A far infrared sauna can offer several health benefits, but must be carefully evaluated. This guide provides an understanding of far infrared radiation, along with the benefits (pros) and disadvantages (cons) of owning a far infrared sauna.
As with any health related topic, its critical to work with a trusted health care provider to determine if a far infrared sauna is right for you.
- 1 Understanding Far Infrared Radiation
- 2 What’s The Difference Between Near Infrared and Far Infrared Saunas?
- 3 Pros (Benefits) of a Far Infrared Sauna
- 4 Cons (Disadvantages) of a Far Infrared Sauna
- 5 Choosing a Far Infrared Sauna
- 6 Conclusion
Understanding Far Infrared Radiation
The wavelength spectrum starts with cosmic rays and goes on to:
- UV rays.
- The weaker visible waves like visible light.
- The even weaker infrared waves like far infrared.
- And microwaves and radio waves that are even weaker.
Infrared is not that powerful of a wavelength. Infrared waves are few and far between, and they also come at you slower. Compare this to an X-ray where the waves hit you really fast. If you increase the power of the infrared rays, the same number of waves are still hitting you. It’s still not hitting you with that many waves, but the amplitude of the wave is increasing. And that’s how these IR waves penetrate through your skin.
To understand far infrared radiation, recall that there’s visible light and then the weaker near-infrared rays. Weaker still is the far infrared spectrum. Lastly, there are microwaves, radio waves and even weaker waves. So FIR is a far weaker type of radiation.
There is a paper called Far infrared (FIR) radiation, it’s biological effects and medical applications. It concludes that far infrared radiation has become safe, effective and widely used to generate therapeutic effects.
Far Infrared and Water in the Human Body
Far infrared rays are even weaker than near-infrared. Now we’re finally ready to touch on why far infrared saunas are becoming more and more popular. It turns out that the far infrared spectrum is filled with many health benefits. And many of these health benefits stem from how the far infrared rays stimulate water molecules.
Far infrared energy is absorbed by the vibrational bonds in molecules. There is a high concentration of water in biological systems. One such system, the human body, is quite sensitive to the impact that far infrared rays have on water. This also means it’s having an effect on the molecules of water throughout the human body. FIR is charging the water in our bodies in a way that’s beneficial for our health.
What’s The Difference Between Near Infrared and Far Infrared Saunas?
Both far and near field infrared saunas have health benefits. There are a few differences between the two types of saunas that consumers should know about:
- Near-infrared radiation emits more light than far field radiation.
- The near-infrared radiation penetrates the skin deeper compared to far infrared radiation.
- Near-infrared radiation emits less EMF compared to far infrared radiation.
Pros (Benefits) of a Far Infrared Sauna
In a normal sauna, you sweat out approximately 3% toxins and 97% water. With an infrared sauna, you sweat out approximately 20% toxins and 80% water. So there’s a big difference with the amount of detoxing you do with an infrared sauna.
Those coming from a wet sauna should keep not worry about an IR sauna lacking heat. A typical dry infrared sauna gets plenty hot. The air temperature gets up to around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
An infrared sauna uses different infrared waves to penetrate the tissue. The IR sauna is emitting the same rays as the sun, except it’s not the ultraviolet that will give you skin cancer or a tan. The far infrared is heating you to the core instead of just the outer layer of your body. A traditional sauna would heat your core to about 200 degrees and sweat you through your top layer only.
With the basics covered, lets jump into the main benefits of a Far Infrared Sauna.
Infrared Saunas Help Detoxify
One of the primary uses of infrared sauna therapy is detoxification. Detoxification, unfortunately, is no longer an optional health strategy in the 21st century. We live in such a polluted environment far worse than the “barbaric” days of the early industrial revolution. Take a look around at everything that’s been compromised in our environment:
- Air that we breathe
- Water that we drink
- Fruits, vegetables and other food that we eat
They’re all polluted with toxic chemicals. Even if you’re already leading a really healthy lifestyle, eating organic food with access to pristine water, your body is likely still getting bombarded by stress hormones. These are all new and different types of challenges that we never had to deal with in the past century. We didn’t have to really deal with this in the past and detoxification was optional.
But it’s a much different story today. If you want to strive towards a long and healthy life, you have to think about detoxification. Sauna therapy becomes a crucial component of our detox strategy by helping our bodies sweat out the toxins trapped in our fat cells.
Saunas Get Your Body To Release Its Toxins
The awesome thing about the far infrared sauna is that you can start sweating almost immediately. The sauna doesn’t take a long time to preheat at all. It turns on, and you start sweating right away.
Sauna therapy throughout history has also been used as a spiritual cleansing practice. This is particularly true of native indigenous cultures around the world. The indigenous rituals used heat therapy to help the body rid itself of toxins. It was a way for the tribe members to gather together and to go through an experience together.
The Native Americans actually considered sauna therapy as the first hospital. And so if anyone was sick, it was sauna therapy. It was a form of heat therapy.
Heat shock proteins are proteins that are directly related and correlated with your immune system. And so when you have high immunity, your heat shock proteins increase. So saunas can help improve your immunity.
Sauna therapy also helps increase circulation. So it’s incredible for microcirculation in your arteries. It’s also great for circulation all over the body. Your weight loss gets kicked up a notch because you’re sweating so much. It helps to rid the body fat cells.
Fat is one of the primary places where your body tends to store toxins. We’re exposed to toxins from environmental pollution, tire dust and exhaust from vehicles. We’re exposed to so many different toxins, thousands of them every single day, and that’s not even counting the food we eat.
When you have a routine sauna practice, you are frequently eliminating toxins from your body. People who regularly use saunas report feeling lighter and overall healthier.
The Heat Stress of Infrared Saunas Is A Healthy Stress
Saunas play a role in longevity based on some published evidence. There is a study that came out showing that there is a link between sauna use and a decrease in all-cause mortality. This would include people dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, as well as other diseases.
The other finding was that these results were dose-dependent. Men that used the sauna once a week, compared to those that used to two to three times a week, had a 24% decrease in all-cause mortality. And men that used it at least four times a week had a 40% decrease in all-cause mortality.
You’ll definitely feel your heart racing when you’re in the sauna. It’s much like cardiovascular exercise where your heart starts to beat between 100 and 150 beats per minute. This imparts the benefit of increasing plasma and blood flow to the heart. The heart is actually doing less work than it normally would do when in the sauna.
Saunas Induce Positive Heat Stress
The sauna also has a positive heat stress effect on the body. Activities like exercise activates stress response mechanisms in the body. That’s one of the main benefits of exercise. The sauna heat specifically activates heat shock proteins. These are a class of proteins that are activated by heat. So when you exercise and your core body temperature rises, these proteins get activated. Heat shock proteins are able to prevent a certain type of damage that accumulates in our cell from happening.
The causes of aging is basically an accumulation of cell damage over time. As we age, our cells start to dysfunction. They can accumulate in our blood vessels, eventually leading to plaques. Cellular protein that aggregates in our brains is known as amyloid-beta plaque. The good news about heat shock protein is that it prevents this plaque from forming.
Heat stress, like the type you get from far infrared saunas, activates these beneficial heat shock proteins. And when you have heat stress, these proteins are actually activated for an extended period of time. You could do a sauna session and get your dose of heat stress. And then two weeks later, you still have these activated heat shock proteins. So saunas are helping to prevent all this damage from accumulating in your cells.
Medical Research on Sauna Benefits
There was helpful medical research published in 2011 in a journal called Environmental Medicine. The study was titled Sauna as a valuable clinical tool for cardiovascular, autoimmune, toxicant-induced and other chronic health problems. The study shows how sauna users show respiratory benefits, lung benefits as well as decreased pulmonary congestion. They even said that twice-weekly sauna sessions for six months reduced the incidence of common colds by 50%.
The study also showed that saunas are beneficial for hypertension and high blood pressure. Saunas could also be a good treatment for depression, pain relief, chronic pain. There is currently a scarcity of scientific research on infrared saunas compared to radiant heat saunas. The existing evidence focuses primarily on cardiovascular system benefits. The study did mention that infrared saunas typically do not achieve the same temperatures as radiant heat saunas.
There are many benefits of the heat shock protein that comes with sauna use. As with conventional saunas, far infrared saunas increase nitric oxide synthesis. This means that it dilates your blood vessels. Anything that helps your vascularity also helps your blood flow. Saunas could be an incredible recovery tool for athletes who are looking for a restorative device.
Cons (Disadvantages) of a Far Infrared Sauna
Many people spend a good deal of money without getting what they really want. You have to look at build quality, how long it takes to heat up the sauna and how long it takes you to get a good sweat from one. You should also be aware of the various sauna risks.
Many customers don’t check the EMF levels the saunas are emitting. This is a concern with cheaper models using suspect building materials. Many models on Amazon are mass-produced from the same few warehouses. These are sold on Amazon even though they have high EMF levels.
There are other sauna risks to consider. One such risk is the issue of out-gassing. You’re in a contained area when in a sauna. So say you’re in a contained area like a sauna. If the door is closed, and you have high EMF. It’s almost like you’re in a Farraday cage. These electromagnetic fields could be potentially damaging for your body.
There could also be materials on the heaters that are giving off toxic gas. There could be non-shielded wiring also contributing to the EMF pollution. There’s more to making a proper sauna beyond throwing wires into a box, adding a heater and wrapping it with a flame retardant cover.
Many supposed sauna disadvantages actually stem from badly constructed saunas. Some saunas are cheaply made for the sole purpose of turning a profit. The people buying them are essentially putting themselves in that kind of dangerous situation over time. The low prices at Walmart, Costco and Amazon make these cheap saunas so tempting. Consumers should do more due diligence on saunas before purchasing one.
May Not Be Right for Certain Types of Health Issues
Its imperative to work with a trusted health care provider when considering far infrared sauna use. Some individuals with certain types of heart conditions or hypotension may risk harm by heating their body up. Additionally, because of the risk of dehydration, don’t sauna alone and have plenty of water on hand for when your session is complete.
If you are cleared to use a far infrared sauna, consider a whole house or reverse osmosis water filter. After all, what is the point of using a sauna to get rid of toxins if the water you drink to re-hydrate is full of them?
Another Potential Infrared Sauna Drawback: EMF Radiation
Many people are looking for a low EMF sauna. They might be dealing with some type of chronic condition. This could be caused by environmental pollutants like mold poisoning or mold infections. Retro viral infections and aluminum levels from the environment can affect your health as well. So many people are searching for a good sauna to detox the heavy metals and pesticides from their bodies.
Those afflicted with heavy metal poisoning might’ve started with the foot bath method. This is most likely quicker for getting heavy metals out, but it’s not as effective as the far infrared sauna for getting glyphosate and other pesticides out of your system.
The Sources Of EMF Radiation
Three types of EMF can be present any sauna: magnetic fields, electric fields and RF radiation. RF radiation primarily comes from cell phones and similar electronic devices. In a sauna, it would come from the stereo system, a Bluetooth or a Wi Fi module for your smartphone if the sauna is fancy like that. Just make sure you get a sauna that doesn’t have those things. You then won’t have to tear the roof apart and disable those things. Or if you can’t disable them, you won’t have to put shielding material between you and those electronic components.
Most of the far infrared saunas that say they’re low EMF are really not low EMF throughout. They’re only low EMF as relates to magnetic fields. Magnetic fields only show up since some companies are only using a Gauss meter to go into the sauna. The more responsible sauna companies employ third party EMF testing. They take the heater out of the sauna and send it to a lab in another state and then test the heater.
How To Protect Against Potential EMF Radiation
People have different degrees of fear of EMF radiation. Some go as far as turning off the circuit breakers at night. Some will measure the electric fields in their bedrooms, including the distance from the headboard to the wall outlet.
The heat projector of the sauna is running off either AC or DC current. And if it’s DC, there’s a transformer somewhere in the sauna to step up the voltage. So whatever the heating element is for the type of sauna that you’re using, it’s being powered by something that your body is really close to.
You want your sauna to be a place where you can recuperate. You thus want low electric fields and magnetic fields. Potential sauna buyers should stick with a true low EMF sauna. An infrared sauna is your best choice if you want to detox. There are low-EMF infrared saunas out there. You just have to make sure and do your research to find them.
Choosing a Far Infrared Sauna
Given the far infrared sauna pros and cons listed above, you want to select your sauna carefully. From portable saunas to fully enclosed that require a dedicated electric switch, this is not a time to skimp on quality.
Key points to evaluate include, and are not limited to:
- Size and power requirements
- Portability vs. in place
- Low EMF and infrared radiation type (Far vs. Near Infrared)
- Construction quality and materials used
- Cost and warranty
Sunlighten saunas have a reputation as a top quality sauna manufacturer and may be a good reference point. Specifically:
- These saunas feature some of the best cabinetry construction and choice of woods in the industry.
- Sunlighten saunas employ Solocarbon technology with verified health benefits. Bamboo carbon filters produce a targeted infrared range designed for healthy heating.
- Their saunas offer the option of biofeedback and heart rate monitoring.
- Sunlighten also offers a portable dome version for those who don’t want to heat their head while detoxing.
Some of the best selling far infrared saunas can also be found on Amazon. Carefully perform your research and speak to your health care provider to determine if a far infrared sauna is right for you.
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Far infrared saunas provide a host of benefits, but you also need to consider the negatives. As with all health related items, its imperative to work with a trusted health care provider to determine what is right for your body. As an example, someone with a heart condition or hypotension may be at risk of harm if they overheat.
If you discover that a far infrared sauna will aid your health, take your time to align the options while considering saving up for the best far infrared sauna you can afford.