Did You Know…that relaxing in a far-infrared sauna can improve your heart health and deliver a multitude of health benefits?
What Is Infrared?
Infrared is invisible radiation in the part of the electromagnetic spectrum consisting of wavelengths just longer than those of visible red light. Although we don’t see infrared light with our naked eye — we feel it in the form of heat.
Through a process called conversion, infrared rays heat your body without raising the air temperature. Therefore, unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas gently warm you directly.
Dr. Tadashi Ishikawa of the Research and Development Department of Fuji Medical, first patented the zirconia ceramic infrared heater in 1965 for use in healing infrared thermal systems. Infrared thermal heaters were released for public use in 1979.
For decades, health professionals have used red infrared heat lamps to treat muscle and joint problems, and hospital incubators are often equipped with infrared heating systems to keep newborn babies warm. Today, the health benefits of infrared sauna units for home use are widely available through local and online retailers.
How Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas Boost Health
Over the last 25 years, Japanese and Chinese researchers have completed an array of studies on infrared treatments. Japan even has an “infrared society” of medical doctors and physical therapists whose research findings support the health benefits of infrared therapy as an effective healing method.
Brent A. Bauer, M.D., a doctor at Mayo Clinic, addressed the health benefits of infrared saunas and regular saunas on Mayo’s website. “The appeal of saunas in general is that they cause reactions, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate, similar to those elicited by moderate exercise,” he wrote.
Our body reacts to heat by perspiring, our natural cooling process. During perspiration our pores open up and our skin sheds old cells, leaving behind clean, glowing skin with better tone, texture, elasticity, and color.
At the same time our body cleanses itself of acid and other waste residue, including:
- Potentially carcinogenic heavy metals (especially zinc, lead, nickel, cadmium, etc)
Perspiration and its health benefits occur with both traditional and infrared saunas. But unlike traditional saunas, infrared rays penetrate the body between 1 and 2 inches throughout conversion, creating a deep heating effect in the muscle tissues and internal organs without placing too much burden on the heart.
“No adverse effects have been reported with infrared saunas. So if you’re considering trying a sauna for relaxation, an infrared sauna might be an option,” wrote Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Bauer.
Infrared and Your Heart
According to infrared expert Dr. Aaron Flickstein, “extensive research by NASA in the early 1980s led to the conclusion that infrared stimulation of cardiovascular function would be the ideal way to maintain cardiovascular conditioning in American astronauts during long space flights.”
More recent research has supported those early NASA theories. In a 2011 study published in the Circulation Journal, researchers from the Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Kagoshima University, Japan, proved that oxidative stress in heart patients is significantly reduced with the daily use of far-infrared saunas.
In the study, two groups of patients with chronic heart failure received standard medication, but only one of the groups also received infrared sauna therapy every day for 4 weeks.
The group receiving the infrared therapy showed 2 positive signs of heart health:
- Elevated nitric oxide metabolite levels
- Low to normal concentrations of hydroperoxide and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP).
Increased nitric oxide allows improved circulation, resulting in low-normal blood pressure. And low to normal hydroperoxide and BNP are great indicators of heart health, because elevated levels of these are typically signs of heart problems and potential heart failure.
The control group, in contrast, experienced neither of these benefits and in fact saw no notable results at the end of the 4 weeks.
How Infrared Compares to Traditional Sauna
Far-infrared saunas differ from conventional saunas in a multitude of ways, for instance …
- Affordability: Far-infrared sauna models are significantly less expensive than traditional saunas.
- Ease of installation: These units are simple to install in your home without remodeling or construction.
- Efficiency: Infrared light heats your body itself, not the air around you.
- Even, penetrating heat: Infrared saunas heat your body evenly, and the heat penetrates more deeply than regular saunas.
- Clean energy: Wood-burning saunas produce harmful exhaust (wood is actually the dirtiest fuel, surpassing diesel, gasoline, and even coal). Far-infrared saunas are far cleaner.
- Accessibility: Because far-infrared saunas heat your body and not the air around you, even those sensitive to extreme heat are not excluded from using them and reaping the benefits.
- It is important to stay hydrated, and replenish the essential minerals and sodium that are also released through perspiration.
- After having a sauna it is important to rinse off the toxins that are released so they are not re-absorbed through your skin.
- The majority of toxins released due to sauna are expelled in the first few minutes, so many short sessions are more beneficial than fewer long sessions.