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Infrared saunas have become really fashionable recently and are the latest trend in “detox.” Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow or Dr. Mehmet Oz, of the Oprah Winfrey show are all regular advocates. This technology is still not well known in the UK, many of us are more accustomed to traditional saunas. So exactly what is an infrared sauna – I decided to go and check them out!
What are Infrared Saunas?
The Infrared Sauna therapy practiced today was the invention of Japanese doctor, Tadashi Ishikawa, who received a patent for inventing healing infrared heaters in 1965.
The main difference between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna, is the infrared sauna heats the body directly without heating the surrounding air. Normally traditional saunas become very hot and cause reactions such as heavy sweating and increased heart rate. The infrared sauna produces these results at a lower temperature, which makes it more usable to people like me, who can’t tolerate the heat of a conventional sauna.
Health benefits of an Infrared Sauna
- Alleviates pain
The high temperature heat of the sauna causes the release of the endorphin hormones. Endorphins act as a natural analgesic, calming all kinds of pains, like arthritis , fibromyalgia , migraine, trauma and many other muscle, joint, tension and bone conditions.
- Heals muscle injuries
It relaxes muscles, makes them more flexible, avoids spasms, reduces pain and inflammation, reduces stiffness, improves tissue irrigation etc.
- Rejuvenates the skin
The heat generated in the sauna penetrates the three layers of the skin, combating the effects of age. It helps in eliminating acne, blackheads and other skin imperfections. Infrared heat also hydrates the dermis, activates the production of collagen, and keeps the skin young and smooth for a longer period of time .
- Increases self-esteem
Using a sauna regularly has been shown to increase self-confidence, the ability to make decisions, improve relationships and, ultimately improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being .
- Reduces depression
The increase of self-esteem produced by the use of the sauna, induce relaxation that eliminate stress, help block negative thoughts and reduce states of depression and sadness .
- Reduces blood pressure and improves blood circulation
Heat therapies have proven to be one of the most effective natural remedies to achieve arterial and venous vasodilation and the elimination of salts from the body. This reduces the blood pressure of people with hypertension and prevents serious heart problems.
Heat also expands the circulatory pathways and regenerates blood cells. These actions facilitate blood flow, restore damaged heart tissue and reduce the risk of cardiovascular accidents such as heart attacks, stroke or embolism.
- Detoxifies the organs
Through sweating, toxins are eliminated that have built up by exposure to pollutants. The body releases heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and also expels harmful substances such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine , sodium, lactic acid and sulphuric acid.
- Help to lose weight effortlessly
One of the most discussed and controversial benefits of the sauna is weight loss. As the body is subjected to high temperature, it causes an increase in energy consumption that helps with weight loss. You can burn up to 500 calories per session with no effort required!
- Reduces stress and anxiety
The controlled temperature affects the nerve endings and causes a sensory slowdown from the epidermis to the brain, that causes the person to enter a state of mental and physical relaxation, eliminating stress and anxiety.
How to use Infrared Saunas?
Infrared light has a longer wavelength than visible light, and there are three infrared categories : near, middle, and far.
These new saunas combine near infrared light and heat therapy. Unlike traditional saunas that heat the air around you, these infrared saunas use radiant energy to raise the core temperature of the body.
According to Dr. Michael Hamblin, principal investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, the sensation can be felt beneath the skin. Therefore, heat passes through the skin, muscles, tendons and subcutaneous layer. (Dr Michael Hamblin also has some interesting theories on cancer so check him out!)
To take full advantage of the infrared sauna, it’s important that you follow these tips:
- Drink a glass of water before entering the infrared sauna, as excessive sweating can dehydrate you.
- Take two clean towels , one to put on the bench for hygiene reasons and another to remove excess sweat on the face, as it is usually very uncomfortable.
- It is important that your body and face be clean when you enter the sauna. Therefore, before entering the sauna, take a shower with soap and rinse well so that there is no residue on your skin.
Ideally, you are naked when you take your sauna, but sometimes the bathrooms are public, so you can use a swimsuit or a towel. In most places they usually have some rules of conduct and dress code, so check these out first.
- Once you are inside, breathe deeply and relax.
- Also, you should drink water from time to time so you don’t get dehydrated. Infrared saunas have an estimated time of treatment (30 mins), do not exceed it because the excess heat can reheat your tissues.
- When you leave the sauna take a warm shower, so that your temperature is regulated.
- Drink plenty of water afterwards.
I don’t suffer from any major health problems, but I do suffer with a bad back from standing all day, I also suffer from anxiety, and muscle/joint stiffness. I found almost immediately lying in the sauna, my stress levels decreased, and my anxiety disappeared. I also found my anxiety didn’t come back for a few days after my first treatment, and with regular use it decreased significantly, so I can highly recommend regular treatments for anyone who suffers from this. This and CBD oil have been my best cures for anxiety so far. Recently a lot of people have been commenting on my skin too, how I look glowing and healthy, which has been a nice bonus! I have noticed my joint pain has reduced too, so I am definitely going to keep using an infrared sauna regularly.
Where to find Infrared Saunas
Infrared Saunas can be found at some gyms, hotels, or holistic centres; there are not many around where I live, so you can purchase one for home use. Hot tubs have been popular for a long time, but I think you get a lot more health benefits from an infrared sauna, and they are a lot more economical to run. The sauna is the size of a shower cubicle, so you could keep it in a shed or an outhouse, or there are portable versions if you don’t have much space. It is also eco friendly as it uses very low energy heating elements which cost pennies to run.
Having a sauna at home seems an excellent solution for me, jumping in whenever I want and privately too. Can you imagine the pleasure after a tense and stressful day, being able to jump into your own sauna? Amazing!
What do you think – have you tried or would you try an infrared sauna?