The Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna.

Health Benefits of Infrared

The Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna.

Have you ever wondered about Infrared Saunas? Whether they are healthy or not? Whether they are dangerous ?

So I am here to hopefully answer these questions for you.

I use the infrared Sauna myself. I attend weekly (mostly), and I do this to improve my health. I knew infrared sauna’s were good for increasing your metabolism and improving your detoxification pathways when I first started using them. But now I realize they do so much more.

But first what is infrared heat?

Infrared Saunas emit heat waves that are like the sun but safer. There are different levels of infrared which include near, mid and far.

Near infrared Heat – this is a shorter wavelength that penetrates the skin at the epidermis (outer layer). Therefore, it is helpful for wound healing and any type of skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne

Mid infrared Heat – is a slightly longer wavelength than near infrared. It works with soft tissue, assists with increased circulation and reduced inflammation. So good for pain relief and muscle tension.

Far infrared Heat – has the deepest penetration at a cellular level. This level of heat has been shown to offer the most benefit for cardiovascular health.

The idea of infrared heat is that the heat will penetrate the skin and elevate the core body temperature increasing the heart rate and inducing sweating. And because it is a dry sauna the sweating will then evaporate from the skin facilitating a constant core temperature.

Cardiovascular Health

At a cellular level this increased heat induces metabolic changes that increase nitric oxide availability, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and improve vasodilation pathways. All this means an improvement to your cardiovascular health. This area of health has the most studies behind it proving that the benefits of regular infrared sauna usage help to reduce your cardiovascular risk. So, if you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or are overweight then the sauna could be of great benefit to you.

Mental Health

Infrared Sauna can also improve mental health. The increased heat elevates skin temperature and core body temperature which activates the autonomic nervous system. This along with the mindfulness routine of sitting in the sauna, can improve your stress response. That means it can help you get out of that “Fight and Flight” response that you experience when under stress and shift you into “Rest and Digest” which then improves your stress levels.

Immune Health

Increased body temperature increases the production of heat shock proteins. The increased production of these proteins will help your immune system to fight off disease. These proteins also help to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the inflammatory pathways and therefore help to improve your immune health.

Detoxification

Detoxification was one of the main reasons I tried the sauna. I learnt about it researching my Complete Detox Program. This area is an easy one to understand because the more heat you have the more you are going to sweat. Sweating helps to improve your lymphatic flow and helps to remove heavy toxins from the body. Studies have shown that regular sauna use can help the body to excrete these heavy toxins at a faster rate than urine excretion.

Pain

Infrared heat can also improve pain perception. Nerve cells respond well to infrared heat therapy. The increased blood flow also helps to reduce muscle spasms. In a 2019 study looking at using infrared sauna for lower back pain showed that there were 4 possible reasons for the pain reduction. Firstly heat increases the receptors in the skin and deep tissues which can close the pain regulating gates. Second the heat reduces inflammation which can be related to pain. Third heat reduces the excitability of the muscle which reduces spasms and tenderness. And fourthly heat decreases the viscosity of synovial fluid which can reduce joint stiffness and improves joint movement.

In my own experience I can say it definitely helps with pain. I was born with a sacralization, which means for me that my L5 is fused with the sacrum bone on my left side. This anomaly occurs in utero. This means I suffer with some mild scoliosis and I have 3 points of pain where my curve is. This is kept in check with regular Osteopath treatment but I often experience daily pain and if I don’t do some kind of movement I end up getting very stiff and sore. Also earlier this year I tore my LCL in my right knee. It took a while to heal and this is what sent me to the sauna. After only 3 sessions there was noticeable reduction in my pain of both the knee and the spine. The knee is almost back to normal with only a slight restriction on a full squat, but with no more pain.

But are there any dangers in using an infrared sauna? Some discussion has been around EMF exposure, but the sauna’s that I use have had their EMF output reduced to minimal levels. These levels could be equated to using a hair dryer.

Some of the studies did show a decrease in sperm production in a small amount of users. So I would suggest if you are trying for pregnancy then maybe bypass the sauna until that happens. Otherwise the other negatives shown in the studies where users not be able to stay in a small space and heat intolerance.

When you use a infrared sauna and you are sweating you have to remember to hydrate before, during and after your session. Dehydration is always a possibility if you haven’t had enough water or have been on a bender the night before. The more water you consume the more you will sweat and release those toxins. Sweat composition varies for each person. An average liter of sweat contains 20mg of Calcium, 50mg Magnesium, 1150mg Sodium, 230mg Potassium and 1480mg Chloride. So if you are using the infrared sauna often you may need to replenish your electrolytes. I use a coconut water based product that has no crap and no added sugar for my rehydration.

So Infrared Sauna can be a great health benefit for a number of different reasons. It is not expensive and you get to spend 45 minutes relaxing while you sweat. If you attend the Melbourne Floathouse, you can also access many different apps while you are in the sauna. Netflix is available if you want to watch something or you could even do some work. Me I use the time to just relax and have quite mindfulness.

If you are interested in learning more head over to the website at:

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=melbourne+float+house

Note:  while I consult at the Melbourne Floathouse, there is no potential conflict of interest.

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References

Hindawi Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2018, Article ID 1857413, 30 pageshttps://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1857413

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4935255/?_escaped_fragment_=po=1.51515

https://sunlighten.com.au/blog/near-infrared-mid-infrared-and-far-infrared-saunas/

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Authored by Jan Caton BHSc-Naturopathy, Owner and Naturopath at Magnolia Apothecary. Owner of The Conscious Spender P/L. Practicing in Mt Evelyn and Kilsyth.

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