Author Nenah Sylver, Ph.D.
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Excerpts from the Holistic Handbook of Sauna
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of Sauna Therapy
and Weight Loss
and Pesticides, Heavy Metals
Clinic and Spa Locations
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Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy
By Nenah Sylver, Ph.D.
335 Pages, $34.95
Alkalizing the System
Kellogg was also aware that sweating helps induce an increased (desirable) alkalization of the system. (Although the liver and kidneys play a major role in regulating the acid-alkaline balance of the body, frequent intense perspiring can profoundly assist the process.) Toxins—whether acidic or alkaline themselves—have an acidifying effect on the body because they impair the energy metabolism of the cells and prevent biological wastes from being properly excreted. Over a relatively short time, these acid wastes produced by the body accumulate in the tissues.
A very interesting book by medical doctor Richard Kovács called Electrotherapy and Light Therapy with Essentials of Hydrotherapy and Mechanotherapy (published in 1949) demonstrates both Kellogg’s legacy and the extent to which heat and light were routinely used as legitimate therapies by the medical community until the discovery of antibiotics. When a person perspires, Kovács wrote, “there is a loss of water, salt, urea and other nitrogenous substances, with a relative excess of alkali remaining in the blood and in the tissues” (presumably because so many acidic wastes were removed).7 However, what was to Kovács in his day a “relative excess of alkali” may no longer apply in our current age, since so many people suffer from excessive systemic acidity that can result from illness, exposure to toxic chemicals, and an acid-forming diet consisting of sugar, too much grain and animal protein, and not enough vegetables.
Negative stress, with its acidifying stress hormones, also creates acidic wastes in the body. (Stress can be defined as the body’s response to challenges created by internal and external input. If the body’s resources are depleted or drained as a result of dealing with the input, the stress is negative. If the body responds to the input as a stimulating challenge so that growth and beneficial adaptation result, then the stress is positive.) Since a high level of systemic acids can augment any disease or unhealthful condition that already exists—as well as create new ones—I want to spend a bit of time discussing the acid-alkaline balance of the body, also known as the pH.
Simplistically put, pH is a term designating a mathematical formula that computes the acidity or alkalinity of the body. The following is excerpted from my recently published book, The Handbook of Rife Frequency Healing.
The optimal pH levels for the blood, urine and various bodily tissues differ slightly from one another. However, in order for the person to maintain absolute health, the one body area whose pH must stay within a very narrow range of alkalinity is the arterial blood plasma. Depending on which authority is being cited, the ideal pH range for the blood plasma is from about 7.35 to 7.45 or 7.5. If the blood deviates too much from its ideal pH for too long a period of time, the person becomes sick and eventually dies....
The body is basically internally alkaline by design (the skin is naturally acidic). How, then, does it become acid? Acidic waste products are constantly being created during the course of normal everyday metabolic processes. If these acidic wastes are not expelled, they end up poisoning the system. It is the job of the respiratory tract, the chemical and physiological buffering system (which includes the liver), and the urinary tract to regulate the acid-alkaline levels. The respiratory tract alters the rate of carbon dioxide ventilation from the bodily fluids. This in turn changes the ion concentration through a series of biochemical processes. The chemical and physiological buffering system of the body goes through a number of different steps to produce extra chemicals, which also counteract the acidic pH imbalance in the blood plasma. It is the urinary tract network, however, that is by far the most efficient method the body has for getting rid of acids. The kidneys play a prominent role in excreting acid through the urine—although even this method has its limitations. The blood transports excess acid to the kidneys only a little bit at a time, and slowly. No matter how hard the kidneys are forced to work (assuming they don’t become overloaded), there is only so much acidity that they can excrete. Eventually, when the kidneys have done all they can, and there are still excess corrosive acids and acid-forming substances that threaten to damage the bloodstream, the acids are simply relocated elsewhere in the body to protect the blood. The wastes get stored in the extra-cellular fluids (fluids surrounding the cells), the connective tissue, the joints and even the organs. This is how a chain reaction of deterioration in bodily functions starts to occur. It is this autointoxication, in which one is poisoned by one’s own toxic wastes, that lays the foundation for degenerative diseases which include arthritis, allergies, fibromyalgia, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, kidney stones, bone loss and cancer.
The body’s finely tuned needs clearly show that storing overly acid or alkaline wastes in the tissues to get them out of the bloodstream—while a necessary short-term emergency intervention by the body—is hardly the ideal solution to a pH imbalance. Bone loss is a good example of a highly unbalanced, overly acid system. It also graphically illustrates a malabsorption or shortage of calcium and other minerals, which are key factors in maintaining the proper pH. Most of the calcium we ingest is not used for bone construction, but instead freely circulates in the body to be utilized in different metabolic processes, including the neutralization of systemic acid. The pH balance of the blood is so crucial that when no more calcium is available in the system, the body leaches it from the bones.8
This unfortunate scenario is all too common. Too many acids in the body cause more than bone degeneration, however. As if degenerative conditions weren’t bad enough, most bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi love a mild degree of acidity. (They do die in terrain of very high acidity as well as very high alkalinity; but at those extremes, you can’t survive either.) The same unbalanced pH level that causes a deterioration of the body’s tissue also allows these microorganisms to proliferate. And when they do, they excrete acidic wastes into the bloodstream, creating a vicious cycle of more acidity, and hence more microbes—and more infectious diseases. In case there are any remaining doubts that sweating alkalizes the system, consider that the pH of perspiration is acidic. It can be somewhat acidic at
6.8 (7.0 is neutral), or extremely so at 4. This scale acquires greater meaning when you realize that the numbers on the acidity/alkalinity scale do not represent equal divisions. Each number higher than the one before it represents an exponential increase: 1 is ten times greater than 0, 2 is 100 times greater than 0, 3 is 1,000 times greater than 0, and so on. This means that even a small change in pH levels makes an enormous difference.
In Reverse Aging, Sang Whang addresses both the problem of stagnant blood and excess acidity: “Acid coagulates blood, thus causing poor blood circulation around the places where the acids are accumulated. This in turn causes some organs to act sluggish and we start to see the symptomatic signs of aging.”9 The poorest circulation is often at the capillaries, through which red blood cells can pass only one at a time. Even if a person’s diet and health improve enough to make the system generally more alkaline, the tiny capillaries won’t benefit from this change as long as they remain clogged, surrounded by the acid wastes that have accumulated deep in the tissues. Body heating, however, expands the capillaries enough to loosen and break up or dissolve the toxins, which can then exit the body through urine and sweat.
Of course, it is possible that someone’s system might be too alkaline (although according to microbiologist Robert O. Young, excessive alkalinity is always the result of the system’s attempts to compensate for an over-acid condition). Neither extreme is healthy. But sweating helps the body clear out all debris, acidic and alkaline, allowing the tissues to be restored to their original pristine state.
Circulatory and Respiratory Changes
The circulation of blood in the lungs is closely related to cardiac output. During exercise, Guyton and Hall write, “both oxygen consumption and total pulmonary ventilation increase about 20-fold between the resting state and maximal intensity of exercise in the well-trained athlete.”10 [emphasis theirs] This figure may be the origin of claims by some sauna therapy proponents that during body heating, the oxygen needs of the body increase by about 20%. However, it’s important to remember that sauna therapy isn’t exercise. As I will discuss later in this chapter, there are some important differences between the two. People who are not well-trained athletes, who are sitting passively inside a sauna rather than jogging or rowing, may find that their oxygen consumption and total pulmonary ventilation do not conform to the above.
Nevertheless, the circulatory system does undergo many changes when a person sweats. The heart may beat up to 160 beats per minute, due to the increase of blood to the skin to reduce temperature and the corresponding increase in metabolic rate. With blood circulating so much faster, the amount of blood that can be pumped may be twice the amount that is pumped during normal rest. This allows a more rapid delivery of nutrients to body tissues as well as improved waste removal. Kovács recognized that the increase in circulation from body heating causes a “rise of the pulse-rate in the ratio of about 10 beats for each degree Fahrenheit, just as it does in fever.”11
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of Contents and Index • History
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and Weight Loss • Sauna
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and Pesticides, Heavy Metals
Building Materials • Sauna
Clinic and Spa Locations
The Holistic Handbook of
By Nenah Sylver, Ph.D.
Paperback Book, 335 Pages, $34.95
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