In recent years, there has been a massive revival of interest in the ancient Mayan practice of steam baths, with many hotels and spas throughout Mexico offering the ritual for tourists. Held in a stone, igloo-like structure, temazcal ceremonies are designed to cleanse the body and mind of negativities and impurities. If that sounds a little far-out and new age, you should read through this list of proven benefits of this mysterious ancient ritual.
Detoxify the body
Temazcal rituals are designed to cleanse the body of unwanted toxins and impurities. There is significant scientific evidence that increasing the heat load on the body can be effective in removing toxins through sweating. One study found that frequent sauna use helped reduce levels of mercury in patients suffering from mercury poisoning.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Cleanse the respiratory system
The steamy ritual can temporarily relieve the symptoms of the common cold. But another study which focused on sauna bathing even suggested that regular sauna use could reduce the incidence of colds. When 25 volunteers took regular saunas over a six-month period they had a far lower rate of common cold infection than a control group who did not take them.
Combat mild depression
Researchers have found that repeated thermal therapy can help patients suffering from mild depression, as well as reduce symptoms such as insomnia, appetite loss, and anxiety.
The Ancient Mayans often carried out temazcal rituals for warriors returning from battle, and new scientific studies suggest that they had the right idea. Thermal therapy increases blood circulation, thereby delivering vital hormones to areas of the body that most need them for recovery.
Reduce chronic fatigue
Elevated heat levels such as those found in a temazcal have also been found to be effective for patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. One study demonstrated that repeated exposure to high temperatures was able to significantly improve symptoms of fatigue, pain and sleep disturbance in patients.
Help patients with arthritis
Exposure to heat can help reduce pain in patients with arthritis because it stimulates the release of endorphins and hormones such as adrenaline. One investigation suggested that heat therapy could help reduce arthritic symptoms when combined with other therapies such as electro-acupuncture, massage and mud therapy.
Heat therapies such as the temazcal or sauna can help improve athletic endurance. One study of long-distance runners found that sauna bathing after exercise had a significant positive impact on performance.
Improve mental performance
Regular exposure to elevated temperature levels can substantially increase the production of norepinepherine, a hormone which increases attention span.
Heat also promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes the growth of new brain cells.
Lower risk of dementia
Given the last paragraph, perhaps it is not surprising that regular use of thermal therapies have also been linked to a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Increase stress resilience
Heat stress has been shown to reduce anxiety levels in patients. Regular exposure to heat can lower cortisol levels, thereby relaxing and rejuvenating the body.
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