Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
You’ve seen a rainbow. You’re probably familiar with the colors, if not from studying one of nature’s most spectacular sights in person, then from color wheels in grade school or Sesame Street songs. In order, they appear as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. This is also known as the visible spectrum and comprises all of the colors we can see with our human eyes.
The colors we see are all a part of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. What you see in the rainbow is known as visible light, and it is flanked on either end. You’ve likely heard of UV rays, i.e. ultraviolet radiation, which follows the color violet in the visible light spectrum. While it is associated with dangers such as skin cancer, on the opposite end of the visible light spectrum we find normal red followed by infrared light, which science shows to be beneficial for humans.
Infrared light is used in a variety of technologies, from night vision goggles to meteorology to art restoration to heating and cooling.
How Infrared Saunas Work
While we can’t see the “color” infrared, we do feel it as heat. This heat is precisely what infrared saunas do: emit infrared light to create radiant heat which is absorbed by the skin. This “deep heat” penetrates your body more deeply than normal heat, even though infrared saunas run about 45° cooler than typical saunas, leaving many people to find them considerably more comfortable.
This allows you to sweat more vigorously while remaining more comfortable at the same time.
Proven Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Scientific studies have shown that using an infrared sauna can have the following health benefits:
- Normalizing blood pressure
- Treating congestive heart failure
- Reducing chronic pain
- Reducing irregular or abnormal heart rhythms in those with congestive heart failure
- Reduction in damage to the heart caused by diabetes, hypertension, smoking, or physical inactivity
- Improvements with sleep and low-grade fever
- Health improvements for those suffering from hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and diabetes mellitus
- Lifestyle-related diseases
Additional studies have shown promising results, though need more research, with the following as well:
- Helping with chronic fatigue syndrome
- Reducing obesity
- Reducing the negative effects of smoking
How do Infrared Saunas Effect the Human Body?
Thermoregulatory homeostasis is a fancy term for how your body takes particular actions to return itself to “normal operating conditions.” When you use an infrared sauna, you sweat, your blood vessels dilate (i.e., become larger) which decreases blood pressure, your heart rate increases and your heart pumps more blood.
All of this essentially equates to the same sort of exercise you’d experience during a brisk walk. While infrared saunas can benefit anyone, it is particularly beneficial for those who live a more sedentary life, whether that be caused by heart problems, breathing issues or osteoarthritis, or simply a side effect of our modern cubicle lifestyle.
Are Infrared Saunas Dangerous?
Infrared saunas use the same technology as are used on newborn baby resuscitation beds. It has been proven as a safe and effective treatment for congestive heart failure. Children suffering from VHD (i.e., where the wall between the left and right sides of your heart gets a hole in it) showed improvement (the hole became smaller) with the use of infrared, so that 75% of patients didn’t even need surgery to repair the problem.
One study showed that far-infrared sauna use is not only safe for use in breastfeeding mothers, but increases lactation. The same study found that infrared saunas do not appear to be harmful during pregnancy. On the other hand, it is believed that infrared saunas can reduce sperm counts in men, though the decrease is reversible by simply discontinuing use of the saunas.
In the 9 studies available in English on the matter, none reported any adverse effects to using infrared saunas.
Where Can I Find an Infrared Sauna in Pittsburgh?
At the Nutrifarmacy, our infrared sauna is available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays 9am to 3pm. You can call us to make an appointment (412-486-4588), book an infrared sauna session online (book multiple sessions and save!) or visit us in person in Pittsburgh’s North Hills.
One 50 minute session costs $30, but if you purchase multiple sessions up front you can save a ton!
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We’d also note that we’re the only place in town that uses the Sunlighten™ mPulse® Discover sauna. Unlike most infrared saunas, ours uses the full spectrum of infrared light (near, middle and far-infrared). Not only that, but our resident doctor, Dr. Hoeper, is available with any questions you may have about the effects and process in general.
See you at the Nutrifarmacy!
The scientific claims in this study are based on this study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.