Heat Shock Proteins, De-Stress, Pain Relief
The Ultimate Guide to Far Infrared Sauna Benefits 
Lose Weight, Feel Great & Detoxify
Written by Christopher Kiggins
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Steam saunas were originally created for bathing purposes; the health benefits associated with whole-body hyperthermia were discovered much later. As with most inventions, we have studied and improved on the original design. With saunas, we have made advances in quality, technology, convenience, but mostly importantly, we have found ways to maximize the health benefits we get from them.
From relaxation to weight loss, we have tested and understood what causes these benefits and improved upon them, largely through the application of infrared light.
Detoxification is the single biggest reason people are interested in infrared saunas. In famed Detoxification book, Detoxify or Die by Sherry Rogers M.D., she explains how infrared saunas go about detoxifying the body:
“Far infrared wavelengths decrease the size of water clusters [in the body], giving them greater mobility and penetration in and out of body tissues. For it is when these hyperactive or energized water molecules move in and out of cells that they also carry toxins that previously were stuck. FIR energy actually causes a resonance dance between the water and chemical molecules to mobilize and unite them.” These combined molecules are then moved out of the body through the breath (exhalation), through urine and feces and… sweat! (Rogers M.D., 2002, pg. 218).
The process of storing these toxins is called bioaccumulation. Toxins come in the form of drugs, pollutants, preservatives, pesticides, heavy metals and poisonous substances, to mention just a few!
So what do toxins do to you?
When they are absorbed into your body, toxins interact with enzymes and confuse cellular receptors. This does not allow for normal cellular function, as the cell is confused by the toxin and its electrical receptivity is off sync, throwing off your homeostasis. This is dangerous because we are made of cells that need to reproduce. Each cell has a job and it can’t function properly when toxic.
Documented illnesses due to toxicity include cancers of every organ system in the body, as well as leukemia, liver disease, pulmonary and cardiovascular damage, anemia and blood changes, nervous system disorders, immune system damage, psychological damage, reproductive and fertility impairment, and kidney dysfunction.
Toxins are stored in adipose tissue—i.e., fat cells. There are many chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives that exist today that didn’t exist 100 years ago, and the body has no natural reaction to these toxins. They simply accumulate in the body until it’s too late. But there is a way to get rid of them—sweat!
“The bottom line is that sweat is the only proven method for getting the most damaging toxins out of the body. There are no drugs, no surgery, no chelation, nor other detoxification methods with before and after measurements proving that unwanted chemicals like PCB’s and pesticides were eliminated.” (Rogers M.D., 2002, pg. 218).
Resonant frequency is the tendency of a system to oscillate with greater amplitude at some frequencies than others. When the body absorbs infrared in the 6.0 microns range your cells begin to vibrate—toxins are shaken free of your adipose tissue (fat cells) and are then released through your lungs, small intestine (excretion), urine and through your integumentary system (your skin). After exposure in the infrared sauna environment your skin becomes highly permeable, and the blood vessels dilate to allow more blood to the surface to cool your body. Sweating is the main mechanism to cool your body!
Millions of microscopic sweat glands are infused with fluid from the blood, which then release and empty to your skin’s surface, thereby flushing the releasing toxins and heavy metals out of your body. This is the major way how an infrared sauna contributes to health through detoxification.
It is my belief that producing any sort of sweat will do this—by way of a hot tub, exercise, steam, traditional or infrared sauna. However, the method that is the easiest of these options to sustain a sweat over a 30+ minute period is easily an infrared sauna. This is because of the lower air temperature, which allows you a more prolonged, comfortable experience. The more sweat, the more water you drink the more toxins you excrete.
Toxins can definitely damage your body. Sometimes they act alone, and sometimes they cooperate with other disease causing factors, which can be fatal over time. The human body is designed to recognize and remove toxins, however, you need to know how to help yourself:
• Reduce your exposure to exogenous and endogenous toxins when possible. Basically avoid plastic at ALL costs.
• A healthy diet is one way to reduce the amount of toxins you absorb.
Help your body get the support it needs to clear out toxins that enter your system. If you think you have a high level of toxins or heavy metals in your body you can visit your doctor and do a blood or urine test. You can test how much lead is in your body fairly easily through a urine test. While not always the case, the more lead in your body the more other heavy metals you are carrying as well.
Regular infrared sauna use is a proven way to help rid your body of toxins and heavy metals accumulated over time.
Cardiovascular Health Cardiovascular Health
Perhaps one of the most underrated results of regular infrared sauna use is the benefit to your heart. Detoxification and weight loss are far more popular topics, but the fact remains cardiovascular disease kills more Americans every year than every other disease combined.
Your heart keeps you alive by pumping oxygenated blood through your body. It flows from your arteries to your blood vessels into your blood venules and then all the way to your capillaries, where the body’s most important function occurs—cellular perfusion.
This is the purpose of your heart—not to pump blood, but to pump oxygen to your cells.
Once your heart stops pumping, your body has no way to rid itself of carbon dioxide and your cells become acidic. Infrared saunas contribute to heart health and lower your blood pressure naturally.
Sitting in an infrared sauna causes a chain reaction of events:
First, your heart beats faster to bring blood to the capillaries just below your skin’s surface so sweat can be released through your skin triggering your body to go into the parasympathetic mode of your autonomic nervous system. This is your body’s “rest and digest” mode. It is the unconscious action responsible for transmitting sensory information from your body’s organs to your central nervous system. This transmission tells your body to relax.
Next, the opposing and complementary nervous system response is the sympathetic nervous system. This is the fight or flight response which tells your body to be alert and to act in the face of danger or challenges requiring quick responses. Your body must be in one mode, but not both, at all times.
Lastly, when your body goes into relaxation mode in the parasympathetic response, your blood vessels expand through vasodilation. Your nervous system tells your heart to pump faster and for your arteries, vessels, venules and veins to allow more blood to pass through. Blood pressure drops as a result.
While not the goal of this book, it’s good to know this: Blood pressure is best explained through the following analogy:
If your heart is a hand gently holding a bag of fluid with a straw leading out of it, the systolic blood pressure rate (top number when measuring blood pressure [120/80]) is the amount of resistance that the straw applies to the fluid when it attempts to leave the bag when squeezed. If the straw’s circumference is bigger, there is less pressure resistance, and if the straw’s circumference is smaller, the pressure is greater. The greater the pressure, the higher the systolic blood pressure number.
The diastolic rate (the bottom number [120/80]) is the amount of pressure exerted inside the straw (or arteries) during rest after the bag has been emptied through contraction through of the straw.
So when your body tells your heart to pump faster and to expand the circumference of your blood vessels, your systolic blood pressure will go down. This will also cause your diastolic blood pressure to drop.
This is how infrared saunas lower your blood pressure—expanding the means by which blood is transported through your body allowing for better and faster circulation through expanded blood vessels. Because your body is also put into the parasympathetic state, you are more relaxed and your sense of stress will be reduced. Most of the time this lowers your heart beats per minute.
Over time, this will make a big difference in the health of your heart and lower your blood pressure. Lowered blood pressure equals less heart attacks, strokes, brain aneurysms and heart disease.
Weight Loss Weight Loss
Weight loss is the second most popular topic (after detoxification) that people ask about when researching infrared saunas. I was very skeptical in that there are so many websites and sketchy saunas that advertise “30 minutes in an infrared sauna burns 600 calories!” claims, which, of course, are baseless. The process is subtle and you still have to make healthy dietary choices for maximum effect, but weight loss will happen over time with regular infrared sauna use.
Let’s get into how this works:
In order for you to sweat, your heart is forced to pump at a faster rate. When your heart beats per minute rise, your blood vessels begin to vasodilate, allowing for more blood to be pumped more quickly through the vessels and capillaries underneath your skin. As more oxygenated blood is pumped through your body, your body will begin to burn more stored energy. This is your metabolism being boosted by using an infrared sauna.
Your metabolic rate is directly tied to cardiovascular exercise.
Moreover, the rise in metabolic rate is sustained over long periods of time after any workout, including taking an infrared sauna. If you do this over the span of days, weeks and even months, you will lose weight.
But allow the facts to speak for themselves:
Binghampton University Infrared Sauna Weight Loss Study
A study at Binghampton University, performed by Dr. Kenneth Mcleod, professor of bioengineering, showed conclusively that using True Wave II combination carbon and ceramic heaters in a Clearlight Sauna three times a week can eliminate an average of four percent body fat over a four-month period. For a 175 pound man, that represents a seven-pound reduction. The participants in the study did not change their diet or exercise patterns. The control group in the study showed no weight loss over the 16 month period.
The hypothesis was that increasing core body temperature caused an increase in human growth hormone production which in turn helped to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. When the human growth hormone in the body was increased it helped to improve body composition, increased bone mass, muscle mass and assisted in decreasing fat stores.
Phase One (16 week study):
Participants were exposed 3 times per week to an infrared sauna at 110 degrees for 45 minutes at a time for 16 weeks. Compliance ranged from a low of 12 sessions completed to 45 sessions.
Findings: Participants who had high compliance (used the sauna regularly) had a greater loss in body fat. Participants measured up to a 4 percent drop in body fat over the four months. However, those that came in late in the day or evening lost significantly more body fat than those using the sauna in the morning. The change in body fat was confirmed by measurements of serum glucose levels.
The hypothesis was that increasing core body temperature elevated human growth hormone production increasing serum glucose levels, which the study confirmed. In addition, the Binghampton scientists observed that the higher the core body temperature reached, the larger the decrease in body fat, also consistent with the HGH hypothesis.
Phase Two (8 week study): Participants were exposed 5 times per week to an infrared sauna at 110 degrees for 30 minutes after 3 pm. On average, the study subjects lost about 0.25% body fat per week totaling approximately 4% over 8 weeks. This resulted in approximately twice the rate of fat loss as compared to Phase 1 (8 weeks vs. 16 weeks). A control population was used in Phase Two of the study, and the body fat of the control group did not change over the 8 week study.
While using an infrared sauna is great to lose weight, there are things that you can do to expedite it. Drinking water before, during and after your sauna session will help speed up your metabolism.
If you are used to regularly drinking soda, coffee or even alcohol, your body will now crave water. As with many things, one healthy habit starts another—it’s no different with infrared sauna use.
Stress Relief Stress Relief
Putting your body into relaxation mode with an infrared sauna also helps alleviate your stress levels. We are hardwired to respond to stress with the ‘fight or flight’ response through our sympathetic nervous system. Prehistoric people had to worry about predators, but since we don’t have to worry about sabre-toothed tigers anymore, we have created new fears: work, money, relationships and family which can all cause stress.
When you are stressed, your body triggers the fight or flight response and releases adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline makes your heart rate increase and cortisol tells your body that it is under attack. This constant release of hormones into your bloodstream will harm you in several ways: your immune system can be damaged, your body will retain more fat cells and you might gain weight. As a result, you are prone to depression as well as anxiety, which will then disrupt your sleep patterns, affecting your memory retention and ability to concentrate. The constant release of adrenaline can also cause a cardiac emergency as well.
Lack of sleep is also detrimental to health. You will experience increased stress, decreased brain function, impaired motor controls, lethargy, weight gain, poor mood swings, lowered and reduced immune functions to fight disease and infections, lowered productivity and poor memory.
Using an infrared sauna daily will remove your body from the fight or flight sympathetic mode, and instead, you will relax in the parasympathetic mode. This will cause your heart rate to decrease, your blood vessels to dilate and to make you feel much more relaxed. The feeling of relaxation tends to last for the rest of the day into the night.
Improved sleep is the primary benefit that I consistently experience when using my infrared sauna.
The trick that I use is to take a very hot steam shower right after I get out of my sauna. I don’t personally own a proper steam shower, so I just turn the water on as hot as possible, let the steam build up in the shower and then get in. If you combine the sauna and steam together you will be so physically exhausted that you will have no choice but to sleep and relax.
Pain Relief Pain Relief
Infrared therapy utilizes light to create heat; whereas, traditional saunas use heat to warm the air, which in turn warms the body. The benefit of infrared heat is that the body is heated directly without warming the surrounding air. This heat is far more comfortable than steamed heat as it is not required to be as hot. (Have you taken a steam sauna recently? It’s hard to stay in there for longer than 10 minutes, maximum). Thus, you can remain inside an infrared sauna longer gaining all the benefits from the warm and gentle infrared heat.
Because infrared is light, instead of hot air, that light actually travels inside your body and is either absorbed by your body’s water molecules or your soft tissue. When this happens, your muscles become looser, your joints, shoulders, hips and knees become more fluid and moving feels much easier. This is because your joints are surrounded by many miniscule muscles that when heated, loosen up greatly. This makes ease of movement much easier.
The pain relief that comes from this gentle heat can be felt for so many conditions; however, the main pain reduction occurs due to this comfortable infrared heat penetrating joints, muscles, tissues and nerve endings, while also producing additional white blood cells alleviating inflammation. Inflammation has currently been identified as the leading cause of most ailments and health conditions. Infrared sauna use increases blood flow, bringing healthy, oxygenated blood to whatever area is in need while relaxing your body to get you out of pain.
Infrared heat produces vigorous perspiration which in turn accelerates heart rate as when involved in moderate exercise. There is serious evidence, cited by many studies, that validate these results in terms of successfully treating various painful health conditions such as muscle strains, joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
• From USC, Dr. Jeffrey Spencer, a sports medicine expert, “Infrared wavelengths penetrate the body to create heat, which creates profound therapeutic benefits. They increase blood flow to the muscles, delivering more concentrated oxygen, which creates more energy to heal.”
• From NASA, Dr. Harry Whelan determined that infrared heat allows for deep penetration of muscle and tissue, increasing cell growth from the inside, allowing the body to reduce pain and heal more quickly.
• From Japan, published in the Internal Medicine Journal, it was discovered that after even only one FIR session, chronic pain sufferers experienced significant reductions in pain, by up to 70 percent. These pain level scores decreased even further and remained low throughout the entire observation period. The conclusion was FIR is effective for chronic pain treatment.
If you are a sufferer of joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic inflammation, or you are just an athlete in need of faster recovery, using an infrared sauna will at the very least help you ease your pain.
For the longest time I had no idea what inflammation was; it was one of those health buzzwords that everyone was talking about. For the life of me I couldn’t wrap my head around what it meant and how it harms the body. To help us both out, I am going to start with the definition.
You can think of inflammation as your body’s protection mechanism against harm. There are two kinds of inflammation: chronic and acute. You are likely far more familiar with acute inflammation, which is your body’s response to banging your knee or slicing your finger (hopefully not too deep…).
The way inflammation works is that when something like a cut or wound happens, your immune system releases an army of white blood cells to essentially surround the wounded area, creating a wall or barrier (kind of like an army would). This creates visible swelling and a literal red ring of these white blood cells. This is inflammation.
If you have an infection like the flu, bronchitis or pneumonia the process is very similar. When infection happens your body creates the army of white blood cells, but instead of fighting a wound, they fight a virus. Without this army, you would surely die. During this process your immune system is ‘inflamed.’
Chronic, sustained inflammation can also occur in response to other unwanted substances in the body, such as toxins from cigarette smoke, plastic particles, or an excess of fat cells (especially fat in the belly area). Inside arteries, inflammation helps kick off atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty, cholesterol rich plaque. Your body perceives this plaque as abnormal and foreign, so it attempts to wall off the plaque from the flowing blood. But if that wall breaks down, the plaque may rupture. The contents then mingle with blood, forming a clot that blocks blood flow. Blood clots are responsible for the majority of heart attacks and most strokes.
It is really quite simple: eliminate these toxins in your body and you will drastically diminish the buildup of plaque which will in turn reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Far Infrared sauna therapy is one of the most effective tools available when it comes to battling inflammation. Recently I fell while skiing. Nothing was broken but my entire body felt swollen. After just a couple of sessions in my sauna symptoms began to disappear and within days I was feeling much better. Sweating in an infrared sauna enables your body to release toxins, metals and chemicals. It also aids in pain relief, enhanced circulation and greatly reduces inflammation.
We now know inflammation to be the beginning of many if not most diseases. Inflammation is also part of the body’s immune response. It begins with irritation and changes into the immediate healing response of inflammation; meaning, your body is constantly fighting against itself.
Chronic inflammation can last several months even years. This can lead to certain cancers, arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis and allergies. Inflammation is part of the body’s innate healing process, however, it is best to heal the inflammation prior to allowing it to develop. This can be accomplished with consistent use of far infrared sauna therapy.
Thirty minutes a day in an infrared sauna is all that’s needed to improve your circulation and reducing inflammation. Increased circulation is also wonderful for lowering blood pressure, relieving pain, reducing stiffness and, of course, fending off inflammation.
How does infrared sauna therapy actually work in terms of reducing inflammation?
Far infrared heat produces vigorous perspiration which in turn accelerates heart rate as when involved in moderate exercise. There is serious evidence, sited by many studies, that validate these results in terms of successfully treating various painful and also silent health conditions such as inflammation, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis. Most of all, even after the first session, inflammation is reduced and pain is relieved; the longer the therapy the more successful.
Far infrared sauna users have also experienced improvements in the level of inflammation on their skin. Difficult cases of psoriasis and other skin ailments have improved dramatically after use of infrared saunas, often over a short period of usage; one to two months. Skin health has also greatly improved with reduction in cellulite, clearing of acne and relief from psoriasis and eczema.
“The skin is the window to your overall health. The healthier your skin is the healthier your overall health is.”
Far infrared sauna therapy also neutralizes blood toxicity and smooths the walls of arteries, capillaries and veins. It also allows for the healing of upper respiratory infections. It has proven to be outstanding in the ease of inflammatory symptoms from asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, flu, sinusitis and congestion as it clears the inflammation, swelling and mucus clogged passages.
Total detoxification is possible as the absorption of infrared enhances white blood cell function, increasing immune response and the elimination of foreign pathogens and cellular waste products. When toxins are eliminated lymph node function improves and immune function strengthens. Further research has also tagged additional ailments currently and medically proven to be beneficial when using far infrared sauna therapy when battling anything that includes inflammation.
Far infrared sauna therapy is such a wonderful tool for your overall physical health. It is always good to remember to leave enough time in your day for a quick infrared sauna session. Remember, far infrared sauna therapy involves the use of infrared rays to gently heal, soothe, stimulate and detoxify the body as well as the mind. The rays have the ability to penetrate all layers of the human body, penetrating into the inner-most regions of the tissues, muscles and bone. Not only is this relaxing but it benefits the mind, body and spirit.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis
As I get older I feel like my body is failing ever so slightly. Specifically, I can feel my shoulder socket snap like it’s grinding a gear when I move my arm. There is also the pain and stiffness I experience when I stay in a fixed position for a lot of time. Every joint just moves slower.
Now, at the time of writing this, I’m 34. I’m no spring chicken, but not as up there in age as some of you reading this book. That being said, there’s hope to feel younger using FIR therapy. It is widely acknowledged that consistent use of far infrared saunas seriously aids in the eradication of not only joint pain but also assists in the elimination of the more severe pain caused by arthritis.
I have personally heard from many far infrared sauna owners regarding this result for years as anecdotal evidence of pain reduction. This is good–we can all use a little less pain in aging joints.
Pain relief happens when far infrared heat penetrates all of the tiny, miniscule muscles surrounding your joints, gets absorbed into your water molecules and soft tissue and increases circulation (while allowing oxygenated blood to flow efficiently to injured or sore joints).
When muscles are warmed, in the far infrared heat, the body’s tissues made of collagen, become more flexible as they are exposed to the increased temperature.
Muscle spasms are reduced and when nerve endings calm down, relieving pain, the body is able to heal naturally. Essentially, the gentle heat from far infrared soothes both the causes and effects of arthritis.
Now, far infrared heat will not cure all arthritis and joint pain; but when combined with frequent sauna therapy as part of an ongoing health regimen, a lot of the pain dissipates and your body will loosen up.
For many, this is a significant improvement in your quality of life. This allows you to feel younger and maintain a more active lifestyle, which naturally boosts your mood, increases better mental health and improves your wellbeing. It also strengthens the muscles surrounding joints, effectively creating a baseline ease of movement that was much better before sauna therapy.
Those living with arthritis and frequent joint pain imagine the day they can realize relief without medication. Prescriptions alleviate pain; however, they can stress the liver when dangerous toxins increase. Then they will need to be eliminated. Because of this, those in pain are looking for an alternative to lower their pain and increase their mobility. Far infrared sauna therapy is the most effective avenue for pain reduction as it also compliments traditional medical therapies.
Recently a study attributed joint pain relief from far infrared sauna therapy to a temporary rise in the delivery of noradrenaline, cortisol, adrenaline, and growth hormones. These are all anti-inflammatory.
Endorphins are considered to be the body’s natural painkillers; they are also released in a sauna session. The word endorphin is a combination of “ENDO-genous”, which means ‘occurring naturally in the body’, and “mo-RPHIN-e”, (morphine) which is a pain-relieving compound. These 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.
From the above study, over half the participants received relief from general pain and enjoyed added mobility.
From another study, a report produced by Saxion University of Applied Sciences, found that there are additional positive effects from far infrared sauna therapy. This university, located in the Netherlands, took seventeen individuals who suffered from arthritis, some from RA, and treated them with infrared sauna treatments over a period of four weeks. They discovered that this therapy decreased pain, stiffness, and fatigue and was significantly successful in benefitting pain reduction from those suffering from mild to severe arthritis.
Arthritis pain can be debilitating. It is a serious disease and its symptoms are greatly relieved when utilizing far infrared therapy. The heat from infrared infiltrates tissues, muscles, and organs. It penetrates the blood flow as it excites the body’s cells to throw off and eliminate toxins. Circulation is improved, metabolism increases and tissues are re-oxygenated. The gentle heat from far infrared lowers pain levels and has been proven to relieve chronic pain, as well.
If you suffer from arthritis, always consult your health practitioner first about including my suggestion of utilizing far infrared sauna therapy into your daily health regimen. Combined with proper diet and exercise, a far infrared sauna may help you recapture a more active, pain-free lifestyle allowing you to enjoy more balance and abundant health in your daily living.
Infrared Saunas and Cancer Infrared Saunas and Cancer
A very interesting word that I just learned is called autophagy, (from the Ancient Greek word autóphagos, which means “self-devouring” and kýtos, which means “hollow”) which is the mechanism of a cell to remove dysfunctional/unnecessary components within itself. ‘Auto’ means cell and ‘phagy’ means eat. This is the body’s method of removing damaged cells and regenerating newer, healthier cells.
This self-devouring might sound cannibalistic but it happens to be a very normal activity of our cells to keep the body healthy. It’s a great self-preservation instrument by which the body effectively cleans and recycles its own cells.
Autophagy may play a role in the prevention and treatment of cancer. As we grow older, our cells don’t perform their normal functions as well and may turn into cancer cells which, if left unchecked, can multiply (which is what cancer cells like to do).
While nearly all cancer cells begin from a defective cell, the body usually recognizes and removes them through the autophagic process. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to keep the autophagic processes working at the highest level around the clock. Infrared saunas may help.
Infrared saunas can play a very big role in the prevention and reversing of cancer. In 2004, Dr. Lawrence Wilson wrote and article stating that “If I were to single out one method to combat cancer, it is the sauna. It assists removal of chemical toxins and heavy metals, increases oxygenation, enhances the immune system, and reduces the radiation burden in the body.”
There are many cases in modern medicine where cancer patients who were exposed to whole body hyperthermia (the rise in core temperature after taking a sauna) sometimes went into remission. This is because heating the body stimulates the immune system and may cause cancer remission. In fact, there are cancer clinics in Germany which use hyperthermic infrared sauna therapy with their patients. Additionally, more than twenty United States hospitals offer some form of hyperthermic treatment for their cancer patients.
The main principle of whole body hyperthermia for cancer treatment is that cancer cells are sensitive to extreme heat. Malignant tumors, which are lumps of cancerous cells, do not have the ability to adapt their blood circulation to high temperatures.
Cancer cells are weak compared to healthy cells; thus, heat stress effects them greater than normal functioning cells. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, heat stress at a high temperature can kill cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
In a 2009 clinical study in the Journal of Cancer Science and Therapy, it was found that thermal radiation (infrared heat) reduced tumor volumes in mice by 86 percent over the span of 30 days. The study then focused on cancer cells in vitro and had a very similar effect—infrared energy in the far infrared spectrum reduces the size of cancerous tumors.
In a similar study in Japan, researchers discovered that raising one’s core body temperature with infrared heat inhibited growth of breast cancer tumors in mice.
Infrared saunas open your body’s blood vessels, venules and arteries through the process of vasodilation. As your body relaxes into the parasympathetic mode of relaxation, your blood vessels, venules, arteries and capillaries all expand, allowing more blood to pass through them. Additionally, because your body rises in core temperature, your body begins to sweat—which is your body’s natural mechanism to cool itself. In order for this to happen, your heart needs to pump harder and faster. When open pathways for circulation is combined with a boost in cardiovascular rate, circulation is increased.
When this happens, essential oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body. This also increases cellular perfusion, which is the carbon dioxide/oxygen exchange in your cells. Because cancer often forms in tissues with poor circulation and poor nutrition, improved circulation means less cancer cells.
Elimination of Toxins
What is really interesting about using a sauna is that this rise in core temperature, and subsequent boost in cardiovascular rate, essentially routes this extra blood flow to the skin; as a result, your body effectively shunts the blood which normally goes to your internal organs which flows to your skin to get rid of heat trapped in the body. This helps to clear your skin, move toxins out of your body and boost your immune system.
Infrared sauna treatments greatly assist the purging of toxins (plastics, heavy metals and chemicals) from the body. Removing copper, lead, mercury, arsenic and cyanide will help the body get back to homeostasis and balance the body’s pH levels.
Most people don’t sweat nearly enough to utilize the epidermis as a mechanism to remove toxins. By sweating, you are essentially cleaning the body from the inside out by using an infrared sauna.
When you’re in a good sauna routine every day, you are forced to drink water before during and after your session. This means that during your sauna session you will sweat up to a pint of sweat during a 30 minute period.
Alongside cleansing the largest organ of your body (your skin), regular infrared saunas also help to eliminate toxins from your other organs.
When the skin is frequently opened through sweating, the normal organs of detoxification are unburdened. Your liver, kidneys and small intestines allow for better function which in turn help for even further detoxification. This helps cancer patients immensely.
The American Institute for Cancer Research states that one of the biggest risk factors for cancer is obesity. The reasons for this is that lipophylic carcinogens are stored in fat cells, which have no means of escape without proper diet, exercise or infrared saunas! Infrared saunas burn fat through a rise in cardiovascular rate.
During a 30 minute sauna session, a sauna user is able to burn up to 300 calories. While this is not the 600 calorie in 30 minute b.s., it is still significant and will add up over the span of months. You will want to make sure you are doing regular sauna sessions in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. If you do this you will see a noticeable difference almost immediately. Your risk for forming cancer will also fall significantly as well.
Conventional cancer treatments suppress your immune system, which is your body’s natural mechanism to fight back. Whole body hyperthermia actually does the opposite. Regular infrared sauna sessions help to boost your white blood cell count, boost heat shock proteins, and reduces inflammation—all of which greatly boost your immune system.
Heat shock proteins attack cancer cells which makes them more vulnerable to being destroyed by the immune system. Dr. Gurdev Parmar, from the Integrated Health Clinic agrees. “Heat weakens cancer cells which makes them stick out to your immune system.” This is because heat shock proteins attack and damage cancer cells which ‘marks’ them for death by the immune system and natural killer cells. This activates macrophages and dendritic cells which are then sent to the tumor.
By heating the patient with whole body hyperthermia the dendritic cells migrate to the body’s lymph nodes. This is where T cells (Cytotoxic T-Lymphocytes) activate against cancer cell proteins, killing them.
This is based in science. At the Clifford Hospital Hyperthermia Center, which is the world’s largest whole body hyperthermia center in the world, doctors found that raising the body’s core temperature to over 107°F can activate T-Lymphocytes and the activity of T and B-Lymphocytes and the anti-cancer natural killer cells. This also helps to redistribute the body’s white blood cells to improve the body’s immune system.
Infrared saunas are a peaceful place—a sanctuary, if you will. There is an inherent calm; no distractions, no sounds, just gentle heat. When you take an infrared sauna your body goes from the fight to flight; or from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic mode of your autonomic nervous system.
In other words, infrared saunas reduce stress.
Excessive stress, or a hyperactive nervous system, contributes to many forms and cases of cancer. When the body’s autonomic nervous system is activated in the muscles, brain, adrenal glands, and thyroid all become overstressed. This inhibits digestion, immune response and normal eliminative organ function. This is the opposite of what a cancer patient needs.
Infrared saunas sessions promotes rest, relaxation and recovery through parasympathetic dominance. This is good for less stress, better digestion (toxin removal) and a better immune system which is great for cancer patients.
When the body feels that it is under attack, the sympathetic nervous system function is engaged. This draws the blood to the core (trunk) of the body to prepare for blood loss. Saunas do the opposite by activating the parasympathetic function, drawing the blood away from the core and into the periphery. This allows for the free passage of blood, healthier cells, reduced stress, boosted immune system and reduces acidity in the body; all of which inhibit and even prevent cancer.
Cell Health Cell Health
Infrared therapy stimulates the body’s circulatory system which causes the heart to beat faster and cause the body’s blood vessels to vasodilate (expand). This helps clean the circulatory system (arteries, blood vessels and venules) and send more oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
Better circulation allows for more toxins to flow from adipose cells to the surface of the skin to improve cellular health, assist in muscle recovery and boost the immune system.
In a recent study done by NASA called “NASA Light Emitting Diode (LED) Medical Program – Progress in Space Flight and Terrestrial Applications”, it was found that near infrared light “absorbed by the cells stimulated the metabolism in muscle and bone as well as skin and subcutaneous tissue.” Which promotes faster wound healing and human tissue growth.
What people have been experiencing in infrared saunas for years has now been proven by NASA in the laboratory.
Near infrared light “stimulates the basic energy processes in the mitochondria (energy compartments) of each cell, particularly when near-infrared light is used to activate the color sensitive chemicals (chromophores, cytochrome systems) inside.”
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Over the years I have come across several clients in need of relief from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Far infrared sauna therapy comes highly recommended by health practitioners and those who have knowledge of how helpful infrared can be alleviating most, if not all, of the symptoms of CFS. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a debilitating disease affecting millions. It is a complex disorder presenting with symptoms of profound fatigue unaffected by usual rest patterns. It is exacerbated by excess physical or mental activity.
Common symptoms of CFS include extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, and pain. Sufferers experience impaired memory and mental function along with the inability to sleep. These symptoms result in a decline in the participation of daily life and living.
Currently, there is a great deal of proof that heat from a far infrared sauna is quite successful in detoxifying the body, thus reducing the symptoms of CFS.
Some physicians and scientists specializing in CFS believe there is a strong connection between the disease and toxins, especially heavy metals, plastics and chemicals. Heavy metals and toxic chemicals settle inside the body’s cells, where they are stored until either burned out through fat loss or through detoxification with an infrared sauna.
One of my clients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome completed a mitochondrial function test and discovered her body was filled with toxins. Her health practitioner immediately had her begin far infrared sauna therapy, as infrared heat is quite successful in detoxifying the body.
One of the most underrated effects of daily far infrared sauna use is a great night’s sleep; this also immensely helps to mitigate CFS symptoms. What’s better is the the result is immediate. You take a sauna and that night, you sleep. Like really sleep.
Normally, it takes me an hour to wind down prior to falling asleep. During the night I awaken many times, roll over and usually fall back asleep but many times I do not. I also an physically unable to sleep in past 8 am. So if I go to sleep too late I’m screwed the next day.
After my first far infrared sauna experience, I was amazed at how quickly I fell asleep and how deep I actually slept through the night. When a CFS patient gets more healthy sleep their body is more likely to heal naturally.
Taking a far infrared sauna is extremely relaxing, especially when followed by a hot shower, steam sauna or hot tub. Infrared heat feels great and as your body relaxes and muscles loosen causing pain to go away. There is a reason for this. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain killers. This causes your body to feel more relaxed, less stressed and feel the kind of tired you feel after a workout. This all leads to great sleep.
So many of the common CFS symptoms are diminished when the sufferer enjoys a deep, restful nights sleep. When this is combined with detoxification, real relief from CFS can occur. Additionally, if you are in pain, infrared generally relieves everything from normal aches and pains to the deeper pain caused by CFS and of arthritis, fibromyalgia and even common muscle strains and/or injuries. Pain certainly can keep you awake and the infrared heat soothes pain away.
Infrared sauna therapy provides benefits to people of all ages. It is a cost-effective therapy that will improve your overall health and well being. You will begin to enjoy a better quality of life as a wonderful and refreshing night’s sleep allows you to feel more rested and rejuvenated.
One of the concerns I haven’t addressed is the low tolerance for heat some CFS sufferers have as sweating tends to add to the fatigue. The good news is far infrared heat is mild compared to traditional hot-rock saunas; you can begin slowly at a low temperature and even though detoxification may take longer—the sooner you begin to tolerate the heat the more quickly you will reap the benefits. For those who suffer from CFS, there is increasing evidence that regular far infrared sauna therapy greatly improves the symptoms and eventually the toxicity levels in the body leading to a full recovery of the disease.
One of the greatest benefits from the use of infrared sauna therapy is pain relief. When you take an infrared sauna endorphins are released, which your body’s natural painkiller. The word endorphin is a combination of “ENDO-genous”, which means ‘occurring naturally in the body’, and “mo-RPHIN-e”, (morphine) which is a pain-relieving compound. These 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.
One of the more common inquires I receive is can the infrared saunas help with pain, particularly pain from Fibromyalgia. I am always so happy to answer a resounding “Yes!”
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory loss and mood issues.
Researchers believe that fibromyalgia exacerbates painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Symptoms can start after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. Conversely, symptoms can also build up over time with no single triggering event.
Women are much more likely to develop Fibromyalgia than are men. It is also found that many people who have fibromyalgia also suffer with tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
Currently there is no cure for fibromyalgia; however there are a variety of medications available to control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures may also help. This is where many health practitioners suggest the use of Infrared Sauna Therapy.
Infrared sauna rays help fibromyalgia sufferers naturally reduce the pain and inflammation they experience. Infrared sauna heat works by penetrating joints, muscles and tissues. It increases circulation, and boosts oxygen flow to the tissues. By reducing soreness on nerve endings, infrared heat reduces muscle spasms and helps the body heal itself naturally.
One of the mechanisms found most effective, when utilizing infrared sauna heat, is pain reduction on every level. This occurs due to an increase in endorphins and the reduction of stress. B-endorphin levels are raised and plasma ACTH levels were reduced due to the infrared heat. The bonus is these endorphins also effect mood even as they reduce symptoms resulting from an over-stressed body. Endorphins also greatly reduce the feeling of pain.
Infrared sauna heat works by penetrating tissues, joints and muscles thereby increasing efficient blood flow allowing more efficient circulation. By reducing pain on the nerve endings, wherever that occurs, the infrared heat from a sauna will reduce pain and muscle spasms allowing your body to relax and heal naturally.
There are several studies reflecting the successful use of infrared in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. In one recent study from Internal Medicine, it is demonstrated that patients with chronic pain (Fibromyalgia) discovered their pain levels dropped by seventy percent after their first session of infrared sauna therapy! This study continues on to state that as the patients continued the therapy the scores remained low throughout the entire observation period.
A recent study aimed to investigate whether infrared sauna therapy improved pain, symptoms, and quality of life in Fibromyalgia patients. See the study below:
“Effects of Thermal Therapy Combining Sauna Therapy and Underwater Exercise in Patients with Fibromyalgia”
Forty-four female Fibromyalgia patients received a twelve week infrared therapy program comprising of sauna therapy once daily for three days a week and underwater exercise once daily for two days a week. Pain, symptoms, and quality of life were assessed using a pain visual analog scale (VAS), a fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), and a short form 36-item questionnaire, respectively.
All of the patients reported significant reductions in pain and symptoms after the twelve week thermal therapy program, which remained relatively stable during the six month follow up period (that is, the thermal therapy program improved both the short-term and the long-term VAS and FIQ scores).
I highly recommend infrared heat as we now know infrared wavelengths penetrate the body to create heat, which creates profound therapeutic benefits. These infrared rays increase blood flow to the muscles, delivering more concentrated oxygen, which creates more energy to heal and also aids in chronic pain relief.
Heart Health Heart Health
Your heart keeps you alive by pumping oxygenated blood through your body. It flows from your heart, to your arteries to your blood vessels into your blood venules, and then all the way to your capillaries, where the body’s most important function occurs—cellular perfusion. Cellular perfusion is where the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange in your cells. This is how your life is sustained.
Therefore, the purpose of your heart is not to pump blood, but to pump oxygen to your cells. Once your heart stops pumping, your body has no way to rid itself of carbon dioxide and your cells become acidic.
I can not stress it enough, cardiovascular health is very important. Maybe the most important thing. Everyone should know their blood pressure, or at least have some sort of an idea what it is.
The good news is that there are ways to maintain heart health. It is well known that diet and exercise play a large roll, but there’s another way to keep your heart healthy: regular infrared sauna use!
When you sit in an infrared sauna a few things happen:
• Your heart begins to beat faster, pumping more oxygenated blood to your blood vessels and venules and eventually to your capillaries.
• This brings blood to the capillaries just below your skin’s surface so sweat can be released through your skin (to keep cool) and to facilitate a faster oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange.
• The increase in your heart rate allows your body to go into the parasympathetic mode of your autonomic nervous system. This relaxes your body and mind—reducing blood pressure.
The parasympathetic nervous system is your body’s “rest and digest” mode of unconscious actions that are responsible for transmitting sensory information from your body’s organs to your central nervous system. This transmission tells your body to relax. The opposing and complementary nervous system response is the sympathetic nervous system. This would be the ‘fight’ in the fight or flight response which tells your body to be alert and to act in the face of danger or challenges requiring quick responses. Your body must be in one mode, but not both, at all times.
When your body goes into relaxation mode in the parasympathetic response, your blood vessels expand through vasodilation. Your nervous system tells your heart to pump faster and for your arteries, vessels, venules and veins to allow more blood through. Instead of your body storing its blood in the trunk of your body (to prepare for an attack and blood loss), while in the parasympathetic mode, your blood is transferred to your skin to produce sweat.
Regular use of infrared saunas promote the expansion of your arteries, blood vessels and venules which reduces the strain on your heart as it has more room to push blood through. This increases circulation and naturally lowers your blood pressure. This will undoubtedly increase both the quality of your life as well as your life span.
Lower Blood Pressure Lower Blood Pressure
The way that I learned to explain how blood pressure works is through the following analogy:
If your heart is your fist that is gently holding a bag of fluid (let’s say purple gatorade) with a straw leading out of the bag, the systolic rate (the top number when measuring blood pressure [120/80]) is the amount of resistance that the straw applies to the fluid when it attempts to leave the bag.
In real life, this would be your aorta (the artery that allows oxygenated blood to flow from your heart to the rest of your body).
So if the straw’s circumference is bigger, there is less pressure—if the straw’s circumference is smaller, the pressure is greater. The greater the pressure, the higher the systolic blood pressure number.
The diastolic rate (the bottom number [120/80]) is the amount of pressure that is exerted onto the straw (or arteries) when the heart is at rest in between your heart beats.
So when your body tells your heart to pump faster and to expand the circumference of your blood vessels, your systolic blood pressure will go down. Because your arteries and blood vessels have expanded to allow more blood through, they exert less pressure during diastole (when your heart is at rest), which then causes a drop in diastolic blood pressure
It is through this manner that infrared saunas will lower your blood pressure—expanding the means by which blood is transported through your body allowing for better and faster circulation. Because your body is also put into the parasympathetic state, you are more relaxed and your feelings of stress will be reduced. This also naturally reduces blood pressure. These two factors begin to work together in unison causing a major decline in blood pressure.
This all results in less stress upon your body, mind and heart–all resulting in greater health.
Albeit anecdotal, besides amazing sleep night in, night out, the number one health benefit that I personally receive when regularly using my sauna is lowered blood pressure. I have hereditary high blood pressure on my Father’s side. If I get stressed for prolonged periods, let my weight go 15-20 pounds over where I should be, or eat improperly, my blood pressure likes to sit at 135/90ish. Being 34, this is not great. If you allow your blood pressure to stay over 120/80 for too long, only bad things can happen. You know the common risks and you should know your numbers.
When I am rigorous in my sauna routine I am calm of mind and heart. I don’t hear my heart pumping in my ear before I go to sleep at night, I don’t feel my pulse pumping in the 90’s throughout the day and as a result my blood pressure drops to very normal levels. However, this only happens when I pay attention and use my sauna like it’s going out of style!
Lyme’s Disease Lyme’s Disease
Anyone who suffers from Lyme’s Disease will find their bodies overwhelmed by toxins. Unfortunately, they lack an effective means of removing these toxins from the body. Additionally, Lyme’s sufferers have a difficulty sweating—making detoxification even harder.
This is where infrared saunas create the perfect channel for detoxification. Infrared saunas will improve liver and kidney function, promote better digestion and elimination, and detoxify your body through sweat, breath, and the urine and feces. They boost the immune system to boot.
One of the main symptoms of people with Lyme’s Disease is that they accumulate more toxins than normal people. Because of this, Lyme’s Disease patients have overburdened kidneys and livers due to the stress sustained by inflammation and toxic burden brought about by chronic infection.
This can and will lead to overwhelming symptoms of poisoning by neurotoxins (which is what Lyme’s Disease facilitates). Detoxifying the body through the skin eases the burden off of the liver and kidneys because it allows toxins to bypass these key detoxification organs.
Sweating by way of an infrared sauna allows toxins circulating in the blood to be excreted directly through the skin, removing the necessity for the liver and kidneys to process, store, and eliminate toxins. The vast surface area of the skin allows quick, efficient detoxification without placing a burden on other detoxification organs.
This natural means of detoxification by using an infrared sauna greatly assists in reducing inflammation, boosts the immune system, promotes sweating, releases toxins, and cleanses the body of infection—all of which vastly negate the effects of Lyme’s Disease.
Skin Health Skin Health
The biggest organ in your body is your skin. It serves so many amazing purposes, with the main purpose being a barrier. But it is also a window—to your health.
Most skin conditions, including eczema, acne and psoriasis, share a common trigger. Generally this is a malfunction of the body’s immune system. This malfunction causes the body to react, sometimes aggressively, to a normally innocent substance such as pollen or even a tissue or organ not working properly; which would normally not pose a threat to an individual’s health.
Conventional medicine encourages drugs to clear up skin. This can be difficult for those suffering from skin conditions as these drugs suppress the immune system and can make matters worse. The side effects from immune suppressing pharmaceuticals can include cancer, serious infections and even death.
Another viable and very successful treatment that has dramatically and positively affected the treatment of many skin maladies is the consistent use of Far Infrared saunas.
Those suffering from skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, burns and scars see an amazing effect on the health of the skin and complexion even after only a few sauna sessions. The skin becomes softer, smoother, has a better tone and takes on a radiant, healthy glow. This is directly related to how circulation greatly improves skin.
Remarkable results repairing damaged skin, especially when chronic conditions exist such as eczema and psoriasis, happen during Far Infrared sauna treatments.
Additional results from sessions in the sauna include diminished facial lines (crow’s feet), unclogged pores, faded age spots, decreased dark circles under the eyes and even diminished under eye bags.
So, just exactly how does this all happen?
Did you know you would die without sweating? We are always sweating. 24/7/365. We expel this mix of mostly water and salt, naturally produced by the body to prevent overheating. It’s not only vital, it’s healthy. Here at SaunaCloud®, we believe the more sweat, the better.
There are many ways to gain the benefits of a healthy sweat. The best one I’ve found apart from intense exercise is the use of an infrared sauna.
For many years wellness professionals and health-conscious laymen have been praising far infrared saunas for their amazing ability to make people sweat copiously and comfortably.
When we perspire in an infrared sauna, we help our bodies rid themselves of toxins like mercury, lead, plastic micro-particles and other contaminants that have accumulated within us over time. Also, by intensely sweating while experiencing far infrared we benefit our hearts, lungs, kidneys and other organs essential for survival.
By purging the body of toxins through the sweat we accomplish two things—we take vital pressure off of the normal organs involved in detoxification (the kidneys, liver and small intestine), so the are able to function better as healthy organs; as well as we purge the skin of dirt, toxins, sebum and dead skin from your pores. Over a week of regular infrared sauna use, this makes your skin look and feel clear, soft, and practically glistening in good health.
For those suffering from certain skin diseases, or those just wishing to improve the look and feel of their skin, FIR saunas can be particularly therapeutic. Healthy sweat makes your skin glow. It is our largest and major organ of elimination however many people do not (noticeably) sweat on a regular basis. This is why repeated use of a far infrared sauna promotes perspiration and slowly releases toxins via skin elimination, which can help reduce your toxic load quite significantly. The use of sweating as a form of detoxification and is downplayed by modern medicine, yet it has been valued as a form of cleansing since ancient times.
Over two-thousand years ago, the Greek physician Parmenides said, “Give me the power to create fever, and I will cure any disease.”
A Far Infrared sauna heats you from the inside out, raising your body’s core temperature resulting in a deeper, more cleansing sweat. This boosts your immune system and clears up any skin condition over time.
It’s said that using a far infrared sauna will cause you to produce a sweat that is composed of 20% toxins, compared to only 3% when using a traditional sauna. As your body temperature rises, it will draw the blood away from your core and to your skin to make you release salty liquid from your sweat glands to help cool you down. Sweat is the mechanism which helps regulate core body temperature. This is controlled by your autonomic nervous system and happens immediately from a rise in temperature from exercise, whole body hyperthermia or from a fever.
You have two different types of sweat glands: eccrine sweat glands, which are distributed over your entire body, and apocrine sweat glands, located on your scalp, armpits, and groin area, which end in hair follicles. However, they serve the same purpose.
Since exercise raises your body temperature, sweating associated with exercise is a sign that you’re exerting yourself and enjoying the many benefits that exercise offers. However, sweating in and of itself is also beneficial. Effectively, sauna sweat is just as good as exercise sweat.
Researchers have also noted the promising roles of sweat in terms of detoxification. Sweat is the necessary and important function when a body has been exposed to high levels of metallic poisons such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, trace metals and even some toxic minerals. Sweating is also the preferred method for ridding the body of toxins when urine shows elevated levels of mercury.
If you decide to add far infrared sauna therapy into your health routine get ready to really sweat. Excessive sweating may cause your body to lose valuable fluids and electrolytes. Stay well hydrated and replace your electrolytes naturally by drinking coconut water or water mixed with Himalayan salt. Before a sauna session it’s recommended you drink at least a full glass of water to be followed by the same when you exit the sauna. You can sweat up to a liter of sweat in a 30 minute session.
We often forget that our skin is the largest organ in our body by a wide margin. Because of this, you can use it as a barometer to your overall health. Your skin is also the most porous organ in your body. This bodes well for keeping itself clean and healthy, as long as it’s taken care of.
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I am glad infrared saunas have developed the way they have, because I couldn’t imagine my life without the benefits they provide, like deep sleep, lower blood pressure, less joint pain, weight loss, and a boosted immune system. Here at SaunaCloud I sell saunas that are some of the best history has offered. My far infrared saunas use advanced ceramic-carbon combination heaters for an amazing sauna experience. For more information on how SaunaCloud’s infrared saunas work and how they can improve your health, download my book The Definitive Guide to Infrared Saunas. Just give us a call at SaunaCloud 1.800.370.0820.
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