What Does Infrared Do?
Through the absorption of infrared energy, tissues are safely and gently heated increasing blood flow within the treated area. Your body’s natural response to this increased temperature is to try to maintain a condition of homeostasis – a balanced environment or state of equilibrium – throughout the body. Regular usage can give relief to chronic back pain, headaches, PMS symptoms, muscle spasms, and a host of other muscular and musculo-skeletal pains (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis).
Sweat Toxins Out
The primary benefit of a sauna is that it induces sweating. Although many people go to great lengths to avoid sweating, perspiration has two essential functions: It cools you down; and it rids the body of waste products.
The body contains two main types of sweat glands:
- Apocrine glands, located mostly in the armpits, pubic area and scalp, these glands secrete sweat that contain fats and other organic compounds. (Bacteria on the skin interacting with these compounds is what can cause body odor.) The apocrine glands, which become functional at puberty, also emit hormones and pheromones believed to attract the opposite sex.
- Eccrine glands, which number more than 2 million and are scattered all over the body, are the real workhorses when it comes to sweating. Eccrine glands are activated by heat, as well as stress and emotions. The Eccrine glands secrete odorless, watery sweat that cools you down as it evaporates on the skin.
Sweat does more than regulate body temperature.
Much of the man-made chemicals in our environment find their way into our food, water and air. No matter how pure your diet or lifestyle, it is a guarantee that your body contains traces of hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals such as pesticides, drugs, solvents and dioxins. There are many ways to get rid of stored toxins, and one of them is sweating.
Sweating mobilizes toxins stored in the fat and enhances their elimination. If you’ve ever been around a heavy smoker or drinker, you know they reek of nicotine or alcohol—it literally pours out of their skin in their sweat. The same is true, although less obvious, of other toxins.
An IR Sauna can also aid in weight loss. In a recent study, IR Saunas were shown to promote weight loss by burning calories while an individual relaxes in total comfort.
It is no secret that maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall quality of life. In fact, a 10-year study published by The New England Journal of Medicine found that waist circumference by itself is a critical factor in assessing the risk of premature death. In other words, if you can maintain a healthy weight, you may increase your likelihood of a longer, healthier life.
In a two-week study of 25 obese adults, body weight and body fat were reduced after daily infrared sauna treatments of 15 minutes. The researchers who conducted the study reported that one obese patient who had difficulty exercising, due to arthritis in the knee, lost 17.5 kg (38.5 pounds), and decreased body fat from 46 to 35 percent after 10 weeks of daily IR sauna therapy.(i)
Relax with Infrared Saunas
Integrative Health Center of Charlottesville, Virginia uses a Sunlighten® Far Infrared Sauna, which offers the ultimate experience in IR Sauna relaxation. With the most therapeutic far infrared heat found in Solocarbon heating technology, Sunlighten® saunas are guaranteed to help our clients relax in comfort with an invigorating deep tissue sweat that will have our clients feeling energized with each session!
Relaxation is more important to health than most realize. According to New York Times best-selling author and fitness expert Jorge Cruise,“the more stressed you are, the more cortisol your body will produce.”
Cortisol is a ‘fight or flight’ hormone made in the adrenal glands that raises heart rate and blood pressure. Cortisol also encourages the deposit of any excess calories into the midsection.
Scientific evidence shows that far infrared therapy helps the body maintain healthy levels of cortisol. While cortisol levels stay the same or rise slightly during a sauna session, cortisol levels drop afterward IR Sauna therapy.
Far Infrared Sauna Heat Therapy for Pain Relief
New clinical research on pain offers evidence to establish a novel class of pain “heat responsive pain” or HRP, which encompasses several common pain conditions that can be treated with the use of heat therapy. Researchers studying HRP have observed remarkable therapeutic benefits by using continuous low level heat therapy for treating lower back, upper body and menstrual pain, all conditions that fall under the new HRP classification.
Pain expert, Peter Vicente, Ph.D., past president of the American Pain Society and Clinical Health Psychologist, Riverhills Healthcare, Cincinnati, Ohio stated: “For centuries healthcare providers have used topical heat to relieve minor aches and pains, but today we are just beginning to understand the full range of therapeutic benefits that heat offers. Through new clinical research, we have found that heat activates complex neurological, vascular and metabolic mechanisms to mediate the transmission of pain signals and effectively provide relief for a variety of pain conditions.”
Improve blood circulation with Infrared Saunas
Heating one area of the body produces reflex-modulated vasodilators in distant-body areas, even in the absence of a change in core body temperature. Heat one extremity and the contra lateral extremity also dilates; heat a forearm and both lower extremities dilate; heat the front of the trunk and the hand dilates. Heating of muscles with far infrared produces an increased blood flow level similar to that seen during exercise. Body temperature elevation also produces an increased blood flow and dilation directly in the capillaries, arterioles and vencules probably through direct action on their smooth muscles. The release of Bradykinin released as a consequence of sweat-gland activity, also produces increased blood flow and vasodilation. Whole-body hyperthermia, with a consequent core temperature elevation, further induces vasocilation via a hypothalami-induced decrease in sympathetic tone on the arteriovenous anastomoses. Vasodilation is also produced by axonal reflexes that change vasomotor balance.
Infrared heat assists in resolution of inflammatory infiltrates.
The increased peripheral circulation provides the transport needed to help evacuate oedema, which can help inflammation, decrease pain and help speed healing.
Infrared heat affects soft tissue injury.
Infrared heat is now becoming a leading edge care for soft tissue injuries to promote both relief in chronic or intractable “permanent” cases, and accelerated healing in newer injuries.
Infrared sauna benefits are exceptional. Do you frequently feel the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome or Fibromyalgia? Treatment and therapy for these symptoms can incorporate far infrared saunas and their powerful effects.
Improve your skin’s appearance
- Infrared has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve cell health and aid your immune system
- Open wounds heal quicker with reduced scarring
- Help acne, eczema, psoriasis, burns and any skin lesions or cuts
- Helps to reduce wrinkles and make skin look radiant
- Firms and improves skin tone and elasticity
- May help reduce cellulite trapped beneath the skin
- Scars may become less visible
- Burns and incisions may heal significantly
Infrared saunas reduce blood pressure
Several studies have shown that infrared sauna therapy lowers blood pressure significantly. In one study done by the University of Missouri, Kansas City subjects were randomly assigned to either an infrared sauna or a conventional sauna. Systolic blood pressure decreased from an average of 130.5 to 124 in those that underwent infrared sauna treatment. Those who were treated in a conventional sauna showed no statistical improvement in blood pressure.(ii)
(i) Biro, S., Masuda, A., Kihara, T., Tei, C. 2003. Clinical implications of thermal therapy in lifestyle-related diseases. Exp Biol Med. 228(10): 1245-1249. Review
(ii) Edwards, B., Kort, H., and John Foxworthy. A study of the healthy benefits of far-infared sauna therapy. University of Missouri, Kansas City.