Getting High Naturally: A Guide to Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins In an Infrared Sauna
Infrared sauna exposure causes a release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) and beta-endorphins, a neuropeptide hormone. These hormones cause a sense of euphoria, improved mood, more energy, a greater sense of calm, and pain tolerance. (The word endorphin is a combination of the words “ENDO-genous”, or occurring naturally in the body, and “mo-RPHIN-e”, which is a pain-relieving compound). The level of endorphins released during an infrared sauna session can be three times the normal rate of release which is similar to a moderate run.
There is some science to back this feeling of floating you experience. Have you ever wondered what’s responsible for the natural high (or “runner’s high” after exercise) in general? The most common explanation that you’ve heard is that it’s because of your body releasing endorphins, but that’s not entirely what’s going on.
Beta-endorphins are natural opioids that are part of our natural painkiller system. This system is known as the “mu opioid” system, which stops pain signals from going from the body to the brain. The body also generates a peptide called dynorphin, which is responsible for the feeling of unease (better known as dysphoria). This unease experienced due to extreme heat in a sauna, eating spicy food, or during intense exercise is because of the release of dynorphin.
This release of dynorphin causes a sensitization of the mu opioid receptors, which then interact with the beta-endorphin. This process is what creates the “runner’s high” feeling. What’s interesting is that it is directly precipitated by the unease of physical exercise, extreme heat and food spiciness (i.e., a bit of pain). Basically, the greater the pain experienced during your infrared sauna session, the better the natural high will be after.
Immediately following an infrared sauna session (and the interaction of the dynorphins and mu opioid receptors) is a sense of “high” from raised serotonin levels. Serotonin is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance. When your serotonin levels are normal you feel happier, calmer, more focused, less anxious, and more emotionally stable. An infrared sauna will help to normalize your serotonin levels and put you in the rest and digest mode of your parasympathetic nervous system. As a result, after only a few sessions in a far infrared sauna you will simply exit feeling like you’re floating on a cloud. Add a cleansing shower and you will also experience the best night’s sleep ever and the natural high we’re all chasing!
It’s great to have studies back up how I feel after I experience an infrared sauna session and explain the feeling of being high. I also notice improvement in my energy level and the appearance of my skin. Some additional benefits of far infrared sauna therapy are de-stressing, enhanced exercise recovery, greater flexibility and it even helps me meditate better. I guess you could combine the effects of getting high from the heat with improving your skin, enjoying a mild workout, continually detoxing, relieving pain, burning calories and improving your circulation. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy all of these benefits along with the euphoria far infrared heat provides!
If I push myself in my sauna a little bit more each day, the payoff is the incredible natural high that I receive. You literally feel euphoric and that a giant weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. Don’t believe me? Without a doubt the more intense your infrared sauna session is, the better the natural high will be after. Like you needed any more reasons to get your own sauna, right?