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TOPIC: Hot yoga and infrared sauna causing migraines... ?

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June 28, 2011 7:17 PM
I'll just preface this by saying that I've been a migraine sufferer for almost as long as I can remember. It runs in my family and is pretty severe - my mom needs emergency room hospitalization for IV drugs when hers hit. I do have a prescription (not daily, but for when one comes), but it causes side effects and I really don't want to take it.

OK so my question is this: I've heard two theories on WHY hot yoga (and saunas) give me headaches. One person told me that extreme heat is simply a trigger for migraines. The hot yoga room is 105 degrees for 1.5 hours, and the infrared sauna is 140 for 30 minutes. (this doesn't happen with "regular" saunas... only infrared!). The second person told me that the headaches are caused by the toxins that are being released by my body, and it'll go away in time, once they're out.

The problem is that I work 9-10 hours a day, and when a headache hits, it's debilitating. I can't work, can't eat... I have to just lay in bed and end up vomitting. This is obviously unacceptable! Not to mention that the pain is excruciating... pain killers don't even take the edge off, and I hate having to taking narcotic painkillers for this! I AM hydrated... I drink water throughout both activities as well as before/after. I get my 8+ glasses daily.

What do you think? Is the heat just a trigger and I have to give up these two activities? Or is my body truly "detoxifying" itself and in time the pain will go away?
June 28, 2011 7:24 PM
Give it up. Your body is an incredible machine that filters out toxins constantly and all that "toxins leaving your body" is just talk. The heat is causing the migraines. I get them but not severely but if i did i would not do anything that might trigger it. If a regular sauna doesn't trigger it, have those. Regular yoga is just as good as hot yoga. Why would you do anything that causes harm to your body? MIgraines are nothing to fool around with as you well know.
June 28, 2011 7:26 PM
Thank you. I agree... I'm trying to avoid everything that might even trigger a pre-migraine. However, I do sometimes worry that I've abused my body too much and there's too many chemicals in it. So it's tempting to want to believe in the "toxin removal" methods!! Thanks for your advice!
June 28, 2011 7:29 PM
Toxin removal? Sounds like complete bogus!
June 29, 2011 1:47 PM
Bump. Anyone else have any thoughts or opinions? Does "sweating it out" really work?
June 29, 2011 1:52 PM
I agree with the rest. Listen to your body. Im not diagnosing, but could it be that blood pressure spiking from hot yoga is causing your migraines? Not to mention dehydration, and being upside down for a lot of holds. The only way to know is to stop the activity and monitor strength and occurrence.
June 29, 2011 1:53 PM
The toxins being released theory is definitely bogus.
July 8, 2011 6:56 AM
Yes, having to take painkillers is to be avoided, I hear what you're saying. Too much painkillers will make your stomach upset and the headache doesn't get much better, seems like the painkillers don't bring much relief.

I've searched for year until someone recommended I tried MAXALT (rizatriptan benzoate) and this is so far the only thing that brings relief for me, but I guess that doesn't guarantee results for others. What works for one person won't work for the next.

As far as the hot yoga is concerned, I'm not a doctor but I can imagine that putting your body under the stress of the elevated temperature while doing the exercises could be a trigger, especially when the migraine is already "seeking" to come out.

It is probably also the temperature in the sauna that puts just enough extra stress on your body to cause the migraine to strike.

With infrared sauna though, it can be a bit different. This <a href="">introduction to infrared sauna</a> talks about how you can open the door to let fresh air in and still benefit from the sauna and it also mentions setting the temperature low if you're new to saunas.

I hope this helps.
July 8, 2011 7:16 AM
I also suffer from migraines since my teens. Relpax and Maxalt both have finally brought some relief I just don't like the side effects of taking them. Really leaves me loopy, hard to concentrate. I cannot exert myself in extreme heat. I can take heat, just not exert myself. Basically I've learned that if it triggers migraines, to avoid if at all possible.

I would suggest finding some other way to exercise such at yoga in the ac. :)
September 4, 2011 1:00 PM
A large majority of migraines as well as headaches caused by a sauna are due to electrolyte imbalance. Try to intake about 700+ mg of potassium during your sauna, along with an EmergenC drink. An easy high potassium drink is Coconut water.....about 680mg. Some people need much more potassium supplementation as most people do not get enough potassium in our diet but, conversely, our intake of salt is high.....they need to be balanced. Read labels and add up your mg's of salt in a day and your mg's of potassium. You should shoot for 1000mg of salt (preferably sea salt) and approx. 3000mg of'll find that most diets are the opposite. Potassium tabs can be purchased in any drugstore but are regulated at 99mg per tab. If you get too much, you'll get diarrhea.....a very clear way to monitor! Hope that helps.
LC, D.C.
July 23, 2012 5:42 PM
I also suffer from Migrains, to the point where I can't walk because of the pain. I got migraines so often that I was asked to be a part of a study at the headache migraine institute. I have an infrared sauna at home and I have practiced Bikram Yoga. It has been my experience that when I detox, I get a migraines (which I got when I first started Bikram Yoga). So I have to slowly detox by making sure I am eating all the right foods (less processed, more whole, more water). I find that doing that helps IMMENSLEY. I have found that diet is a large factor in my migraine episodes. I have been using my infrared sauna everyday for the past month atleast 30 minutes a day, in the beginning I would get a slight migraine the next morning (my detox effects). That only went on for a few days, I no longer get migraines when using my sauna or going Bikram Yoga. I also drink a lot of coconut water for electrolytes, potassium and helps!

So here is my advice, if your diet is highly processed, slowly change to eating more whole foods (raw fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes). Cut out the sugar and replace with a better alternative (stevia, agave...). Having a good diet will decrease the detox effects of a infrared sauna, Bikram Yoga or anything that will have detoxing effects. This has helped me and I rarely get migraines. If I do, it's minor and I take an herbal supplement for the inflamation. Like anything else, healing takes time...there is relief for migraines, it's prevention through diet. Hope this helps!
July 31, 2012 7:26 AM
I've been suffering bad headaches when the weather became hot, if I went sunbathing. If I trained in the heat. And if I had a sauna or hot bath.

When I started to try to have Himalayan salt baths, I got bad headaches from the heat. I then used cooler water for a while. If I had it too hot I would get a headache.

the strange thing is that with persistance and having a daily hot bath of an hour or more, my headaches became less and less. Now I can tolerate quite hot baths and I don't get any headache at all.

Basically I have acclimatised to the heat - also I sweat a lot during the baths and become very thirsty. I drink a few pints of water and I am convinced that this water being flushed through me via sweating definitely does remove toxins (toxins may be the build up of too many minerals in your sweat water).

I have read a lot about sweating and for people who do not sweat a lot during the days when they do it is very salty and can even sting the skin and cause a rash if left on the body for too long after. For people who sweat regularly there is less saltiness/minerals in the sweat.

sweat contains minerals, lactate, and urea. Mineral composition varies with the individual,acclimatisation to heat, exercise and sweating, the particular stress source (sauna, etc.) - sodium (0.9 gram/liter), potassium (0.2 g/l), calcium (0.015 g/l), magnesium (0.0013 g/l).[10] zinc (0.4 milligrams/liter), copper (0.3–0.8 mg/l), iron (1 mg/l), chromium (0.1 mg/l), nickel (0.05 mg/l), lead (0.05 mg/l).

My theory now is we are designed to sweat to flush ourselves out. Too much mineral build up and salt in our systems from lack of sweating may be the cause of the headaches. Whenever it gets hot and and you start to sweat a lot but are not used to it, for some reason toxins seem to get into the bloodstream and cause a headache.

When you get used to regular sweating and flushing yourself out, drinking lots of water that you need for the added sweat. This seems to be a cure for the headaches.

I used to suffer regular headaches now the hot baths have cured me.

Can I ask that anyone here who wants to try and help themselves with headaches to try daily hot baths and even if you get headaches the first week or two, persist with it and let me know if you also cure your headaches.

Daily hot baths work best, every other day is not so good in my experience. Also try to stay in for at least an hour, an hour and a half is better (start half an hour and build up, also build up with the heat of the bath)...
October 4, 2012 6:39 AM
If you want to rid your body of toxins then do a veggie and fruit juice cleanse. It flushes your body from the inside. My running partner and I have juicers, and we mix it with juices from Pressed Juicery. We have done one and two day juice cleanses. I feel energized. She is caffeine drinker and a late night sugar addict. She gets headaches on the first day. When we're done she loses the urge to drink cokes/coffee and candy. So when she starts up with the sweets, we do it again.
Detox from the inside just logically works the best. i figure saunas are just flushing your pores.

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