body, either directly or as messengers of effective substances,such as the recently popular ‘happiness hormone’, oxytocin, which, on its part, develops clear positive effects on the immune system.
It is easier to imagine here the immediate effects of these oils, which have been much better researched and described than generally expected. There are many– proven by scientific studies – effects of essential oils not only against bacteria and fungi but also against viruses and here specifically against so-called RNA viruses, to which the coronaviruses belong.