Infrared Sauna Benefits (backed by science)

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The word “sauna” conjures up immense relaxation, calm and rejuvenation after a long, tiring and stressful day. But not only is a sauna routine relaxing and indulgent, it has wonderful health benefits too.

For centuries, we have seen the use of heat treatments for healing the body. The use of sweat lodges and hot air baths was a prevalent practice among Europeans, Native Americans and in Chinese medicine for the purpose of detoxification, reducing stress and for relaxation. Traditionally, saunas consisted of enclosed areas which were heated by directly lighting a fire underneath and a sauna was created by burning materials or heating rocks on fire. This produced heat and smoke that was carried up to the sweat lodge.

Centuries later, with the advancements in technology, infrared lamp saunas were invented by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and from there, traditional saunas made way for infrared saunas, which have today, become very popular the world around and are being used by holistic practitioners across the globe.

What Is an Infrared Sauna?

Infrared saunas use light in order to generate heat and help to detoxify and relax the body. This type of sauna is also called a far infrared or near infrared sauna, where “far” or “near” is essentially where the infrared waves fall on the spectrum of light. Unlike a traditional sauna that heats the air around you, which in turn heats your body, the infrared sauna directly heats your body without affecting the surrounding air.

The effect of a sauna on the body is very similar to when you exercise moderately like increased heart rate and sweating. An infrared sauna helps to achieve these at a lower temperature than a conventional sauna and is therefore tolerated better by people who cannot bear the high heat of steam rooms and dry saunas.

There have been several studies that show the use of infrared saunas having health benefits for conditions such as reduction of pain, cardiovascular healing, muscle and joint support, etc. along with the major benefit of detoxification. Infrared sauna sessions also have parasympathetic healing benefits, which help the body to deal will stress and treat several conditions such as depression, insomnia, autoimmune disorders and hormonal imbalance.

While the health benefits of infrared saunas need to be studied in greater detail, nevertheless, there are no adverse effects of using an infrared sauna and it is a great way to induce relaxation. Infrared sauna treatments are inexpensive, powerful and safe.

How Do Infrared Saunas Work?

Infrared saunas generate far-infrared radiation (FIR), which is directly delivered to the body. The infrared radiation (IR) band covers the range of wavelength between 750 nanometers – 100 micrometers, photon energy range between 12.4 milli-electron volts – 1.7 electron volts and a frequency range of 400 terahertz – 3 terahertz. This causes the infrared saunas to produce heat and positive radiation effects in our body when detected by the thermoreceptors in the skin.

FIR waves can alter cells, DNA or proteins, cell membranes and cell fluids. When the alteration takes place at the cellular level, mitochondrial activity occurs that impacts metabolism positively. The FIR photons are absorbed by the molecules in your body and the function of water in the cells is altered. There is also a change in the proteins present in the body tissues, known as the mesostructure effect, which is vital for the overall biological activity in your body.

Infrared treatments work very quickly i.e. within 15-20 minutes. They are capable of bringing about significant changes in the body chemistry, thereby helping to bring relief if you’re suffering from chronic pains, low energy, inflammation and poor circulation.

Types of Infrared Saunas

There are essentially 2 types of infrared saunas – far infrared and near infrared saunas.

Far infrared saunas emit far infrared light waves and commonly use a ceramic, metallic or black carbon element for heating. On the other hand, near infrared saunas use reddish incandescent heat lamps for the purpose of heating. Near infrared lamps can be found in any hardware store very easily and are quite inexpensive too. Near infrared light not only emits heating light waves, it produces colorful waves too. So, not only do these waves heat the body, they may affect the way energy moves through the body and can help in certain body functions such as digestion, etc.

The infrared waves from the sauna penetrate the skin and heat the body from within. They penetrate deeply into the body and produce heat, which can be concentrated in a focussed area and do not actually heat the air and the room around you.

Traditional vs Infrared Saunas

The differences between traditional and infrared saunas are:

Heat

The main difference between a conventional sauna and an infrared one is the heat when you’re inside the unit. Conventional dry saunas get heated to temperatures up to 185 – 195oF and if you’re sensitive to heat, this can get quite uncomfortable. Infrared saunas work on more milder heat, around 120-150oF. However, since the heat from infrared saunas penetrates deep into the body, they produce more sweating at much lower temperatures.

Humidity

A steam sauna has a lower temperature when compared to a conventional dry sauna; however, since it uses a large amount of heated steam, the humidity in the case of a steam sauna is very high. On the other hand, infrared saunas don’t use steam and use the heat produced by the infrared heaters instead.

Action

A conventional dry sauna heats the air inside the unit. As the temperature of the air increases, the temperature of your body also increases caused due to the absorption of heat by convection. This causes plenty of sweating via the open pores and causes your body to cool. In the case of an infrared sauna, this also heats the surrounding air but to a much lesser extent and the infrared sauna emits a particular wavelength of infrared light via the infrared heaters placed in the sauna unit. These infrared waves are absorbed by the body directly causing the body temperature to rise and the effect is the same as a traditional sauna, but with much lesser heat involved.

Power Requirements

Another major difference between the conventional and infrared saunas is the amount of power that is used to run the unit. Conventional saunas need more power for the operation of the unit. Around 6 kW of power is used by a traditional sauna when compared to the 1.6 kW used by an infrared sauna. Thus, a conventional sauna is around 3 times more expensive than an infrared sauna and this can make a significant difference depending on how much you use the sauna.

Infrared Sauna Benefits

Infrared saunas have fantastic health benefits and are an effective means of natural healing. The infrared light penetrates the tissues of the body and produces a whole host of anti-aging and other health benefits and is a wonderful way to improve overall health and wellness. There are several benefits of infrared saunas such as:

Detoxification

Sweating is a great way by which the body heals and remains healthy naturally. The infrared light waves from the sauna heat the body directly causing the core body temperature to rise, which results in deep sweating and detoxifying at the cellular level. Detoxification is extremely vital as it strengthens the immune system, enables the biochemical processes of the body and causes it to function efficiently. Detoxification also helps in preventing and reducing problems such as fatigue, autoimmune diseases, autism, ADHD, colitis, fatigue, etc.

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Helps to Relax

Infrared saunas are extremely beneficial to reduce stress and helps you to relax. Infrared saunas work with gentle heat, which is therapeutic and promotes improved sleep and relaxation. The soothing warmth of the sauna can help to ease your tired muscles and relieve stress. Sauna sessions will help to refresh you immensely.

Helps to Reduce Chronic Pain

Many studies have shown that infrared sauna therapy can help to reverse chronic pain with almost no side effects. The heat penetrates the joints, muscles and tissues and helps to relieve minor aches and pains and also chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. A recent study in Japan showed that after an infrared therapy session, patients with chronic pain experienced almost 70% reduction in pain levels.

In fact, infrared sauna therapy has been shown to be extremely beneficial in the case of people suffering from ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis and many people experienced reduced symptoms of stiffness and pain due to these conditions. Infrared sauna therapy also helps to reduce fatigue. In the recent years, sauna therapy has been included as an important component of pain management to decrease muscles spasms, pain and hasten recovery.

Lowers the Effects of Diabetes

Studies have shown that infrared sauna therapy can help to improve the quality of life in people suffering from Type-2 diabetes. It helps to reduce symptoms such as depression, chronic fatigue, pain, heart problems, etc. that are related to Type-2 diabetes and contributes to your overall well-being by treating the symptoms of diabetes naturally.

Improves Heart Function

Infrared sauna therapy sessions can help to normalize cholesterol levels, blood pressure and also in the cases of congestive heart failure. An infrared sauna is a great way to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and improve heart health.

Aids in Weight Loss

Infrared sauna sessions can help in weight loss. Sauna therapy sessions are like doing moderate exercise, but are more relaxing and can be very beneficial for people who suffer from medical conditions such as respiratory problems, cardiovascular ailments and osteoarthritis. According to a study published in the American Medical Association (AMA) Journal, around 600 calories can be burned in an infrared sauna session of 30 minutes.

An infrared sauna session causes the core body temperature to rise, causing the body to work hard to cool down and produce sweat. Using the infrared sauna also increases the metabolic rate, heart rate and cardio output, thus burning more calories resulting in weight loss.

Improves Overall Well-Being and Quality of Life

Infrared sauna therapy can help to improve circulation, reduce blood pressure, heal wounds, strengthen the immune system, enhance cell and tissue growth and it has anti-aging effects too. Infrared sauna therapy helps in cognitive therapy and also helps in overall wellness and improving quality of life.

Who Can Benefit from Infrared Saunas?

Studies have revealed that infrared sauna therapy has benefited people with various health problems without any side effects, such as people suffering from:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Depression and anger
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic muscle and joint pains
  • Poor digestion

Are Infrared Saunas Safe?

Infrared sauna releases infrared light waves which are not visible to the eye and compared to a traditional sauna, heating occurs at a much lower temperature. Typically, a sauna session lasts for around 20-30 minutes and the light should touch all parts of your body. You may require to turn up the heat gradually every few minutes till it reaches the maximum level.

When the infrared sauna heating is at the maximum level, the heat penetrates your body and produces a lot of sweating, which is very relaxing. There are no side effects of using infrared saunas and this therapy can be used very safely for most people, even those who cannot tolerate heat treatments and other types of saunas, usually tolerate infrared therapy very well. FIR waves are very gentle and don’t have any harmful effects and this gentle radiant heat can penetrate the skin up to 4 cms or 1.5 inches and is not painful or does not cause any burning.

Investing in an infrared sauna for your home may be seen as an indulgence by some; however, in terms of the benefits infrared saunas offer, they can be a fantastic investment for your health. Infrared saunas are very compact and require little or no maintenance. They do not require water or any plumbing and they run on your household electricity and cost very little to operate. When compared to traditional saunas, infrared saunas offer more benefits and will not make a dent in your savings. It’s a great idea to get an infrared sauna for your home and if that’s not possible, indulging in a few sauna sessions at your local gym can be a great way to relax and de-stress.

This is a compilation of heat therapy research I’ve come across in my quest to experience the various health benefits from infrared sauna use, and learn different strategies to implement therapeutic hyperthermia successfully. I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice. I add my own personal synopsis comparing personal experiences to the research summary in each sub section. Please note that my personal experience synopsis alongside is not medical or science backed research, only the cited sources and quotations. However, my hope is that the everyday average peer in need of this information most to improve their own health, will gain more knowledge and benefit from a layman’s description coinciding with the medical research.

** Most apparent contraindications for any sauna use (steam or infrared, or any heat therapy): do not sauna while pregnant, or have existing cardiovascular disease. Please see your doctor to discuss medical conditions. 


What Is A Far Infrared Sauna & It’s Medical Applications

FIR saunas

“In these cabins, the heating elements are typically heated to about 300– 400° C and the emission is in the FIR range, that is, the heat exchange between the body and the environment is almost purely radiative (radiant heating) with cabin air temperature being at around 40°C or less (Figure 4). Heating of the skin with FIR warming cabins is faster (in comparison with the conventional saunas) but higher irradiance of the skin must be applied in order to produce noticeable sweating. These cabins are frequently used in Japan where the practice is called “Waon therapy” []. Waon therapy has been used extensively in Japan [] and Korea [] for cardiovascular conditions and diseases, particularly chronic heart failure [] and peripheral arterial disease []. FIR sauna therapy has been used to improve cardiac and vascular function and reduce oxidative stress in patients with chronic heart failure []. Beever [] asked whether FIR saunas could have a beneficial effect on quality of life in those patients with type II diabetes. The study consisted of 20 min, three times weekly infrared sauna sessions, over a period of 3 months. Physical health, general health, social functioning indices, and visual analogue scales (VAS) measurements for stress and fatigue all improved in the treatment group. A study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis showed a reduction in pain, stiffness, and fatigue during infrared sauna therapy [].”  Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699878/

“For FIR used as a therapeutic modality the alternative terms “biogenetic radiation” and “biogenetic rays” have been coined and widely used in the popular literature. FIR wavelength is too long to be perceived by the eyes, however, the body experiences its energy as a gentle radiant heat which can penetrate up to 1.5 inches (almost 4 cm) beneath the skin. FIR energy is sufficient to exert rotational and vibrational modes of motion in bonds forming the molecules (including the water molecules) as well as resonate with cellular frequencies. Resulting epidermal temperature is higher when the skin is irradiated with FIR than if similar thermal loads from shorter wavelengths are used. The prolonged erythermal response due to FIR exposure has been proposed to be due to increased epidermal temperatures associated with it, but levels of FIR that do not produce any detectable skin heating can also have biological effects.”


Mayo Clinic Sauna Bathing Health Benefits

“Sauna bathing, an activity used for the purposes of pleasure, wellness, and relaxation, is linked to a remarkable array of health benefits. It is a safe activity and can even be used in people with stable CVD, provided it is used sensibly for an appropriate period of time. Plentiful putative mechanistic pathways underlying these associations have been proposed, but many of these are not well understood. Further research work in the form of well-designed intervention studies is crucially needed to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie the associations between sauna bathing and its health benefits and to establish any causal relevance to the associations and whether these could be translated into clinical benefits. Sauna bathing may be a remedy to the call for additional lifestyle interventions needed to enhance health and wellness, particularly in populations that have difficulty exercising, and also as an adjunct to exercise.” Src: https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196%2818%2930275-1/fulltext


The Effects Of Far Infrared Therapy On Chronic Health Conditions

“As a potential complementary therapy, FIR radiation had both thermal and non-thermal effects. The thermal effect of FIR therapy could increase blood flow and vasodilation by heating the tissue (hyperthermia), similar to ordinary thermal therapy composed of heat pads or hot water. In addition, FIR treatment with low levels of delivered energy (non-thermal effect) also had biological activities., A study of patients receiving HD treatment had shown decreases in stress and fatigue levels by FIR stimulation rather than thermal treatment (heat pads), which was probably attributed to the non-thermal effect. An explanation of non-thermal effect of such low energy levels was that nanoscopic water layers got disturbed by low irradiances, leading to the change of cellular membrane structure, then made the therapeutic effects.” Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4935255/#bibr10-1535370215573391


Does Heat Therapy Really Exponentiate The Detoxification of Toxins

Mobilization Of Fat Soluble Xenobiotics,

 

Src: PubMed Crinnion W


Auto-Immune, Toxicant Induced Chronic Health Problems

Far Infrared VS Radiant Heat

“Existing evidence supports the use of saunas as a component of depuration (purification or cleansing) protocols for environmentally-induced illness. While far-infrared saunas have been used in many cardiovascular studies, all studies applying sauna for depuration have utilized saunas with radiant heating units. Overall, regular sauna therapy (either radiant heat or far-infrared units) appears to be safe and offers multiple health benefits to regular users.”

Src: PubMed 


Does Sauna Temperature Matter For Detox & Health Benefits?

Many people have argued for years about the ideal temperature to use for sauna benefits. Some claim you cannot elicit heat shock proteins under 170 degrees, however I find it interesting that several different practitioners, were able to enhance detoxification with a wide variety of temperature ranges.

This coincides with my own personal experience, which is the act of hyperthermic therapy, no matter the temperature, is beneficial in several ways. (even in short duration)

————————————————————-

“Heat settings varied. The Crinnion protocol used lower temperatures (120-130°F), Rea protocol used moderate temperatures (140-160°F), and the Hubbard Purifcation. Rundown used the highest temperature range (140-180°F). “There is currently insuficient evidence to determine an optimal temperature for depuration. Despite the differences in temperature settings, as well as the other components of these depuration protocols, the published studies report health benefits.”

Src: http://archive.foundationalmedicinereview.com/publications/16/3/215.pdf


Far Infrared Therapy For Treating Chronic Disease, Heart Failure, & Hypertension

“Furthermore, FIR rays have been applied in treating various chronic diseases, such as hypertension, heart failure, and vascular endothelial dysfunction, which are associated with the depletion of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), a critical cofactor for NO synthases., FIR therapy improves blood flow in heated surface areas, causing an increase in vascular shear stress and enhancement of the activity of GTP cyclohydrolase I, which benefits BH4 synthesis., Thus, the increased availability of BH4 may provide key insight into the underlying mechanisms of sauna therapy. A recent study demonstrated that capillaries control blood flow primarily related to active pericyte relaxation. In addition, pericyte death in rigor results in a permanent decrease in blood flow in capillaries and damages neurons after stroke. These mechanisms resemble FIR in improving capillary dilation and blood flow and may reflect the promotion of stroke recovery by FIR stimulation. In other words, FIR therapy may alleviate stroke by inhibiting pericyte death.”

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4935255/


Dry VS Wet Sauna: Heat Stress Core Temp Comparison

Summary: rectal core temperatures increase very closely in both wet and dry saunas.

I found it very interesting the difference in cabin temperature cited here, although rectal temperature was within a reasonable range in both cases.  Of course they’re recommending that anything approaching hyperthermic states can potentially be hazardous, the data is interesting nonetheless.

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1267582


Waon Therapy For Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748743
Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15992574


Whole Body Hyperthermia Reduces Depression In Random Clinical Trial

Src: PubMed


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685882


Chronic Pain

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16088266


Depression

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16046381


Stress Reduction

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15090706


Chronic Heart Failure & Arrhythmia

Src: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15564698


The Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing
Saunas have been used by cultures throughout the world for the purposes of cleansing and healing, including the American Indians, Russians, Koreans, and most famously, the Finnish people. In fact, the very word “sauna” comes from Finnish, and refers to an unornamented room paneled with spruce or pine, with wooden benches made of spruce, obeche, or aspen. The bulk of research on the health benefits of sauna have, in fact, been conducted in Finland, though there are many other sauna practices distinguished by length of use, heat source, and relative humidity.

 

Physiological Effects of Heat
Sauna heating generates mild hyperthermia in the body — raising its core temperature — in such a way that the cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and cytoprotective systems all work in concert to restore the core temperature and recondition the body’s endurance to heat. Exposure to high temperature stresses the body, provoking a rapid and robust reaction. First the skin heats to 40°C (104°F). Then the body’s core temperature rises slowly from 37°C (98.6°F, or normal) to 38°C (100.4°F), then more rapidly to 39°C (102.2°F). Cardiac output may increase 60%-70%, though the heart rate remains largely unchanged. 50% to 70% of the body’s blood flow moves from the core to the skin, stimulating 0.5 kg worth of sweat. The plasma content in the blood rises.

This entire set of physiological responses leads to hormesis, or the acclimation of the body to stress as a result of repeated exposure to a mild stressor. Hormesis not only acclimates the body to future instances of stress, it repairs cell damage as well. Moderately vigorous exercise promotes roughly the same effect, and sauna use has often been proposed by medical professionals as an alternative exercise for patients who are unable to do so. The hormetic effects of heat stress limit protein damage and activate the body’s antioxidant, repair, and degradation processes. Similar processes are stimulated by exercise.

Heat shock proteins (HSPs), transcription factors such as Nrf2, FOXO3, IL-6 and IL-10, and pro- and anti-inflammatory responses are mechanisms triggered by heat all the body’s cells at the molecular level, and play a pivotal role in such functions as immune response, cell signalling, and cell-cycle regulation.

HSPs, for instance, are a family of proteins that exist at a certain constant level in all cells, playing a huge role in protein assembly, folding, export, turn-over, and regulation. However, as a result of normal metabolism and immune reaction, they can become damaged, leading to complications such as neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Heat stress, however, can robustly stimulate the production of HSPs, leading to increased levels of up to 49%. These increased levels of HSPs were, in turn, implicated in augmented cellular heat repair and increased metabolic rates of up to 28%.

Nrf2 and and IL-10 are anti-inflammatory factors, whereas IL-6 is pro-inflammatory. The body’s health requires the right balance of inflammation and anti-inflammation to counteract stress. Interestingly, heat exposure can benefit the production of all of them. For instance, heat exposure activates Nrf2, which in turn stimulates the production of an HSP called heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), which in turn inhibits the production of certain pro-inflammatory molecules associated with heart disease. The stimulation of IL-6, which is vital for homeostasis and immune response, in turn stimulates the production of the anti-inflammatory IL-10. This is commonly observed after vigorous exercise, and after exposure to sauna.

FOXO3 plays a central role in easing the body’s natural aging process by repairing damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids, restoring the loss of stem cells, and increasing the production of genes that also play a pivotal role in these and other activities. In response to heat stress, FOXO3 proteins form a complex with sirtuin 1, or SIRT1, which shifts FOX03’s activities away from cell death and toward stress resistance.

Health Benefits
Studies conducted over the past several decades demonstrate that sauna produces numerous salubrious effects for the health. One study in particular, the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study, showed strong correlation between sauna use and health and longevity among a cohort of 2300 middle-aged men exposed to sauna temperatures of at least 78.9°C (174°F) for at least 20 minutes.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most widespread health problems in the world, leading to 18 million deaths — and a great deal of the tragedy is that so many of them are preventable through lifestyle changes, including sauna use. The KIHD investigation showed that those who used the sauna two to three times per week suffered a 27% lower rate of fatal cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t. Men who used the sauna twice as often suffered 50% fewer cardiovascular-related deaths. In fact, participants suffered 40% less premature mortality in general, regardless of underlying cause. These findings held true regardless of age, lifestyle factors, and activity levels. Further benefits included 66% lower risk of dementia and a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a 77% lower likelihood of developing psychosis, regardless of factors such as age, socioeconomic status, and so forth.

The effects of sauna on heart and blood pressure are particularly well understood. Sauna use, again, has effects similar to those of moderate exercise, ultimately lowering normal blood pressure and increasing heart rate. In fact, studies have shown that sauna is useful for treating congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, left ventricular function, and more. But heart health is only one of the major benefits of sauna use. Other studies have tied sauna use to reduction in inflammation and depression, as well as enhanced neurogenesis and attention span. There is further evidence that sauna heat can promote growth hormone, and insulin and glucose regulation.

Inflammation is another area in which sauna has proven benefits. Although a crucial part of the body’s immune response system, it can cause numerous deleterious effects. Acute inflammation can cause swelling, irritation, and fever after minor injury or illness. Chronic inflammation occurs at the cellular level and is often asymptomatic, though it plays a huge role in such major illnesses as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Sauna use, however, can lead to lower resting levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and higher levels of anti-inflammatory agents, such as the IL-10 listed above.

There is other medical evidence that sauna use can boost physical endurance and athletic performance. For instance, one study showed that one 30-minute post-workout sauna session twice a week for three weeks could increase runners’ endurance by 32%, their plasma volumes by 7.1%, and their red blood cell count by 3.5%. It can augment athletes’ acclimation to increased body temperatures, and reduce muscle atrophy by up to 37%. It has been shown that sauna use boosts blood flow to the skeletal muscles and enables the body to maintain a longer sweat rate. Sweating caused by sauna is also tied to the reduction of such harmful toxins as heavy metals, BPA, and to a lesser extent PCBs and phthalates.

Risk Factors
Like exercise and like medical therapies, sauna carries risk factors and potential side effects. First, some good news! Sauna has been shown to be relatively safe for pregnant women, though pregnant women with toxemia are at risk for reduced blood flow to the fetus. It has been shown to be safe for children over the age of two under adult supervision.

Now, the definite don’ts. Those suffering acute illness accompanied by fever or inflammatory skin conditions should not use saunas. Anyone taking any kind of medication, whether prescription or over the counter, should consult a physician before using the sauna, as should those suffering a cardiovascular condition. As discussed previously, there is substantial evidence that sauna use is beneficial for those suffering heart conditions, but the particular effects will vary case-by-case.

There is also some danger of electrolyte loss through exposure to sauna heat. Though the average person loses 0.5 kg of sweat in a sauna session, some lose substantially more. This can lead to a loss of electrolytes, particularly sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Dehydration from overexposure to heat can lead to fatigue and skeletal muscle cramps. Anyone using the sauna should take care to sufficiently hydrate before and after, and to consume electrolyte-rich foods such as seeds, nuts, spinach, avocado, and fish. Sauna use has also been shown to reduce sperm counts and motility in men who use saunas, though the effect is reversible within a few months of ceasing sauna use.

Conclusion
Sauna use has been shown to have enormous health benefits, from the improvement of cardiovascular condition to fertility, mental health, and more. It relaxes muscles and stimulates blood flow to skeletal muscle, leads to greater excretion of toxins through sweat, and stimulates molecules within the body’s cells that not only strengthen the body’s response to heat stress, but reduce inflammation, aging, and the development of tumors. It is generally healthy for adults of all ages, as well as for children and special medical populations with appropriate supervision.

Additional Resources:

DIY Sauna Course

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