Earlier this year I underwent what may be the most powerful detox protocol that doesn't require medical intervention.
This famous detox protocol is called the Niacin Sauna Detox Protocol.
I had heard many good things about it, and once I had my own Clearlight infrared sauna I knew I had to give it a go.
(Update: Alex currently uses and recommends the Sun Stream sauna - read more about that sauna here: SunStream Evolve Sauna Review: The Best Infrared Sauna On The Market?)
First, if you have never heard of the Niacin Infrared Sauna Detox Protocol keep an eye out for my upcoming article 'Everything You Need To Know About The Niacin Infrared Sauna Detox Protocol. It will be out in the next week or two, o be sure to sign up to my niacin detox email list below:
For those that need a refresher, this detoxification protocol was pioneered by people such as L. Ron Hubbard and Dr David Root. It utilises high doses of niacin combined with sauna heat therapy to eliminate toxins and chemicals stored in the bodies fat.
It is a detox protocol designed to remove toxins such as heavy metals and pollutants that the bodies natural detoxification pathways cannot process on their own (for more on why toxins become stored in body fat read my article How Toxins In Your Diet Are Making You Fat).
This fat loving toxins damage cell health and lead to issues such as inflammation, autoimmune and cancer disorders. Not to mention retained unsightly body fat.
The niacin detox protocol uses sauna heat and the amazing properties of niacin to expel these toxins through sweat.
The protocol requires 2-4 weeks of daily sauna sessions. With each session requiring a number hours of your time.
Also the protocol follows a comprehensive supplement program - enhancing the effects of the niacin detoxification, and also supporting the bodies recovery throughout a very intensive detox protocol.
Does it work? As covered in my detailed article on this protocol, yes it does. It has scientific proof that the protocol works, a long with thousands of testimonials from people who have carried out the niacin detox protocol.
But this article is all about my review of the niacin detox protocol. So read on to hear how I got on.
I heard about this protocol many years ago, and immediately I knew it was something I had to do.
I had a history of mercury laden silver fillings and though I had them removed it wasn't done in a very safe way.
I also grew up on a farm and worked jobs in various factories. I didn't really 'wake up' to the world of health and toxins until I was in my early 20's (you can read that amazing story HERE) so even though I had been eating healthy and living a clean life for nearly ten years, I knew my body was still going to be ridden with heavy metals and pollutants.
So I have great reason to do the protocol, especially because I am rather passionate about improving my health. The tricky thing was getting access to a sauna and freeing up the time to do such an intensive protocol.
For those that are familiar with how the niacin detox protocol works you know that it requires:
Given the huge time investment that is needed for this protocol, I definitely wanted to go go down the infrared sauna option (that saves me 1.5 hours + a day).
And given the costs of using a quality infrared sauna and gyms and health spas, I knew I'd have to buy my own sauna.
Fast forward a few years, and I finally have the money and space to buy a low EMF full spectrum 3 man Clearlight sauna (you can learn more about these saunas HERE and be sure to mention my name if you do buy one as you will get a great deal and some freebies).
Though in hindsight I could have sped things up by getting the much lower priced, and just as good (if not better? Stay tuned for more on this) SaunaSpace sauna.
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But even having the sauna in my garage wasn't enough for me to get started on this protocol.
The next hurdle to overcome was time. I needed a month block where I could free up at least 3 hours a day to sit and sweat!
Fast forward another year (a year where I got married, moved into our dream property and when my wife was pregnant) and I knew if I didn't do the protocol before our first baby arrived, I'd never it get done!
So 6 weeks before our baby was due, I started the Niacin Infrared Sauna Detox Protocol!
This meant kicking off the protocol smack bang in the middle of summer, in one of the most eventual months of the New Zealand year. January.
I knew this was the worst time to do such an intensive protocol, but I literally had no other time to do it!
So off I went, popping niacin capsules and wiping off sweat!
The first thing I did was start planning.
The niacin detox protocol does require a lot of preparation. There are supplements you must have on hand, you need to block out the time in your schedule and you need to know what you're about to get yourself into.
This is a very intensive protocol and can have a profound impact on your health and life.
Some people go through massive detox reactions, and need close supervision. If you do have a history of toxin or drug exposure, then it is recommended you do this protocol under the watch of a medical profession.
For me, I knew I wasn't in that bad of a state, but still I wanted someone to coach me through the process.
I had worked through Dr Roots Sauna Detoxification e-course on teachable and already had the confidence to do the program on my own, but decided I wanted to throw some cash at this and find a 1 on 1 coach.
For this I turned to Anita Warren from SaunaDetoxProgram.com.
I had already read a lot of material about this protocol, including the original book Clear Body, Clear Mind and Dr Roots course and I am quite 'in tune' with my my body and health, but I decided such a serious protocol should be done with a coach.
Anita and I spoke on skype and I filled out a bunch of documents to bring her up to speed.
With all the admin and background checks out of the way, I then went out and purchased all the recommend supplements.
I will admit - even for someone who regularly takes supplements - there was a lot to buy.
Anita offered me her own supplement stack, but the price of shipping to New Zealand was very high, and to be honest I didn't like some of the supplements in the stack.
I figured I could source my own high quality supplements on iHerb.com.
For example I could find B vitamins with the active form of folate, and instead of using non-organic soy lecithin, I sourced an organic sunflower lecithin instead.
When my giant box of supplements arrived, I was ready to go.
I followed Anitas supplement guide lines - which meant started out on a relatively low niacin dose. But this increased rapidly that first week.
She also had me doing 3 rounds of 30minute sessions in my full spectrum Clearlight sauna.
I was allowed a short break in between each 30 minute session. I was told I could have a rinse, but must not drop my core body temperature.
As I was doing this protocol in the middle of summer, I simply went outside for a quick cold shower between each 30 minute session.
At the end of the 3 rounds, I did a much longer cold shower to slow the sweating down.
I was also doing my sessions in the afternoon. Typically around 3-4pm I would get started. This would mean I would be all washed up and finished for dinner.
Before each sauna session I was meant to do a 20-30min 'warmup'. This could include jugging, trampoline bouncing or physical activity of some sort.
The idea was to get your body temperature up and blood pumping. In turn the sweat would start immediately upon entering the sooner - instead of waiting 20 minutes to break a sweat.
I simply didn't have the time to jog for 30 minutes before 2 hours in a sauna. Instead I did something physical on the farm - this often involved fixing fences, tending to animals, or working in the garden.
Because of the summer heat, I was already sweating before I even got into the sauna.
In regards to the niacin - I was taking this a few hours prior to my sauna session as per the protocol outline.
The idea is that the niacin is 'doing it's thing' by the time you get into the sauna.
I was also taking most of the multi vitamins in the morning and in the evening with food. I would take some electrolytes during and after the sauna sessions.
As for the sauna itself - I was surprised when Anita told me to turn the temperature down. Whenever I get in my Infrared sauna I crank the temperature right up to 65C. Anita told me to keep it down below 53 degrees.
I was surprised by this, but later on in the protocol I was very grateful to have a lower temperature (more on this soon).
Ok so that's what I did, now for my experiences!
Ok so the two common questions I get about this protocol are 'How did you tolerate the massive amounts of niacin' and 'did you notice anything during the protocol'.
Regarding the niacin - Anita had me report on my session, energy and various other factors every day. One of these was how strong my niacin flush was. If it was really strong I would not increase my dosage the next day.
If there was no flush, then I would increase it.
I did have the typical flush when I started, but it's amazing how fast you adapt to it. I was taking 5000mg of niacin towards the end of the protocol (you start with 100mg), which is a HUGE amount of niacin, but I wasn't getting any flush at all!
I did notice though that if I took it with food, there was little to no flush. If I had it on an empty stomach it was quite strong.
I actually liked feeling the flush - to me it meant something was working!
And now for the second part - did I notice anything, any detox reactions etc? Well no, there was nothing. No headaches, no fever, no rashes, no nothing.
Which I found to be a little disappointing. I mean I didn't want to get sick (some people get incredibly sick on this protocol - especially if they over do it or push too hard to fast), but I thought I'd notice something. A skin breakout, or a mild fever.
Anita said some people don't show any physical signs of detoxification and that I shouldn't be worried.
The other thought I had was that my body was already in tip top shape and there was nothing to get rid of!
I guess I'll never know.
As I mentioned, I was to do 3x 30minute sessions in the sauna.
The first day I did it I set the temperature right up to 65 degrees (I was meant to keep it at 53). As I hadn't been using the sauna for the weeks leading up to this protocol, I couldn't even get through to the 30 minute mark!
Seriously, I was cooked! It was simply far too hot, especially as I was coming into the sauna already hot and sweaty.
I think I did about 20 minutes, and then had to get out. The second round I lasted about 10 minutes. I eventually cut the heat right back so I could get the rest of my sweating done!
For the remaining sessions, I often did a hot sauna (~60C) for the first round, and then dropped it down for the next two rounds. But even then it was difficult.
I realised that the only way I could get 3 full 30 minute sessions done was to use a lower temperature.
Some days I only did 2x 30 minute sessions due to time constraints (starting too late in the day, having unexpected guests turn up, Rebecca not feeling well etc).I know this isn't part of the plan but it was the best I could do at the time.
After my 2nd or 3rd day I had some really bad diarrhoea. I thought too myself 'this is a detox reaction'. But I soon realised it was actually a result of the drink I was consuming during the sauna session.
I had mixed in some Thorne Electrolytes with added Trace Minerals and then added a heap of salt.
The solution was far too strong, and I needed to drink about 2L of water to quench my thirst. In the end my body expelled all this into the loo. It wasn't fun.
It took me too days to figure out what was going on. When I did I stopped all the salt in my water (I just had more salt with my dinner) and cut back on the electrolytes. I didn't have any more episodes after that change.
I aimed to start my Sauna sessions mid afternoon each day. This meant I could pop my niacin a few hours before the session - as per the protocol - with food at lunch time.
And it meant I had a deadline to get all my work done for the day. Work up until 3pm, do the protocol until 6pm, have dinner with wife, relax.
On paper this all sounded good. But it didn't really work that well.
I was simply too busy, and often I wouldn't start the sauna until 4 or 5, or even 6pm. Which just messed up my entire afternoon and evening. I wasn't getting time with my wife until 8 or 9pm some nights, at which time she just wanted to sleep as she was exhausted from carrying a baby inside her all day!
Somedays I was so caught up in work that I didn't even want to do the sauna sessions. In fact one day I didn't start my protocol until 8pm at night. I was late to bed that night!
I tried mixing it up and doing the sessions in the morning. I thought I could get it all out of the way and then get on with my day.
The problem with this is that you have to take the niacin 2-3 hours prior to starting the sauna sessions. So either I got up early to pop the niacin, then go back to bed for a few hours and then get up and get into the sauna. Or, I just waited until mid morning to start.
I never found a way to get it to work.
For some, a night time session may have worked the best. This wasn't going to work for me as the evening was when I would relax with my wife. We would cook and clean up together and just hang out - playing cards or reading, or watching something.
Also, I didn't like doing the sessions on a full stomach. I just thought it would be bad for the protocol and for my digestion.
Finally, I've found that high body temperatures ruin my deep sleep. This is why I recommend sleeping on a Chili Pad (discount code Chili22 gives you 22% off) in summer months. So I didn't want to be heating myself up for 2 hours, washing up and then trying to go to bed. Especially as it was already the middle of summer and nights were hot.
In the end I just took it day by day, some days it all worked out well, other's it was a nightmare.
I knew I wasn't going to be on this protocol forever so I would just have to deal with the distributions it brought into my life!
I will be honest with you, getting through 3x 30 minute sauna sessions was tough. Even with the temperature down to the mid 50's I still struggled with the heat on some days.
I didn't expect this to be an issue at all, but some sessions did have be jumping out 20 minutes into a 30 minute session for a quick breather.
I should also mention I got bored. I had downloaded videos onto an ipad, so I had that for entertainment while in the sauna. But when you're doing 90minutes of sauna sessions every day for a month... you soon get over it!
Also there was nothing worse than when the ipad switched off from over heating, and then you couldn't even watch that!
There are so many supplements you are expected to take on this protocol - it's rather crazy.
The worst thing is, every few days the dosages go up. What starts off as a handful of capsules, ends up being two or 3 handfuls.
I was totally over it. I also questioned if it was truely necessary and the potential risks of this.
But I figured I was putting in all this effort, I may as well stick to the plan.
Someone needs to come up with a drink formula for this protocol - that would make it much easier to swallow!
Also, I don't know if I did something wrong, but I still have a lot of left over supplements in my pantry. I only did 3 weeks of the protocol, so maybe that is why?
As I mentioned, I ended up only doing the protocol for 3 weeks.
Why? This was due to a combination of things. Firstly, as I mentioned above, I got bored! But the main reason was the impact the protocol was having on my productivity.
Being the middle of summer, there was so much to do in the garden and on the farm. Plus I was still running my online blog, and finally my wife was heavily pregnant. So I was trying to help her out as much as possible.
Given that every day I was spending 2-3 hours or more on this protocol, I simply couldn't continue the program for any longer.
Anita said some people only need 3 weeks, other's need more.
As I hadn't noticed any big changes (for better or worse) I decided I would stop it after the 3 week mark.
I felt bad for my wife - she was cooking dinner every night I was on this protocol (usually we alternate cooking responsibilities) and her energy levels were rock bottom as she was about to give birth at any day (Baby came 3 weeks later for those who are interested!)
So I promised her at the 3 week mark I would stop. Though I must admit, I was very happy to reach an end myself!
I really have no idea.
Unfortunatley I didn't do any before or after lab tests. I really wanted to, but I left everything so late and just decided to get started.
I can't say 'oh my mercury levels dropped 25%' or anything like that. Which is a shame.
Secondly, I don't feel, think or look any different compared to when I started.
So I really don't know if there was much of an effect.
I know the science is solid, and I've heard amazing life changing reports from people who have done this protocol, so there must be something too it. I just simply didn't notice anything myself.
Whether I didn't do it long enough (3 weeks instead of 4), or didn't follow the protocols to the letter (different supplements, not warming up long enough, cutting some sessions short etc) I'm not sure.
Of course there is the possibility that I did everything right and that there has been a massive change in my toxin levels.
I always planned on doing a before and after toxicity test and turning this into an experiment with data to share with you all. But I simply never got around to this.
However, all is not lost.
I have been wearing my Oura Ring for the past 4 years. This accurately tracks a range of metrics including sleep, HRV, respiration rate and temperature.
I pulled up my data for the period I did the niacin protocol and compared it to the data before and after.
I have highlighted the 3 week period when I was doing the detox protocol.
You can see an initial drop in my readiness score (a recovery index) and my respiration rate. But both pick up at the end of the 3 week duration.
My average HRV score also had a slight uptick at the end - but this had happened before so it may be a coincidence.
None of my other metrics showed anything interesting. And baby arrived early in Feb, so the data from that point on is not worth looking at from a comparison point of view!
Also, my fellow biohacker Quantified Bob has done this exact same protocol and he did do a before and after lab comparison test.
You can read about his findings in this article Using Sauna and Niacin Detox to Reduce Heavy Metals and Toxic Burden
In summary the protocol:
It is worth mentioning that he had extremely high levels of lead and mercury in his body going into this 30 day niacin detox protocol.
This is why I still recommend the niacin detox protocol to members on my Health Reset Program. Those that do this protocol and track their labs always see amazing changes.
I am confident that the protocol works, the science behind it is solid and the data from the field continues to support this science.
It's just that I didn't see any of this profound changes at the surface level.
*** Update *** - I have been speaking to the Founder of SaunaSpace and he was explaining how photobiomodulation through red light therapy can induce some of the same changes to the cell as niacin does.
As I have been a long time, and regular user of red light therapy and sauna use, maybe that is why my results weren't as striking as others.
I was also told how the SaunaSpace sauna - which uses a combination of red light therapy and infrared sauna heat - could potentially be the ultimate detox product on the market.
Are there any users of SaunaSpace here? Would you like to share your thoughts?
If I were to do this protocol again, and I might redo it one day with before and after lab tests, here's what I would do differently:
If you are considering doing this protocol, I'm sure you have already picked up on a few tips from my report.
Otherwise here is what I would suggest:
I think that is all I have to say about my experience with the niacin detox protocol.
Remember to sign up to my Niacin Detox Protocol email list for more tips and my upcoming article covering everything you need to know about this protocol.
If you have questions about my journey, please ask below.
If you have done the protocol yourself, I'd love to hear your experiences - please leave them in the comment section below. And if you have before/after lab comparison tests also post your findings below (if you wish of course!)
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is a ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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