An Overview of Infrared Saunas and Their Perks

Far infrared sauna benefits

Nowadays, more people are sweating it out; but not in spin or hot yoga classes, rather in infrared saunas. Unlike a traditional sauna which uses heaters or wood stoves to heat up the air, infrared saunas (IFS) use infrared light to warm up the user directly. IFS are designed to provide heat at a lower and more comfortable temperature. These waves penetrate the skin to up to 1.5 inches warming up your body and opening your blood vessels (vasodilation).

Infrared waves have been studied for several decades and are commonly used to keep newborns safe in hospitals. Moreover, medical practitioners around the world use infrared rays to increase flexibility, ameliorate pain, and heal skin conditions. Some of the conditions infrared sauna therapy can help with include:

  • Arthritis, joint relief, and muscle aches
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Detoxification
  • Fatigue and stress
  • Headaches
  • Immune system support
  • Heart health
  • Appearance of cellulite
  • Skin conditions
  • Calorie burning and weight loss
  • Some cancers

Benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy

Benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy

Infrared sauna therapy helps increase blood circulation and stimulates sweat glands to release built-up toxins. They can help detoxify your body by releasing toxins such as heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel), sulfuric acid, nicotine, and alcohol, as well as other inorganic and organic compounds. For decades it’s been known that sweating is a vital detoxification process that helps eliminate stored chemicals. Some of the chronic conditions infrared sauna therapy can help with include:

High Blood Pressure

Studies show that far infrared saunas can help improve circulation and blood flow. In fact, many sauna users feel flushed after use. Several studies acknowledge that the use of saunas is linked to a significant decrease in blood pressure. The studies also show that the use of far infrared saunas is linked with beneficial effects on several chronic conditions including stoic hypertension.

Congestive Heart Failure

According to a study published by the University of Columbia, Department of Family Practice, the use of infrared saunas can help reduce chronic pain, keep blood pressure within target levels, lower chronic pain and be of value to people suffering from CHD (chronic congestive heart disease).

The Journal of the Japanese Circulation Society published a study that shows that the use of infrared saunas helps reduce heart arrhythmias as well as the symptoms of heart failure particularly in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Since infrared sauna therapy is commonly associated with stress relief, reduced weight, and a decrease in blood pressure, it is also considered a heart health booster. Researchers in Finland investigating the benefits of infrared saunas for heart health found that frequent use of saunas helped decrease the risk of death from stroke and cardiovascular disease. Men averaging 7 visits per week for 14 minutes per visit had lower mortality rates.

Another study investigating the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and the use of infrared saunas found that IST (infrared sauna therapy) helped provide improvement for people with risk factors for heart conditions such as atherosclerosis.

Headache and Fatigue

A few minutes in an infrared sauna helps users feel renewed, relaxed, and rejuvenated. Many users actually comment on the relaxed feeling the gentle warmth provides and they actually look forward to their next infrared sauna session. Infrared saunas provide an excellent time for users to relax without interference. It’s just like going to a spa. Infrared saunas affect users’ autonomic nervous system by putting them in a rest and digest (parasympathetic) state, which allows the body to restore and heal itself.

People who have used infrared saunas often attest to the fact that they spend in a quiet and comfortable space, away from cell phones and computers encouraging healthy mindfulness practices such as deep breathing and meditation, which are essential for restorative body processes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Research shows that infrared sauna sessions aid ad and support people with diabetes, largely because it decreases a multitude of side effects. These benefits include:

Moreover, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, regular use of infrared saunas has a similar impact on the user’s cardiovascular system as physical activities such as running and swimming. The gentle heat of infrared saunas has been shown to offer benefits such as the body producing sweat, burning calories, and pumping blood.

This is also known as a “passive aerobic workout” because the body is not stressed in the same manner as a normal workout but it still receives all these benefits. Your body is in parasympathetic mode and is more relaxed during the entire infrared sauna session.

As your body increases sweat production in a bid to cool itself, the heart pumps harder while boosting circulation even to the extremities. An increase in metabolism helps burn more calories hence encouraging weight loss. Studies show that a 25 to 30-minute session burns 300 to 800 calories.

Obesity is one of the risk factors for diabetes. Weight loss is one of the main benefits cited by many infrared sauna users. Moderately conditioned sauna users can sweat off up to 500 grams, consuming about 300 kcal. This is equivalent to running approximately 3 miles. Moreover, supporting data heat-conditioned users can sweat off up to 800 kcal without any adverse effect. However, according to some published reviews, thermoregulatory homeostasis imparts a cardiovascular demand that is similar to walking at a fast pace. Therefore, infrared saunas might be of benefit to people who have a sedentary lifestyle due to medical conditions such as osteoarthritis or respiratory or cardiovascular problems.

Joint Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis

natural treatment for Arthritis

Too much exercise can take a toll on anyone. The benefits of IST (infrared sauna therapy) include relieving soreness, stiffness, and inflammation by improving blood circulation. The deep penetrating heat also relaxes muscles and allows blood to deliver oxygen-rich blood while carrying off metabolic waste products for faster recovery.

The infrared waves also help warm muscles for a greater range of motion and flexibility, while helping relieve pain and muscle tension. Moreover, studies show that time spent in infrared saunas brings relief to rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, heat is effective in the treatment of muscle spasms, sprains, bursitis, joint stiffness, bursitis, and other musculoskeletal ailments. Studies show that regular use of infrared saunas can lessen much of the aches, pain, and stiffness that come with arthritis and aging.

Immune System Support

Infrared saunas produce penetrating wavelengths that raise the core body temperature thus creating an artificial fever. The fever helps the body accelerate and strengthen the immune system, as seen in cases of infection. This reaction helps strengthen the immune system, and when combined with other benefits such as improved elimination of wastes and toxins via intense sweating, it helps increase resistance to disease and overall health.

The bottom line

It is particularly important to understand that there are different types of infrared saunas. Different infrared saunas have different outputs of infrared waves. Therefore, it’s vital to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

In the studies published on the use of infrared saunas, none have reported any adverse effects. However, it’s recommended that kids and pregnant women avoid using infrared saunas for now. Lactating mothers should also proceed with caution as harmful agents have the potential to contaminate breast milk. Moreover, elderly people who have underlying medical conditions may want to avoid sauna therapy due to a higher risk of dehydration. People who have skin conditions such as rosacea that might be exacerbated by infrared sauna sessions (either traditional or infrared), may want to avoid the practice altogether.

Studies suggest that infrared sauna therapy may have a wide range of health benefits; from post-exercise recovery to pain relief to improved heart health. However, in order to confirm results and fully understand the benefits and risks of infrared sauna therapy larger clinical studies need to be conducted.

Read how infrared saunas can help with COVID-19 HERE!

Infrared sauna benefits