It was a hot Saturday afternoon in La Senda and I was crawling into a hut that represents the womb of our Mother Earth. I crawled to my assigned spot and waited for everyone else to enter. I inhaled one last big breath of fresh air and then was plunged into total pitch blackness. Water was poured over hot stones, the abuelitas, the bones of the earth … and my heart pounded in my chest. A wave of sticky intense heat washed over me and I sat there in gratitude for the ancient medicine of our ancestors.
I was here to experience the sweat lodge ritual, introduced in last month’s Howler article about the benefits of inipi and temazcal — part 1.
The temazcal — which translates to “house of heat” — works in a variety of ways. It tones the skin and the nervous system, purifies the respiratory tract and the digestive system, and helps with bone, muscle and gynecological problems.
The heat bath is an ideal vehicle that transports us to a state of inner peace and tranquility. It quiets the mind when we experience the healing properties that nature gives us through the different medicinal plants that are used in it.
The temazcal surpasses in benefit and efficiency the common steam baths, since the person in charge of the temazcal can increase or decrease the heat, thus adjusting to the specific conditions that the patient requires.
The heat must be higher than normal body temperature to induce perspiration, while the high humidity inhibits the evaporation of sweat. It is estimated that each liter of sweat that is lost in the temazcal is the equivalent of the kidney’s function in several days!
During an intense session of temazcalli, between two and three kilograms of body weight are lost. A high proportion of that is water — approximately 1,500 milliliters of sweat, through which there is increased excretion of terminal metabolism products (toxins). In 50 minutes of bathing, one liter of sweat equivalent to one kilogram of toxins can be eliminated.
This process also balances the acid-alkaline pH of the blood and contributes to the elimination of heavy metals like zinc, mercury, copper, lead among others.
The medical use of temazcal in conditions related to internal cold has been of great importance, especially in the treatment of female disorders by causing heat in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. It is indicated in infertility, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, purification related to breast milk fluid, and to regain the firmness of the skin.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, said, “Give me a fever and I will cure any disease.”
The heat induced through the temazcal is comparable to a state of temporary fever. There are enormous benefits from stimulating the defensive capacity against different types of infections.
High temperatures also facilitate cell revitalisation and repair.
Modern science shows that heat increases the functions of each organ, and in particular, that of the immune system. In this way, we can explain the body’s wise action when raising its temperature — fever — in the presence of certain diseases or infections.
The temazcal also stimulates the glandular system, in particular the pineal and pituitary glands. They are known as the master glands, since they govern the glandular activity of the whole body, including the thyroid, adrenal, hormonal and sexual functions.
Did you know about the benefits of infrared therapy and ozone for the healing of the body? In next month’s article about the sweat lodge ritual, I will tell you how our ancestors knew about this a long time ago and used it for self healing. Stay tuned.