The Heat is On… How Infrared Saunas Improve Your Health
Sauna therapy has been used across centuries and across cultures, but infrared saunas have only come into play within the last 100 years or so. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg presented the first “electric light bath” at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and since then infrared technology has advanced to the degree that it can help improve cardiovascular health, manage the symptoms of type II diabetes, reduce chronic pain, and improve overall health and wellness.
How Infrared Saunas Support Health
While traditional saunas use heat to draw toxins from the body, promote relaxation, and soothe achy muscles and joints, infrared saunas help heal with a combination of light and heat. The surrounding environment remains temperature neutral, while infrared light waves penetrate the skin, heating the body from the inside-out and reforming cells, DNA and proteins, cell membranes, and cell fluids such as water molecules. Infrared saunas inspire these changes on the cellular level, catalyzing mitochondrial activity, lowering inflammation, and positively influencing metabolism and biological processes.
As you start to sweat under infrared light waves, your heart rate increases and your parasympathetic nervous system calls forth the relaxation response, which helps to balance frayed nerves and ease the suffering involved with conditions such as pain, inflammation, fatigue and insomnia, low energy, depression, hormone imbalances, autoimmune disorders, and poor circulation.
Refine Heart Health
According to the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, infrared sauna therapy can help keep blood pressure normal, lower cholesterol levels, reduce chronic pain, and treat heart issues such as congestive heart failure. A study published in the Journal of The Japanese Circulation Society showed that infrared sauna therapy reduced heart arrhythmias and the symptoms of chronic heart failure in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from Saxion University of Applied Science in the Netherlands showed that infrared sauna treatment healed chronic pain and fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
A 2010 study in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine revealed the beneficial effects infrared sauna therapy had on type II diabetes symptoms. Far-infrared sauna light waves improved the quality of life for type II diabetes patients compared to other lifestyle interventions.
Sweating It Out in Infrared Saunas
There are two types of infrared saunas: far-infrared and near-infrared saunas. Far-infrared saunas use far light-omitting waves and are made with metallic, ceramic, or black carbon elements. In 2012, doctors from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston issued a report detailing the safety of far-infrared light wave radiation, determining it was safe and effective for treating many inflammatory conditions. However, some experts question the safety of some of the electromagnetic fields given off by far light-omitting waves, and instead recommend the use of near-light infrared saunas. Near-light infrared saunas are constructed using incandescent reddish heat lamps that are much cheaper and can be easily purchased at hardware stores.
To benefit from the anti-aging, detoxification, and heart-healthy benefits of infrared saunas, experts recommend sweating it out for 15 to 20 minutes. Because infrared saunas impact your perspiration and heart rate, it is safest to undergo infrared sauna therapy under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner who can monitor your progress and safety.