Health benefits of infrared sauna: Infrared saunas quickly gained popularity not only due to the relaxing effect, like from a regular steam room. It has been proven that infrared saunas also have a therapeutic effect in some diseases. In today’s topic, we have made a selection of the benefits of infrared saunas and described for which ailments it is indicated to visit it to strengthen the body and alleviate certain health conditions.
In a traditional sauna, heat is transferred by circulating hot air, which means that very high air temperatures are required to heat the body. In an infrared sauna, infrared heat rays directly warm your body without overheating the air. That is, IR rays affect only your body and surrounding surfaces, without significantly changing the temperature of the air space. This allows heat to enter the cells of the body at a more pleasant temperature (43-66°C), thus providing greater health benefits and a more pleasant and comfortable environment.
Traditional saunas and baths first of all heat the air in the room to high temperatures, and then the person receives heat from the steam, which is not very good for the heart and respiratory system. Saunas with infrared heating can directly penetrate the inside of the body to a depth of up to 45 mm. In this case, the pores of the skin pores will open at lower temperatures than in the steam room, which is more comfortable for the general condition of the person.
A conventional electric sauna requires a power supply of up to 7 kW and requires an electrician to install it. The largest IR cabins are powered by a 2.4 kW power supply and can be installed at home, since such a cabin can be connected to a regular 3-pin socket. Since the infrared sauna does not generate steam, there is no need for ventilation. In such a booth, the formation of condensation and dampness is excluded.
11 Benefits of infrared sauna
Infrared saunas are a safe and inexpensive method of removing toxic substances from the body. Some of the benefits include:
- 1. Improved skin color
Over time, dirt and sweat, exposure to synthetic clothing, chlorinated water, and various chemicals can cause toxins to build up in the skin. The infrared rays from the sauna help remove these toxins from the skin by increasing heat, opening pores, and sweating.
- 2. Cell regeneration
Infrared therapy is also known to promote wound healing by stimulating growth hormone. Many have even noticed that regular visits to the sauna have an anti-aging effect.
- 3. Detoxification through increased sweating
Medical research shows that most of the body’s toxins are eliminated through the skin, which helps reduce the burden on the liver and kidneys. Heat from long infrared waves causes sweating. This process gradually removes heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Sweating through exercise alone is not as effective for the detox process, and saunas are great for detoxifying the body.
- 4. Improved blood circulation
One of the most significant benefits of infrared sauna is the strengthening of the cardiovascular system. Regular use of an infrared sauna can bring many benefits, including improved blood flow and tissue oxidation, similar to exercise, but without the high energy expenditure. With regular visits, high blood pressure is also reduced by increasing the elasticity of the arteries.
When the body heats up, the blood rushes to the skin and the blood vessels dilate to improve the process of thermoregulation to help, this helps relieve swelling of the internal organs and improve blood circulation in general.
- 5. Improves Cardiovascular Function
Infrared sauna therapy has also been shown to be good for your heart. The effects have proven so powerful that studies have associated sitting in an infrared sauna with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and even all-cause mortality.
These effects are due to the increased heart rate, blood flow, and improved blood pressure in patients using infrared sauna therapy. Interestingly, researchers compared the cardiac output patients experience in the sauna room to going on a brisk walk.
- 6. Wound Healing
Infrared sauna therapy also has the remarkable ability to speed up the wound healing process. Specifically, research out of NASA has shown that infrared light significantly increases tissue growth and cell regeneration due to our mitochondria readily accepting infrared light.
- 7. Chronic Fatigue
A recent study found that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which results in extreme fatigue with no definitive cause, is greatly relieved in patients using infrared saunas. The study involved CFS patients sitting in a 60°C (140°F) sauna for 15 minutes, followed by bed rest under a blanket for 30 minutes in a separate room. This was performed once a day, five days a week, for a total of four weeks.
The results? Negative mood, anxiety, and depression levels significantly improved after the therapy, with fatigue ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 sliding from 6.7 to 4.8. While there is no clear answer as to why infrared sauna therapy benefits CFS patients, researchers theorize it may be due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and improve cardiac output, both of which have been linked to CFS.
It is important to note that the researchers state the patients didn’t perceive the effects during the treatment, but definitely perceived less fatigue after the four weeks of treatment. So, if you’re interested in undertaking infrared sauna treatment for fatigue, be aware that you may have to complete a month’s worth in order to really feel the benefits. However, less than an hour a day for four weeks to relieve chronic fatigue seems like a worthwhile treatment!
- 8. Improving the results obtained from physical exercises
Infrared saunas not only have a range of natural health benefits, but can also be used as part of your exercise regimen to get the most out of your body’s full potential. Regular post-workout sauna use has been clinically proven to help you lose weight. A study from Binghamton University found that those who used a far-infrared sauna after a workout at the gym lost more calories than those who didn’t.
Staying in an infrared sauna for 30 minutes after your workout will help you burn calories faster compared to cycling or playing tennis for the same amount of time.
- 9. Fight against bacteria and viruses
Those with a low body temperature can fight some chronic infections, an increase in body temperature helps the body kill bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. Elevated body temperature causes an artificial fever, helping to kill bacteria and boosting the immune system’s response to infections.
- 10. Weight Loss
It turns out taking a rest in an infrared sauna can also aid in weight loss. In a study of obese adults, researchers discovered “… body weight and body fat significantly decreased after 2 weeks of sauna therapy.” Researchers theorize this is due to increased heart rate and the body working (i.e., burning calories) to cool itself.
Interestingly, in the same study, patients at a normal weight with loss of appetite experienced “increased caloric intake and improved feeding behavior.” This shows that infrared sauna therapy may act as a sort of weight and appetite “balancer” by increasing ghrelin (the hunger hormone) in low appetite patients, while keeping ghrelin levels balanced in obese patients.
- 11. Pain relief
Since infrared rays directly penetrate the body, they can be an excellent method of relieving pain caused by chronic diseases such as arthritis. Regular sessions of infrared radiation therapy can relieve chronic muscle and joint pain by stimulating blood flow through the affected areas.
The study showed that the majority of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis experienced a reduction in pain and stiffness immediately after being in a dry sauna. Regular visits to the infrared sauna help to get rid of the feeling of chronic fatigue.
Even celebrities like Lady Gaga use infrared saunas to relieve joint pain caused by injuries.
Other health benefits of infrared saunas
Other health benefits of infrared saunas include:
- Rehabilitation after cardiovascular diseases
- Prevention of allergic reactions
- Treatment of certain skin diseases
- Removal of chronic fatigue
- Recommended time spent in the sauna.
With a therapeutic and prophylactic purpose, it is recommended to visit the infrared sauna 3-4 times a week. The average time spent in an infrared sauna for maximum benefit should be around 30 minutes per session.
Although sauna use is not dangerous for most people, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before purchasing an infrared sauna for home use if you already have a medical condition.
Sauna benefits for chronic health problems
Far infrared ray therapy has a number of natural health benefits, including cardiovascular strengthening and detoxification. But how can regular sauna use benefit people with chronic conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Due to its ability to directly penetrate the body, infrared wave therapy is able to get to the point of pain and provide relief by stimulating blood flow and relaxing muscles.
There are options for assembling saunas for wheelchair users.
We’ve put together a series of studies from around the world examining the effects of artificial hyperthermia – deliberately raising body temperature, such as in a sauna – on common chronic pain problems, showing just how beneficial regular infrared sauna sessions really are in relieving pain.
While sauna use cannot cure any of these ailments, they have been shown to significantly alleviate conditions and help patients live more comfortable lives.
The use of the sauna to treat the acute phases of arthritis is becoming an increasingly popular technique. This is the reason why more and more people are purchasing home IR cabins. Pain relief occurs almost instantly.
In addition, the Dutch scientists noted that 34 patients on whom the study was conducted claimed that due to a 4-week visit to the infrared sauna, their pain and muscle stiffness decreased significantly. This study also showed that disease activity was not affected in any way. The use of infrared sauna does not cause worsening of symptoms during and after sauna visits.
Sauna use for fibromyalgia
The use of the sauna to treat fibromyalgia has been studied extensively. 44 women suffering from fibromyalgia were treated with regular sauna visits and thermotherapy with underwater exercises. Each patient reported a significant reduction in pain and other symptoms, which remained stable during the 6-month follow-up period. This study also noted that women had an improved quality of life, meaning that heat therapy was able to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms and help patients in their psychological and physical recovery.
In addition, thirteen patients who received regular infrared therapy noticed a reduction in pain during the first session. This decline stabilized after about 10 sessions, showing how vital regular sauna sessions are to maintain health benefits and ward off chronic disease symptoms.
Sauna treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS)
Research shows that far infrared rays can provide a range of benefits that support the motor functions of people with MS. While each person experiences the symptoms of multiple sclerosis differently, this study found that regular use of an infrared sauna can:
- Provide the body with energy
- Improve the autonomic functions of the nervous system
- Restore the functions of the endocrine system
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve blood circulation
- Increases oxygen levels in cells
- Promotes the regeneration of muscle cells, nerves and brain cells.
However, this test showed that hyperthermia in MS patients causes a slowdown in cognitive function and a negative effect on auditory/sensory activity up to an hour after the session. This means that while MS sufferers may experience many health benefits, they should consider how it will affect their function during the rest of the day.
Sauna use for chronic back pain
In a study of 46 patients with chronic back pain, 24 patients received multidisciplinary treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, rehabilitation, and exercise therapy, and 22 patients were treated in the same way with additional thermotherapy.
The Visual Analogue Pain Score, Pain Acuity, Depression Self-Rating Scale, and Anger Score decreased significantly after treatment in both groups. However, 77% of group B participants were able to return to work within two years of treatment compared to 50% of group A participants. more efficient in returning to normal function for group B.
Infrared therapy for diabetes
Far infrared therapy has been shown to lower cortisol and blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. A Chinese study used infrared lamps to target areas of the body, such as the feet, to study their effectiveness in treating diabetes-related problems such as elevated cortisol levels affecting insulin action.
Scientists have found that regular infrared therapy improves the ability of patients to respond to insulin, and also increases blood flow restoration by 48%.
Infrared therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome / CFS
Japanese studies on the effectiveness of infrared sauna therapy in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome showed positive results for the majority of subjects. In the first study, patients with CFS regularly visited dry saunas and found that their fatigue levels decreased after treatment, although they noted that these effects did not appear during the sessions.
Ten patients also noted a reduction in anxiety and depression levels after therapy, but no change in pain levels. It is believed that infrared saunas reduce anxiety and depression in patients by stimulating the production of serotonin and oxytocin, known as “joy” hormones, due to the direct penetration of infrared rays into the skin. Reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol is also a helpful way to combat the feelings of anxiety and depression that people with CFS often experience.
Another study of two patients with CFS showed that symptoms such as fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance and fever disappeared in both patients, and both were socially rehabilitated after 6 months of regular exercise. The subjects of this test have already been treated with the steroid drug prednisolone, but to no avail. Both subjects also do not experience a relapse or exacerbation of symptoms in the following year.
The benefits of infrared saunas
While each of these conditions cannot be cured with a couple of sauna sessions, regular sessions as part of a regular rehab can be very effective in offsetting some of the most annoying and damaging symptoms.
Is infrared sauna therapy safe?
Some may question the safety of infrared sauna therapy due to infrared light’s ability to penetrate beneath the skin layer. While no serious adverse side effects have been reported in the use of the therapy, it is not recommended for young children and elderly adults who are prone to heat exhaustion and dehydration, nor is it recommended for those taking medications that impair their ability to sweat. Of course, be sure to talk to your doctor about any health conditions you may have before trying out infrared sauna therapy.
Outside of exercise, who knew that working up a sweat could offer such astounding health benefits? In all, infrared sauna therapy can benefit nearly everyone: from someone looking to detox a few times a month to others looking for alternative solutions to a host of issues.