What is an Infrared sauna
I first come across infrared sauna’s in a spiritual centre that helps people with cancer and in a health spa.
I knew they were different to a regular sauna but didn’t understand how.
I soon learned that an infrared sauna penetrates your skin directly instead of heating up the area around you, like in a traditional sauna.
This means the heat is a much more comfortable 45-65 degrees, instead of the much hotter 65-90 degrees of a traditional sauna.
Instead of using coals the sauna is fitted with either ceramic or carbon infrared heaters. Carbon can cover a much larger surface area and ceramic can be placed in smaller areas, meaning your whole cabin is heated. Both are energy efficient in comparison to a traditional sauna.
Infrared is electromagnetic radiation that is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We can’t see it and it’s what is used in your TV remote control, it’s also emitted from fire and the sun.
I learned about the many health benefits and they started to get me excited about regular sauna use.
I started to wonder where I could fit one in my house, there was no space but maybe I could make some? That guest shower that is barely used could be replaced with a luxurious sauna instead. My Husband wasn’t onboard with the idea, so I left it at that!
The reported benefits
With regular use of 3-4 times a week between 15-30 minutes each time (and the benefits increase with the increased of use of up to 7 times a week.)
- The main benefit I was personally interested in was pain relief. At the time of first researching these saunas I was in a lot of pain with back ache and was doing many things to help reduce it. Sitting in a sauna sounded like an easy and enjoyable way to increase what I was doing to help. It can help pain, inflammation and conditions such as arthritis, through the stimulation of blood through the affected area(s).
- I was really excited to learn that an infrared sauna helps you to detoxify at a cellular level this means you expel more toxins such as chemicals, heavy meals and other particles.
- It boosts your immunity because your core body temperature is rising it induces a fever and this helps to fight virus’s.
- For the same reason it also improves circulation as it increases the heart rate. I’ve always been a cold being, so was game for exploring this reported benefit. Regular sauna use lower’s blood pressure and increase the elasticity of the arteries.
- Saunas are thought to slow down aging through the stimulation of elastin and collagen.
- It can destress you and promote relation as serotonin is increased and dopamine is stimulation.
- One study slowed that using a sauna for 4x a week for 2 weeks so considerable weight loss compared to another group who did not use a sauna, it’s thought to burn around 600 calories a session.
- A large study undertaken in Finland known as the KIHD (Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease risk factor study) showed men who used a sauna 2-3x a week were 27% less likely to die from cardiovascular related diseases (4-7x a week increased to a 50% reduction). It also significantly reduced the risk of of dementia and alzheimer’s (66% when using a sauna 4-7 x a week.)
In my work I’m really interested in ancient practices that may have been forgotten in certain parts of the world but can have a profound impact on our health. Such as herbalism, enemas, fermented foods, cold water therapy and saunas to name a few.
Saunas are popular in Finland but there are also sweat lodges in Africa and Banyas in Russia. Heat therapy has been used for thousands of years for cleansing, healing and purifying.
As you know I’d given up of the idea of a sauna at home, then one Christmas my Husband treated me to a VERY generous and unexpected present. An infrared sauna for our (very small) garden.
It took a bit of juggling around with space but we found a corner for it and it seats 3-4 and is perfect to use in combination with cold water therapy (him not me!)
There is something about a sauna outside you know. I noticed this when I had my first outdoor jacuzzi too. The sound of the birds, the sight of plants waving in the breeze and the earthing as you walk across the grass to reach it.
Time in the sauna feels like mindful time I’ve claimed back, sometimes we sauna as a couple and chat, sometimes I just watch my thoughts, sometimes I meditate, watch the plants, you remember that feeling of just chillin’?
It’s fitted with bluetooth so you could listen to the radio, an audiobook or podcast but mostly I need time away from consuming and like to just be.
I find it a lot more comfortable than a traditional sauna because the heat is so much less. I’ve also noticed if I have tight knotty shoulders or back it definitely helps to ease this and the benefits seem to last.
The sauna is of course dehydrating as you sweat.
So never use the sauna after drinking and do not drink in the sauna (alcohol). Hydrate before and after and try and get some electrolyse in, you could do with with a green juice or an electrolyte powder.
The sauna is safe to use for most healthy people.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition then consult your Doctor particularly if you have had a recent heart attack, have unstable angina or are elderly and prone to low blood pressure.
Children and pregnant women are advised to abstain from use.
Let me know if you have tried an infrared sauna and what you think.