While you probably know what a traditional sauna is, you may be unaware of its less common alternative: the infrared sauna. Unlike a traditional sauna that transfers heat to our bodies through the conduction and convection of heated air, an infrared sauna utilizes infrared heaters that warm up the surface of our skin directly, without drastically increasing the temperature of the surrounding air.

There are multiple health benefits to heating our bodies, and both infrared and traditional saunas are fantastic for improving cardiac function. The main difference between the two saunas is the temperature of the surrounding air. A wood stove sauna has an average temperature of 85 degrees celsius, which can be uncomfortable for certain people.

An infrared sauna only heats to 60 degrees celsius, which is a more comfortable temperature. For people with breathing difficulties, or those who are unable to exercise regularly, an infrared sauna can impart healthy cardiovascular conditioning and calorie burning without straining the respiratory system.

If you’re in the market to use or purchase an infrared sauna, or would like to try our own in-house infrared sauna, read on for a helpful list of health benefits associated with the technology.

The health benefits of an infrared sauna

1. CARDIOVASCULAR

Whenever our core body temperature rises, our cardiovascular system kicks into high gear. Your heart rate rises, peripheral blood circulation increases, and blood pressure decreases. Naturopathic Doctor Walter J Cinnion also states in his Environmental Medicine report that ‘There is a corresponding acute increase in metabolic rate and O2 consumption, the overall effect being similar to moderate exercise.{1} The increased blood circulation is particularly good for those recovering from injury, such as muscle strains, soft tissue injury, and joint pain.

2. SWEATING

The infrared sauna simulates the effects physical exercise has on the body, and that means you’ll find yourself sweating quite a bit – which is great! Sweating has a number of benefits, and it works to flush out certain toxins such as alcohol and salt, which can help to clear your pores and leave you with healthier skin.

Sweating is especially important during the winter months, as it can be difficult to get the same level of exercise as you would in the summer.

3. DEPRESSION AND FATIGUE

Infrared saunas have been used as treatment for those with mild depression and general fatigue in multiple studies. A study published by Psychosomatic Medicine found that repeated thermal therapy (15 minutes a day for 4 weeks) improved the ability of 28 mildly depressed patients to relax, and develop a healthy appetite.{2}

4. CHRONIC PAIN

For sufferers of chronic pain, infrared saunas have been linked to improving quality of life.

A report that studied the effects of regular infrared sauna use by 46 patients with chronic pain was found by the The College of Family Physicians of Canada to have positive results. “After 2 years, those {receiving regular infrared sauna treatment} were significantly more likely to have returned to work… and to have improved sleep scores”.{3}

There are numerous benefits in repeated infrared sauna use, and while daily use has been tested in multiple studies, 2-3 times a week is what we would recommend. A weekly sauna can be very relaxing, and helps to loosen up sore muscles (like a sore back after a day of shovelling!)

If you’d like to book an appointment to take advantage of Cornerstone’s sauna, or would like more information on infrared saunas, don’t hesitate to send us an email at info@cornerstonenaturopathic.ca or call (902) 820- 3443.

 

References:

1. Crinnion, Walter J. “Sauna as a Valuable Clinical Tool for Cardiovascular, Autoimmune, Toxicantinduced and Other Chronic Health Problems.” Alternative Medicine Review 16.3 (2011): n. pag. Alternative Medicine Review – Journal of Clinical Therapeutics. Web. 24 Feb. 2016. <http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/ 16/3/215.pdf>.

2. Kihara, Takashi. “Repeated Sauna Treatment Improves Vascular Endothelial and Cardiac Function in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure.”Journal of the American College of Cardiology 39.5 (2002): n. pag. Http://content.onlinejacc.org/journal.aspx. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Mar. 2002. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

3. Beever, Richard.”Far-infraredSaunasforTreatmentofCardiovascular Risk Factors: Summary of Published Evidence.” The College of Family Physicians of Canada 55.7 (2009): n. pag. Canadian Family Physician. College of Family Physicians of Canada, July 2009. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

Masuda, A. “Repeated thermal therapy diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

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