The popularity of Infrared saunas is increasing day by day. That is because of the numerous benefits which they have to offer like weight loss, better blood circulation, and elimination of toxins from your body.
However, since it is a recent trend, it is essential to dig deeper into the benefits of Infrared sauna and find out if the benefits can be gained or if it is hype.
To help you conduct some due diligence, we consulted three different health experts to answer most questions related to Infrared saunas. These experts include Cynthia Cobb, DNP APRN, a practicing nurse specializing in women's health, skincare, and cosmetics. Our second expert is Daniel Bubnis, MA, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS, a certified personal trainer. Daniel is also an instructor at Lackawanna College. Our third expert is Debra Rose Wilson, PHD, who is a healthcare practitioner and associate professor.
Let us now look at what they have to say about Infrared saunas.
How does our body react in an infrared sauna?
Cindy Cobb: The body responds the same way when entering the infrared sauna. The heart rate increases, the blood vessels dilate, and sweating occurs. This is accompanied by increasing blood circulation.
The body's response is the same as when undertaking any moderate exercise routine. Also, the duration of the infrared sauna session will determine how the body reacts. Usually, the heart rate can also increase to anywhere between 100 to 150 bpm. The body's response is why Infrared saunas offer such health benefits.
Daniel Bubnis: There are numerous studies analyzing the benefits of Infrared saunas. Such saunas are beneficial because of how infrared frequencies react with the water in our tissues.
Infrared radiation in itself is not visible to our human eye. It falls in the invisible spectrum of light. However, it still packs a significant amount of electromagnetic energy which can reach up to 1.5 inches below the skin. That is why this might impact the molecules in the tissue cells in our body and provide therapeutic effects, which many of us perceive to be the health benefits of Infrared saunas.
Debra Rose Wilson: Infrared saunas can penetrate our skin and heal the tissues beneath it. When they do so, the temperature of the skin increases, but the temperature beneath the skin does not increase much. Consequently, they open the body's pores and help you perspire, which aids the maintenance of temperature.
For whom is infrared sauna most beneficial, and why?
CC: Numerous studies have indicated that infrared saunas help treat chronic health issues. For example, it benefits you immensely when you're suffering from cardiac-related issues; it can help you decrease high blood pressure, better manage your cardiac health, avoid chronic heart failure, reduce pain, and help you with rheumatoid arthritis by adding joint movement and reducing swelling. It does that by improving blood circulation and increasing relaxation.
DB: While there is plenty of ongoing research around Infrared saunas, studies suggest that saunas can help you fight signs of aging and improve your skin quality. Some studies also indicate that infrared saunas can help you with kidney-related issues.
DRW: Other than the issues mentioned above, infrared saunas can aid in eliminating or reducing chronic pain and can be used in conjunction with physical therapy and treatment for injuries.
Numerous studies have indicated that athletes can heal faster by using infrared saunas regularly. However, this should be in conjunction with a properly balanced diet, sleeping schedules, and massages. In some cases, infrared saunas have even helped individuals deal with the pain that is hard to eliminate. This study highlights the same. It is good choice for individuals who want to opt for tanning without the risk of being exposed to UV rays which a tanning bed uses.
When should you stay away from the infrared sauna?
CC: Usually, the sauna is safe for almost everyone. However, if you have a history of cardiac problems or have had a heart attack, it is better to get permission from your physician before using one.
If you have any dermatitis-related symptoms, using such a sauna can make them even more severe. Similarly, if you're suffering from kidney-related disease or are susceptible to dehydration due to increased sweating, avoiding saunas makes sense. That is because in such a case, you will experience nausea and dizziness when you use the sauna. Also, pregnant females should consult their physician before using infrared saunas.
DB: There haven't been many studies regarding Infrared saunas and their negative effects, if any. The best way forward is to consult your physician and follow his/her advice.
DRW: Individuals with neuropathy might feel some discomfort while using infrared saunas. The elderly are also at risk of dehydration while using them due to the heat. In addition, if you are susceptible to dehydration or sunburn, you need to use such saunas with caution.
Does infrared sauna pose any risks?
CC: there is a risk only for those individuals who are suffering from cardiovascular issues or who are more prone to dehydration.
DB: there is no clear evidence that infrared saunas pose one type of risk.
DRW: It is usually on the lower side. It is better to opt for shorter sessions at first, and only if you do not suffer from any side effects can you increase the length of the sessions. If you are prone to suffering from hot flashes, keep away from infrared saunas altogether. There is evidence to suggest that infrared saunas might be better for your health. Still, there is always a risk of overheating your body and suffering from cardiovascular issues. Therefore, if anyone is already suffering from such an ailment, it is advisable to consult a physician before heading to the infrared sauna.
What should you consider before visiting the infrared sauna?
CC: Avoiding anything that can dehydrate your body before you head over to the infrared sauna is a good idea. This includes caffeine. In a single session, you shouldn't spend more than twenty minutes. However, if it is your first infrared sauna session, you should limit it to 10 minutes. You should not exceed your tolerance level.
Also, before heading to the infrared sauna, keep your body hydrated. After completing the session as well, drink plenty of water.
DB: The risk of Infrared is well-documented. That is why there are no clear steps that you can follow to avoid these risks. However, you should ensure that the infrared sauna facility you are heading over to maintains proper hygiene. It is essential to inquire from the management regarding the previous service and maintenance done on the infrared sauna machines. To ensure that you choose the right facility, you must ask your family and friends for references. Only when someone has had a good experience with a certain facility should you choose that over others.
DRW: As a rule of thumb, choose a licensed spa facility. Also, the staff should be well trained for handling the infrared sauna and guiding you. It is better to look at the Public health and safety certificates and reports that the facility has. Only then you can be sure that the facility is clean and you need not worry about unhygienic conditions.
Does infrared sauna work?
CC: Infrared sauna is only beneficial when you can tolerate higher temperatures. If you stop your session in between, the benefits will be curtailed. Only when your body is relaxed at higher temperatures can it improve your health.
In my opinion, infrared saunas do work to a limited extent. However, we have to wait for more studies and research reports that test the benefits of Infrared sauna over a wider sample size to truly understand its benefits.
DB: Multiple studies have time and again articulated the fact that infrared saunas offer some health benefits. However, I do not refer my clients to an infrared sauna facility. It depends on the problems which the client is facing and their current condition for me to recommend them to an infrared sauna facility.
DRW: Infrared heat is a great option when you want to eliminate chronic pain without resorting to harmful medicines. Medicines also result in dependency, which is hard to eliminate. Considering these few factors, infrared saunas can be a great alternative to eliminate such pain. They are also great in conjunction with other treatments and therapies. That is why I will consider recommending them to some of my patients.
It is advisable to discuss infrared saunas with your doctor before heading over to one such facility. While there are many articles that highlight the benefits of the same but you should only opt for infrared sauna sessions after speaking with your doctor.
If you want to go ahead with such sessions, it is better to keep in mind that the articulation of such benefits and the evidence is limited. That is why; choose a reputed facility which is properly maintained and completely clean.