Definition of Sauna


Sauna: A small room or house where dry or wet heat sessions are experienced, with temperatures typically ranging from 70°C (158 °F) and 100°C (212 °F) – designed to induce relaxation, sweating and detoxification. Saunas can be divided into two basic styles: conventional versions that warm…Read more

Explore Sauna research in the following databases: 

PubMed  Trip Cochrane*
*The Cochrane database requires users to enter the search term manually. Enter “sauna”

Research Spotlight

The databases often return hundreds of medical studies for a single wellness approach. This section summarizes a sampling of five studies – providing just a taste of the available research. 

  • Heat Therapy May Lead to Better Outcomes in Treating Depression than Cold Exposure
    A 2024 study from the University of California, San Francisco (20,000 participants in 106 countries) found that people with depression have higher body temperatures. The researchers believe these findings indicate the potential for depression treatments focused on lowering body temperature—and ironically, how temporarily heating people up (hot yoga, saunas, infrared saunas), could lead to rebound body temperature lowering that lasts longer than simply cooling people down, as through an ice bath. UCSF is now studying heat therapies, in particular sauna treatments, as a body-based intervention for clinical depression symptoms.
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  • Heat Therapies (Saunas, Hot Tubs) Offer Some Similar Benefits as Exercise
    A 2020 meta-review from Coventry University-UK found that heat therapies, such as time in a sauna or hot baths, raise core body temp and improve blood flow, leading to benefits including lower blood pressure, better blood sugar control and reduced inflammation–all similar to the effects of moderate exercise such as jogging or cycling. But heat experiences can’t replicate all the benefits of exercise such as increasing muscle mass or weight loss.
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  • Regular Sauna-Going Tied to Wide Array of Health Benefits
    A 2018 meta-review published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that people who take regular saunas have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and fewer problems with everything from lung disease to mental issues. Depending on the study, those who utilize the sauna more often see their risks of strokes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, or death drop by 37 – 83 percent, and frequent sauna bathing is also associated with a 60 percent+ reduced risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s. 
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  • Frequent Sauna Use Tied to Less Stroke Risk
    A 2018 University of Eastern Finland study (1,628 people analyzed over 15 years) found that compared with people who took saunas once a week, those who took them 2-3 times weekly were 12% less likely to have a stroke. Those hitting a sauna 4-7 times a week reduced stroke risk by 62%. Although the study was observational and can’t prove causality, the researchers found a strong independent effect. 
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  • Study Suggests Regular Sauna-Going Lowers Risk for Hypertension
    A study (2017, Univ. of E. Finland, analyzing 1,621 men over 25 years) suggests that regular trips to the sauna can reduce high blood pressure. Those who did 2-3 sauna sessions/week were 24% less likely to have hypertension, and 4-7 visits cut risk by 46%. While observational (not proving cause and effect), the researchers suggested that mechanisms at work may include: the warmth of the sauna improving the flexibility of the blood vessels to sweating removing excess fluid, acting as a natural diuretic – among the oldest drugs used to treat hypertension.
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  • Time in Saunas Associated with Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s & Dementia
    A 2016 study from the University of Eastern Finland (analyzing the medical records of 2,315 men over 20 years) found that those who used a sauna 4-7 times a week had a 66% lower risk for dementia and a 65% lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers hypothesized that various physiological mechanisms are likely involved: from sauna bathing reducing inflammation and blood pressure and improving vascular function. 
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Read more study snapshots

Studies-in-Progress/Clinical Trials Underway

A clinical trial is any research study that assigns people to health-related interventions to evaluate the outcomes. “Interventions” include drugs, surgical procedures, devices, behavioral treatments, preventive care, etc.

Access all studies currently available for Saunas in these databases:

PubMed  Trip Cochrane*
*The Cochrane database requires users to enter the search term manually. Enter “sauna”