Sweating Therapy AKA Diaphoresis  

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'Better out than in'

People intuitively understand how valuable it can be to sweat-out the bad stuff. Raising a person’s temperature to the point of a profuse sweat has been, since ancient times, a vital healing practice in many traditional cultures of medicine including Native-American, Japanese and Scandinavian peoples.

Sweating therapy, or diaphoresis, was used to speed healing and cleanse the body from contagion or toxicity.
In modern medical herbalism, we still use this process to:

1) deepen and accelerate detoxification for a person undergoing a cleansing program

2) activate the immune system for a person who is

a) fighting an infection
b) afflicted with an auto-immune condition
c) stuck in the post-viral syndrome.

The only practical difference in the above is that when using sweating therapy for cleansing it doesn't matter whether you use a bath or a sauna whereas when doing it for immune activation, most people will need to use a bath to get their temperature sufficiently high.

A high temperature simulates the 'fever mechanism', it activates and mobilises our immune systems like nothing else. This is not to be feared, Nature has evolved this for our survival against all kinds of dangeorus infections or invaders. Sweating therapy helps us to expel toxins and pathogens and these things are far better out than in.


Stage 1: Heat Yourself Up

If you are doing sweating therapy to cleanse, then feel free to use a sauna if you prefer but be assured a bath will work just as well and it may well be closer to home! If you are doing the sweating therapy for your immune system, then as mentioned, a bath is preferred over a sauna.

Saunas get their temperature up by keeping the door shut and adding water to the hot rocks, if a bath needs to get hotter, then simply add more hot water when you have sufficiently adjusted to the initial heat.

Particularly because of their constitutional make-up as mentioned further at the end, people are naturally hotter or cooler and at the same time dryer or damper, so they will vary in terms of how long they need to stay in the bath or sauna as well as how hot they need to have it. Therefore, rather than working with an expectation of minutes or degrees the best measure will be seen in your skin and felt in your pulse.

Ideally, you should have a good sweat running from wherever your skin is exposed whilst still in the bath or sauna. You should also feel your pulse getting noticeably stronger and faster, even to the point of pounding, but people will experience this to different degrees according to their fitness and their constitution so don’t get caught up in how fast it should go in terms of beats per minute.

Suffice to say that your pulse rate should be well and truly raised before you get out of the bath or sauna. This is the stage of the treatment that can be the most challenging and you may even feel some anxiety when your pulse rate significantly increases. Try to keep your breathing slow and steady when this happens and stay just a little longer, this process will soon pass.


Stage 2: Keep hot!

Caution: If you are a person who gets low blood pressure or is prone to becoming dizzy, then you must be very careful when you get out of the bath. Hold on to a hand rail or sit on the side of the bath until you are ready to stand unaided.

As soon as you possibly can, after getting out of the bath or sauna, wrap up in something, a robe, a blanket, some towels, anything that can keep the heat in. Ideally you will be in a kind of blanket ''tent' where you have little to no skin exposed.

You want to get a sustained sweat going and, especially if this is not naturally easy for you to do, then you will need plenty of keeping hot to do it. There is a point of overdoing it where you can feel overwhelmed, in that case open a vent in your ‘tent’ and let out some heat - but try to tough it out as well as you can.

As you sweat, you will release a lot of heat from your body. People vary with how long it takes them to have a good sweat-out, it is recommended to go with the flow and to not watch the clock!


Stage 3: The tea

Drinking a hot cup of herbal tea is an essential step in the sweating therapy. It will open up the circulation in ways that the first two stages would not achieve by themselves. You should have the tea ready to pour next to wherever you are going to be sitting or reclining in your blanket or towel 'tent'.

Snake out your arm to push down the plunger or pour the tea and then bring the cup back inside. The tea must be sipped whilst still hot, so make sure the coffee plunger or tea pot has been well-covered e.g. with a thick towel, so it keeps hot whilst you are in the bath;

Cold & flu tea recipe

If you can find a good herbalist or herb supplier, then you should try to get a mixture of herbs made up for you as shown below. However, if this is just not possible, then be assured that a strong infusion of the universally obtainable Chamomile can still work very well.

  Chamomile 1 part
  Elder flower 1 part
  Yarrow 1 part
  Limeflowers 1 part
  Boneset ½ part

The ‘part’ means the proportions; which means we use the same amount of all of them by weight except for the boneset where we use half the weight of the others.

The dose for the cold & flu tea is 3 heaped tsps to at least one and a half cups of freshly boiled water. If you only have chamomile to hand, that's ok, but it must be much stronger than usual, i.e. put no less than 5 or 6 bags into a pot or plunger with at least one and a half cups of freshly boiled water.

Whether it be a combination such as the above or just Chamomile, the tea needs to soak for at least 10-15 minutes, longer is ok too. Don't forget, whatever you use to put the tea in, you must make sure you keep it hot until you are ready to drink it.

Matricaria recutita (Chamomile)

Notes on the treatment

Sweating therapy is certainly a challenging treatment but, so long as you are prepared to be careful when you get out of the bath, it is an entirely safe process and can be repeated as needed.

If a person is using it to help get over a bad cold or to break the fever of a flu, then just one session may well be enough. However, if they are doing it to treat an auto-immune condition or the post-viral syndrome, then 2 or 3, or sometimes even more, sessions of sweating therapy may be required.

When being used as part of a cleansing program, we typically aim to do the sweating therapy twice, the first time within about 3 days of starting the treatment, the second session about a week after the first.

If you have the flexibility to organise it, the ideal time to do the sweating therapy is late afternoon or early evening. Be sure to hydrate well with plenty of water for 1- 2 hours afterwards. Once you are passing a good amount of reasonably clear urine you will have drunk enough. Failing to do this may result in feeling quite sore and headachey the next day.

The cold and flu tea will stay fresh and potent for at least one year if kept in a cool, dark place and, if desired, as most people find it quite pleasant tasting, any remainder can be beneficially drunk as a health-giving tea without having to break out into a sweat first!

You may find, as you will be effectively stimulating cleansing and activating your immune system, that you may have a period of a day or so after doing the sweating therapy where you feel extra tired. Don't fight against this if it happens, your body has the most remarkable in-built intelligence that knows how to heal but this process can take a lot of energy. Rest however much you need to and trust Nature!


Constitutional Health Note:

Lastly you might want to learn about your constitution to help better understand how toxicity or your immune system may have become an issue in your health as well as more about what kinds of foods, herbs, exercise etc. may best help you.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences, for example the damper constitutions find it much easier to get a profuse sweat going than the dryer ones. There's a brief introduction to the subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd