We’ve had a lot of questions over the past couple of months about whether the heat of an infrared sauna can kill coronavirus. We address this below. But the better question is, how about not getting it, or reducing the chances, or even recovering faster rather than looking at an IR Sauna as a means of cure or immunity. To build your immune system strength, your health, and resilience; proactive recovery to slow and reduce energy depletion, strengthening cellular function through energy production, and cellular defense need to be part of your lifestyle.
That’s the only “boost” that works.
Background Information on Coronavirus
- Viruses die out when herd immunity – immunity of the population against the infection because a certain percentage of the population is immune to it – is found. Sometimes like in the case of influenza viruses, the viruses cross over to other reservoir hosts such as animals, birds, etc.
The immune response to coronavirus infection causes heat shock proteins to be produced. Several pathways in the infected person will be activated in order to eliminate the coronavirus. (Saunas also cause heat shock proteins to be created in the body, thus contributing to the immune system process.) Learn more about heat shock proteins in the sauna here.
- The coronavirus uses the endoplasmic reticulum in the cell as a site for the synthesis and processing of viral proteins. (Thus, if you can strengthen this part of the cell, you can conceivably prevent the infection.)
- The mitochondria play an important role in antiviral immunity against SARS and the coronaviruses as Mitochondria are both engaged for energy production and cell defense.
- Frequently touched surfaces of a university classroom cleaned daily contained viable human coronaviruses. (The virus lives in rooms…)
Is Sauna Temperature Enough to Kill Coronavirus?
- Coronaviruses (MERS-CoV) died when under environmental circumstances of 56 degrees Celsius (132 degrees F) for 25 minutes. Increasing the temperature to 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees F) was even better and only one minute was needed to kill viruses. No killing was observed after 2 hours at 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees F).
- The dried virus on smooth surfaces retained viability for over 5 days at temperatures of 22-25 degrees Celsius (72-77 degrees F) and relative humidity of 40-50%, typical of air-conditioned environments. However, viruses died quickly at higher temperatures and higher relative humidity (38 degrees Celsius – 100 degrees F – and relative humidity greater than 95%). This explains why Malaysia, Indonesia, or Thailand with high temperatures and high relative humidity environments do not have major community outbreaks of SARS.
- At a relative humidity of 75%, the infectivity of the coronavirus was very sensitive to temperature, decreasing two orders of magnitude between 19 and 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees F).
- At 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees F), coronaviruses live up to 28 days but they can be inactivated at low levels of 20% relative humidity. The inactivation was more rapid at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees F) at all humidity levels. The viruses were inactivated more rapidly at 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees F) than at 20 degrees Celsius. When high numbers of viruses are deposited on surfaces, coronaviruses causing both GI symptoms and respiratory symptoms may survive for days on surfaces.
- SARS-coronaviruses may be shed into the environment and transferred from environmental surfaces to the hands of patients and healthcare providers. Once contaminated, hands can then initiate self-inoculation of the mucous membrane of the nose, eyes, or mouth.
- SARS coronavirus is inactivated at 56 degrees Celsius (132.8 degrees F), reducing the titer to below detection.
Coronavirus infectivity was completely lost after 14 days of incubation at 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees F), 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees F), or 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees F) but remained constant at 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees F) for the same length of time.
- Based on these points alone, it seems a sauna can kill coronavirus. Traditional saunas are generally in the range of 150-175 degrees F. Infrared saunas use a lower temperature of 120-158 degrees F. Both traditional and infrared sauna temperatures will kill coronaviruses from what we know from extrapolation from other coronaviruses.
Thus, if an infected person with coronavirus went into your sauna, it could theoretically kill the virus by the heat.
If you have been exposed to coronavirus, no doubt the virus is on your skin. It could be killed by the temperatures in the sauna. The more virus particles you kill, the quicker your recovery because the virus isn’t reproducing.
However, it’s unlikely the sauna will help treat the virus if the virus has infected your lungs. By the time the hot air reaches your lungs, it is much cooler. Surely, it’s warmer than normal and might help, but it’s unlikely to cure the virus in one sitting.
There are additional benefits to regular sauna use that will promote good health and could offer additional defense against sickness.
Saunas also increase heat shock protein production, which contributes to the protection of cells and survival against environmental stress (such as virus attack).
They participate in protein assembly, turnover, and regulation and protect the cell by stabilizing unfolded proteins. This then allows the cell time to repair itself or remake any proteins that have been damaged.
So does the sauna kill coronavirus? Yes, a sauna can kill and deactivate the coronavirus. However, once the virus has infected the lungs it’s unlikely to help.
Important Things To Consider
A sauna is great to prevent sickness, but there are two important caveats of treating any illness with a sauna.
The first is hydration, which should always be an essential part of the sauna routine, and is even more important when you are sick. If you are dehydrated and not maintaining enough fluids, you are probably not ready for a sauna.
The first is that you should not be in a public space when having the flu, especially a potential coronavirus! Never go to a public sauna or gym if you have flu symptoms.
A home sauna with supervision is the only way to safely battle a virus with a sauna. Consult your doctor about any heart conditions, or medical issues first.
The sauna can likely reach temperatures capable of killing Coronavirus, but it is not a cure for Covid-19 as the heat will not reach the infected person’s lungs.
People who sauna frequently MAY have some protection, as saunas have been shown to decrease all-cause mortality, common colds, and decrease pneumonia risk.
There are no sauna coronavirus studies at this time, but we know how we’ll be passing the time.
As we take the time to reset, refresh, meditate, and reflect on these challenging times, we wish you and yours the best through these difficult times.