Historically, heat treatments have been used to help heal the body for thousands of years. “Hot air baths” and sweat lodges were used for treating stress, increasing relaxation and detoxification among Native Americans, Eastern Europeans and in Ancient Chinese Medicine. Many years ago, before the invention of focused light therapy basic saunas were created by building a fire directly under an enclosed sitting area. The “sauna” was heated with hot rocks and other materials burning on a fire that carried heat and smoke up to the lodge.
About 100 years ago, advancements in sauna therapies were made when “light-near infrared lamp saunas” were first created. Since this time, they have come a long way, and are seen as an effective therapy by professionals around the world.
Infrared saunas are a type of sauna that uses heat and light to help relax and detoxify the body. Also called far-infrared saunas these omit infrared light waves that create heat in the body, causing you to sweat and release stored “toxins.”
Anti-aging effects, increased detoxification, pain reduction, joint and muscle support, and cardiovascular healing are currently where infrared saunas are gaining the most attention. They have a parasympathic healing effect, which means they help the body handle stress better — an attribute that could mean one day they’re used for handling all types of diseases from insomnia and depression to hormonal imbalances and autoimmune disorders.
The interesting thing about these types of saunas is that they differ from “regular saunas” because their light directly penetrates your skin but does not warm the air around you. The temperature in your body goes up quickly, yet the light has no effect on your surrounding environment.
Benefits of Infrared Sauna
1. Improves Heart Function
A review by the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found evidence supporting the use of infrared sauna treatments for normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, treating congestive heart failure, and helping with chronic pain. That means an infrared sauna can potentially be helpful in preventing high blood pressure and improve heart health.
2. Helps Lower Chronic Pain, Including Pain from Arthritis
Researchers from Saxion University of Applied Science in the Netherlands found that infrared sauna treatments can help reverse chronic pain with little to no side effects. They studied the effects of infrared saunas in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis over a four-week period, with a series of eight IR treatments. Sauna therapy was well-tolerated with no adverse effects, and they found that a significant percentage of patients experienced decreased symptoms of pain and stiffness.
Fatigue also decreased in both groups of patients compared to before beginning treatment, leading the researchers to conclude that infrared treatment has statistically significant short-term beneficial effects in patients experiencing pain without causing any worsening disease symptoms or unwanted side effects.
3. Improves Quality of Life and Overall Well-Being
For many years, patients suffering from chronic pains have used thermal heating treatments to find relief. Studies have found that regular and repeated thermal therapies are promising methods for lowering chronic pain that can interfere with quality of life without the need for medications.
Researchers from Nishi Kyusyu University in Japan found that infrared sauna heat therapy worked even better to lift someone’s mood and well-being when coupled with other holistic treatments such as exercise and rehabilitation.
Who can benefit from Infrared Saunas?
Researchers have been studying the effects of saunas for decades when it comes to pain management and relaxation. Infrared saunas have picked up attention recently for helping naturally treat multiple health problems with little to no side effects.
Some studies have shown benefits of infrared sauna therapy for people with:
One of the biggest benefits of infrared saunas is that they’re comfortable and simple to use, even for people who struggle with pain or who have sensitive skin and stomachs when it comes to heat, all with no need for medications or doctor visits.