How good do you feel after a day relaxing at the beach?
What about a week long holiday on a tropical island?
How relaxed do you feel afterwards?
Imagine being able to feel this way every single day!
This is the power of an infrared sauna. And it's a big reason why so many people are purchasing IR saunas for their own home. The benefits are simply amazing.
Relaxation is only one of the many benefits from infrared sauna use.
I have taken a deep dive into the science and discovered that these new form of saunas have so many benefits that it's almost inconceivable.
I cover 20 of these benefits in my blog post below.
But first - looking to take your sauna sessions to the next level? Download my 10 practical infrared sauna laws infographic and receive my sauna buyers guide via email:
Before we outline these benefits, I have a quick disclaimer:
The scientific research I'm citing below contain both studies on infrared and traditional steam or dry saunas. That methodology can be justified because the heating effect of traditional saunas also occurs in infrared saunas. All infrared saunas contain FIR, and thus heating effects can logically be expected.
Because infrared light penetrates into your body, additional benefits may be conferred upon your health by an using an infrared sauna over and above a traditional sauna.
A case can thus be made that benefits of traditional saunas thus extend to IR saunas, but not the other way around.
So let's get started.
20 different benefits, beginning with:
Infrared saunas train your heart just like exercise does.
If you're sitting in a hot sauna, your heart rate increases up to 70%. 70% is located at the upper limit of steady-state cardio state, so your heart gets quite a workout.
After 30 or 60 minutes you'll get a great cardio session.
The more sauna sessions you're exposed to - up to one session a day - the lower the risk for having heart and blood vessel diseases.[47; 48; 49; 50; 51; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 98; 164; 165; 168; 229; 230; 231; 232; 233; 234]
Mortality associated with heart and blood vessel problems in general goes down - many different heart and blood vessel diseases are thus prevented.
The best effects are reached when sauna sessions last at least 20 minutes long. With poor heat tolerance, you'll thus have to build intensity up.
The upside is that the effect of (infrared) saunas upon heart health is really strong.
Let me tell you:
The risk of sudden cardiac death can more than half if you're using a sauna regularly. Overall risk of dying of heart disease is also cut by 50% according to some studies, which is insane.
Keep in mind that heart and blood vessel problems are one of the leading causes of death in the modern world.
Saunas are thus a revolutionary therapy for such problems.
Interesting fact: using a sauna instantly lowers your blood pressure by several points.
Both your systolic blood pressure, measured when your heart is beating, and your diastolic blood pressure, measured during heart muscle relaxation, are lowered by 7 points.
That decrease in blood pressure may be one of the main mechanisms by which sauna use dramatically lowers the risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Cholesterol levels are also optimized after taking multiple sauna sessions.
That blood pressure lowering effect is interesting, because modern human beings are almost never exposed to sunlight anymore. Your ancestors would have gotten lots of IR light exposure, and therefore had lower blood pressure readings.
And surprise, surprise: many people in traditional hunter-gatherer societies do have lower blood pressure readings.
IR saunas can thus a major way by which you can "supplement" sunlight and enjoy the blood pressure lowering effect.
What's also interesting is that, even though sauna use puts stress at your body, you can still enjoy saunas if you're elderly or currently have heart and blood vessel diseases. You should nonetheless be more careful in such instances.
(Nonetheless, most actual deaths due to sauna use actually occur in combination with drinking alcohol.)
And not only will you prevent heart and blood vessel disease, your heart also gets stronger if you're using sauna sessions regularly.
Heat stress thus builds heart health...
Overall circulation in your body and the health of your blood vessels also improves with frequent sauna use.
Saunas can help increase the number of the smallest blood vessels in your body, called "capillaries". That effect even occurs if you've got blood flow problems in your hands and feet - many people do so nowadays.
And if you've got existing heart problems, such as lasting damage from a previous heart attack, saunas can improve heart functioning and help you recover. Heart rhythms problems may also be reduced with (infrared) saunas.
Infrared sauna usage even translates into better better endurance when walking, if you've got heart and blood vessel disease. Quality of life is improved in that instance, probably because you've become more resilient.
The circulation benefits even take place when you're younger. So 20-year olds: it's never too early to develop a sauna habit.
Combining exercise with infrared saunas has the most pronounced health effects.
Using saunas alone, or exercise alone, in other words, does not have the same effects as combining the two in your week.
Saunas are a great way, however, to train your heart when regular exercise is impossible. With a broken leg, for example, you can still take a sauna session. Elderly people will also do great with some heat stress once in a while, as long as tolerance is built up slowly.
Bottom line: all those heart health benefits seem too good to be true, but they're not.
Let's move on.
Remember that feeling when you've just run a long distance, or when you engaged in physical labor all day?
In that case, your body created endorphins.
Endorphins are a natural pain killer that makes you feel great. Sauna helps these endorphins released by your body.[68; 69; 73]
Regular sauna use can also lower your overall cortisol levels - a stress hormone.[70; 71] Sure, stress hormone levels are initially increased dramatically during a session, but long-term a stress hormone lowering effects exist as well.
Sauna use can also increase the activity of what is called the "parasympathetic nervous system". That parasymphatetic nervous system is associated with relaxation and digestion, at the cost of the "sympathetic nervous system", which is more active in stress and associated with the fight and flight response.
Frequently using a sauna thus makes you calmer and happier...
As you may have expected, overall mood improves with frequent sauna use, while anxiety levels decrease.[74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 84]
That outcome is great, because so many people have mood and anxiety problems nowadays.
Infrared saunas can even act as an antidote against depression, because it acts quickly while having an absence of any real side effects (with proper use).
Even appetite levels, bodily health issues, and relaxation levels all normalize with frequent sessions.
Quality of life may even be enhanced with sauna use - also if you're diseased. Unfortunately, more research is needed to definitively back that claim up.
Overall, infrared saunas are a big winner for mental health.
Lots of circumstantial evidence exists that heat increases the levels of "BDNF" or "Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor".[84; 85; 86; 87]
BNDF stimulates the creation and regeneration of nerve cells. Nerve cells lie at the basis of a proper functioning of your nervous system, which includes the brain. BDNF can build new "synapses", for example, which are connections between existing nervous system cells.
Lower levels of BDNF are also associated with nervous system diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's disease.[88; 94; 97] BDNF additionally plays a role in (preventing) aging of the brain.[95; 96]
Both aging and brain disease is thus averted through sauna use. Near Infrared light can also directly increase BDNF in the brain if it penetrates the skull.
Combining infrared saunas and exercise makes the effects of BDNF more pronounced.
Overall, saunas are a winner for brain health. Let's move on to another sauna benefit that many people worship - skin health.
Infrared light is perfect for improving skin condition.[111; 112; 113; 114] You can get firmer skin with infrared light through an increase in collagen production.
The presence of wrinkles is also reduced, as well as roughness and overall signs of aging.
A compound called "elastin", which is located below the upper layers of the skin, is produced in increased quantities after infrared light exposure. Less and less elastin is present in your skin with aging, but saunas can slow down and (partially) reverse that process.
For the best effects on skin health and beauty, I highly recommend using infrared light over longer periods of time, such as a couple of months of daily use.
Specific substances called "fibroblasts" are also activated by NIR, which help build collagen.
For optimal skin improvement, the correct IR dose should be used. Both very low and very high doses are dangerous. Example: if you're working by the fire all day--fires emits lots of infrared light-then your skin probably ages prematurely.[116; 117]
Very high amounts of IR light may also increase skin wrinkling, which is another reason to conclude that more is not necessarily better.[114; 118]
Being in the sun from dusk till dawn or using too much red light therapy are other examples of how you can get overexposed to infrared light. It's safe to assume that infrared sauna can have the same side effects.
The dose thus makes the poison.
With normal IR doses, on the contrary, skin rejuvenation increases. Cellulite prevalence and intensity is also reduced with sauna use. Fat layers directly under the skin are the main reason for the existence of cellulite, in combination with connective tissues that are inactive.
Cellulite may actually be the first sign of health deterioration or problems.
Wound healing, moreover, additionally improves with the right IR light dose. Both NIR and FIR seem to benefit wound healing, which is another argument to opt for a full-spectrum infrared sauna if possible.
Another skin problem, a diabetic foot ulcer, for example, is speeds up in healing with IR light. Lots of evidence thus exist that IR light improves skin condition(s).
The lower ranges of NIR, under 1,000 nanometers in wavelength, also protect against sunburn.[127; 128]
In conclusion: IR light is one of the best kept beauty secrets in this world, especially for your skin...
I prefer IR light over cosmetics any day (but I'm a man)...
Now a more serious topic:
Even though it sounds crazy, infrared light may combat cancer through several mechanisms.
Hyperthermia - or "overheating of the body" - is commonly used in combination with traditional cancer treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy to reduce the size of tumors.[129; 130; 133]
Your body becomes more sensitive to such traditional cancer treatments with hyperthermia. Many different cancers can be treated that way, such as skin cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, and others.
Hyperthermia also directly kills cancer cells.[131; 132] FIR, for example, has been proven to inhibit tumor growth in mice.[134; 135] Even more remarkable is that your healthy cells are spared from dying.
Moreover, a cleanup process in your body called "apoptosis" - a programmed cell death - is enhanced when you're experiencing temporary heat stress.[136; 137] Cancerous tissue is less resistant against higher temperatures because blood flow to such areas is lower. Through that mechanism, heat stress selectively kills cancer cells while sparing healthy ones.
Other mechanisms of IR light affecting cancer may exist as well.
Overall, the effects of IR light on cancer are very promising, although more research is needed.
Let's move on to another dangerous killer:
You may know that inflammation is tied to many modern diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
People who do 4-7 sauna sessions a week have 30% overall lower inflammation levels than with those who do a single weekly sauna session. Through lowering inflammation IR saunas decrease the incidence of modern diseases.
High temperatures created through IR saunas affect your body's so called "heat shock proteins". Cells create heat shock proteins are created with hyperthermia, among others.
Overall, IR saunas can thus be a major contributor to preventing modern disease. Unfortunately, many of the effects of mid infrared (MIR) and far-infrared (FIR) have not yet been researched in relation to such diseases. Near infrared (NIR) has been researched more thoroughly due to its overlap with red light therapy.
The inflammation-lowering effects can nonetheless be expected for all types of saunas. The reason is that traditional saunas are best studies in this regard.
Let's continue: you'll now learn about perhaps the biggest infrared sauna benefit of all:
Toxins are absolutely everywhere in modern society, and getting some infrared light exposure is the perfect way to remove toxins from your body.
Before intentionally removing toxins, however, I recommend giving your body proper nutrition and sleep. Detoxification should be the last step in the process of improving your health, not the first.
The reason for that hierarchy is that detoxification can be very hard on the body--without proper nutrition and sleep, detoxification will do more harm than good...
A couple of years ago you would have been accused of pseudoscience if you thought infrared saunas aid bodily detox. Nothing could be further from the truth though: today, fortunately, direct evidence exists that toxins are eliminated by sauna usage.[202; 203; 204; 217; 218]
Many toxins you may or may not know of are eliminated, such as PFCs, PCDFs, PCDDs, and PCBs, but also simple pesticides.[281; 282; 283] Methamphetamine from drug use, heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium, and prescription medicine may be removed as well.
Sebum, an oily compound that is excreted through the pores of your skin, can also contain leftovers from drugs and alcohol use.[277; 278; 279] Sauna sessions increase the production of sebum, and using a towel to remove sweat can thus remove these toxins.
Other toxins are expelled through your stool.
Most of these toxins are stored in fat, although many other areas of the body can also store them, such as hair, bones, and toenails. Heat thus helps dislodge these toxins, especially from fat.
Some indications exist that infrared saunas remove more toxins than traditional dry saunas, because a smaller proportion of sweat consists of water after IR sauna use.
That's a big plus.
Some studies have investigated the effects of saunas on detoxification in extreme circumstances: even if you were exposed to toxins after the cleanup at the WTC after September 11, or Chernobyl, improvements in both symptoms and quality of life are made.[293; 294]
Firefighters exposed to toxins improve their brain's memory and working capacity in a study, even though short-term side-effects were experienced including fatigue and anger.
Toxins are truly omnipresent in modern society, ranging from small particles emitted by overflying airplanes, to flame retardants in furniture, and pesticides in food.
The toxin problem is tragic.
As a result, many people are gaining chemical sensitivities to products such as air refreshers and fragrance.[207; 208]
Toxin intolerance is becoming like a new "allergy" pandemic. The topic of toxins is so central to my health approach that it's covered in a full weekly lecture in my Health Reset Program.
I've also written several blog posts on toxins before, such as particulate matter (small particles floating in the air due to traffic, industry, and natural causes), and air pollution in general (ranging from toxic mold to ozone and carbon monoxide).
Toxins are even transferred from pregnant mothers to their fetus. Newly born children thereby end up with hundreds of toxins on the first day of their lives.
But the news gets even worse:
Toxins play a major role in many diseases, ranging from Alzheimer's and other nervous system pathologies, to heart disease, and diabetes.[210; 211; 212; 213; 214; 215; 216]
Both mitochondria and the health of your nervous system are affected by these toxins.
Let's zoom in on just one pathology: diabetes. While there's no need to remember the names of the following toxins, POPs. PCBs. DDE, DDT, HCB, beta-HCB, and heavy metals such as arsenic are all associated with diabetes in a dose-dependent manner.[300; 301; 302]
A "dose-dependent manner" means that the greater amounts of toxins you're exposed to, the higher your risk for getting diabetes becomes.
And to top it off, these toxins are also making us fatter. I cover that topic in detail in my article How Toxins Are Making You Fat.
The fact that many people are not getting any sunlight exposure and thus not sweating therefore contributes to toxins remaining in their bodies for basically permanently. Modern toxin exposure is higher than that of your ancestors, while many people avoid sunlight which can precisely remove these toxins again...
Bottom line: one of the most important benefits of infrared saunas is their ability to help you detox, and detox is more important today than ever before.
Finally moving on to a more lighthearted topic:
Saunas are extremely productive to improve performance: if you take saunas after every endurance session for three weeks, your "time until exhaustion" in running is increased by a whopping 30%.
Red blood cells numbers are also raised through sauna use. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body, and enhance oxygen uptake. More red blood cells leads to higher performance and quicker recovery.
Your recovery can additionally quicken if you're exposing yourself to heat. Performance is more quickly restored, for example, after taking a post-exercise sauna.[151; 152] Recovery hormones are likewise boosted after a sauna session.
Heat stress may even help you maintain muscle mass if you're currently not exercising.[138; 139]
As always, combining saunas with exercise leads to better overall health results than using either of these options.
Saunas can also upgrade your capacity to withstand heat. Your human body is thus able to adapt to heat over time.
That principle also holds true for frequently training in the heat: you'll become more energy efficient in such an environment.[147; 148; 149]
Overall, the science currently indicates that infrared saunas are best used after workouts, or on days you're not exercising. Pre-workout sauna usage has not been researched in detail, but I'm expecting that strategy to be sub-optimal.
Spending time in a sauna specifically lowers what is called "all cause mortality". All cause mortality signifies your overall risk of dying, independent of cause.[48; 160]
All causes being included means that your risk for dying of a heart attack, a car accident, or in your sleep at old age are all taken into account. The fact that saunas lower your all cause mortality risk thus entails you're having a higher survival rate.
One possible explanation is that activation of the aforementioned creation of "heat shock proteins", after your body gets to a state of hyperthermia, are also associated with longevity.[150; 155; 156] Heat shock proteins additionally aid in protecting cells from bacteria and viruses, which may also extend lifespan.
Cell components may also be recycled better with more heat exposure. That recycling process of damaged cell components - mainly during sleep - lies at the basis of human nighttime regeneration.
It's highly likely that your mitochondria - the energy producing "factories" of your cells, increase in both number and quality after exposure to heat stress.[161; 162; 163] Having more mitochondria helps you survive better at older age.
Most people get smaller and fewer mitochondria as they age, contributing to frailty.
Additionally, what is called "oxidative stress" in cells is reduced by heat. Oxidative stress entails that "free radicals" - understood as unpaired electrons - are created as a byproduct of energy production. Free radicals can damage tissues, and lowering the numbers of free radical levels may thus slow down aging.
For the best results - once again - sauna use and exercise need to be combined.
Infrared saunas may also increase the amount of deep sleep you get at night.[79; 196]
You need deep sleep at night for recovery. As stated before, during deep sleep your cells regenerate and damaged cell components are repaired or cleared, while toxins are being removed.
Great sleep quality directly helps you live longer.[81; 82]
Using a sauna too close to bedtime may actually decrease sleep quality, due to an excessively high body temperature. It's thus best to use a sauna up until early in the evening--never late at night.
Though if you can only use your sauna right before bed, I suggest investing in a ChiliPad as that will help you lower your body temperature and increase deep sleep. If you click on THIS link for the ChiliPad website, you can use discount code SLEEPME for saving on the Chilipad and the Ooler).
Looking to take your sauna sessions to the next level? Download my 10 practical infrared sauna laws infographic and receive my sauna buyers guide via email:
Remember these red blood cells which are integral to oxygen uptake? Taking a sauna after every workout for three weeks increases their volume in your blood by 7%.
7% may not seem that much, but longer-term sauna usage probably increases the effect even more.
More red blood cells means that you can easily transfer more oxygen from the blood into the mitochondria - where your body's oxygen is finally used. Remember that the main task of mitochondria is to produce energy - oxygen transfer is integral to that energy creation.
Also remember that energy efficiency is increased if you intermittently expose yourself to heat.[147; 148; 149] Higher energy efficiency means that you'll last longer in the heat during a competition or workout.
Just as lifting weights makes you stronger and improves your endurance, the same is true for taking a sauna and heat tolerance. Training in the heat is thus beneficial if you need to compete in the heat.
Exercising in cold weather will thus not help you adapt to competing in the desert.
Combining cold baths and infrared sauna sessions? In that case you've become a real temperature king - giving you excess energy at normal temperatures.
Now a benefit everyone will benefit from:
Nootropics are substances that improve your cognitive performance, such as your memory, ability to focus, your level of relaxation, and resilience against setbacks.
Sauna sessions may even improve brain functioning if you're healthy.
After a sauna session, your brain becomes more economical, for example. Your brain performs better while using the same amount of energy, due to a more efficient use of neural connections.
The coordination between the brain and gut may also improve. A compound called "VIP", or "Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide", which is present in both the brain and gut, helps your blood vessels dilate properly.
That dilation of blood vessels explains why sauna usage may increase your brain's performance.
Higher brain regions, additionally, become more excitable after hyperthermia, so that learning ability improves. The prefrontal cortex is the paradigmatic example of a higher brain region, which grounds many uniquely human abilities such as abstract thought and impulse control.
Remember the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) I talked about? BDNF is increased under heat stress and specifically improves cognition.
Let me give you two reasons, although additional ones exist:
Firstly, BDNF improves neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity signifies the brain's potential to update it's structure over time. Contrary to the scientific consensus prior to the year ~2000, your brain's health and cognitive abilities are not set in stone once you reach adulthood.
Your brain performance today does not predict its performance in a decade - you can grow or lose your cognitive ability.
Poor BDNF levels are associated with cognitive impairments. Higher levels are associated with better memory and learning.[170; 171; 172]
The way your brain thus determines your future...
Also remember that BDNF levels are also related to diseases such as Alzheimer's, depression, and Huntington's. Brain health (or disease) and brain performance are thus somewhat related.
Overall, BDNF thus makes your brain more flexible to learn new things, while staving off brain disease.
And there's more:
In a study with an intense detoxification program, IQ also increased with 6.7 points on average. That 6.7 increase is incredible. Putting that gain into context: roughly 10 IQ points make the difference between being able to complete an applied sciences degree and a university degree.
Saunas can thus get you 2/3rd of the way there. In conclusion, saunas are great for brain health.
Let's now move on to a domain which many people are struggling with today:
Saunas are a stressor to the body. If you're spending a long time in either a traditional steam room or an IR one, you're going to expend more energy. in a sauna your heart rate increases and fat is being burned, just as you would when you're exercising.
You can burn up to 600 calories (kcal) in a long sauna session. And while sauna sessions can lead to rapid losses of body mass, only part of that loss is fat - most of it is water.
Through the earlier "upgrading" of certain cell components such as mitochondria, moreover, fat loss is also predicted to increase over time. Hormones associated with fat loss such as growth hormone are also stimulated by hyperthermia.
Increasing "insulin sensitivity" is another mechanism by which saunas increase fat loss.
Insulin sensitivity signifies your cell's ability to take up carbohydrates and burn them as energy. If cells cannot take up carbohydrates, they'll stay in your bloodstream, which then leads to elevated blood glucose levels.
Exposing rats to high temperatures so that their body's heat up (hyperthermia) leads to an increase in insulin sensitivity, despite these rats presently being obese.
Overall, heat therapy decreases fasting blood glucose levels, also on a long-term basis (measured by Hb1Ac). In humans, fortunately, the same effect is observed.[105; 106; 108] The effects of saunas are similar to those of exercise, in that nutrient uptake simultaneously improves.
Even more fascinating is that glucose transporters that work independently of insulin may also increase in functioning. Many mechanisms by which your body's ability to handle carbohydrates improves thus exist.
Overall, heat is a wildly under-appreciated means to lose fat and counter type II diabetes.[109; 110]
One caveat? Saunas can increase appetite, especially for sweeter substances.[145; 165] Of course, if you satisfy your appetite with healthy sweets there's less of a problem.
Chronic pain will change your life, and fortunately, infrared saunas will change your chronic pain. In fact, IR light is one of nature's antidotes against excess pain.
Don't believe me?
The pain itself, the behavior associated with that pain, and the depression that's often interrelated with (chronic) pain, are all inhibited through IR light exposure. Unfortunately, the study that demonstrated that effect combined sauna usage with psychotherapy, so it's hard to allocate the benefit purely to IR light.
On the bright side, other studies do demonstrate that FIR treats conditions associated with pain, such as fibromyalgia. Chronic back pain shows the same result. It can thus reasonably be expected that chronic pain is affected by IR light as well.
As often is the case, more research is needed in these areas to explore the full benefits of saunas.
Nonetheless, the initial results look very promising...
White blood cells only make up a small component of your blood, but have a huge effect on health, specifically by being the basis of your immune system.
The numbers of white blood cells in your blood increases after a sauna session. Several types of white blood cells increase in quantity.
One example is "lymphocytes" of your lymphatic system. Your lymph system helps fight infections, and filters your blood. "Neutrophils" are another instance which also fights infections. "Basophils", functioning in blood clotting and in possible allergic responses, is one last example.
You'll become less susceptible to a common cold. The effect of saunas is so strong that cold incidence literally halves. After you've already gotten a cold, sauna therapy does not quicken your recovery.
The heat shock proteins I've mentioned before also play a role in your immune system.[181; 183] Both your permanent immune defense, also called the "innate immune response", and your reactive defenses against invaders, named "adaptive immune response", are upregulated with hyperthermia.
(Infrared) saunas main mechanism on the immune system is that seem to stimulate a mild fever. In a fever, the activity of your immune system increases. The effect of that heightened activation of the immune system makes you more able to fight invaders.
Beware: very high levels of hyperthermia can suppress rather than activate your immune system. That danger is especially important if you've currently got a compromised immune system due to having a disease, for instance.
Don't overdo the heat if you're using it to boost your immune system.
Joint health can also be improved with sauna usage. Joint problems, such as "osteoarthritis", which consists of joint degradation, are positively affected.
In an inflammatory joint condition called "rheumatoid arthritis", joint stiffness and pain are reduced.[177; 178] Nerve pain exemplifies a similar pattern.
This benefit is short but simple. No research currently exists whether IR light can prevent joint problems, although such an effect may be possible given the current curative effects.
The fact that morning sunlight contains lots of infrared is very beneficial: IR exposure preconditions the skin to be more resistant to sunburns later in the day.[45; 46]
The NIR part of the light spectrum that has best been tested for that effect. Most modern people don't get any infrared exposure at all anymore, because indoor artificial light only emits visible light.
Your ancestors got their infrared from the morning sun. Hunter-gatherer societies are actually most active during the morning hours. Guess what? In the early morning, only infrared and visible light reach the earth's surface.
That infrared thus protects your body against the stronger sun with ultraviolet light later in the day.
I have been recommend near infrared light for sunburn for years. It's why I take my red light panel with me when I go on summer beach trips.
Now you know why you're getting sunburned so quickly if you're moving directly into the noon sun during the summertime.
Remember that amazing feeling when you just finished a sauna session?
Before getting into the sauna, breathing may have been more difficult, but afterwards? All problems solved...
Your nose was cleared, and breathing was the easiest it has been in years.
Saunas clean your sinuses, for example. In case you've got a condition called "allergic rhinitis" - in which your sinuses are chronically congested and inflamed infrared saunas help you clear your nose.[102; 103]
Sneezing, itching, and a leaky nose are also reduced.
Even with lung conditions, sauna sessions can improve your breathing capacity. In "COPD", for example, a lung condition in which breathing can be obstructed at several places, maximal breathing capacity increases through sauna sessions.[186; 190]
Sauna bathing also reduces the chances of getting a respiratory disease. A couple of sauna sessions per week reduce your risk of getting airway or lung diseases with 27%, and more than four sessions reduces risk with an insane 41%.
Pneumonia risk - another name for infected airways - also goes down with more sauna sessions by up to almost 50%.[188; 189]
NIR may also has specific benefits for lung health, such as helping prevent lung cancer.[191; 192; 193]
Saunas thus have a big potential to prevent and reverse respiratory problems .
Unfortunately, the scientific evidence on the relationship between infrared saunas and chronic fatigue syndrome is spread thin and of low-quality.
Let's nonetheless make sense of the research that is available. I'll go over some benefits point by point:
Fatigue, pain, sleep quality, and immune functioning all improve with infrared saunas. The intensity of the chronic fatigue condition itself may also be reduced, allowing for a re-integration into life's activities.
Blood flow to the brain may also be enhanced with IR light saunas. While you may assume that brain blood flow has nothing to do with chronic fatigue syndrome, the two concepts are nevertheless related. People with chronic fatigue syndrome generally have reduced blood flow.[325; 326]
Current studies don't do justice to the amazing benefits infrared saunas which many people with chronic fatigue actually experience.
If you've got chronic fatigue, I strongly recommend spending a day at the spa and trying IR therapy there - you'll feel the effects for fifty bucks. And soon afterwards you'll probably order your own sauna to take your health to the next level...
Alzheimer and Parkinson are one of the most common nervous system diseases.
Let's first get a basic understanding of these conditions:
Alzheimer's is characterized by a buildup of "plague" in the brain that prevents it from functioning optimally. In Alzheimer's, your brain loses nerve cells and connections between these cells quicker than other people of your age.
Alzheimer's mostly affects older people.
Parkinson's, secondly, consists of a dysfunction of the "dopamine" brain signalling substance. Dopamine is necessary for proper movement, and motivated action. In Parkinson's nerve cells also eventually die.
The more sauna sessions you get, the associated risk for Alzheimer's disease (and dementia) goes down up to a whopping 66%.
(Infrared) saunas affect the progression of both these diseases, especially NIR. For maintaining specifically brain function with NIR, I highly recommend the Vielight Neuro Alpha. You can get a 10% discount on that product with code ALEX10.
NIR light is also proven to work in Parkinson's disease.[200; 201] Nerve cells are protected from slowly dying off, for example. Mitochondrial dysfunction, secondly, is also prevented and reversed through IR light.
Infrared saunas are most probably also great for reducing symptom intensity of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Near infrared light improves brain health at several levels, such as oxygen flow and consumption, the removal of toxins from the brain, and improving the functioning of mitochondria (the energy producing factories in your cells).
Your brain is actually - together with your heart - a body part richest in mitochondria. Both are protected through infrared light...
Lastly, you'll learn about some "bonus" benefits:
I do expect hundreds if not thousands of studies to more definitively prove the effects of infrared saunas in the coming decade(s). A downside is that there's less of an incentive to fund studies into natural solutions, as no money can be made of them.
Until more evidence emerges, the current circumstantial evidence is almost overwhelming in proving that saunas are completely amazing to your health.
Some additional examples:
Many more exist.
In fact, I have covered many benefits of red light and near infrared light in my article 36 Powerful Red Light Therapy Benefits - though not all of these apply to infrared saunas as they are related specifically to red light, the benefits from near infrared light in that article do carry over to infrared saunas.
But before you rush off and read that, note that below I cover potential side effects of infrared sauna use and I provide some advice on what to look for when buying your own infrared sauna.
Looking to take your sauna sessions to the next level? Download my 10 practical infrared sauna laws infographic and receive my sauna buyers guide via email:
With normal sauna usage and gradual buildup, side-effects should be almost non-existent. The most essential way to avoid side-effects is to use common sense, and gradually building up the intensity and duration of your sessions.
Gradual buildup becomes more important the sicker and older you are. Young guys and gals can enter a sauna, and sit in there for 30 or 45 minutes, note that '"it's hot in here", and recover within a minute afterwards.
If you're older or sick, you've got to observe how you respond to a sauna session. With fibromyalgia, for example - a condition characterized by chronic pain symptoms - I highly recommend using a 10-15 session the first time, and then track how you react.
The same is true for chronic fatigue, or another condition. Always consult your physician before using a sauna if you've got a disease.
The reason for my very conservative approach to using saunas is the detox reaction: IR light mobilizes toxins from your fat stores, which then enter your blood stream. If many toxins have been stored in your body, through decades of (over-)exposure, you can experience an initial adverse reaction.
Over time, you can work your way up to an hour.
If you've got trashed mitochondria, on the other hand, or a chronic disease, sitting in a sauna for a longer period of time can be overkill. Becoming too hot or staying in a state of hyperthermia for too long can have you take an extended time to recover.
The worse your overall health, the greater the risk for side-effects becomes.
I've said this before but it bears repeating: if you've got chronic fatigue syndrome, or heart problems, or an open wound, you need to be extra careful with saunas and consult your physician.
Conditions in which your immune system has gone haywire are also expected to be more problematic. Rheumatoid arthritis is an example. The reason is that such conditions often affect inflammation, which is also regulated by infrared light exposure.
Another less well known "side-effect" also exists:
The more frequently you use a sauna, the more you adapt to the heat stress. The underlying principle to explain that adaptation is called "hormesis".[252; 253]
Hormesis - which pertains to some types of stress - entails that your body adapts and grows stronger to resist stress the next time you're exposed to it.
If the intensity of the stressor is too low, your body will not get a stimulus to adapt--if the intensity is too high, your body will be overburdened and you'll get weaker.
The right kind of heat stress is thus necessary for your body to adapt and become stronger. Over time you'll thus build up a type of "sauna strength" or "sauna endurance", which helps you last longer in the heat compared to if you were never exposed in the first place.
That concept is sometimes also called "sauna fitness". So maybe you'll become as fit as a teenager again after all...
Cold showers and baths work on the same principle - you'll get more tolerant to cold after you've regularly exposed yourself.
Now that you've become an infrared sauna expert yourself, let's take a quick look at what you need to know when shopping for a sauna.
Note - I will be releasing a comprehensive 'infrared sauna buyers guide' article later this week. Be sure to subscribe to my email list to be the first to read that. In the mean time, I've covered the basics before.
Not sure whether to get an IR sauna?
A trip to the spa costs you 50 bucks. Have a session in an IR sauna, and observe whether you like the experience.
And you know what?
The price of visiting the spa twice a month for a single year equals that of buying a home sauna - that's how inexpensive a sauna can be.
Now what do you need to look for when shopping for a infrared sauna? That is a good question and I'm working on a detailed buyers guide that will cut through all the marketing fluff and help you get the best sauna for your needs.
Be sure to sign up to my email below and I'll send you this blog when it's live:
The research into infrared saunas is still in its early stages, and yet, the developments are extremely impressive.
Examples of benefits include anti-aging, removing the tens of thousands different toxins toxins from your body, reducing pain, improving joint health, and many more.
Infrared saunas can be used for almost any cause imaginable: maybe you just want to de-stress at night, or perhaps you're unfortunate enough to have Fibromyalgia and want to cope with that disease.
Young and old, healthy and sick can all benefit from infrared saunas.
And you know what?
These saunas don't cost the world...
If you are serious about your health, then the cost of a sauna is a great investment.
And remember: the infrared sauna benefits are hard to overstate - and you deserve the very best...
This is a post by Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MS - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MS), and is currently the chief science writer at Alexfergus.com.
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