The History & Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Updated: Apr 4
Learn why 2023's hottest new health trend is one to try.
A Brief History...
Saunas have been used for thousands of years for relaxation, health, and overall mental and physical well-being. In fact, the very first saunas were created in underground caves that were sealed with animal skins and heated during the day with small fires under stone piles. At night, the fires were put out and water was poured over the stones to create air-purifying smoke and heat. People and animals would huddle in the caves for warmth and eventually to celebrate major life events. These primitive saunas were used as kitchens, washrooms, and hospitals too. Oddly enough, these sauna spaces were found in a number of geographically distant locations from the Americas to Northern Europe.
Over the years, the tradition of the sauna has been upheld in various formats for social, physical, and mental wellbeing. Of course, with time, saunas have undergone adaptations, the latest of which is the infrared sauna. Infrared saunas, a relatively new type of sauna, gained popularity in recent years due to their purported health benefits. Unlike traditional saunas that use steam to heat the air around you, infrared saunas use infrared lamps to directly heat your body via light.
Let’s dive into the health benefits of this hot, new wellness trend!
What is an Infrared Sauna?
Infrared saunas use infrared lamps to emit radiant heat that is absorbed by the skin. Unlike traditional saunas, which can reach temperatures of up to 200°F, infrared saunas operate at lower temperatures, typically between 120°F and 140°F. This lower temperature makes the experience more tolerable and removes barriers to entry.
What are the Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas?
One of the primary benefits of infrared saunas is improved circulation. The heat from the infrared lamps causes your blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow and oxygenation to your muscles and other tissues. Improved circulation can help with a range of health issues, including muscle and joint pain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Another benefit of infrared saunas is detoxification. Sweating is one of the body's natural ways to eliminate toxins, like heavy metals, chemicals, and radioactive particles. The heat from the infrared lamps can increase sweat production, and the sweat that is produced during an infrared sauna session contains more toxins than sweat produced during exercise or traditional saunas.
Pain Relief and Boosting Healing
Infrared saunas have also been shown to have pain-relieving effects and to speed healing. The heat from the infrared lamps can help reduce inflammation and promote healing in sore and injured muscles and joints. Infrared saunas have also been used to treat a range of conditions, ranging from arthritis to fibromyalgia to back pain.
Relaxation and Stress Relief
Infrared saunas are also believed to promote relaxation and stress relief. The heat and the low-intensity light from the lamps can have a calming effect on the body and mind due to the release of endorphins and its muscle relaxing effects.
Improved Skin Health
Infrared saunas are said to have a range of skin benefits. The heat from the lamps can help to open up the pores, which can help to eliminate toxins and impurities from the skin. Increased blood flow and oxygenation to the skin can also help to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Lastly, the red light can help increase collagen and elastin production as well.
Boosted Immune System
Infrared sauna therapy has been shown to have immune-boosting effects. The heat from the lamps can help to increase the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections and diseases. Regular infrared sauna sessions have been shown to reduce the incidence of colds and other viral infections as well.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Infrared Saunas?
While infrared saunas are generally considered safe, there are some risks associated with them. Because the temperatures are lower than traditional saunas, it's easier to stay in an infrared sauna for longer, which can lead to dehydration and overheating. It's important to stay hydrated and to limit sauna sessions to 30 minutes or less.
In addition, some people who are more sensitive to heat may experience dizziness, nausea, or other symptoms. It's important to listen to your body and avoid overexposure to infrared heat. Pregnant women, young children, and people with certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, or respiratory problems should consult with their healthcare provider before using an infrared sauna.
In conclusion, while more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of infrared saunas, the existing evidence suggests that they may offer several promising advantages for overall health and wellness. However, as with any form of therapy, it's important to approach infrared sauna use with caution and to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare professional, if you have any concerns.
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