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10 Benefits of Infrared Saunas and Heating Pads
- Infrared saunas help you detoxify by raising your core body temperature and causing you to sweat. The infrared waves are able to penetrate inches into your skin and tissues, heating much deeper than a traditional sauna can.
- This type of sauna is also useful for athletes, as studies show a sauna session prior to a workout produces improved performance and faster recovery.
- Infrared saunas are good for the mind, body, and soul. You’ll enjoy stress-relief and relaxation, as well as the possibility of lowered blood pressure and a healthier heart.
- There are three types of saunas: traditional (wet or dry, heated by electricity or hot stones), near infrared (combination heat and light therapy, penetrates into the skin), and far infrared (longer wavelengths, raises core temperature, good for cellular detoxification). In near and far infrared saunas, the air temperature is typically much cooler than traditional saunas.
- The ideal time and temperature for an infrared sauna session is 45 minutes at 140 degrees, but you should work up slowly from a cooler temperature and shorter time.
- It’s important to replenish lost sodium and minerals when you sweat in a sauna. You can do this by drinking trace minerals, electrolytes, or homemade green juices.
- Infrared heating pads or non-wood saunas, like those offered by Therasage, are excellent options for people who need an inexpensive and portable way to enjoy the same infrared technology.
Picture this: you’ve had a long day at the office (and it’s only Wednesday). 352 emails are clogging up your inbox, and you have a stack of papers under your arm that needs your immediate attention. On the drive home, you hit twenty minutes of traffic, and your stomach is protesting with loud growls because you forgot your lunch on the counter this morning.
At an especially long stoplight, you look longingly out your window at the local spa, envious of the women in their bathrobes, sitting in the steam room with cucumber slices over their eyes. You’d give anything for just one evening at the spa, to forget about all this stress and work on your plate.
Today, it’s possible for you to create your own home spa experience with an infrared sauna. You’ll get the same incredible benefits: relaxation, detoxification, and a boost to your immune system, without having to leave your house.
Now there are infrared heating pads and portable saunas, which are inexpensive and easy to use. Just imagine leaving a stressful day of work, now, knowing you can come home and decompress in your own infrared sauna. Make up a batch of lemon water, put on your comfiest robe, turn on the acoustic music, and get ready to learn about ten health benefits you receive from infrared saunas and heating pads.
Ten Ways Infrared Saunas and Heating Pads can Improve Your Health
They help you sweat out toxins:
When you think of saunas, you probably think of sweat–and for good reason. Infrared saunas raise your core body temperature with light and heat therapy, instead of just heating the air like traditional saunas. Bugs (like Lyme and parasites) and cancer cells all hate heat, and most can’t survive over a certain body temperature.
Even if you aren’t dealing with a chronic disease, you’re still dealing with toxins. We accumulate so many toxins just by living in the world today, from our food, the air, beauty products, household cleaners, offgassing products from stores–no one is immune.
In fact, The Environmental Working Group released a study in 2008 that found 232 pollutants and toxins in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies! These toxins include lead, mercury, and even perfluorinated chemicals (found in Teflon and carpet protectors)1. Even if you live the cleanest lifestyle, make all your own soaps, and grow food from your own garden, you’re still full of toxins.
Sweating is a great way to get these toxins out of our bodies, and infrared saunas can induce sweating comfortably, without heating the air to an unbearable temperature like traditional saunas do. Your skin is your biggest organ, so sweating through your skin is an effective way to mitigate the effects of our toxic world.
We know heavy metals can be sweat out due to cutting-edge scientific research. A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012 showed high concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat (even higher than in blood plasma), making it clear that sweat is a good exit strategy for these dangerous metals. There are even case studies that show mercury levels in individuals were reduced to normal with consistent infrared sauna use.2
Saunas heat the body’s core temperature, meaning when you take one, you’re detoxifying at the cellular level (where the toxins live). The infrared technology also penetrates into the skin, reaching fat tissue, muscles, and even organs–detoxifying the whole body.
If you’re worried about your heavy metal load, feel free to contact us about a consultation. We have a team of highly-trained coaches working with clients around the world on reducing their heavy metal loads safely.
Infrared saunas help you recover from strength and conditioning:
Even just 5-20 minutes of an infrared sauna before working out showed improved performance and better oxygen uptake in athletes. Additionally, heart rate and blood pressure were lowered overall with athletes using an infrared sauna, even though they’re temporarily elevated (due to heat) during the session.3
If your muscles and joints are warm before exercising, you’re also less likely to acquire an injury.
They keep your heart happy and healthy
Many studies have found infrared saunas to be extremely useful for patients with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and other coronary risk factors. For example, in 2009, the New York Heart Association Cardiovascular had 30 patients with late-class CHF try just two weeks of infrared saunas.
The results (after only ten short sessions) were astounding. Almost 90% of patients experienced improved symptoms, and every single patient was able to walk more distance in 6 minutes than he was at the beginning of the study.4
Blood pressure improved both systolically and diastolically, and epinephrine and norepinephrine decreased.
With results like this from only ten short sauna sessions, it’s really incredible to consider what other health improvements these individuals might experience with prolonged use.
Saunas can boost your immune system:
When you’re fighting off a cold or flu, you’ve probably noticed that you feel a little warmer than usual. Fevers are your body’s way of putting the immune system to work, doing what’s needed to fight off the infection or illness. Infrared saunas kind of work in the same way, by raising your core body temperature.5
In a study published in The Journal of Human Kinetics in 2013, subjects took a short 15-minute sauna, and then had a full blood panel drawn afterward. Subject body temperatures got as high as 102.2F during the session. Infrared saunas were proven to increase white blood cells, lymphocytes, basophils, and neutrophils, therefore giving the immune system a gentle boost.6
Not sure what these cells do? Here’s a quick overview:
-In your immune system, white blood cells can both ingest (thus, killing) pathogens and create antibodies to fight them.
-Lymphocytes consist of B cells, which attack viruses and toxins, and T cells, which help destroy the body’s own cells which have been infected.7
-Basophils release histamine when they come in contact with allergens, which in turn can cause swelling and inflammation. If you twist and ankle and it gets swollen, that’s your amazing body working to repair the issue.
-Finally, neutrophils are the first defenders against invaders, and the most common type of white blood cell. They produce enzymes to help destroy infections.
An increase of all of these types of cells is a great thing for your body. The sauna is simply enhancing your body’s own healing potential.
Interestingly, the study also found that this immune boost was even more effective in athletes who exercised regularly, so add some light cardio and weightlifting to your routine if you’re able.
They can improve your mood:
Saunas are warm and cozy, naturally relaxing you and triggering endorphins (happy brain chemicals) like you get with exercise. People even self-report being happier after an infrared sauna or infrared heating pad session.
In a study of chronic pain patients, 22 people were treated with dry infrared sauna therapy, as compared with 24 patients treated with exercise and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. More patients who underwent sauna therapy were able to return back to work because of reduced pain and improved mood, compared with the group that completed therapy and exercise. Additionally, the infrared sauna group reported less depression (more happiness!), less anger, and less aching after the sessions.8
It is possible to experience slight decrease in mood if the saunas are causing die-off, but those feelings should pass quickly. In these cases, taking Bioactive Carbon BioTox and Bioactive MetChem (one capsule each), working on drainage support (coffee enemas and castor oil packs), and getting some natural sunlight can help.
Saunas make your skin young and glowing:
Have you ever noticed that when you’re consistent with your cardio routine (read: sweat sessions a few times a week), your skin starts clearing up and looking younger?
I’ve already talked about the benefits of sauna sweating, which helps your skin slough off dead skin cells and unclog sweat ducts. Sweating also stimulates your lymphatic system, which removes the garbage and toxins from your body.
Also, when your pores are clean, your capillaries can better circulate, meaning smoother skin for you. Your capillaries are responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen around your blood and body. Skin getting more nourishment in this way will look soft and glowing.
How exactly do saunas make skin look nicer? In a 2006 research study, doctors found two important skin-boosting nutrients increased with regular infrared sauna use: elastin and collagen. Elastin is just like it sounds; it’s what allows your skin to snap back to its original shape when it has been stretched. Collagen is a protein that helps your hair grow strong and keeps your connective tissue doing its job–holding everything together. Your skin is almost ¾ collagen!9
Clinically, the doctors found that after infrared sessions, patients enjoyed smoother, more evenly-colored skin.
Another skin benefit of infrared technology is quicker wound healing, for all the same reasons. Elastin and collagen naturally decline when we get older, and decline even faster when we have digestive issues, eat a Standard American diet, and are under a lot of stress. Any way you can boost them is wonderful, and saunas do just that!
As a side note: collagen is a big reason why bone broth is such a nutritional powerhouse, so if you’re looking for an additional skin boost, add a bone broth shake to your sauna routine. You can find some tasty flavors of Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein and Collagen available here.
They can improve your circulatory system:
Saunas cause the circulatory system to work a little harder, because the heat increases your heart rate and dilates the blood vessels. This is a good thing, though, because when the blood vessels are open, more oxygen can get to the cells faster. This process also helps your body transport the toxins out faster, and you definitely don’t want those hanging around inside your body.
Better circulation is also part of the reason you can recover more quickly after exercising when saunas are in your wellness routine.
Infrared sauna users have reported better cold tolerance and less-frequent cold extremities after just a few sessions. Some have even experienced improved neuropathy and diminished numbness in hands and feet. All of these symptoms are connected to the circulatory system.10
And when your circulation is working well–when blood is flowing freely through your heart, veins, and lungs–you’ll feel better overall.
Saunas can relieve pain:
Infrared saunas have proven to be useful in reducing all kinds of pain, from chronic to acute. In the Japanese journal Internal Medicine, chronic pain patients reported up to a 70% reduction in pain after just one session in the sauna.11 With those kind of results, it’s very likely that with repeated sauna sessions, pain would keep improving.
In a different study, women with debilitating menstrual pain used infrared technology and reported much less pain after each session.12
Along with the saunas, an infrared heating pad would be a great option for someone with pain, whether it be from an injury, exercise, fibromyalgia, or any other source.
Infrared saunas make you relaxed and provide stress-relief:
In today’s world, almost everyone deals with chronic stress, from work, responsibilities, illness, and other sources. Stress has an incredibly negative impact on the brain and body, contributing to insomnia, mood disorders, poor digestion, and much more.
Neuroscientists from UC Berkeley in California recently reported that stress can change the structure of your brain and cause it to produce less neurons.13
Luckily, infrared saunas help you de-stress in a few ways. The first is by encouraging your body to enter a parasympathetic state, which is the “rest and digest” phase… the opposite of “fight or flight.” In a parasympathetic state, we are able to relax, lower cortisol (the stress hormone), and heal.
Next, the warmth of the sauna encourages your muscles to relax.
Even the fact that you’re taking time away from your busy schedule to sit and be still is another huge benefit of using a sauna, that doesn’t relate directly to the infrared technology. Use the quiet opportunity to meditate, pray, or just relieve your mind from the constant to-do list.
Leave your cell phone outside, though. You don’t want text alerts and social media notifications to undo the chance to relax.
Saunas can help your memory:
An interesting 20-year study out of Finland proved that frequent sauna sessions can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The participants were men between 40 and 60 years old, with no previous medical issues when the study began. Over the course of time, less men developed either Alzheimer’s or dementia who took four-to-seven infrared saunas per week, as compared to men who did not take any or only took one.14
The study also adjusted findings for outside influences, like smoking, diabetes, BMI, blood pressure, and more, in order to pinpoint sauna use as the influencing factor. In this case, it seems that more saunas is better–it could positively affect your memory and brain health in the years to come!
Three Types of Saunas
- Heats electrically or via burning wood
- Dry or wet
- Wet saunas are usually produced by ladling water over hot rocks to create steam
- Air is very hot
Near Infrared Sauna:
- Combines heat and light therapy
- Shorter wavelengths
- Penetrates into skin
- Good for wound healing
- Air is cooler than traditional sauna air
Far Infrared Sauna:
- Light therapy
- Longer wavelengths
- Raises core body temperature
- Good for cellular detoxification
- Air is cooler than traditional sauna air
How to Take a Sauna
–Take one capsule of BioActive Carbon BioTox and one capsule of BioActive Carbon MetChem by Microbe Formulas about 30 minutes before your sauna. And again take one capsule of BioActive Carbon BioTox and one capsule of BioActive Carbon MetChem when your sauna session is over with. Saunas can be very detoxifying, so the BioActive Carbons will help grab onto a variety toxins released in the process and safely transport them out of your body. This step is especially vital for anyone with Lyme disease, co-infections, or parasites. Make sure to drink 8-16 oz water each time you take the supplements.
-Wear as little as possible. You want your skin to be exposed and allowed to sweat. If you’re not comfortable going without clothes, invest in a bamboo carbon towel or body wrap. You can wipe off sweat if needed, and the towel will absorb it for you, instead of just spreading it around your skin. Make sure to wash the towel frequently, though.
-Use a sauna backrest. This is such an important tip if you’re buying a wood sauna, because it allows you to relax. Otherwise, you’d have to sit up straight to avoid touching the infrared heaters behind you.
-Stay hydrated. It’s best if you drink plenty of water throughout the day before your sauna, even adding Concentrace Trace Minerals to a glass. Make a big batch of green juice or a green smoothie beforehand, to help keep your electrolytes in balance (think celery, kale, lemon, chard, cucumber). If you’re very sensitive or very ill, you’ll want to get some electrolytes in the house to make sure you replenish what you sweat out. I like Ultima Replenisher, which you can purchase on Amazon.
-Start low and slow. For your first session, try 110 degrees just for a few minutes, especially if you’re heat intolerant or suffer from adrenal fatigue. Each session, increase either the degrees or the time. Your goal is to get to 45 minutes at 140 degrees, but don’t start there. You want to give your body some time to adapt and adjust. You also want to assess any die-off reactions as you slowly ramp up.
-Drink water while you’re in the sauna! Relax and enjoy. Read a nice book!
-Cool down a bit after your sauna. If you jump immediately in the shower, your pores are wide open for any impurities (like chlorine) in your water to enter through your skin. Cool down for ten minutes, and optionally, do some dry skin brushing, then hop in the shower and wash those toxins off your skin. Some experts recommend NOT using any soap after your session, but I’ll leave the one up to you.
-In the shower, try some light contrast: a few minutes of warm/hot water, followed by a minute of cold. This is additional stimulation for your lymphatic system, and also works on your body’s adaptability.
-Drink up! Now is the time to add that Ultima Replenisher, electrolyte, minerals, or extra green juice. Though your body got rid of toxins, you also got rid of sodium and other important minerals in your sweat. You want to restore those.
Considerations for Buying a Sauna
-Untreated wood: Some saunas are constructed with treated lumber, which will off-gas and potentially caused further health issues, especially for someone with multiple chemical sensitivities. If you’re buying a wood sauna, make sure the wood hasn’t been treated with anything.
-Low EMFs: Some sauna companies will utilize special technology to create low EMF saunas, tested by spot readings, since certain brands of infrared saunas could be above the threshold of concern. We trust Therasage and their patented Thera360TM and TheraFusionTM technologies. This brand produces negative ions and specifically shields harmful EMFs, to keep you safe and comfortable as you use your sauna. Therasage saunas are also full spectrum infrared.
-Space: If you have a small apartment or dorm, you might want to consider an infrared heating pad or portable sauna. You’ll get the same great results, without having to set up a large, wooden sauna in your home.
-Portability: Is it important to you that you can take the infrared technology wherever you go? Then you, too, might enjoy the heating pad or portable infrared options. Both can be packed easily for flights or road trips.
-Price: Of course, price is a factor. You’ll find saunas at every price point, from $100 to $5000 or more.
Special Discount for Dr. Jay Davidson Followers:
Our friends at Therasage have offered a special discount for you, if you’re looking to purchase an infrared heating pad or portable sauna. Just click here to browse infrared products, and enter the code “drjay” at checkout for 5% off.
I try to use my infrared sauna a few times a week, and it was also a beneficial healing tool my wife, Heather, used when she was very ill and healing from Lyme disease. Infrared saunas are great for detoxification, sweating, and relaxing. If you’re not ready for the expense of purchasing a wood sauna, there are wonderful (and portable) options that you can use comfortably at home.
I prefer the smaller, portable infrared saunas that are non-wood (and low EMF), and these are the ones I recommend to my patients. They’re especially important if you have dental amalgams or suspected Lyme disease, because they keep your head cool and heat the rest of your body.
Another good option, if you are looking for a wood sauna, is Sunlighten. They have basswood, untreated lumber, and low EMF ratings as well.
Have you used an infrared sauna or heating pad before? Let me know your experience with it in the comments!
CLICK HERE to watch my interview with Robby Besner, the creator of Therasage, and to learn more about infrared technology!
To apply for a consultation click the button at the top of this page or contact us at 844-443-7529 or Info@DrJayDavidson.com.
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- “BPA and Other Cord Blood Pollutants.” Environmental Working Group. EWG, 23 Nov. 2009. Web. 04 Nov. 2017.
- Sears, M, et al. “Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Environmental and Public Safety (2012). Pubmed. Web. 04. Nov 2017
- Mero, Antti et al. “Effects of Far-Infrared Sauna Bathing on Recovery from Strength and Endurance Training Sessions in Men.” SpringerPlus 4 (2015): 321. PMC. Web. 2 Nov. 2017.
- Beever, Richard. “Far-Infrared Saunas for Treatment of Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Summary of Published Evidence.” Canadian Family Physician 55.7 (2009): 691–696. Web.
- Khodarev, V. “The Influence of General Infrared Sauna on the Antioxidant Systems in the Blood of Volunteers.” Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult 5 (2013): 10-13. Pubmed. Web. 03 Nov. 2017.
- Pilch, Wanda. “Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes.” Journal of Human Kinetics 39.1 (2013): 127-35.
Pubmed. Web. 4 Nov. 2017.
- “Lymphocytes – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2017.
- Masuda, A. “The Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy for Patients with Chronic Pain.”Journal of Psychosomatic Research 58.6 (2005): 16-17. Web.
- Lee, Ju Hee, Mi Ryung Roh, and Kwang Hoon Lee. “Effects of Infrared Radiation on Skin Photo-Aging and Pigmentation.” Yonsei Medical Journal 47.4 (2006): 485–490. PMC. Web. 3 Nov. 2017.
- Connealy, Leigh Erin, MD. “Boosting Circulation Can Benefit the Entire Body.” NaturalNews. NewsTarget, 26 Mar. 2010. Web. 13 Nov. 2017.
- Matsushita, K. et al. “Efficacy of Waon (Sauna) Therapy for Fibromyalgia.” Internal Medicine. The First Department of Internal Medicine. 2008. Web. 20 Nov. 2017.
- Lee, Jin-Min, and Kye-Ha Kim. “Effect of Near-infrared Rays on Female Menstrual Pain in Korea.” Nursing & Health Sciences 19.3 (2017): 366-72. Web.
- Bergland, Christopher. “Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2017.
- Laukkanen T., Kunutsor S., Kauhanen J., Laukkanen J. A. Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age and Ageing. 2017; 46(2): 245–249. Web. 13 Nov. 2017.