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Infrared Sauna Therapy: Surprising Benefits & How to Get Started.

Updated: Feb 6

Saunas have been used for thousands of years to help detox and heal the body. Examples include Inipi Sweat Lodges, Russian Banyas, and Japanese Sentos, often used for physical and even spiritual purification. While all types of saunas offer some health benefits, it wasn't until the creation of near-infrared lamp saunas that the healing benefits truly became apparent. In this article, we're going to explore the many benefits of near-infrared saunas and how to get started using them for full-body health.

First, why is sweating so powerful?

Our skin is our largest detox organ and is designed to remove toxins from our bodies through sweat. In modern society, however, we don't sweat much due to climate-controlled environments and a lack of activity. Additionally, many toxins are better expelled through sweat than via other detox pathways.

Let's review the three main types of saunas:

Unlike traditional saunas, which introduce steam through steam generators or by throwing water on hot rocks, infrared saunas don't heat the air around you. Instead, they use infrared lamps to warm your body from the inside out. Infrared saunas operate at a lower temperature than traditional saunas, allowing you to experience a more intense sweat session at a lower temperature than traditional saunas.

There are two main types of infrared saunas: far-infrared saunas and near-infrared saunas.

Far-infrared saunas use heating elements that mainly emit light in the far-infrared range. This type of far-infrared light does offer some benefit, but it doesn't penetrate the body as well as near-infrared light does.

Near-infrared saunas combine heat therapy and light therapy. The light from near-infrared saunas can penetrate the body up to 9 inches, offering more robust health benefits than far-infrared saunas.

The benefits of near-infrared sauna therapy:

Besides detoxification, what other benefits does near-infrared sauna therapy offer? There are many incredible purported benefits of using a near-infrared sauna, most of which are likely due to its ability to stimulate cellular ATP production. Potential benefits include:

Types of near-infrared saunas:

The best way to gain access to a near-infrared sauna is to have one in your home, either by purchasing one or building one yourself. There are several models available, so be sure to do your research (I can offer suggestions) and select the one that best fits your needs.

If you don't have access to a full sauna or can't tolerate the heat for health reasons, you can still enjoy the benefits of near-infrared healing with one large 250-watt red bulb. In addition to the bulb, you'll want a clamp-on lamp (also referred to as a brooder lamp holder with a clamp) to house the bulb and so you can attach it to something.

Hardware stores, animal feed supply stores, or Amazon often carry both the bulbs and the housing lamp. The single heat lamp can be used for 5-30 minutes. Shining the light on the abdomen and the lower back areas helps with detoxification. Keep a 12-24 inch distance from the bulb and don't allow skin to overheat. See cautions below.

How to use a near-infrared sauna:

While it's ultimately up to you how you use your sauna, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Drink water: Be sure to stay hydrated when using your sauna. Drink a glass of water before entering and after exiting. You can also bring water into the sauna.

  • Choose the temperature: The average temperature of a near-infrared sauna ranges from 100˚F to 150˚F. Beginners should start out on the lower end, slowly working their way up to higher temperatures.

  • Choose your length of time: First-time users should start with 10-15 minutes. You can add more time as you feel comfortable until you reach the suggested time of 20-30 minutes.

  • Clothing: It's best not to wear any clothing to allow the light to shine directly on the skin.

  • Distance from lights: Be 12-24 inches away from the lights and rotate the body every 2-3 minutes.

  • Number of sessions per week: Most sources recommend using a near-infrared sauna 2-3 days a week. If you're healthy and handle the three days well, you can slowly move up to using it every day if tolerated.

  • Cautions:

    • If you're pregnant, sauna therapy is not recommended.

    • If you have any conditions that may be worsened by exposure to heat, check with your doctor before using a sauna.

    • Don't look directly at the bulbs as this could irritate your eyes.

    • Don't shine the lamp directly on the head for more than 2 minutes.

    • Having the lamp too close, or remaining in one spot too long, could cause skin to burn.

    • Don't go over the suggested time limit, as that could increase your risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.

    • Rosacea or some skin cancers may become irritated by the heat.

    • Don't apply any creams or oils before using a sauna.

    • Unplug the lamp after use.

    • Never leave the lamp unsupervised while on.

Get your sweat on:

Near-infrared sauna therapy offers a wide range of potential health benefits, and with no reports of adverse effects, it appears to be safe for the majority of people. Even those who can't normally tolerate other types of saunas or heat treatments seem to do well with near-infrared saunas. That being said, it's always good to talk with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any new therapy. Here's to sweating for health!

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