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Metabolic Benefits of Sauna

Metabolic Benefits of Sauna

Metabolic benefits of Sauna

By Abigail Mote

Sauna,Human Growth Hormone and Growth Factor -1 show promise to metabolic health and longevity. Including reduced Alzheimer’s risk and by default Type-2 Diabetes. 

A Finnish research study looked at human growth hormone (Hgh)  before and after a traditional, not Infrared sauna session. The study found that hormone hGH levels were 140% higher on average immediately following the sauna session leading to faster recovery. Human growth hormone can increase your body's ability to recover, build muscle, decrease fat and fight inflammation according to Alex Huberman of the HubermanLabs Podcast.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism referenced on the Huberman Podcast, found that participants who engaged in two 20-minute sauna sessions at 176°F (80°C) experienced a two-fold increase in their HGH levels. Another study revealed that 30-minute sauna sessions at 163°F (73°C) led to a five-fold (500x)increase in HGH levels (Huberman 2023). Huberman has the protocol for this linked here

Human growth hormone (Hgh) is also known as somatotropin and growth hormone (GH) is a peptide hormone secreted by the pituitary gland (Endocrine Society).

Growth hormone is responsible beyond childhood growth for many of the body’s basal metabolic functions. Growth hormone produces an insulin-like growth factor called growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is produced by the liver and is responsible for burning fat, insulin is produced by the pancreas and is responsible for using sugar for energy (Junnila et Al. 3013).

Naturally with aging, the pituitary gland starts decreasing Hgh production and therefor IGF-1 around mid-life, which contributes to a rise in insulin dependency, as seen with the condition of fatty liver; “Secretion of growth hormone (GH), and consequently that of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), declines over time until only low levels can be detected in individuals aged ≥60 years (Junnila et Al. 2013).

This phenomenon, which is known as the 'somatopause”(Junnila et Al. 2013).  By increasing HGH we decrease pancreas produced insulin, instead increasing IGF-1 to control Glucose (Laron 2001). This is how you can eat sugar, drink alcohol in your twenties, yet once thirties hit the body does not handle sugar in the same way and or burn fat. 

Furthermore, “The correlation between high CRP and low total IGF-1 might indicate that an increase in CRP levels may well be a key factor for the reduction in IGF-1 concentrations” (Efstratiadis et Al.). C-reactive protein (CRP) test is a blood test that checks for inflammation in your body. CRP Levels start to increase very soon after any inflammation or infection occurs in the body (C-Reactive+protein: Pathology Tests Explained).

Therefore infection, auto-immune or any factors increasing inflammation in the body hurt the metabolism further. If one cannot increase HGH again and in turn increase IGF-1, the body becomes heavily reliant on insulin production for glucose management, which may lead to insulin resistance as seen with diabetics.

There are estimated to be about 38 million Americans with diabetes (about 1 in 10), and “approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes”(CDC). More and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing type 2 diabetes raising concern. 

 Up to 81 percent of people living with Alzheimer’s are estimated to have type 2 diabetes (Relations, Keck School Media). While scientists are still investigating how diabetes is linked to dementia, it is well known that the brain uses enormous amounts of glucose.

A hallmark of type 2 diabetes is associated with hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, due to insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, cells no longer respond to insulin, the hormone that regulates cellular energy and metabolism (Relations, Keck School Media). Middle aged men in Finland who take a sauna more than four times a week, are “two thirds less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia over a 20 year period” (Alzheimer’s Society, 2016.).

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland followed 2,315 men aged 42-60 years for 20 years as part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Study; Men who reported taking a sauna 4-7 times per week were 66% less likely to receive a diagnosis of dementia than those who only sauna once a week. They were also 65% less likely to receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. (Alzheimer’s Society, 2016.)

 In two fold to increased HGh, sauna increases heat shock proteins to which play a “critical role in regulating insulin sensitivity and improving glucose metabolism…(HSP) can enhance exercise adaptation by promoting mitochondrial biogenesis, reducing oxidative damage, and improving muscle function. Furthermore, the activation of HSPs can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, contributing to improved insulin sensitivity”. (Pengelly 2023).

This all factors into the promising results of Sauna cutting Alzheimer's and by some default type 2 diabetes diagnosis in more than half. Americans need Sauna more than they need Drive through dining options or another “American” staple. Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States, prevention is key to slowing the rate of disease, sauna has shown to be preventative. 

Works Cited

Alzheimer’s Society, 2016. “Regular Saunas Could Reduce the Risk of Dementia, New Study Finds.” Alzheimer’s Society, 16 Dec. 2016,,only%20sauna%20once%20a%20week. 

Brinkman JE, Tariq MA, Leavitt L, et al. Physiology, Growth Hormone ( May 7, 2021. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2021. Accessed 6/21/2022.

CDC. “Type 2 Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Apr. 2023,,adults%20are%20also%20developing%20it.

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Growth hormone (somatotropin, GH) and growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) - blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:599-600

“C-Reactive+protein: Pathology Tests Explained.” C-Reactive+protein | Pathology Tests Explained, Accessed 2 Jan. 2024.

Efstratiadis G, Tsiaousis G, Athyros VG, Karagianni D, Pavlitou-Tsiontsi A, Giannakou-Darda A, Manes C. Total serum insulin-like growth factor-1 and C-reactive protein in metabolic syndrome with or without diabetes. Angiology. 2006 May-Jun;57(3):303-11. doi: 10.1177/000331970605700306. PMID: 16703190.

Endocrine Society. What is Growth Hormone? (

“Feeling Good? Thank Heat Shock Proteins.” Sauna House, Sauna House, 8 Mar. 2023, 

Huberman, Andrew. “Deliberate Heat Exposure Protocols for Health & Performance.” Huberman Lab, Huberman Lab, 20 Sept. 2023, 

Junnila RK, List EO, Berryman DE, Murrey JW, Kopchick JJ. The GH/IGF-1 axis in ageing and longevity. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013 Jun;9(6):366-376. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.67. Epub 2013 Apr 16. PMID: 23591370; PMCID: PMC4074016.

Laron Z. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1): a growth hormone. Mol Pathol. 2001 Oct;54(5):311-6. doi: 10.1136/mp.54.5.311. PMID: 11577173; PMCID: PMC1187088.

Pengelly, Adrian. The Science of Sauna. Adrian Pengelly, 2023.

Relations, Keck School Media. “A Growing Body of Research Links Type 2 Diabetes with Risk for Alzheimer’s.” Newsroom, 26 Nov. 2023,,to%20have%20type%202%20diabetes.-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/growth-hormone) Accessed 6/21/2022.