Saunas are an ancient wellness tool that have been in use for more than 2,000 years. Developed in Finland originally, some saunas use wet heat and some use dry heat. With the advent of modern technology, infrared saunas have become a safer, affordable, and easily-accessible option for those who desire an in-home sauna.
How Do Infrared Saunas Work?
Infrared saunas use a combination of heat and light to increase core body temperature. This happens as the infrared light waves create heat within the body, producing sweat, a higher body temperature, and numerous research-backed health benefits, without actually heating the air around you. Because the sauna itself doesn’t get hot, infrared saunas are safe to have inside of homes, on any type of flooring, no plumbing required.
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Infrared Saunas VS Steam Saunas
In contrast to steam sauna rooms that reach unbearable temperatures, infrared saunas provide a gentle, soothing heat that you can enjoy comfortably for thirty minutes or more. Additionally, infrared saunas are virtually maintenance-free whereas a traditional steam sauna can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew if you are not vigilant about maintaining it.
Bottom Line: Infrared sauna technology is a new and safer way to experience the benefits of sauna. Since the body is heated directly, it is a more effective sauna experience.
6 Proven Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
While infrared technology is about a hundred years old, it is still being researched. However, there are several documented health benefits, ranging from keeping your skin supple to reducing stress and improving sleep.
Keeping skin looking young and healthy is a big focus for many. Natural therapies, whole foods, and supplements like collagen can go a long way in improving and reducing the signs of aging. But infrared light therapy can take anti-aging wellness to the next level.
Near infrared light waves can increase the amount of collagen and elastin in skin, leading to improvement in skin texture, decreased roughness, and less wrinkles. It can also promote better wound healing, reducing scarring. (1)
While it’s commonly thought that sweating will release toxins, most sweat is actually mostly water with a little bit of salt and a small amount of protein or urea. So if you get sweaty from the sun or from exercise, you will get the benefit of endorphin production, but you probably aren’t releasing heavy metals.
Toxins and chemicals are removed from the body via the liver, kidneys, and intestines primarily. But infrared saunas are an exception in that sweat produced from them can be as high as 20 percent toxins, cholesterol, heavy metals, ammonia, and acids. (2) This is due to the penetrating light waves from the infrared rays that stimulate the core body temperature to increase at an energy level.
While there are several food and lifestyle based ways to naturally support detoxing, when toxins accumulate in tissues and aren’t effectively removed, they can lead to chronic conditions like cancer, arthritis, autoimmunity, autism, fibromyalgia, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and more. Toxins can also be released in breast milk, and in some cases, can cross the placenta and impact a fetus in utero. (3)
3. Reduces Stress & Boosts Mood
Infrared sauna therapy can help to reduce stress levels and improve anger and depression, especially in people suffering from chronic pain. (4) Time spent relaxing in a sauna can also relax muscles and physically remove signs of stress, much like the benefit of lying in the sun. The benefit of infrared exposure is that there is no sun exposure risk, and it doesn’t have any negative effects.
Infrared sauna can also help depression and mood disorders by increasing the ability to relax, as well as improving hunger and appetite signals. (5)
4. Pain Relief
Rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are two chronic pain conditions that have roots in autoimmunity. Infrared therapy can work to decrease symptoms without further exacerbating the disease. (6) Not only can infrared sauna therapy decrease pain and arthritic stiffness, but it can reduce fatigue and improve energy. Infrared is not only comfortable during treatment sessions, but increased comfort continues after the session has ended. Infrared therapy is well tolerated and has no negative effects, making it a safe and effective therapy for these and similar conditions.
5. Improves Heart Health
Time spent in an infrared sauna can slightly increase heart rate as well as produce similar physical effects to light or moderate exercise. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study found that a 30 minute session in an infrared sauna could burn about 600 calories.
Regular sauna exposure can reduce all causes of mortality, including cardiovascular disease. (9) It improves circulation and can help with people who struggle with cold extremities, like in cases of hypothyroidism.
6. Relieves Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes has a whole host of life-altering physical symptoms that go beyond blood sugar, including physical aches, stress, and fatigue. While many natural lifestyle changes can improve and even reverse type 2 diabetes, infrared sauna therapy can be highly effective for working on pain, stress, and fatigue – improving the quality of life in people with type II diabetes. (10)
Bottom Line: Because of the additional benefits that infrared saunas can have, including mood improvement and reducing cardiovascular risk, it can be an ideal natural therapy for those with diabetes or who are at risk.
Now That You Know About the Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna, Where Do You Find Them?
Infrared saunas have powerful health benefits that can help relieve everything from chronic conditions to pain to mood disorders like depression. It has little to no side effects, is safe for most people, and can be effectively done in one’s own home with an infrared sauna unit that has proven technology. It is important that the heaters emit the highest concentration of infrared vs. hot air. Not all do, so ask for the data.
If you’re interested in trying out the infrared sauna experience, they can be found at specialized spas and gyms. However, many people opt to purchase their own infrared sauna so that they can have instant access to their benefits and can use them whenever they need to (like after exercising or after a long day at work).
Why Safe, Non-Toxic Infrared Saunas Matter
The infrared sauna you use should be able to withstand high temperatures and be made with safe materials.
In the same way that you’d never buy an oven or other home appliance that is dangerous to your health, when buying an infrared sauna make sure it’s been tested and meets safety standards. We recommend trusted brands like Sunlighten, that use 100% premium wood (no hidden plywood is used) and FDA-approved materials that do not release unhealthy gases during heating.
Note: While sauna experiences can be safe for children, they are only recommended in significantly smaller amounts, and only when accompanied by an adult. Saunas are not safe for pregnant women, since heating the core body temperature can impact the fetus. There are also certain other conditions where doctors may not recommend them, such as current cardiovascular events, if you are taking medication or have sensitive skin.
Finding a safe, quality infrared sauna is key to reaping all of its anti-aging, detox and other amazing benefits.
This post is sponsored by our friends at Sunlighten. Our goal is to always bring you healthy, Paleo-friendly articles that we know you’ll love. We only feature trusted brands approved by the PaleoHacks team.