Today we're talking about a kind of therapy that can keep you safe in a most toxic world, helping you eliminate accumulated toxins with long half-lives as well as dangerous heavy metals that cause disease over time.
Infrared saunas penetrate up to 1-1/2 inches below the skin to help detoxify and revitalize the cells and organs by allowing for efficient toxin elimination.
Getting toxins out of our bodies on a regular basis before they attach to fat cells is paramount to retaining your health and quality of life.
What people notice when they start to sauna regularly:
Easier to relax
Enhance immune function
Improved skin quality
Natural, healthy weight loss
Increased range of motion with muscles
According to information published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, infrared sauna sessions were shown to burn upwards of 600 calories. During a sauna weight loss session, your core temperature increases and the body works hard to cool itself. While using an infrared sauna, there is a substantial increase in blood flow, heart rate, cardiac output, and metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories
Infrared wavelength is something you'll want to consider based upon your health goals. Your options are NEAR Infrared and FAR Infrared. NEAR is used for cellular health (including all organs), immunity, wound healing, skin purification, and pain relief. Our favorite brand for quality of NEAR infrared is Sunlighten.
Then there’s FAR Infrared, which is used more for general detoxification, weight loss, blood pressure reduction, and relaxation. Our favorite brand for quality here is Radiant Health.
Whether you purchase your own sauna or use a sauna at your local spa or wellness center, you can start with a 30-40 minute session once a week and work up to three times per week.
There is so much more to saunas than what meets the eye because quality and how they are made is everything. We must make sure they are low EMF (electromagnetic fields) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
To go deeper into the science of saunas, I brought on a biologist to share his story and research on infrared saunas to help educate you deeper than any other blog I’ve found online.
Enter guest blogger, Randy Gomm, B. Sc.
Admittedly, I was an adrenalin junkie, volunteering on the Whistler Ski Patrol and the North Shore Mountain Rescue team while juggling full-time duties as an active firefighter. In my late 30’s, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) with symptoms of debilitating muscle skeletal pain and chronic fatigue. I had difficulty even walking a block or holding a cup of tea with one hand. I was in the prime of my life, and I was devastated. There were very limited resources back then, but deep down I knew that I would find my way back to health no matter what it took.
It turned out I had toxic exposure to chemicals and heavy metals. I did a lot of work to restore my health, and I found the far infrared sauna was the most instrumental tool in lowering my overall toxic load, reducing my pain levels and allowing me to return to work and my active lifestyle.
Lowering Your Toxic Load
In my search to restore my wellness, I attended my first Functional Medicine conference in 1996. There, surrounded by medical doctors, Ph.D.s and leading-edge functional health experts, I discovered that many individuals with chronic health problems could dramatically reduce their symptoms by lowering their toxic load of chemicals and heavy metals.
Once I figured my way through my own detoxification and restoration of health, I felt very passionate about introducing these far infrared saunas to practitioners for their practices and individuals for use in their homes, so others could have the same benefits I did. The feedback from practitioners over 20 years has been invaluable to assist me in creating the far infrared saunas we have today.
Infrared Scientific Research
There is a great volume of confusing information offered online regarding infrared saunas. Much of it is copied and pasted from one website or blog to another. It is important for each of us to question these statements and claims and verify whether they are backed by legitimate research.
I started my career as a biologist, so I have foundational respect for factual scientific research. I created an Important Checklist For Buying and Using an Infrared Sauna below, in the hope it will educate others and allow them to make informed decisions when using or buying an infrared sauna. This way, they end up with a sauna that is most beneficial for their health concerns, and not mistakenly add more to their toxic load.
Checklist for Buying and Using an Infrared Sauna:
1. What is Near Infrared (NIR), Far Infrared (FIR) and Red Light Therapy?
Understanding the Benefits of Near Infrared (NIR)
There is a lot of scientific research on tissue repair, pain relief, and other health benefits with the specific use of LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights and lasers in the near infrared and red light wavelengths in a very specific frequency range of 630 – 940 nm (nanometers)9
The beneficial studies I have read on LED lights in the near infrared range have the lights positioned directly on the surface of the skin or just above the skin. This is necessary due to the Inverse Square Law* from a light source. (See explanation of Inverse Square law below).
I have not found any scientific research at all supporting red heat lamps such as those purchased from a hardware store have the same health benefits as LED lights in the specific frequency stated in the studies.
If the sauna manufacturer claims near infrared technology, ask “What is the source of the near infrared lights? Is the near infrared light source from LED (light emitting diodes), red lamps or low-level laser therapy? Where are the near infrared lights located within the sauna what is the surface area of these lights and how far away do you sit from them?
Understanding the Benefits of Far Infrared (FIR)
Far infrared is the frequency cited in clinical studies on infrared sauna use. See multiple scientific citations below.
Far Infrared Range: 3 – 1000* microns (or micrometers)
*Most scientific studies on infrared saunas cite the far infrared range of 5-20 microns.
Near Infrared Range: 0.7 – 1.4 microns or 700-1400 nanometers
Red Light Range: 0.63 – 0.7 microns or 630-700 nanometers
Far infrared saunas do not heat up the air in the outer room like conventional steam or dry saunas, which is one reason why they are used in practitioner clinics, health spas, and individual homes.
Our bodies generate far infrared waves in a range of 6 to 20 microns. Far infrared is a specific range in the infrared spectrum of light that has been shown in scientific studies to be beneficial in health applications including improving rheumatoid arthritis1, vascular flow2, chronic fatigue3; promoting skin circulation4, nitric oxide production5, wound healing6; strategies for cardiovascular disease, heart failure, peripheral artery disease7,8; detoxification and more.
Far infrared saunas differ from conventional saunas because the far infrared heat directly penetrates your body but does not warm the air around you to the same degree as in a conventional steam or heat sauna. The beneficial effects of a far infrared sauna are produced at a much lower temperature than in a conventional sauna.
Far infrared sauna temperature ranges are typically 115-150ºF (46-65ºC). In a conventional sauna, temperature ranges are usually 180-200ºF.
2. What are VOC’s and Why Do They Matter in Infrared Saunas?
An Infrared Sauna should be completely non-toxic, so your sauna experience does not contribute to your overall toxic body burden. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are organic compounds that become hazardous vapors and gases and can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, skin problems and increase one’s toxic load. Higher concentrations of VOC’s may be carcinogenic and may cause irritation of the lungs, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some VOC's include benzene, solvents, tetrachloroethylene, methyl chloride, perchloroethylene, and formaldehyde.
In some infrared sauna manufacturing, you will find hidden within the frame, plywood or MDF (medium density fiberboard) which off-gasses formaldehyde, a toxic VOC and a Class B carcinogen per the Environmental Protection Agency. This often overlooked part of manufacturing can be toxic to your health and potentially add to your toxic load? Ask your infrared sauna supplier to provide testing results from a government certified independent lab showing that the entire sauna (not just the sauna parts or the heaters tested in isolation) has zero VOC’s.
3. What are EMF’s and Why Do They Matter in Far Infrared Saunas?
Electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) and Electrical Fields (EF’S) can be emitted from many forms of technology such as power lines, home wiring and many appliances in undesirable frequencies. Studies show potential correlation of exposure to these EMF’s with neurobehavioral issues in children10 and neuroendocrine disruption11.
In conversations with practitioners over two decades, many believe these EMF’s are disruptive and can contribute to anxiety, disrupted circadian rhythms, insomnia, and depression.
Look for very low EMF (Electromagnetic Field) and very low EF (Electrical Field) levels. Testing the whole sauna for EMF and EF levels by an independent government certified lab is prudent because a sauna user is exposed to the whole sauna during sauna use. Testing reports should clearly show the whole sauna has been tested including electrical connections and wiring which can emit high EMF’s. Many sauna manufacturers test only the heaters that are sent off to a lab in isolation.
If an average reading is given, all the readings should be taken at “point of body contact.” The point of body contact is where one sits against the wooden slats in front of the heaters.
Considered to be the standard of excellence in the sauna industry, Swedish Standards (TCO) are 2 mG (milligauss) or less for EMF’s.
4. Far Infrared Heaters: Carbon fiber heaters vs. ceramic heaters. Which kind is best and why?
Ask the far infrared sauna manufacturer: What kinds of heaters do you use and are there a sufficient number of heaters in the far infrared sauna to avoid hot/cold spots
High-quality carbon fiber heaters utilize Japanese technology and are desirable because they allow much more surface area against one’s body and more consistent heating. The lower surface temperature of the carbon fiber heaters is more comfortable and has the benefit of increasing the micron wavelength, bringing it more into the ideal 7-14 micron far infrared range. My experience with ceramic heaters is they produce hot and cold spots, which is not an ideal sauna experience.
Below are links to multiple research papers that support my position on far infrared saunas and the Important Checklist for Buying and Using an Infrared Sauna above. I hope that everyone has the opportunity to use an infrared sauna to lower one’s toxic load and improve their health by doing so, just as I did over 20 years ago.
If you have questions about infrared saunas and would like to learn more, please feel free to give me a call.
The Whole Journey tribe will receive a $500 TWJ VIP cash discount applied towards any Radiant Health Sauna purchase. You must use the code TWJFIR24 to receive your discount. You can view far infrared sauna models here
We hope you enjoy Randy’s guest blog and learned all you need to learn about saunas before you start the regular use of them.
For those interested in NEAR infrared saunas, we have also worked out savings for the TWJ tribe with our friends over at Sunlighten. Mention The Whole Journey for FREE SHIPPING ($598 value).
Now we want to hear from you. Did you like this blog? Do you use an infrared sauna? How does it make you feel?
*The Inverse Square Law12 from a light source states the strength of the field is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the point source of the light … or that the light intensity is proportional to 1 over distance squared. So, what does that mean? It means that if you are 6 inches away from the light source, you would only have 1/36 the intensity compared to the source; and if you are 10 inches away, you would only have 1/100 the intensity of the light source. It is for this reason, LED lights (in the correct frequency noted above) that are used for tissue repair and other health benefits, are placed very near or on the surface of the skin or directly beneath the culture dishes during in vitro studies.