February 2015

Reap the Benefits of “FAR”-Infrared Sauna

Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold

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Take your whole body detoxification to a new level by adding SAUNA treatments to your regimen! For centuries our ancestors experienced the tremendous benefit of sauna. For example, the Finns utilized sauna for mental, spiritual, and physical cleansing and “sweat lodges” were utilized by Native American Indians for cleansing and purifying.

Most of us are pretty familiar with traditional saunas, but are unaware there are other options available to “get your sweat on”! Traditional saunas warm the body with heat and humidity at high temperatures, often in the range of 160-200 degrees Fahrenheit! Some individuals find this excessive heat and “wet” air uncomfortable and are unable to withstand sessions beyond twenty minutes. Personally, I find the wet air is very bothersome to my asthma and can trigger vigorous coughing spells. I wanted to take my own detoxification to the next level through sweating, so I began searching for alternatives. That is when I noticed increasingly more controlled studies were being done with “far”-infrared sauna.

How does “Far”-infrared sauna (FIS) work? FIS creates heat from light, heating 20% of the air and leaving 80% available to heat the body. This warm dry air is more effective at increasing body temperature at lower sauna temperatures, in the range of 120-180 degrees Fahrenheit, without humidity. In general, sauna treatments are appealing because they cause “reactions”, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate similar to those experienced during moderate exercise. FIS may induce up to 2-3 times the volume of sweat produced in a traditional sauna while operating at significantly cooler temperatures. In addition, infrared heat panels are so safe that they are even used in hospital nurseries to warm newborns. Many people who use FIS find they are able to withstand 20-50 minute sessions and find the sessions more tolerable.

Medical literature supports the benefits of sauna. In an article published in 1981 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), the authors found that “regular use of sauna may impact a similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective, as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories, as regular exercise.” In 1982, JAMA authors noted, “A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna, consuming nearly 300 kcal, which is equivalent to running 2-3 miles. A heat-conditioned person can easily sweat off 600-800 kcal with no adverse effects. While the weight of the water loss can be regained by drinking water, the calories consumed will not be.”

As I mentioned earlier, sauna is great for the traditional uses of meditation and detoxification. Detoxification of the body can optimize the efficiency of the immune system. Toxins in the body can accumulate in the skin and the liver and sweating is one of the body’s natural ways to remove toxins…. As a result, detox helps avoid disease, prevent illness and improve general health and vitality. FIS heats the body from the core, therefore, it allows you to sweat up to seven times more toxins than traditional saunas! Daily sweating can help detox the body as it rids itself of accumulated heavy metals as well as alcohol, nicotine, sodium, and sulfuric acid. FIS helps with acne by purifying the skin and cleansing the pores thus ridding accumulated dirt, cosmetics, blackheads and dry skin cells. Less toxins in the skin means healthier skin with improvements in skin complexion, tone, texture, elasticity and overall appearance. A weight loss benefit can be seen with FIS. Studies show that just 30 minutes can burn upwards of 600 calories! When using FIS core body temperature increases and the body works hard to cool it down which then causes an increase in heart rate, metabolic rate and cardiac output allowing you to burn calories while you relax. Cardiac improvement can be seen in congestive heart failure, and improved circulation benefits individuals with high blood pressure, sciatica, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. FIS can help you maintain healthy levels of your stress hormones, like cortisol, thus leading to relaxation, better sleep and an overall feeling of being refreshed and rejuvenated. FIS works by deeply penetrating joints, muscle and tissues, which increase circulation and speeds oxygen flow. Many physicians recommend FIS for pain relief and to athletes for sports injuries, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain syndromes.

In 2009, authors published a study in Clinical Rheumatology. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis were treated with infrared sauna. After 4 weeks and a total of 8 treatments, pain and stiffness decreased significantly and improvement was seen in fatigue. In yet another article published in 1994 in Respiration, authors found “sauna therapy can help respiration in patients with asthma and bronchitis, and lung function was improved in patients with COPD”. Japanese and Chinese practitioners have utilized FIS and have noted benefit in the following: Arthritis (TMJ, Traumatic, Rheumatoid, DJD), compression fractures, muscle tension and spasms, post-exercise muscle pain, bursitis, low-back pain and lumbar strain, menstrual pain, joint stiffness and eczema.

Depending on the degree of detoxification needed, benefit with “Far”-Infrared Sauna was seen in many studies in as little as 15-30 minutes 3 to 5 times weekly. In patients who require a higher degree of detoxification, daily treatment may be more beneficial. I wouldn’t recommend a treatment so enthusiastically unless I utilize it myself. I purchased my FIS four years ago. After researching the products available on the market, I found the SunLighten® SOLO to be most appealing for my needs. The portable SOLO is great for one person and can be easily stored in a closet when not in use. An additional benefit of the SOLO is that your head is outside the sauna, therefore, you are not breathing in the heat. Initially upon purchase, I utilized my sauna daily to stimulate the release of toxins. Now, I use my sauna 2-3 times weekly to continue reaping the benefits of toxin elimination. To aid in the elimination of the toxins from all of this sweating, don’t forget to replace the lost electrolytes with a high quality electrolyte replacement and drink plenty of water following your session. In addition, be sure to shower immediately after your session to prevent the re-absorption of toxins. If YOU are striving to get to that next level for optimal health, I would highly recommend you try a session, or several sessions, of FIS combined with other detoxification-supportive supplements and nutrition.