7 Infrared Sauna Benefits
1. Infrared saunas increases metabolism
When you increase your core body temperature, you increase your metabolism. As someone with low thyroid function, which slows the metabolism, I tend to be chilled and experience cold hands and feet. One way I support my thyroid function is with regular sauna sessions.
An infrared sauna session raises your body temperature 2-3 degrees, depending on the quality of the infrared heat. (The SaunasandBeyond sauna uses the only heater on the market clinically proven to raise body temperature nearly 3 degrees).
SaunasandBeyond are clinically shown to support weight loss in a 3-month period, which makes sense considering that you can burn up to 600 calories in a single session. The cardio and metabolic benefits of a session are comparable are to a 6 to 9 mile run.
Additionally, for those who are sedentary due to medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular or respiratory problems, weight loss was increased.
2. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Chronically high blood sugar may be caused by the following:
- A diet high in carbohydrates, particularly refined sugars
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Periods of stress
- Inadequate sleep
Although I eat a low-glycemic, nutrient-rich diet, I had consistently high blood sugar readings in the morning (I regularly use a glucometer. I knew I couldn’t get to a deeper state of healing with this high blood sugar, as it impairs tissue regeneration and hormone balance. Working with a skilled practitioner, we implemented heavy-duty supplemental support but still my fasting blood sugar remained too high.
We currently lack scientific studies that supports infrared saunas to improve glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. These results are a logical conclusion, however. Because saunas increase metabolic rate, it causes the body to burn blood sugar as you would burn energy during exercise. Hyperthermic conditions in animal testing has shown increased insulin sensitivity and lowered blood sugar.
Four months after I began taking regular saunas, without changing my diet or exercise, my high morning blood normalized. On my last blood test, my insulin levels were no longer considered high. I credit my sauna for supporting my blood sugar when it didn’t adequately respond to diet, lifestyle, and supplements.
3. Toxin and heavy metal detoxification
The practice of using sweat therapy for physical wellness dates over 4,000 years ago when American Indians began using sweat lodges.
Heavy metals that often accumulate in toxic levels such as lead, cadmium, copper, manganese and nickel have been shown to detox with sweat . Toxic chemicals from our environment, such as pesticides and phthalates, can also be excreted through the body via sweat. An important factor, however, is how you are sweating. According to Nutritional Balancing Practitioner Wendy Myers in her post about infrared saunas.
Sweating during exercise is not effective for detoxification because exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nervous system (stress, fight or flight) activity inhibits toxin elimination. You must be in a parasympathetic state (calm, rest or sleep) to detox. You can either workout OR detox, not usually both at the same time.
4. Supports immune response to bacterial and fungal infections
Did you know that hypothyroidism and candida overgrowth go hand-in-hand? As I’ve peeled back layers for deeper healing, I’ve found this to be a vicious cycle in my health. Hypothyroidism slows metabolism, which lowers body temperature. Candida and other pathogens abhor heat, so they are likely to overgrow in a person with low body temperature.
Daily sauna therapy increases body temperature during the sauna session and overtime supports a balanced, healthy thyroid. This will help reduce a chronic candida situation. Additionally, the near infrared light may be effective in directly killing candida and parasites according to Wikipedia. This is a reasonable conclusion, although I haven’t seen any studies done on near infrared light and parasites.
5. Supports chronic pain and muscle flexibility
Infrared wavelengths penetrate the body to create heat, which creates profound therapeutic benefits. They increase blood flow to the muscles, delivering more concentrated oxygen, which creates more energy to heal.
Infrared sauna treatments are shown to alleviate inflammation and reduce swelling, and are helpful for:
- sports injury
- chronic fatigue syndrome
Additionally, due to increased blood flow to muscles, stretching in a sauna has been shown to increase flexibility by threefold. My Signature I is too small for full-body stretching, so I stretch after my sauna session. I take yoga and ballet classes most days, and so I’m always working toward increased extension in my back and legs. My regular sauna sessions made a noticeable difference in my flexibility after only one month.
6. Improves Skin Health
The near-infrared light is specifically associated with improved skin health. Near-infrared light has been shown to:
- Improve firmness and elasticity, due to the increased blood circulation
- Speed wound healing
- Reduce cellulite
Although my Signature version uses only far-infrared light, I credit my regular sauna sessions for drastically improved skin clarity. My back acne and back acne scarring disappeared about 3 months after I began doing regular sauna sessions. Although I wrote the book on clearing acne with nutrition, I still experienced some occasional breakouts on my back. Sauna treatments were the missing piece in my complete acne healing.
7. Normalizes blood pressure
Sweating during sauna therapy increases blood flow, leading to improved circulation. 30 minute far-infrared SaunasandBeyond sessions, taken 3 times per week, are shown to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Infrared sauna therapy not only improves blood pressure, it can dramatically support heart health. A 2008 Japanese study concluded that far-infrared sauna therapy improves cardiac function and decreases cardiac size in chronic heart failure patients.
Ancient Wisdom of Heat Therapy
In the 1930’s, a dentist name Weston Price traveled the world to discover the secrets of the most beautiful and healthy people. Dr. Price discovered that people thrived if they consumed their tribal diets, while those consuming a Westernized diet of refined foods suffered disease.
Dr. Price wrote a nook outlining the dietary that were parallel in every ancient culture, from the Eskimos to the Maori. His book has profoundly influenced my own healing journey, and led to a movement of “ancestral eating.” But diet only partly explains the vibrant health of non-Westernized tribal cultures. Like Dr. Price, we can look for ancient patterns that appear in cultures across the globe. One pattern is heat therapy.
- North America – Native American honor sweat lodges as a sacred place to purify the physical and spiritual self.
- Finland – Finnish sauna therapy dates back 2000 years, when Finns would dig pits in the earth and add enough hot rocks to create sweat-inducing heat.
- Ancient Greece and Rome – Bath houses featured a series of steam chambers, hot baths, and cold baths.
- Central America – Archaeologists believe they’ve discovered buildings that were ancient Mayan saunas.
- India – The ancient Ayurvedic cleansing ritual called Panchakarma uses a sweat-inducing steam treatment.