It was one of those nights – a little too much to drink, a little too much to eat, and a little too little sleep. A recipe for disaster for Bikram yoga class the next morning. When I woke up, I could barely speak, my body felt weak, and my stomach was in knots. As I lay in bed, trying to muster the courage to begin the day, I wondered if I should go to class or just call in sick. But then I remembered about sweating out the toxins. That was exactly what I needed to do. I dragged myself to class, and I am so glad that I did. But is it really possible to sweat out toxins?
On the night in question, I happened to be having dinner with a number of well-regarded scientists in the hearing field. As the night went on, the conversation turned to how much alcohol we had consumed and how we would recover the next day. I mentioned Bikram yoga and the scientists laughed at my idea of sweating out the toxins. “The only thing that comes out in your sweat is water and salt and maybe a little bit of urine,” they said. Ew.
So I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet and the scientific data is pretty clear. Sweating has many benefits, including regulating temperature, but it is not a way to rid the body of toxins. This occurs primarily through the kidneys, liver or intestines. Here is a quote from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Sweat is 99% water combined with a small amount of salt, proteins, carbohydrates and urea, says UAMS family medicine physician Dr. Charles Smith. Therefore, sweat is not made up of toxins from your body, and the belief that sweat can cleanse the body is a myth.
“You cannot sweat toxins out of the body,” Dr. Smith says. “Toxins such as mercury, alcohol and most drugs are eliminated by your liver, intestines or kidneys.”
But this does not explain why I felt so much better after Bikram yoga class. Was it purely psychological? Or maybe the postures were stimulating the internal organs like the kidneys and liver to do their job faster? Or has science missed the boat?
I’m not sure I know the answer, but I know I will continue to look to Bikram yoga class as a way to reset my body after an illness or after a too adventurous night on the town or even to reduce stress. You can’t argue with success.
Readers, do you believe you can sweat out your toxins?