What is an Infrared Sauna?

The use of therapeutic sweating has been a common practice all over the world for centuries. These practices were originally part of Chinese, Native American, and European medicine but are gaining popularity across the globe today due to all its documented benefits. Sweating is important because we ingest and retain toxins every day, from the air we breathe to the food we consume. With all of the increased toxins found in our air, food, and environment today, this is more important than ever. The fundamental benefit of an infrared sauna is the unique ability to detoxify, or sweat out, these toxic substances, many of which can lead to a variety of diseases down the road. The newest innovation in sauna therapy is the use of near, mid, and far-infrared light to provide even more therapeutic benefits than traditional sweat lodges.

While traditional saunas work by heating the air inside a closed room using a conventional heater, the use of infrared lamps warm your body directly. Inside an infrared sauna, 80% of the energy used goes to heating the skin while the remaining 20% heats the air. This results in a much cooler sauna experience which makes it more suitable for people with heat sensitivities. Likewise, sweat from traditional saunas is approximately 95-97% water, with salt making up most of the remainder. Infrared mobilizes specific toxins, like Mercury, in deeper tissues (3 inches down) making infrared saunas an effective solution for removing these toxins from the skin. Far-infrared saunas are believed to be more effective in moving toxins through the skin than traditional saunas because in a far-infrared sauna, only 80-85% of the sweat is water. The remainder is made up of a variety of elements including cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid.

What is Infrared Light Therapy?

Infrared light is one of the invisible spectrums of light produced by the sun. This is what makes your skin feel warm when you are out in the sun. Because your skin is made to absorb these wavelengths, the heat easily penetrates the body. There are three categories of infrared light, near, mid, and far-infrared.

Near-infrared, the shortest wavelength, penetrates the deepest into your body to heat you from the inside out. This wavelength boosts cellular repair and regeneration, and helps your cells to produce more energy.

Mid-infrared waves, on the other hand, boost circulation by improving vasodilation. Therefore, this type of infrared radiation increases your overall metabolism and raises your heart rate, which will bring even more oxygen to your cells.

Far-infrared (FIR) waves are most similar to the natural heat of your body and are readily captured by your cells. When exposed to FIR, you enhance and strengthen your energy stores.

Infrared Sauna

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

There are many conditions and illnesses that can benefit from exposure to infrared therapy. In addition to improving overall health by eliminating toxins and diseases, using a sauna is also a relaxing, enjoyable experience which can produce mental and emotional benefits as well. Infrared saunas can help a myriad of conditions. Read the entire article to learn about all the benefits of infrared therapy or hit each topic separately to go directly to the ones that most interest you.

Sweating is your body’s natural way of eliminating toxins and pollutants from your skin, blood, and tissues. In fact, this excretory pathway is more effective at removing heavy metals than by urine or feces. Infrared therapy draws out more heavy metals like aluminum and mercury than any other form of sweat bathing. Infrared treatment also helps you sweat out higher levels of lipids (fats), alcohol, nicotine and other toxins. Infrared therapy also produces a subtle vibration that reduces ionic bonds of the water molecules, thus encouraging the release of these toxins more readily. A session in the infrared sauna can help you release sulfur dioxide, chlorine, mercury and other unwanted compounds from your system.

The combined effects of using an infrared sauna mean that you can enjoy better health, improved well-being, and more positive health outcomes over time. The combination of reduced inflammation, better circulation, detoxification, as well as other symptoms means that you will feel better, sleep more soundly, and enjoy life more. Regular use of an infrared sauna even boosts your mood. Those who use an infrared sauna treatment for 20 minutes three days per week over three months reported reduced stress, less fatigue, a better mental outlook, and improvements in their overall health in one study.

Raising core body temperature is key to keeping you healthy. Although saunas heat you up differently than a fever, the increased body temperature provides similar benefits, including white blood cell and T-cell production to help ward off viruses. This heat produces a deep, detoxifying sweat below the skin’s surface, where most toxins reside. Your sweat then pushes out the toxins, cleansing your body and rejuvenating your skin. One research study showed that subjects who regularly used saunas found they had significantly fewer episodes of common colds than those who did not. This benefit becomes more significant, especially after 14 weeks of consecutive sauna use. To maximize these benefits, it’s recommended to use it at least twice a week throughout the year.
The use of infrared rays can help reduce muscle spasms and soreness while also reducing pain and inflammation. Research has shown the those with rheumatoid arthritis and low back pain can see improvement in pain when they use infrared saunas regularly. The most important thing is that this type of therapy can reduce pain without the use of medications.

Infrared saunas stimulate the circulatory system, causing the heart to beat more vigorously and blood vessels to dilate, which helps cleanse the circulatory system and more fully oxygenate the body’s cells. Better blood circulation means more toxins flow from deep tissue to the skin’s surface to help with cell health and the immune system. These therapeutic benefits will lead to better relaxation, reduced stress, improved sleep, and less pain.

Peripheral neuropathy or other types of nerve damage can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and other unpleasant symptoms.  Using infrared therapy can help improve nerve function and promoting the repair and regeneration of nerve tissues, thus helping treat various nerve related injuries.
Using infrared heat technology to burn calories are clinically shown to aid weight loss. In a 2009 study, the Sunlighten sauna (which I use in my office) was shown to help lower weight and waist circumference in just a three-month period. Using an infrared sauna increases heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate, burning more calories and leading to more weight loss. Therefore, Sunlighten saunas can be an effective lifestyle advantage, as well as a weight loss tool, for those who cannot participate in traditional exercise programs due to medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular or respiratory problems.

Cellulite is pockets of fat trapped within your tissues, which then results in dimples on the skin. Even those who are physically fit can have cellulite. The radiant heat produced by infrared saunas penetrates deeper and boosts your metabolic rate and helps you burn excess fat more readily, including that which results in cellulite.

A recent study suggests that using an infrared sauna could help relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating disease that causes pain, fatigue, insomnia, depression, and a wide range of other symptoms. Daily exposure to far-infrared helps relieve symptoms and allowed participants to live a fuller life.

Many people suffer from seasonal allergies or hay fever. This condition is the result of  an overactive immune response to allergens causing excess inflammation in the nasal passages. Because infrared therapy boosts your circulation, lowers inflammation, and enhances your immune system, it is also helpful at reducing the allergic response and all of its related symptoms.

Sitting in a sauna is a relaxing experience, which is why it remains so popular today. Infrared sauna therapy promotes relaxation by helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. The warmth of infrared heat helps not only reduce your stress but also leaves you feeling renewed and rejuvenated. A daily sauna session is perfect for releasing tension and helping you cope with everyday worries and stress. An infrared sauna also affects your autonomic nervous system, which allows your body to rest, digest, and relieve tension throughout the body, enhancing healing and health.

The radiation from far-infrared wavelengths has been shown to help suppress the formation of sunburn damage that occurs after exposure to UVB rays. In addition, the sweating that occurs when you sit in a sauna helps you sweat out impurities and dead skin cells which clog your pores, leaving behind glowing and cleaner skin. The boost in circulation to your skin helps you look younger and more radiant as more nutrients are delivered to the surface.

While further research needed to confirm this, initial evidence shows that far-infrared therapy can decrease overall blood pressure, cardiac ejection resistance, and total peripheral resistance.

Using an infrared sauna can help relieve many of the symptoms that are often experienced by those with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. While diabetes is a disease resulting from elevated blood sugar, it also causes nerve pain, fatigue, and cardiovascular problems, all of which can be improved through regular sauna use. Likewise, weight loss, which infrared saunas can help with, aids in the battle against Type 2 diabetes.

According to a recent study, the use of near-infrared therapy enhances wound healing. This wavelength promoted faster cell regeneration while improving tissue growth in humans. Wound size decreased by as much as 36%, and cell growth was enhanced by over 150%.

The use of infrared saunas stimulate heat shock proteins. These proteins can inhibit tumor growth which can contribute to stopping the spread of certain cancers cells, especially those associated with lung, breast, and tongue cancers.