One of the latest trends in spa treatment is the use of infrared saunas to reduce weight, detox, reduce pain, improve skin complexion, feel energized, and achieve a host of other benefits. But, do infrared saunas live up to their claims?
Infrared saunas work by using light to produce heat to warm the body directly at temperatures lower than regular saunas. Conventional saunas heat the air around you. Infrared temperatures range from 100° to 125° whereas traditional sauna temperatures range from 180° to 200°.
What Proponents of Infrared Saunas Say
Infrared red saunas emit infrared light to produce radiant heat. Infrared is the invisible light spectrum produced from sunlight. A rainbow is visible light. Many infrared saunas use far infrared wavelengths which are the longest wavelength. Proponents say these wavelengths penetrate fat cells causing them to vibrate and the process stimulates the metabolism to help with weight-loss.
Supporters of infrared red saunas say that when light waves get absorbed into the body, they hit water molecules in the body. As a result, the molecules vibrate. The vibrations break down the water molecules causing toxins to be released. In other words, the infrared waves heat the body and activate the sweat glands. In turn, the sweat glands remove harmful toxins.
Because far infrared wavelengths are like those the body emits naturally, blood circulation and energy are improved. Infrared saunas are also said to reduce inflammation and help with wound healing.
Infrared is said to be better than traditional saunas in several ways:
- Because of lower temperatures, sauna sessions can be longer and provide more significant benefits
- Infrared leaves a person feeling reenergized where conventional saunas zap energy.
- Because the heat from infrared is directed at the body, it penetrates tissue deeper than traditional saunas.
What Research Says
- A 2012 study from Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, showed that far-infrared saunas were useful for helping to heal some inflammatory conditions.
- A report in the Journal of The Japanese Circulation Society found that regular infrared sauna treatments lowered the frequency of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and helped with chronic heart failure.
- Another study found that chronic pain was reduced in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Fatigue was also reduced in the study’s participants.
- Markers for improved quality of life were reported by diabetic patients in a study by Fraser Lake Community Health Center in Canada. Mood and quality of life improved with patients who had chronic pain in a study conducted by the Nishi Kyusyu University in Japan.
- One of the overall benefits of infrared saunas is that because temperatures are low, they are comfortable to use, especially for people where excessive heat triggers discomfort and can complicate medical conditions.
The Mayo Clinic says that while evidence from several studies showed that infrared saunas might be beneficial for health conditions, more rigorous tests are needed to verify the results.
There have been no reported serious adverse effects from using infrared saunas. It appears safe for most people. However, check with your doctor first before trying an infrared sauna, especially if you take medication and have a medical condition. Pregnant women should not use a sauna.
Infrared saunas are relatively new. Like some other alternative and new therapies, it may take time for the research to catch up with anecdotal reports on the benefits. In the meantime, many people feel they receive health benefits from infrared saunas. Also, they are reportedly safe and if nothing else, relaxing.
- Axe, Dr. Infrared Sauna Treatment: Are the Claims Backed Up? Retrieved from https://draxe.com/infrared-sauna/.
- Bauer, Brent A., M.D. What is an infrared sauna? Does it have health benefits? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/infrared-sauna/faq-20057954.
- Why Infrared Saunas? Retrieved from https://infraredsauna.com/infrared-sauna-detox/.
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