Are the Claims for Infrared Saunas Real?

As a little girl growing up in a German family, group saunas followed by an exhilarating roll in the snow were a common way to socialize with our guests.   Everyone would emerge looking like lobsters, feeling refreshed and relaxed.  It was obvious to us that this was healthy for body, mind and soul.

As we get ready to offer infrared sauna sessions at the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, just north of Kanata, I reviewed what modern studies have to say about this age-old practice.  There is a wealth of research supporting the heating of our core temperature.  Here are some of the fascinating facts that I’ve relearned…

Infrared saunas are different from Swedish saunas in that they use light waves to warm us up versus an external heat source from either electricity or hot stones.  The light waves penetrate our bodies to 1.5 to 3 centimeters, heating us from the inside out.  The light can come in various wavelengths: near, middle and far—all of which have different effects on our bodies.  Near is best for wound healing and immunity; middle is best for circulation and muscle relaxation; while far is primarily used for detoxification.

There is a long list of proven benefits from regular use of an infrared sauna, including detoxification, weight loss, pain relief, improved circulation, skin cleansing and relaxation.  In addition, it is touted as very safe and pleasurable.

I began with detoxification, a subject dear to my heart.  Over the years I’ve read that heavy metals, including lead, can be eliminated through sweating.   Many of these claims were put forth by manufacturers or health centres.   Now I wanted to see if this is proven in research as it is truly difficult to remove lead from the body.

Turns out it has been proven dozens of times by measuring heavy metals in sweat and comparing them to amounts in blood and tissue.  Over and over, the concentration of toxins was higher in the sweat.  In the case of mercury, it was found that body levels were normalized with regular sweating…not that any level of mercury is normal!

This is exciting to read in a world of exponential increase in toxic load—as well as Alzheimers, cancer and autism.  Not only do saunas help decrease our burden of heavy metals, the sweat also measures high in metabolic toxins such as uric acid, which explains at least part of the mechanism of helping decrease joint pain.

From here I investigated other claims and found more positive evidence which I will share in future blogs, maybe with some case histories of actual results we see.  To this end, we will ask our regular sauna clients to fill out a form before and after 6 sessions to observe how quickly people see results in their conditions and symptoms.  Another interesting experiment would be to compare hair analyses before and three months after a sauna series…

Looking forward to pampering you in our sauna room in the new clinic location, complete with optional essential oil diffuser and healing music!  To sign up, please call our manager Ellie at 613-839-1198 for now; soon we will have online bookings on our updated website.  Cost: $30/session or $150/six sessions.