In a retrospective litterature study between 1966-2009, we searched in the database PubMed and identified 314 medical articles in English. The aim of the study was to summarize benefits and risk of sauna bathing. We searched for evidence if sauna bathing should be recommended or not in children, during pregnancy, in fertile men and in different diseases or in combination with medical treatment. Physiological and pharmacokinetic effects were summarized. Heart-, lung-, musculoskeletal-, skin- and endocrinological diseases and effects of sauna bathing were reviewed. Experience of burn injuries and deaths in the sauna were also studied.
In conclusion sauna is safe and there are evidence that sauna bathing is positive for patients with heartfailure and hypertonia. But, sauna bathing should be avoided in patients with recent diagnosed myocardial infarction, severe aortastenosis and unstable angina pectoris. The major riskfactor for burn injuries and other complications is alcohol consumption during sauna bathing. Sauna bathing is safe for children > 3 months under supervison and during limited time, in normal pregnancies and for fertile men.
Sauna and health.