Heat Shock Proteins, De-Stress, Pain Relief

The Ultimate Guide to Infrared Saunas and Heat Shock Proteins [2021]

Lose Weight, Feel Great & Detoxify

Written by Christopher Kiggins

Increasing your core body temperature is not only great for your immune system, it is also great for athlete endurance and can even extend the length of your life.

A rise in core temperature can be done either through taking a sauna, a steam or exercise. I was unaware that you are also giving yourself a false fever (close to 100°F) when you are exercising. 

It’s no surprise to anyone that when you are exercising, you are causing stress to your body and muscles. It’s this stress that tears muscles and makes them bigger so they can lift more weight in the future.

I am going to explain how you do a similar thing in the sauna. You “tear” or stress your body through heat, which causes you to create what are called ‘heat shock proteins’ so your body is better ready to fight disease, have better endurance during exercise, more energy throughout the day and better sleepall through heat stress. 

I will also go into whole body hyperthermia and its effects on the brain, the creation of new brain cells, improved focus and the alleviation of depression and anxiety.


What are Heat Shock Proteins? What are Heat Shock Proteins?

Heat shock proteins are proteins produced when your body experiences stressful situations such as exercise or heat stress. This helps the body maintain homeostasis, form new proteins, reactivate malformed proteins and perform chaperone functions (such as stabilizing unfolded proteins on deformed cells).

Did all of that make sense to you? Ok, great. Moving on… I’m kidding! 

Heat shock proteins essentially perform maintenance check-ups on other proteins at the cellular level to ensure their survival. 

Furthermore, HSP’s also attempt to rehabilitate metabolic diseases and cellular stress by promoting proper protein folding, which happens in disorders such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and atherosclerosis. 

A bit better now? We’re getting there… 

On a basic level, HSP’s respond to stress in our body. This stress can come by the way of extreme heat, exercise, calorie restriction, injuries, old age and even cancer. The reverse would be cold shock proteins which are created by exposure to extreme cold (as in cryotherapy or cold plunges).

Heat damages our cells; however, heat shock proteins essentially act immediately, in overdrive, to repair those cells by overcompensation (i.e., making too many proteins, which leave you enough for your future stressful endeavors; thusly, acclimating your body to exercise and heat so you have a greater tolerance in the future when you encounter stress)

People who eat less, exercise, take regular saunas or cold plunges can effectively live longer simply by doing these activities as they have more HSP’s in their body. (Yes, eating less causes stress to your body in a good way!) Your body is ready when things go wrong, essentially, by having stored HSP’s.

To supplement the effects of heat shock proteins of those who lack exercise and those who wish to boost their physical performance, the regular taking of infrared saunas is an effective method used to induce such heat stressors. When exposed to the sauna’s heat, it triggers the release of heat shock proteins which produces the same cardiovascular, hormonal and extra-cellular protein responses as ones released during exercise.

Because of their many health benefits, heat shock proteins are quite popular nowadays and a big-time buzzword (almost as big as Full Spectrum!)

Infrared Saunas and the Release of Heat Shock Proteins Infrared Saunas and the Release of Heat Shock Proteins

Saunas are a great way to enhance the production of HSP’s in your body. They have been used as a popular form of hyperthermia throughout history for a variety of purposes; which extend their physiological benefits such as aging and longevity. Widely known traditional Finnish saunas provide exposure to temperatures of up to 80-100°C (176-212°F) and increased humidity for 5 to 20 minutes. It uses heated stones and water to create this hot and humid atmosphere. 

As famous as Finnish saunas are, what are equally famous are the cold plunges that Nordic people partake in after a hot sauna session—only to get right back in the sauna. Why do you think they have been doing this for over a thousand years? Heat shock and cold shock proteins! They are causing extreme stress to their bodies! They knew it before anyone else!

In comparison to Finnish saunas, infrared saunas have particularly risen in popularity as they utilize infrared wavelengths which penetrates the skin with the advantage of lower temperatures of 45-60°C (113-140°F). Therefore, it is much easier to sustain a sweat for 30+ minutes as it is much more comfortable to sit in without burning your nostrils and esophagus (a cheap shot at traditional saunas—I’m aware). 

One of the biggest differences is that infrared saunas do not generate any humidity, which results in longer and drier heating sessions (while producing a better sweat as you absorb the infrared heat internally rather than externally through the air). Both traditional Finnish and infrared saunas are known to produce the same health benefits and same amount of heat shock proteins; but we believe, the longer you sweat, the better. It is simply much easier to stay in an infrared sauna longer.

Due to the busy lifestyles that we all have, we may not have the time to gain the boost of heat shock proteins that we need from exercising. However, I always recommend coupling infrared sauna sessions with healthy eating and exercise. 

An infrared sauna is popularly termed to be a miracle device, which I hate to burst your bubble (and mine), is false. However, they can be a miracle wake up call to your health and how you treat your body. Should you decide to do some moderate exercise in conjunction with your sauna sessions, you will recover faster and have more endurance to perform your routines. 


Health Benefits of Heat Shock Proteins Health Benefits of Heat Shock Proteins

In the following study, participants sat in a heat stress chamber (sounds more proffessional than a sauna, right?) in high heat (73°C, 163.4°F) and no heat (26°C, 78.8°F) for 30 minutes. Blood samples were extracted before and after the exposure and results concluded that heat stress increased the heart rate by 60 percent and actively stimulated the nervous system and blood pressure to boost the heart’s overall cardiac output (or blood flow). 

Those suffering from congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia were measured to have reduced levels of hydroperoxide, BNP levels, and an increase in nitric oxide metabolites (which has also shown to significantly reduce the risk of acquiring these diseases by 66 percent in middle-aged people). Similarly, it also reduces the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s and improved their overall mortality rate.

Exposure to the heat stress chamber also increased levels of chaperone HSP72 by up to 50 percent and other factors that positively influence endocrine functions. HSP72 is one of the various heat shock proteins produced which prevents cells in the body from undergoing apoptosis, or cellular death. Heat shock proteins literally save your cells from themselves!

The findings included that induced heat stress increases levels of norepinephrine, which regulates blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels and increases the heart’s total blood output. 

Norepinephrine is also released in the body to enhance the contractions of skeletal muscles and the heart. These proteins are proven to be therapeutic towards rheumatological diseases, muscular dystrophy and other conditions that weaken skeletal muscles that come with age or injury—thus, increasing longevity.

Here’s what’s most fascinating to me—the body’s release of norepinephrine improves your focus and your ability to concentrate. Additionally, it increases the production of prolactin, which allows your brain’s synapses to happen faster and helps to repair damaged neurons. This also literally creates new brain cells and allows you to easier retain new information or knowledge.

Aspiring athletes would be delighted to know that taking a sauna after they exercise would increase their blood plasma volume for up to 4 days and concentrations of hemoglobin which allows for greater transmission of oxygen into the body. This helps with improved cellular health in that your cells are getting the oxygen they need, in the time they need it, through cellular respiration. This allows for your body to heal faster as the actual exchange of carbon dioxide to oxygen happens faster in your cells.

Another heat shock proteins study that exposed rats to 41°C (105.8°F) of hyperthermic treatments for 30 minutes showed that HSP’s are correlated to 30% more muscle regrowth than their control group. Once a person has been acclimated to high temperatures, they have been known to have higher production of heat shock proteins concentrations when followed by exercise.

Finally, another (non-rat) study found that those who were suffering from conditions that range from rheumatological diseases, chronic pain to depression experienced significantly less symptoms when exposed to heat shock proteins. 

Those suffering from clinical depression had reported improved appetites, relaxation and somatic symptoms. Individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia reported decreased pain and stiffness and improved quality of life, all due to the effects of regular sauna bathing.

infrared sauna benefits

Although it is widely known that exercise will lead to a healthier life, we must ask ourselves: what are the changes that occur in our bodies at a cellular level during exercise that make us healthier?

Scientists discovered that increased body temperatures that result from exercise (or saunas) is essential to the human body, as stressors that are induced from exercising releases a variety of proteins that maintain your health.

However, as a large number of people are unable to exert themselves due to age, injuries or chronic diseases (such as osteoarthritis, obesity and spinal cord injuries) can start to accumulate and multiply.

By understanding exercise and the effects of increased internal temperatures, healthy and athletic individuals can also make informed decisions on how they could potentially enhance their physical performance and overall wellbeing.

Popular entrepreneur and author, Tim Ferriss, has described his experience being often hospitalized due to his body’s difficulty in regulating heat. He revisited this idea many years later as he became his own test-subject in Stanford University’s experiment to study the effects of heat shock responses by undergoing exhaustive military heat marches.

Tim wanted to know the extent to which you could strengthen your physique and endurance by acclimating to high temperatures as a result of increased metabolic activities, perhaps without the need to exercise excessively. 

What Tim found out was that by releasing heat shock proteins caused a massive release of the human growth hormone, which helps in building muscle, keeping bone density, maintaining insulin levels, and improves heart function. This among many other benefits such as increased brain function, pain relief, better cellular health, increased endurance and life expectancy can no longer be ignored. Heat shock proteins are the real deal and you can now use your sauna to release them in your body. 

Learning the secrets to these heat shock responses would be of immense value to professional athletes and everyone who seeks to become a happier and healthier person.

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I am glad infrared saunas have developed the way they have, because I couldn’t imagine my life without the benefits they provide, like deep sleep, lower blood pressure, less joint pain, weight loss, and a boosted immune system. Here at SaunaCloud I sell saunas that are some of the best history has offered. My far infrared saunas use advanced ceramic-carbon combination heaters for an amazing sauna experience. For more information on how SaunaCloud’s infrared saunas work and how they can improve your health, download my book The Definitive Guide to Infrared Saunas. Just give us a call at SaunaCloud 1.800.370.0820.

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Christopher Kiggins | Sauna Enthusiast

Christopher Kiggins | Sauna Enthusiast

I have been writing, learning, educating and generally pointing people in the right direction infrared sauna wise since 2012. Let me know how I can help: chris@saunacloud.com - (530) 417-1220